Thursday, August 6, 2009

Old houses out in the hills

While going through some files today, I happened upon these photos I am including. They show a two old houses, which, if they were currently occupied, would be some of our closest neighbors at Rock Eddy Bluff Farm.

As you can see from the photos, the first house is in bad condition and may not stand many more years. I can hardly believe that I remember the people who lived here. One of the girls who grew up in this house was a contemporary of my brothers and me. The family farmed the upper end of this creek bottom. Some years later, after I left for college to make my own way in the big world, the family dispersed leaving the house abandoned.

Over the years hunters and others have gone into the house and ransacked it. But even now there is strong evidence of the family that once lived there. The oddest thing is that it appears that the family just walked out of the house and took almost nothing with them. Clothes are still on hooks. The battered furniture in still in the house. There is perhaps more to that story.

Now, at my age I have a memory of other such house places not far from here. Most were not occupied when I was a child but they were then standing, along with a few outbuildings and hand-dug wells. Cabins (not houses as we think of them) were scattered along dirt roads and deep in the woods where the tracks leading to them are no longer even faint. You have to know where the remains of these places are located to find them. Some are now gone to rot with only a few foundation stones remaining to mark their location.

I have always been intrigued by these old house places. They each have a story. I know only a few of those stories. The last photo showing the old house that now has collapsed into the ground was called the Algerine Place. In that log cabin a son accidentally shot and killed his mother. He was preparing to shoot a hawk that was perhaps threatening their chickens. The shotgun somehow discharged in the house, killing his mother instantly.

Nearby is a house (not shown) where a wayward daughter killed several of her family members by poisoning the water pail. And, there are more such places where families once somehow scratched out an existence. Many are now only traces in the ground.

Well, I like these old pictures. I like to look at them even though they make me feel old. And somewhere among boxes of old photos that were taken on some medium they long ago called "film", I may even have photos of some of these old places when they were younger and in a better state of repair.

From the Hills, The Old Hired Man


  1. Oh I love mysteries like that.

    My maternal grandmother was born in Maries county, in a house that was half cabin (walls, roof, dirt floor) and half more house-like. Her parents had 9 kids and somehow eked out a living there. They left after my grandmother's next older brother (she was the youngest, he was number 8) drowned in a creek nearby. Her dad couldn't stand looking down at the creek at the bottom of the hill. They wound up moving to Marshall, where she graduated from high school and even went to the university of MO for 2 years in an era when that was rare. Anyway, every time we visit you, I think about that story, about how close we probably are to where she lived, but how there's probably nothing left of it, nothing at all.

  2. I to love old houses. My grandfather lived in the mountains of north carolina right outside of the pisgah forest, a beautiful mountain area. I loved going through the old nearby houses with his wife. Old newspapers and my mom telling me stories of eating snakes with the family that lived there. Your imagination is like that of child while looking at old houses-the best imagination in the world.


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Please enlighten me. The Hired Man