‘We come spinning out of nothingness,
scattering stars like dust.’
Glass Jar Attic House, Ruins of Bell’s Tavern- A Journey through Barren County, KY
December the 20th of 1798 Barren County, KY came to be. Its name was taken from The Barrens, of which meadowlands do cover the northern third. The sub soil is made of clay which sits upon limestone. Many springs and caves are abundant here. In the past tobacco was the most important export here along with rye, wheat, corn and oats.
The towns of Barren County are Glasgow, the county seat of justice, Edmonton, Frederick and Chaplinton.
There are mineral springs here of which were considered to be efficacious in treatment of diseases. One stream was rich in sulphur and magnesia and they called these streams “medical waters”.
Edmund Rogers was an early pioneer of this beautiful area and “Green River” country. Edmund was an industrious man who surveyed, explored and mapped the lands including barren County. Edmund Rogers was a cousin to General George Rogers Clark. His brother was Captain John Rogers.
Edmund started surveying in 1783 in Clark’s or what was known as the Illinois Grant on the northern side of the Ohio River by Louisville, KY. In 1874 his operations changed to survey Little and Big Barren rivers and tributaries.
In Barren County at Park City stand the erect ruins of Bell’s Tavern N 37 05.510 W 086 02.996.
An Inn was built in the 1820’s and operated by Col. William Bell, a Revolutionary Officer of Virginia. He named his Tavern and Inn Bell’s Tavern. The food was known to be lavish and Colonel Bell would often prepare his favorite appetizer, a very potent peach brandy and honey. It was quite popular with the guests and dispensed in modest amounts! Coffee was taken from table to table by a slave servant named Shad, who they said had the darkest skin and whitest teeth they had ever seen. Shad was buried under the apple tree in the orchard upon his death.
Many famous guests and politician frequented Bell’s Tavern in the day, including Henry Clay, the Marshalls, Judge Rowan and Aaron Harding to name a few. It was told by Nathaniel Silsbee, Senator of Massachusetts 1825-35, in a letter to a friend “Stop by for a day or two at the Famous Bell’s Tavern. Should you arrive late at night and find the yard filled in with rough carts and wagons, with perhaps uncouth men or maybe Indians stretched upon the porch and hall floors, keep up good heart; there will be a comfortable bed for you, and at breakfast such a breakfast as you have seldom sat to you will have for company men, learned men, not unlikely a prince or potentate, a world famous actor or prima donna; it may be all of these. But mark you, should none of these fall to your share you will find in your host a cultivated, charming gentlemen who can keep up his end of the conversation with even you. There is no other hostelry of its like upon the length of the continent.”
The Tavern came to an end by the ruin of fire in 1858. A new Tavern was being erected in its place but would never see completion because of the Civil War.
On my journey through Barren County I have encountered many abandoned structures. I will focus on a few and one of my favorites called “Glass Jar Attic House”. The home had the steepest stairs going into the attic. Up in the attic was the largest assortment of glass jars strewn about on the floor with other odd assorted items, such as curlers, a Santa Claus pin, tobacco boxes and even a coat hung neatly on the old wood rafters.
I hope you will enjoy the journey-
It was strange that when I saw the Santa Claus pin on the Glass Jar Attic floor, I remembered that I had the exact same pin and would put it on my wool coat as a young girl during Christmas time. The string you would pull made the eyes open.