We always look forward to touring the county roads on our own but we never have an itinerary, usually just get lost, and/or look like creepers parked on the side of a road snapping photos of someone's barn, house, etc. For day one of this trip we had Karen Fankhauser, of the Greenbrier Historical Society, at the wheel (for much longer than I think she ever anticipated) and we had a schedule to follow! Talk about organized.
Stop 1: Keeney Cabin
Well, we got a little lost trying to find this place. But, in our defense, the road sign was missing! We eventually arrived and the tour party was waiting patiently at the cabin.
We met the owners, Dan and Diana, their son Nathaniel, and their dog, Woodrow aka "Woody". I could probably dedicate an entire post to Woody and his adventures. An idea for a rainy day perhaps?
Anyway, after introductions, we were briefed on the history of Keeney Cabin. I mean Lewis Cabin. Or is it Keeney Cabin? As it turns out, no one knows which person actually built the cabin. If only there was a way to find out....
Based on our inspection, Keeney Cabin is what we consider to be a good candidate for tree-ring dating. Bark? Yes! Sound logs? Yes! A need for dating? Yes!
A side note: It's structures like these that make us feel like what we do matters. They make us happy. They make us feel validated about our educational choices.
Stop 2: James Jarrett House
The second stop on our whirlwind tour of Greenbrier County was the James Jarrett House, owned by the GHS president, Margaret Hambrick, and her husband David. We arrived at a beautiful stone house, and silently thought "Oh no. This isn't going to be good". But we were excited to see that there were indeed logs in the James Jarrett House!
The James Jarrett House was believed to be built sometime between 1815 and 1820. The good news for us is that all of the logs are in the kitchen, which is in the lower portion of the house; meaning the logs had to be put in in the beginning stages of construction and were not likely an addition.
Although the logs didn't have bark (aside from a few small spots), there are clear indicators of bark all over the logs. See the dark spots? That is remnant inner bark. Even though there's no outer bark present, this place is still a good candidate for tree-ring dating. We hope to be back in the near future!
Stop 3: William Jarrett House
Next, we visited the William Jarrett House, owned by Margaret's sister Martha. This place was unique! It was likely built in the 1860s if not earlier.
Well, anytime there's a chance something could be much older than it appears, we get excited. It even has the V or steeple notching, which usually indicates later 1700s construction.
Sadly though, the William Jarrett House was buttoned up tightly. The chinking covered every log entirely and there was no way we could collect samples. Just to rub it in, Martha showed us pictures from the 70's when it was rechinked. Guess what? Bark everywhere!!! Until Martha allows us to bust away the nice chinking (never!), this one will remain a mystery.
On a lighter note, Martha hosted a delicious lunch for everyone. Thanks Martha!
Stop 4: Hedrick House
The final stop on our tour that day was Hedrick House. Located high up on a hill and far removed from neighbors, this structure can only be accessed by RTVs. Or at least that's how we got there!
Hedrick House has no known date, but the half dovetail notching suggests that it is newer than the 1700s. The logs appear to be American chestnut, which is really cool! This also means it is older than the early 1900s. American chestnut, once prominent in eastern North America, is now functionally extinct due to widespread chestnut blight in the early 1900s.
The owner, Jeannie, isn't sure what to do with the structure and is hopeful that a known construction date will help her decide the fate of Hedrick House.
We are definitely interested in this place. American chestnut? Yes, please! No known date? How intriguing!