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

Something new, something old


Old Stewart store at New Edinburg AR

The old Stewart store at New Edinburg AR. In the left background, you can see the recently restored Clement Hotel. The owners of the hotel recently purchased the store with intentions of restoring it, much like they restored the hotel.  That’s good news for New Edinburg.

Next door to this store, which has seen better days, sits the just-restored vintage 1879 frame-built Clement Hotel. The hotel owners, with a vested interest in how the neighborhood looks, recently bought the old store. We are told the new owners, Willie Carroll Livingston and his wife, intend to give it a good restoration working over just like they did the hotel.

restored frame hotel

Click to see the restored Clement Hotel

Before we go further, you can see pictures of the hotel and find out about the restoration by the owner and his wife on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

You can also see another picture of the  store on the Corndancer site.Click here to go there and get up to speed on the start of this story, a very cool thing to do. We’ll wait here for your return.

When we went to New Edinburg AR to shoot the old hotel, we were laboring under what turned out to be the delusion that we would be able to shoot the inside as well as the outside of the property. Unfortunately, the keys to the hotel were not available so there was an immediate change of plans.

Inside of old Stewart store, New Edinburg AR

Fortunately, in this life, when one door closes, another frequently opens, which was the case on that day. Turns out, relatives of the selling family were to open and empty the old store, which gave us the opportunity to shoot with impunity inside the old store which would never be the same again after today.

wood stove in Stewart Grocery

Old wood stoves similar to this one were the de rigueur heating system for most old country stores. On chilly days, customers who walked into the store would head straight to the stove for a quick warm up and summary of the latest goings on. Notice the old range in the background.

Clutter was the order of the day. We found an old kerosene storage tank and pump, a large wood stove and an old thirties era range. But the store was more than a store, the proprietor of the store, Leslie Stewart, was a Justice of the Peace with judicial authority.

coal-oil tank and pump

Near the wood stove was a kerosene tank. Almost every store at that time had one. The tank has a self-contained pump. Kerosene, known widely as coal-oil, served as fuel for lanterns and as a fire starter for wood stoves. Long before EPA, OSHA and dozens of other pervasive sets of initials,  a wood stove and a nearby kerosene tank were compatible. Now, NADA.

Justice Stewart regularly held court in the store. Some of the more racy cases would draw substantial crowds of onlookers thirsting for spicy details . One of my New Edinburg friends looked in a court docket book and found where his uncle was fined $10 for selling alcoholic beverages to minors. The dockets will make interesting reading.

old Finch McCullough store in New Edinburg AR

The old Finch McCullough store in New Edinburg AR was formerly a Methodist Church. After the store owners bought the building, they moved it to this location, about a block away from the old Stewart store on Arkansas Highway 8.

It was early in the afternoon and my breakfast had long since ceased to effectively fuel my activities. Feeling the need to replenish my system, I ambled down to the only store in town still in business, McClellan’s Country Store. This is not the first time I have visited the store to satisfy my hunger.

Longnecker Barq's Root Beer and huge sandwich

Longnecker Barq’s Root Beer and huge sandwich

At the time of my first visit, the store was known as Spears Country Store. Like before, I ordered a ham and turkey sandwich with all available add-ons. What I got was a huge gastronomical delight. The sandwich should have been measured in pounds or cubic feet, whichever was more appropriate. Huge and yummy good. Accompanied by a Barq’s Root Beer in a traditional longnecker bottle, the meal was perfect for a Saturday afternoon lunch for a good ol’ boy. McClellan’s has their act together.

It is refreshing to be around people who see something good to do and proceed to do it. That’s what I found in New Edinburg.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: Our Weekly Grist Gallery

Stewart store entrance

Every week we shoot more pictures than we have room to show on this page. So, to make sure you are not deprived of the complete story, we put all of our weekly pictures in a gallery of pictures only. This week there are 20 pictures, nine of which you have not seen. These pictures include more shots in the store, a shot of some shelf products left in the store and a bunch of other good stuff you will enjoy. Click here to see these pictures.

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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