204 N. Washington, Munfordville, KY: The Francis Asberry Smith & Louise Thomas Smith House

Kentucky is full of little towns with only a relative handful of people (who are usually all relatives!), quietly abandoned houses, and a lot of silent, ignored history.

Munfordville, Kentucky, just off I-65, fits the bill.  Most notably in its rich past, Munfordville brought up two boys who would end up generals on opposite sides of the Civil War.

As I was strolling Munfordville in early 2013, I couldn’t help but notice this incredible–and very neglected–old house.

The House


The sagging porch, the faded grandeur of an age long gone–oh, I had to see more!


The walking tour and the sign in front identified the home as the Francis Asberry Smith & Louise Thomas Smith House.  The details of its origins were meager, which only served to make it more mysterious.


The more I saw, the more I was amazed.  The house seemed to never end.  It was certainly one of the largest in-town homes I’ve come across.  And from the broken glass of its front windows to the sidewalk that hugged the south wall to the curiously empty lot next door, it practically oozed a story ripe for the telling–if I could only find it.






The notice–a small sign posted on the front door–told me what the home had been most recently.  But before this old beauty was an apartment, who had she belonged to?  Who lived here?  Who dreamed her up?

My most immediate source was the walking tour pamphlet that was guiding me through town.  It offered this tidbit:

At the end of the block is the Francis Asberry Smith House.  This beautiful old home was built around 1835, the date impressed on several of the bricks used in construction.

F. A. Smith moved to Munfordville in 1830 and started a general store and later a meat processing plant. During the war, Smith, a staunch Union man, refused to sell any products to the Confederacy. It is unknown as to why they did not confiscate his goods, unless his friendship with Buckner had some influence.

The Smith house was at different times occupied by senior officers of both armies. John Hunt Morgan, the notorious Confederate cavalry leader, occupied the residence briefly in September 1861 while awaiting his original troop of cavalry in the Confederate service.

Knowing that this home had once hosted Civil War generals made the fact that it looked about to fall into the dust all the more disheartening.  However, as time passed, thoughts of the FA Smith house faded, and it wasn’t until recently that I thought of it again.

Pulling up my trusty Google maps, I decided to cruise downtown Munfordville and see if this ghostly structure was still standing.  Sure enough…

Smith House Munfordville 1

June of 2013, so sayeth the Google maps copyright date, shows one of the most obvious features of the home in chaos: the front porch, fallen from its perch, now resting on the façade of the home.  Look closely, however, and you’ll notice that this is not the doing of nature, but rather of two men standing to the left of the porch.

Smith House Munfordville 2

Of course, being the fatalist that I am, I immediately worried that this was part of the demolition until I realized…they wouldn’t send two men to remove the porch if they were bent on destroying the house.

Smith House Munfordville 3

Smith House Munfordville 4

Well, would you look at that!  Signs of someone cleaning up the place?  It’d be a first in my F&F chronicles that a beaten up and abandoned old home was actually reclaimed and restored, but that’s exactly what it looked like they were up to in June of 2013.

Smith House Munfordville 5

Old Photos

In the process of researching F. A. Smith for the purpose of a more in-depth history post, I was fortunate enough to come across a historic photo of the house at the following link:


Smith House Munfordville 6 Historic
Yet again, another prime example of the consequences of passing time.  This photo is undated, though the caption at the link above indicates that a photo of the home ran in a Harper’s Ferry newspaper during the time of the Civil War.  (Please note: it is not the opinion of the writer that this was the photo that was used in said article as the apparel of one of the men on the porch and the quality of the photo would suggest a later era).

Of course, finding a photo of that age led me to search for even more photos, and what I found–though much more recent–showed me what used to occupy that mysterious plot next door.

One of the first “modern” photos I found of the house was the above photo, listed on Flickr.  Taken in 2009, this photos reveals that a very run-down church, complete with boards over the windows and scattering shingles, used to sit next to the Smith House.  Even back in 09, you can still see the sag in the porch roof, but the house appears to be in overall better shape than it was when I found it 4 years later.

Smith House Munfordville 9 2010
In December of 2010, the house is starting to show signs of wear and tear.  The church next door is still standing, though it appears that debris from the dilapidated church still blows over onto the Smith house and property.

A photo of the house in January 2011, with the nearby church still standing.

In addition to yielding the photo, the landmark hunter link also indicated that the house was placed on the Historic Register in 1980.

Of note in this winding tale of discovery is that several sources for this historic home indicate that the original owner is not known.  Until I discovered the following document, I believed this to be the case.

The above document is an NPS “Kentucky Historic Resources” form.  It is dated Jan 23, 1980–just about 6 months before the home was placed on the historic register.  This revealing document details several facts:

  1. According to sources in the area, the original owner was a man named George A. Craddock.
  2. Even according to this revealing document, the builder remains unknown.
  3. Craddock sold the home to Mr. Smith in 1837 when Smith moved to Munfordville from Harper’s Ferry.
  4. The porch was added in the 20th century, proving my assumption (that the photo above was taken in a later era) correct.
  5. Judge McCandless bought the home in the 1920’s, which would indicate that there was a significant gap of time (from 1889, when the Smiths moved to Missouri, to 192?, when McCandless moved in) during which a different, unknown family(ies) likely occupied the house.
  6. Judge McCandless was the owner who added the porch according to this 1980 document, which would put the date of the oldest photo known of the home sometime in the 1920’s or 1930’s.
  7. At the bottom of the document, someone appears to have sketched a layout of the interior of the house, era unknown.  It indicates that the back of the house is an addition

Still wondering about Mr. Smith and Judge McCandless?  Don’t worry.  An in-depth history post with all the details of the known owners is soon to follow.

Present Day

I knew it’s happen sooner or later–one of the questionable old derelicts I’d photograph, document and research would be restored.  And that’s what happened with the F. A. Smith house.

Newspaper article detailing renovation plan for the Smith House, 2013.

Article page 2.

Incredibly, I saw the home at what was likely the peak of its neglect, just prior to renovation efforts, which turned this historic old home into a physical therapy and wellness office.  The work carried out by the physician who bought the place was so noticeable that he was recognized with an award.


Smith House Munfordville 10 Current

Check out the links below to see photos of the house during its renovation and more photos of the house today, serving as the FMC Physical Therapy & Wellness Center!



The Rosenberger Family History

Hello again, history fans!  Please prepare yourself for part two of the Aydelott-Rosenberger house history, which focuses on the second family to occupy the home–the family that was the last to live in the house near the ponds.

The Basics

As with my previous post, I’ll start with the family patriarch who was responsible for moving the family into the home.  Meet Martin P. Rosenberger and his wife, Addie Plenge, who married right around 1920.  Martin is from a large family of seven children, and as best I can tell, his family had lived in Jefferson County around Louisville since about 1860, which would’ve been about 20 years after his grandfather immigrated to the US from Germany.

For your reference, I have included a family tree for you which starts with Martin and Addie.

Rosenberger Tree

Census Records


Just to give you a feel for who the Rosenbergers were, let’s start in 1920.  Martin P. (25) and wife Addie (26), married earlier that year, are renting their home on a Cane Run Road farm in Albemarle, Jefferson, KY.  Martin indicates that he’s working on a truck farm on his own account.  There are no children in the home at this time.  In addition to another family that lives in the home, there is a servant named Henry Sharp (46) also living in the home.


It is in this year that I believe we get our first look at the Rosenberger family occupying the Aydelott-Rosenberger house.  Martin (35) and Addie (36) are living in Louisville, KY with their three children: Plenge (9), Martie L (6), and Patty (3).  Martin indicates the home is owned and worth $14,000, which translated into modern dollars, is just shy of $196,000.  Given the size of the house and farm, this seems consistent with the Aydelott-Rosenberger house and land.  If that isn’t enough to convince you, then consider that just one dwelling down in the census is the Moreman family, whose home still sits less than a mile from the Aydelott-Rosenberger house.

It is noteworthy that Martin and his family aren’t the only ones living on the farm in 1930.  Also listed under family #100, farm #33 is one August Rosenberger (25), wife Sallie (20), and daughter Margie (1).  A search of previous census records shows that August and Martin are brothers.  While Martin and his family are listed in dwelling #89, August and his family are listed in dwelling #90, which is consistent with the Aydelott Family History post in which there is a sketch of the farm and homestead that lists several private dwellings aside from the main house.


Ten years later reveals Martin (45) and Addie (46) living at the intersection of Cane Run Road and Bethany Lane, the latter of which is written vaguely in the margin of the census record and positively confirms the location of their residence as the Aydelott-Rosenberger house based on street names.  At home are Plenge (19), Martie Lee (16), and Pattie (13).  Martin and Plenge list their livelihood as farmers.  Their farm number is 69.

Still next door on the same farm are Martin’s brother and sister-in-law, August Rosenberger (35) and Sally (31).  Their children, Margie (11) and August (6 months) are living with them.  August indicates that he is a farmer.

Further proof that the family is in fact occupying the Aydelott-Rosenberger house and land is the fact that the Moreman family shows up in the census records one dwelling away.

1940 and Beyond

By 1940, Plenge is a young man, poised to move out and start a life of his own, and his sisters are quickly preparing to follow in those footsteps.  From 1940, we see the nuclear family split up and go their separate ways, making new families of their own.

Martin P. Rosenberger only lived two more years after the 1940 census.  His death certificate indicates that he died of kidney cancer at age 48.

Despite Martin’s early death, his wife Addie Rosenberger lived to be nearly 100 years old, dying in December of 1982.

A website showing the final resting place of Martin and Addie is linked below.

The Rosenberger’s only son, Plenge, who bore the maiden name of his mother, apparently continued to live at the Aydelott-Rosenberger house for some time.  A Valley Station public record from 1976 lists him at 6618/6814 Bethany Lane, both known addresses of the Aydelott-Rosenberger property.  He was a member of the Free Masons and also ran for public office back in the 70’s as a Republican candidate for the Kentucky state house of representatives.  While I can find very little information about him, Plenge married a woman named Rosetta, or “Bunny”.  Plenge Rosenberger passed away in 1993 at 73 years old.

Martie Lee Rosenberger remained in the Louisville area, marrying one C.T. Korfhage and having four children with him.  They lived in nearby Shepherdsville, KY where she was reportedly involved with her church and kept the books for her family farm with C.T.  Martie Lee died in 2013 at the ripe old age of 90.

Patti Rosenberger, the youngest daughter, attended U of L and UK.  She married Don Huebner in 1945, and the couple moved to Kansas in 1963.  They had four children together.  Patti worked in the Huebner Insurance Agency as an office manager until 1986.  She was reportedly a talented cook, a seamstress, and active in her church.

Families Intertwined

Yet again, while this isn’t necessarily relevant to the Rosenberger family that occupied the home, my research took me back in to Martin P. Rosenberger’s family history, and I found a few interesting things back there.

First is that Martin Rosenberger wasn’t the only Rosenberger to marry an Plenge.  Martin’s older sister, Lillie, reportedly married one William H. Plenge.  His younger sister, Loraine, also married a William H. Plenge (upon further research, I believe these two men are in fact cousins or uncle/nephew).  And finally, another younger sister, Minnie Mae Rosenberger, married a John Henry Plenge.  In total, four out of seven Rosenberger children married Plenges.

Double Identity

One of the more confounding mysteries I’ve ever seen hit me while researching Martin’s family history.  For this rabbit trail, I made you another family tree, this time encompassing Martin’s parentage and grandparents.

Rosenberger Tree - Copy

Jumping back to 1880, we see Martin P.’s father, Martin W., living at home with his father and brothers.

1880: Cane Run, Jefferson, KY:
Rosenberger, Phillip     60  Head of household
Rosenberger, Phillip     30  Son
Rosenberger, Codie      29  Daughter-in-law
Rosenberger, Phillip     2    Grandson
Rosenberger, Henry     22  Son
Rosenberger, Martin    17   Son

Now, Phillip (60) indicates that he was born in “Bravia”, which appears to be a misspelling of Bavaria.  Expecting I’d be able to find him in 1870, I took a look, only to be stunned by the fact that there appears to be no Phillip Rosenberger in the entire country that matches our guy!

Imagine my surprise when I look into the 1860 census to find this:

Louisville 1860, District 1
1860 Louisville Dist 1

 1860 Louisville, District 8
1860 Louisville Dist 8

If you study the records above, you’ll notice what appears to be two almost identical families living right next to each other, the exceptions being the name of the wife in the Phillip Rosenberger homes and the last name of Peter Rosenberger is changed to Rosenbaum in one census.  Otherwise, everything from the names and ages of the children to the ages of the adults are exactly the same to the occupation of the men to the countries of origin are exactly the same.

Now, what does this mean exactly?  Here are the options as I see them:
1.  Peter and Phillip are brothers who moved in 1860 while the census taker was making his rounds.  This would explain the similar names and ages and how the families would’ve been in two places at once.
2.  Peter and Phillip Rosenberger are separate people from the other Phillip Rosenberger and Peter Rosenbaum.  While this explains the slight discrepancy in the name of Phillip’s wife and Peter’s last name, this doesn’t explain how two incredibly similar families are both living in Louisville at the exact same time and then disappear exactly one year later.  One possibility is that these families are in fact related, but they are perhaps cousins who used family names for their children in the exact same order at nearly the exact same time.  In my opinion, this isn’t likely.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for you on this one, dear reader.  Neither of these men appear in the 1850 census, so it’s impossible for me to say which family represents our Rosenbergers, or if in fact both do.


That’s all I have to tell you at this point about the Aydelott-Rosenberger house, its inhabitants, and their histories.  Please be sure to visit my previous posts regarding the Aydelott Family history for their genealogy, photos, and a map of the farmstead as sketched by a Rosenberger descendent.

And don’t forget to visit the post that started this all, complete with photos of the home in 2013.

Until next time!

The Aydelott Family History

Buckle up and get ready for a long post.  Do I have a story to tell you!

If you’ll recall from earlier today, I posted an entry about the Aydelott-Rosenberger house with a promise to update you on the ancestry of the owners. I’ll start where it all began: with the Aydelott family.

**If you haven’t seen the photos yet, please read here first!  https://thewaywardwanderlust.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/bethany-lane-louisville-ky-the-aydelott-rosenberger-house/

The Basics

We’ll begin with the patriarch of the family and the builder of the home, George K. Aydelott.  This gentleman was born in Indiana in 1820.  He met Mary Catherine McCord (born 1825) in 1843, marrying her in Indiana before moving south to Kentucky, where he and Mary started their family.

Now, there are several sources online and on Ancestry that claim that George and Mary had more than the children you’re going to see in the family tree below.  Try as I may, however, I cannot confirm the existence of the children.  True to form, if I can’t prove something, I won’t post it here unless I’m posting it as a theory, so these kids will not appear in the tree below.  They appear to have passed away by 1850 when we first encounter the Aydelotts in the census records, so while they very well may have existed, you will not see them referenced in this post.  If you have questions, please post in the comments and I’ll tell you what I know.

Aydelott Tree

All right.  So let’s get to the census records.

Census Records


In 1850, George K and Mary are shown living in nearby Meade County.  At home are their children, Robert Howard (3) and William (1).  George K lists his occupation as a farmer.  He’s doing pretty well for himself, however, as his real estate value is listed at $9,000–quite the pretty penny in 1850 (according to my inflation calculator, this comes out to roughly $250,000 in modern cash).


By 1860, George K and Mary, still in Meade County, have both grown their family and experienced tragedy.  At home are Robert H. (13), Agnes (8), George W (5), and Harry (3), the last 3 kids being new additions since 1850.  You’ll notice that little William from the 1850 census is no longer listed.  In 1860, he would have been about 11.  While no death records exist for this child, disappearing before you’re old enough to be out of the house in this era is a sure sign of premature death.  Despite the lack of obituary, the census spells out his fate as clear as day.

But tragedy would not let the Aydelotts rest yet.  In 1861, about a year after William reportedly died, four-year-old Harry succumbs to diphtheria according to both the death records on Ancestry and an obituary listed with his grave in New Albany.

Now, the mid-1860’s were an important time for the Aydelotts.  Per the Riverside site, the home was built in 1868, but according to George K’s obituary, he bought the land in 1864.  So, sometime between 1864 and 1868, the house was constructed and finished, and the family moved from Meade county to the rural outskirts of Louisville.


When 1870 rolls around, the census lists the family as living in Lower Ponds, Jefferson, KY.  A fitting name, considering a pond still sits just north of the house.  At home with George K and Mary in 1870 are Addie (17), George W (14), and Robert G (8).  Now, please note that the Robert listed in this census is not the same person as the Robert H. in the 1860/1870 censuses.  While it seems unthinkable to us today, George K and Mary actually named two of their sons Robert, the oldest being Robert Howard, and the younger being Robert Gaw or Gough. Though I cannot find a 23-year-old Robert Howard in 1870, he does resurface in 1880, and it’s clear that he’s already moved out of the home in 1870 as the public records list him as working for the McCord, Boomer & Co. Hatters.

Also in 1870, a black man named Sam Aydelott is listed as living in the property and is employed as a farm hand.  As he is clearly not a blood relative of the family, this is likely a freed slave who remained to work for the family after emancipation.  By 1870, George K’s real estate value is listed at $15,000 and his personal estate is valued at $2,000.


Jumping a decade to the next census, we find George K and Mary Aydelott still living in their farmhouse in 1880, though instead of Lower Ponds, the site is now listed as Louisville proper.  At home are George W (24), A. M. (20), and Robert G. (18).

Now, A. M. represented an interesting challenge to me as I researched this family.  At first, I felt quite certain A. M. was not Agnes or Addie, the daughter listed in the previous census records.  At 20 years old in 1880, she would’ve been born around 1860–right about the same time her brothers would have died.  It wouldn’t have surprised me to discover that she’d gone to live with family or neighbors until her parents could pull themselves together in the wake of such loss.  However, upon closer review of the census record, I believe the age is incorrectly interpreted as “20” where it should be “26”.  Upon looking at samples of the census taker’s handwriting in on the same page, it looks likely the “0” is actually a “6”.  Either that, or A. M., who would’ve been considered an old maid for not being married by age 26, lied and told the census taker she was 20.  Both scenarios are quite possible.  Take a look at the screenshot below and see what you think!

Aydelott 1880 AM

In 1880, the oldest brother, Robert Howard, is now living on his own in Louisville according to the public records, employed as a hat salesman.  While the record lists him only as “RD Aydelott”, this is almost certainly the same man because his age is correct, his parents’ places of birth line up perfectly, and he’s in the right line of business.  Subsequent public records list Robert Howard as living and working in Louisville as a hat salesman with McCord, Boomer & Co., and then later with McCord, Aydelott Wholesale Hatters.

Now, the census in 1880 was taken on June 3.  Only five months later, we find George K, the family patriarch, dead at the age of 60.  His obituary sheds some light on the family at the time of his death.  It specifically mentions his elder two sons, Robert Howard and George Washington, and divulges that they are both involved in the hatter business, though George is now home running the farm.  This tidbit makes it even more likely that the RD Aydelott in the 1880 census, despite the discrepancy in middle initial, is really Robert Howard.  The obituary also says that George K is survived by three sons and one daughter.  It was based on this fact that I suspected A. M. and Agnes “Addie” were the same people, despite the age discrepancy.

Very nearly ten years will pass until the Aydelotts experience their next losses, which unfortunately occur nearly back-to-back.

On February 27, 1889, Robert Howard Aydelott, the oldest son of George K and Mary, dies at age 40.  Never married, he was buried in New Albany, IN.

Only eight months later on October 29, 1889, Mary Aydelott dies at the age of 64.  She indicates that she is survived by one daughter and two sons.

1890 and Beyond

From this point on, the nuclear family has either grown up and moved up or passed away, and the census records show the surviving children scattered.

Agnes “Addie” M. Aydelott is rumored to have married Samuel K. Breeding in 1886, who was widowed in 1885 when his wife likely died in childbirth.  Addie, who would have been about 33, likely married Samuel to help him raise his young children.  She may appear as “Addie M.” in the 1900 and 1910 census records with Samuel, though no marriage certificate or other evidence that I can find irrefutably links these two and proves that Addie M. is in fact Agnes “Addie” M. Aydelott.

George Washington Aydelott marries a woman named Mattie Pusey.  Together, they have one son, Charles W. Aydelott, who never marries and dies in 1939.  George W. Aydelott dies on June 18, 1916 at age 62.  Mattie, who is 7 years younger than her husband, lives until 1938.

Robert Gaw/Gough Aydelott marries Mattie Pusey’s sister, Mary C. Pusey.  The couple has five children and eventually move out to Massachusetts.  Though Robert Gaw dies in 1913, his descendants remain scattered throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Florida, and Kentucky.

The Fate of the House

The Aydelott House remained in the possession of Mary and George K’s children until 1891, when according to this site, it was sold.  From there, it was bought by several families until the Rosenbergers bought the house in the 1930s.  In 1997, the house and the land was sold to the city of Louisville and became a park.  The city has plans to restore the house, but they are in need of funds to carry out the renovations.

Interesting Factoid

While this isn’t necessarily related directly to my research, I thought this little tidbit was interesting.  Did you notice how Robert Howard Aydelott, Geroge K and Mary’s oldest son, worked for a company named McCord, Boomer & Co. and then later McCord, Aydelott Wholesale Hatters?  Did you also notice that Mary’s maiden name was McCord?  While the census records before 1850 don’t list the names of household residents other than the head of the household, it is very possible to find evidence that Mary was likely the sister–or at very least, a cousin–of the man who ran McCord, Boomer & Co. and later McCord, Aydelott without ever seeing them listed under the same household.

McCord, Boomer & Co. was run by a man named Robert G. McCord.  Now, that name itself should look somewhat familiar.  My guess is that Mary and George K named their eldest son, Robert H, as well as their youngest son, Robert Gaw/Gough, after Mary’s brother, Robert G. McCord.  At any rate, Robert G. McCord also came from Virginia over to New Albany, where he stated his hatter business.  He was a very well-respected businessman in Louisville.  This would explain how Robert Howard eventually got his name into the company name (McCord, Boomer & Co. eventually became McCord, Aydelott Wholesale Hatters).

Another incredibly telling fact is evident in Robert McCord’s own family.  In 1860, Robert McCord and his wife had a son, whom they named William Aydelott McCord.  This would have been right around the time that George K and Mary’s son, William Aydelott, died according to several online accounts.  It is very likely that Robert McCord named his child after his recently deceased nephew as a gesture to his sister and brother-in-law.

Old Photos & Maps

Now, this is a cool link.  The photos in the Flickr link below are of the Aydelott-Rosenberger house in 2008.  The gentleman who took them is clearly an architect and sketched up a bunch of designs of the house, which can also be seen at the link below.

However, the photo that really caught my eye was the one you see here.

Aydelott 1980

This photo was taken in 1980 according to the Flickr site. Note the back addition that no longer exists.  This explains the boarded doors and difference in brick color on the back right of the house.

The other thing that made me oo and ahh over this Flickr site was the map below.

Aydelott-Rosenberger Farm

This sketch, reportedly done by a Rosenberger descendent, shows the location of the house and outbuildings, including a tenant house (remember old Sam Aydelott?) which proves that the foundations and rubble I was seeing on the road to the house are in fact remains of old farm structures.  The windpump is even visible on this map!

More Links

Link to the Riverside site, which reveals the plans for the Aydelott-Rosenberger House.

Geocachers used the house as a landmark at one point.  Photo included.

Road development near the house.

204 West Third Street, Perryville, KY

A little visit to Perryville, KY during the 2013 reenactment of the Battle of Perryville revealed a mystery sitting abandoned on West Third Street.

Side view, from the east looking west.
Side view, from the east looking west.
View from the front lawn.
View from the front lawn.


Right/west side of the house.
Right/west side of the house.
Directly across the street where an old barn sits.
Directly across the street where an old barn sits.
Curiosity calls.  A look-see in the right front window (west side of the house).
Curiosity calls. A look-see in the right front window (west side of the house).
Right/west side of the house, looking toward the center of the home where an old fireplace sits.
Right/west side of the house, looking toward the center of the home where an old fireplace sits.
View looking east across the front steps.
View looking east across the front steps.
Front door and documentation of the address.
Front door and documentation of the address.
A look inside the left/east side of the house from the window (broken).  Note the original mantles and trim against the fireplace.
A look inside the left/east side of the house from the window (broken). Note the original mantles and trim against the fireplace.
A peek at the side of the house and an open basement door.  Tempting for sure, but not worth the risk in a very public and bustling downtown.
A peek at the side of the house and an open basement door. Tempting for sure, but not worth the risk in a very public and bustling downtown.
The back and left sides of the house (facing south and east, respectively).  Note the fact that the back of the house is covered with thin sheets of wood and the original siding is gone.
The back and left sides of the house (facing south and east, respectively). Note the fact that the back of the house is covered with thin sheets of wood and the original siding is gone.
Upper window, chimney line confirming two separate central fireplaces--likely corresponding to two fireplaces in the upstairs based on the construction.
Upper window, chimney line confirming two separate central fireplaces–likely corresponding to two fireplaces in the upstairs based on the construction.

The history of this interesting home, you may ask?  I’ll admit, what’s available on the web is meager.

The Google Maps image of the house is a June 2013 image and taken close to the same time the photos in this blog were taken, so the condition is similar.  Furthermore, the realty websites I found didn’t give a date of construction or whether the home was originally a single-family or multiple-family dwelling, though one site in particular did provide a 2009 photo of the home, which betrayed just how much the place had fallen apart over the course of about 4 years.

204 W Third

Another interesting tidbit from this same site: in April 2009, the house sold for $58,000.  About a month later in May 2009, the house is once again for sale–this time for a mere $8,900.  What caused the price to drop nearly $50,000 in the course of a month?  It’s anybody’s guess, and an answer to a mystery that will likely remain unknown.

318 West Dixie Highway, Elizabethtown, KY

Just south of Radcliff, KY and the well-known Fort Knox is the old city of Elizabethtown.  A settlement born in a post-Revolutionary America, Elizabethtown was quite the place to be some hundred years ago, and in her slender streets and the intricate facades of her old town square, tokens of a better era remain in the quiet gray remnants of this once booming pioneer town.

It’s just up the road from the courthouse that our adventures take us today–to a location where two houses stand side-by-side, boarded up and gazing forlornly on the bustling Dixie Highway that runs before them.  We’ll start at 318 W Dixie.

318 w dixie

The street view off Google maps (pictured above) would have you believe this house still inhabited, but the photos garnered on a recent visit (below) contradict the great Google.

The same house, present day, boarded up and empty.
The same house, present day, boarded up and empty.

With no inhabitants other than a few stray cats roaming the yard, the following photos are a round-the-property survey of this now-empty beauty.

Side view from the right.
Side view from the right.
View of the house from the back right side, standing in the driveway. Sources inform me that the upstairs window on the side of the house closest to the back is now broken out, likely due to vandalism.  Stray cats now call this house home.
View of the house from the back right side, standing in the driveway.
Sources inform me that the upstairs window on the side of the house closest to the back is now broken out, likely due to vandalism. Stray cats now call this house home.

The above photo betrays that the part of the house on the left is an addition based on the foundation.

The back of the house from the driveway.  The back of the house to the right appears to be an addition (note the differences in the cinderblock foundation from the rest of the house).
The back of the house from the driveway. The back of the house to the right appears to be an addition (note the differences in the cinderblock foundation from the rest of the house).
The crumbling garage directly behind the house.
The crumbling garage directly behind the house.
The back addition of the house.  In the distance, the second abandoned house (keep an eye out for the next post!) sits quietly in the background.
The back addition of the house. In the distance, the second abandoned house (keep an eye out for the next post!) sits quietly in the background.
Heading around the other side of the house via the side yard.  In the center of this photo are some leaf-covered stone steps leading to the front of the home.
Heading around the other side of the house via the side yard. In the center of this photo are some leaf-covered stone steps leading to the front of the home.
The left side of the house from the back.  As you can see, the house, which appears to be in pretty decent shape from the front, is starting to look a little rougher from this angle.
The left side of the house from the back. As you can see, the house, which appears to be in pretty decent shape from the front, is starting to look a little rougher from this angle.
Second view of the side/back of the house.
Second view of the side/back of the house.
Final view of the house from the front left.
Final view of the house from the front left.
Though certainly not as ornate as they come, this house does have a few little accentual flares, leading me to believe that it was built sometime in the early 1900's.
Though certainly not as ornate as they come, this house does have a few little accentual flares, leading me to believe that it was built sometime in the early 1900’s.

That concludes the photo portion of this post.  Below, stay tuned for a limited history!

Google was not terribly forthcoming about this particular property, though it was nice enough to turn up the link below and give me the following information:

318 W Dixie Avenue
Built: 1910
Layout: single-family, 3 beds, 2 baths
Last Sold: October 17, 2014
Price: $131,500


What’s to become of this home on the busy Dixie Highway in Elizabethtown?  Perhaps the new owner is waiting until spring to fix the falling porch roof, tend to the peeling paint, and renovate this turn-of-the-century classic.  Or perhaps like so many before it, 318 W Dixie is heading for the dirt, yet another of Elizabethtown’s endangered 31W historic homes sliding toward its eventual demise.

Only time will tell.  But in the meantime, she’s ours to explore, ponder, and admire.

The Hicks Family History: A Mystery Unraveling

I recently posted a walk-through tour, complete with pictures, of the once-grand old home at 8601 Dixie Highway in Louisville, KY.  In the process of googling the address to determine the house’s history, I stumbled across a great deal of armchair historians–and one genealogist–who made several significant claims, but never backed up anything they said with any tangible evidence.  So here, I’m going to try to set what I can of the record straight.  I figure if people are going to speculate (which they will) they ought to do so from the vantage point of fact.

I started off with the idea that Dr. John H. Hicks was the occupant of the house somewhere in the 1940’s as this is what was indicated in the Valley Report (April 2009, May 2009).  With that being a rather bold claim on zero evidence other than anecdote, I did a search of Dr. Hicks for the census records between 1910-1940, the era that the home was allegedly built.  Imagine my surprise when Dr. Hicks never showed up at 8601 Dixie.
According to the 1910 census, John H. Hicks (26 years old) was living in Woodburn, KY with his wife, Bennie (24), and infant daughter, Brilla.
By 1920, John (34) had moved to 524 S. 28th St, Louisville with his wife, Bennie (33), daughter, Gabriella (10) and son, Stanley (7).  Two female boarders are also living in the home.
John (44) and Bennie (43) then moved to 524 S. 28th St, Louisville in 1930.  Living at home are John’s sons Stanley, now 18, and John H. Jr., 6.  It was in this census that he was joined by one Sarada Hicks (81), who is listed as John’s mother, and John Embry (56)–his father-in-law.
By 1940, John (56) and his wife Albennie (53) were living at 4136 Market St. Louisville with John Jr (16).

Indeed, while the census records only extend to 1940 at this point, US Public Records (a town directory, to be precise) place Dr. John H. Hicks at either 4136 Market St or 524 S 28th St, Louisville until his death in 1960.  As it a genealogist working for the descendants of the Hicks family reported to the Valley Report, one location was the physician’s home, the other his office.

With Dr. John Hicks never on the record as having lived at 8601 Dixie, I started to look into other possible culprits–namely, his brothers, Elmer and Clydus.  Both searches through the census records came up completely empty.
In 1920, both Elmer and Clydus are living in other counties in Kentucky and are certainly not in Louisville.
In 1930, Elmer does show up on a rural route in Louisville facing the L&N Line, but the street names nearby put him in East Louisville near Beckley Station, not on the rural 31W. Clydus is living on Seneca Street in the middle of Louisville.
In 1940, Elmer is living on Zoneton Road in Shepherdsville, KY.  Clydus is living nearby on the Old National Turnpike, or State Highway 1020 as it’s known now.

With the information on the men stacking against any of them living at 8601, much less building the place, I started looking into John’s son, John Jr., who according to a comment on the Pretty Pickle’s blog, had built a house on the hill above the house at 8601.  That’s where I hit the good stuff.

On Ancestry.com, a Public Directory for Valley Station lists John H. Hicks Jr. at 8601 Dixie Highway as early as 1974.  Later dates that put him in that location include 1981, 1993-1995, and 1997-2002.  This naturally begged the question–where was John Hicks Jr. after 1940, the last available census record, and before 1974 when he shows up at 8601?

I believe the answer lies in his draft registration from 1943.  John Hicks Jr. was drafted and likely shipped to war in that year.  At that point, I knew that one of two things was happening: it was possible that John Jr. was a career military man and didn’t return home until after his retirement (he would have been about 50 in 1974), or he was in fact living at 8601 earlier than 1974, but because the census records only extend to 1940 and there were no further directory records placing him there before ’74, I was simply unable to see that.

With this in mind, I plunged into google, where I found more interesting information.  There were two patents issued to John H. Hicks Jr. at 8601 Dixie Highway–one in 2001 and one in 2003.  Mr. Hicks invented a face mask that can be worn with a helmet, perhaps something that is used in construction or mining.  Either way, that information further links Mr. Hicks to the home in the 21st century and provides a bit of interesting insight into what kind of man he was.


Further google searches then turned up the one person I had been trying to find: John Jr.’s wife.  The obituary for Anna Mae Hicks (nee Wright) indicates that she died across the river in New Albany, IN in 2011 and that her husband, John H. Hicks Jr., was still alive.  This would validate the comment on a Pretty Pickle’s blog wherein a poster states that the house remains in the trust of the John & Anna Hicks Estate.

While finding John Jr’s wife didn’t prove anything in and of itself, it came in handy when a search involving her name brought up a business registration in the state of Kentucky for one John H. Hicks, agent and incorporator, and Anna M. Hicks, incorporator.  Stillmeadow Builders, Inc was registered at the address of 8601 Dixie Highway, Valley Station, KY… in the year 1965.
This jives with an April 2009 post on the Valley Report that indicates that in addition to “Hicks” being listed on an old mailbox in front of 8601, there also appeared to something along the lines of “Hillmeadow Builders” spelled out on the box.

This business record provides more insight into John Jr., but it also puts John Jr. and his wife at 8601 nearly 10 years earlier than the earliest directory record.

So, the facts in review:
1. Dr. John Hicks Sr. never lived at 8601 Dixie Hwy, nor did any of his brothers.
2. John Hicks Jr. lived at 8601 Dixie Hwy from at least 1965 – 2002.
3. Neither John Hicks Jr. nor Dr. John Hicks Sr. built the house at 8601 Dixie Hwy.
3. John Hicks Jr. clearly rented the house at 8601 out to tenants. While someone who contacted the Valley Report indicates that the house was rented by John Jr. as early as the 1950’s, it is not possible to say when the property became a rental without further records.
4. It’s also not possible to say when John Jr. stopped living at 8601 himself and built the house on the hill without further evidence.
5. Despite the fact that the property was rented at some point, John Jr. listed himself as living at 8601 Dixie Hwy from 1965-2002 and even cites the 8601 Dixie Hwy address on his patent applications as late as 2002.

Because I can’t help myself, some of my speculations regarding John Jr. and the house at 8601:
1. John Hicks Jr. likely lived at 8601 while his children were young, building the house on the hill at a later date.
2. The house on the hill above 8601 may have been listed at the address 8613 Dixie Hwy based on an old discarded mailbox found at the 8601 house.
3. John Jr. may have rented rooms early on in his ownership of the home at 8601, which could possibly explain how there was a tenant living in the house in 1950 (if that report is in fact correct).

It has been an interesting day of research to say the very least.  Of course, with the Hicks Family’s involvement at 8601 Dixie Hwy nicely defined by the census records, a business registration and town directories, the next thing to determine is who built the mystery house off Dixie.  Stay tuned…more research to follow!


15700 Dixie Hwy, Louisville KY: B-T Energy Corp.

I can’t resist an abandoned house–that much, I promise you.  But as much as I can’t resist an old derelict, I also can’t stand it when I cannot find the original history on a structure that promises a rich background, and that’s exactly what we have in this old house off Dixie.

I can tell you that this home appears to have been built in 1890 according to certain online resources (not verified).  I can also tell you that the home was converted from a family dwelling into an office building for the B-T Energy Corp, an oil refinery, sometime in the 1970’s, abandoned in the 1990’s, and has been in a state of disrepair ever since.  Twenty plus years of neglect–and likely, a bit of flooding and some less than-sturdy remodeling–have nearly finished the interior of the house, but despite it all, the brick exterior stands.

Take a walk with me again into another of yester-year’s mysteries, won’t you?


The scene upon walking up to this mysterious creature sitting quietly off US-31W just north of West Point.  The area before the house looks like a parking lot, gravel and all.  The overall structure of the house appears traditional to an older era–an L-shaped house, with the main house being the longer front portion and a smaller back portion coming off one side.


The house from the north side.  Note the brick detailing over the door.  My partner in exploration and I quickly determined this house dated back to the late 1800’s.

Notice the bricked-over window.
Notice the bricked-over window.

The photo above makes it clear that there was once a window of some size in the front center of the façade, as well as some sort of awning that has since fallen away, leaving only timbers jutting out over what would’ve been the old porch.


A full view of the house.  Without the shrubbery of summer and spring, this house is suddenly starkly visible in white against the dreary brown of winter.


The remnants of the porch and evidence of the front door quickly prove that this entrance used to look much, much different.


Looking directly into the house via the front door–a shocking surprise as it became quickly obvious that the home was in a severe state of disrepair.  Note that straight back, a passageway under the steps appears to lead to a back portion of the house.


Peering to the left, a very messy room is obvious beyond the 1980’s-esque wood panel remodeling.  Reminiscent of an office entry, this was the second clue to what had occupied the house before its abandonment.


A tenuous step inside and a look through the secretary’s window revealed a remodeling job that ultimately gave way to gravity and the elements as the second floor now rests in the first.  At the back wall, an old fireplace is obvious in the upstairs as is the wooden structure of the false wall that sits like a frame inside the brick skeleton of the original dwelling.  Slats for the original crossbeams are visible to the right.


Moving toward the section of the house that wasn’t falling in, we quickly found ourselves in a front parlor with a chair waiting to greet us.  Again, the plaster wall stands a good 1-2 feet off the original brick of the house.


One of the resounding questions from this trip is in the photo above.  Three initials in a heart etched deep into what appears to be the original wall beg the question: was this the work of creative vandals…or that of the original owners?


From the front right room, we walked straight back into the back left room.  Here the remnants of the 1980’s remodeling are even more apparent.  Based on the walls, this appears to be original–or at least added soon after the main house was built.


Closer inspection reveals more cabinetry behind the plaster, just like in the front right room.  What was kept in this house that required so much storage?


Walking through the back right room and taking a hard left, we made a U-turn into this room, which appears to have been divided with paneling into two rooms.  This room is suspicious as it has very wide windows.



Straight ahead, a doorway leads into the door that we had initially noted under the steps in the foyer.  As this area would be located straight behind the staircase, it begs the question: was the second floor on this side of the back of the house original?

The picture below answers the question almost without a shadow of a doubt.  We exited the house via the room above and took a picture of the room directly as we stood outside.  The room we had exited is on the lower left of the photo below.


Looking at the back of the house, this is a clear view of the back of the L-shaped structure.  Note the original brick to the right and the wide windows to the left on the first floor.  The upper portion of the left section appears to be sided, suggesting that the second floor was added later.  This would explain why the window on the back of the staircase in the foyer was bricked in had an addition over the porch become necessary.


This is the back view of the house from the south, the portion that appears original.  It also appears that on the right and back portions of the house, the second story remains intact, but there is no safe way to access the second floor nor is there any guarantee that it’d be safe to walk through, so we settled on surmising and speculating as to what lay out of our sight.



View from the south, or the right side as I’ve been calling it.  Note the awning that has fallen and is bowed precariously over the ground at the side of the structure.  Also note several large holes on this side of the house.  We can only guess as to what caused those.


That sums up our adventures with the house.  We decided to wander a bit farther to check out the surrounding area.  Amongst several foundations that we noted along the way, we also found a large oil tanker, two pipelines leading down to the river, and what appears to be a partially submerged pier on the shore.


This was the only tank remaining, but based on the concrete foundations for other tanks nearby, it was clear that the area was once filled with them.


One of the two oil pipelines that appeared to run from the area where the tanks sat to the river.  This is the northern most line.


On the river, this is a photo of what appeared to be a partially submerged pier, or if nothing else, some vital piece of the oil pipeline that leads into the river.  Wheels and valves of some sort are visible on both ends of this structure, which runs parallel to the shore, disappearing into the murky Salt River on the side facing away from the shore.


Above is the northern-most pipeline and the rest of the submerged pier structure.


Two pipelines running through the overgrowth down to the river.


If you have any information regarding the house featured in the earlier part of this blog, please comment below.  I’d be very curious to hear from anyone with a reliable, valid source of information.

I will soon have the full album of photos from this adventure posted to Flickr.  Stay tuned for the link!