The Byrd House at Poyen, an inside look


1896 Kitchen table

You are looking at a kitchen table which has been in use since 1896 in the Samuel D. Byrd house near Poyen, Arkansas. The rest of the house is similarly furnished with period heirlooms reflecting the history of the home and times of its residents, the Byrd family.

The Samuel D. Byrd house at Poyen Arkansas

Click on the house to see exterior pictures

It’s not every day that one has the opportunity to visit a residence which originated in 1848. Ever higher on the rare scale is to see such a structure furnished with original heirlooms passed down for several generations, and hear a good history of the place and its residents from an authority on the subject.

The place is the Samuel D. Byrd, Sr. house just west of Poyen, Arkansas on U.S. Highway 270. And we are looking inside the old home.

Listed on the National Register of Historic places, the old home is still owned and maintained by Hobart “Sonny” Byrd, a descendant of Samuel D. Byrd, and his wife Betty. The Byrds have done an extraordinary job of maintaining and furnishing the home to reflect the residents and their life and times. Before we go much further, may I suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com to see exterior pictures of this historic home and find the beginning of this story. We will wait here for your return.

Kitchen with wood stove

The kitchen is complete with a wood stove and less running water. The dishpan is on the table in front of the window at the center of the picture. Betty and Sonny Byrd furnished and created the historic environment with original family artifacts.

See more pictures of the old house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

 Like most rural homes of that era, this home, now a nice-sized 6-room dogtrot house,  started as one room enclosed by logs. The first order of business was always to get shelter from the elements, critters, and any meandering miscreants who might wander through. One of the first additions was for storage. The north exterior wall of the original structure is now the south exterior wall of the storage room. The Byrds have filled the room with jars, tools, filled burlap bags, and other implements of daily living from days gone by.

Log wall in storage room

The south wall of the storage room is the north exterior wall of the original log room. A burlap bag, old ironing board, washer wringers, burlap bag, coal-oil lamp, and lard can add authenticity.

Storage room wall with period items

The north storage room wall holds a collection of standard household items of the era: A large washtub, dishpans which double as a bathtub for babies, plus shelves of jars, cans, and boxes. A coal-oil can is under the window. (For the uninitiated, "coal-oil" is the old-timey word for kerosene).

See more pictures of the old house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

The original fireplaces and chimneys for the house were of the mud variety. They were built from available rocks, chinked and covered with mud. The family replaced the mud fireplaces with the brick fireplaces around 1920. The remaining fireplace is now in the “front” room. The room is large and doubled as a bedroom.

Old living room with large brick fire place.

The family replaced the original mud fireplace with this brick one around 1920. This is the "front" room, a living room in modern parlance. It doubled as a bedroom.

We are grateful to Sonny and Betty Byrd for their good work in preserving this fine historic home. What they are doing is purely voluntary. They do what they do with the old home because they believe it is the right thing to do.

Some will say this is a study of a simpler time. I’m betting the folks who lived then did not see running outside to do their business, draw their water, feed livestock and defend them from wild critters, cut trees, chop wood, kill your own meat, build a fire in a kitchen stove, wash dishes in a pan, wash clothes in a tub and keep a wary eye out for bad guys as a simple life. It does not sound simple to me. It sounds busy. But then everything is relative.

See a detailed history of the old home and family by Sonny Hobart at Samuel D. Byrd Historic Home.  To set up a visit, send an email.

old dog trot house

Click on the house for more pictures

SEE MORE PICTURES of the historic house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

See more exterior and exterior pictures of the historic Samuel D. Byrd house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

There are 18 pictures including larger versions of the pictures you see here and on the Corndancer page. See bedrooms, another kitchen shot and more. Click and go.  Guaranteed all-natural, low-cholesterol, g-rated, non-fattening content. Full refund if not fully satisfied.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Kirksey Country


Fendley Store, Fendley AR

Fendley Store was opened by Kirksey family members in 1907 and closed in the forties. The Kirkseys have kept it in serviceable condition since its closing. Seemed like the right thing to do.

When you pull into Fendley, Arkansas it’s hard to miss Fendley Store. There’s not much else from an urban development viewpoint and that’s not a drawback if you happen to be a Kirksey. As a matter of fact, it’s close to ideal.

See the old Kirksey house at Corndancer dot com

The family has lived on this real estate since around 1874. Across the road from the store in one direction is the home of one of the original Kirkseys, still in use by a Kirksey.

To see the house (complete with tire swing and a neat little stone bench),  click here and go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com where this story started, a very cool thing to do. Also see one of the Spring Creek Nursery greenhouses and three generations of Kirkseys.  Take your time, we’ll wait here while you look around a bit.

Across the road in another direction is Spring Creek Nursery operated by Brian Kirksey and his family. The nursery is just part of what the Kirkseys do. They also raise cattle, build greenhouses and are in the timber business as well.

Spring Creek Nursery Greenhouse

Spring Creek Nursery greenhouses are designed and built by the proprietor, Brian Kirksey. They are good stewards of the environment. Diligent recycling is a part of their business.

The Spring Creek Nursery is a sophisticated operation in a rural setting. Low traffic. Low noise. Low hassle and a zero mileage commute. The family has five dogs, four of which are normally part and parcel of the daily “work-flow.” What is commonplace at Fendley is spectacular to those of us who see far too much asphalt and traffic. Take Moorman Road for example. The road runs through the Kirksey Farm. Not far from one of the greenhouses, the summer foliage of trees lining the road form a verdant tunnel. Not too shabby for less than a block and a half from Main Street.

Moorman Road

Moorman Road running through Spring Creek Nursery forms this living tunnel.

Just a few miles west of Fendley, on Still Creek Road, you will see the perfectly restored Loy Kirksey “dog-trot” house restored by relatives of Brian Kirksey. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a perfect example of this popular style of 19th and early 20th century rural architecture.  Sometimes you hear of these houses being referred to as “shotgun”house, which is a misnomer.

Loy Kirksey house

The Loy Kirksey House, originally built prior to 1874 is on Still Creek Road northwest of Fendley. Dog trot houses got their name from the style of two living spaces separated by a breezeway, through which one's dog could and would trot.

But wait, there’s more

More pictures

More pictures

Each week, we post all of the “keepers” of the shoot or shoots for Corndancer and Grist posts in an on-line picture-only gallery. There is normally not room to publish all we shoot and like. The pictures are high-resolution and larger that the posts.

This week the additional shots include some more green house, dog-trot, tunnel and tire swing shots in color and good ol’ black and white.  Click here and take a good look.

Thanks for dropping by and taking a look at how things are in a completely rural setting. I’m giving it a dozen thumbs up.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

The old house at Smead


old house at Smead Arkansas

The cedar tree in the foreground may well be older than the house. The house was built in the late 1800s. When the tree was a sapling, we don't know. One thing we do know, it displays the gnarled and scarred characteristics of old cedar trees − the looks of a hardy survivor.

The old house, and not a lot else, is at Smead, Arkansas. It is the childhood home of my friend Bob Abbott who graciously pointed me in the direction of his former domicile. The story of the old house started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see how the story started plus two other pictures, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Almost, bit not quite

From the front, the old home almost appears marginally habitable. Unfortunately, looks, in this case are deceiving. The house faces east, as you see it above. The rub is, the weather, in this neck of the woods, mainly comes to us from the west. So the back of the house, for well over 100 years, has taken the worst hissy-fits Mother Nature can pitch, on the chin. It has collapsed in several places.

Outside looking in and vice-versa

old screen doors

Left, "outside looking IN, with the front door open, you can see down a hall where the back wall of that part of the house has collapsed. Right, looking OUT the same door, it is almost good enough to tell your friends to "come on in and make yourself at home."

Dog trot

The house was originally of the dog-trot style, common in that day and time. Although the domicile was under one roof, there were two distinct areas separated by a breezeway. Usually, one side was for cooking and passing the time of day and the other side was for sleeping. At some time, the breezeway ends were closed and it became a giant hallway.

hall way and rooms

The front door is just out of view to the right hand side of the pictujre. The first room has all the appearances of a living or "front" room. This hall was originally a breezeway. The ceiling material is "beadboard," a popular milled wood stripping of the time. There is a dirt dauber nest by the ceiling light fixture.

Barns

Rural residents of the era of this house almost always had some livestock for food and work. These critters require accommodations, most always manifested as a barn. This location was not exception. There are two barns on the property, a cow barn and a horse barn. The cow barn is below. The left side is for the cows. The right side is a tool shed, hay storage area and general purpose hideout.

old cow barn

The smoke house/tool shed is in better condition than the house.

We’ll have more on this location next week. More looks at the house and nosing around the barns. There always more questions asked than answered on these explorations, but perhaps that’s the appeal.

I am running a bit late this evening. Production was halted while I watched one of my fondest wishes come true during Super Bowl 44. Geaux Saints. Who Dat?

Click here to see a gallery of 21 high resolution pictures from this location, including those you have seen here and on the Corndancer Photo of the Week page. We always shoot more than we have room to publish.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

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