Meade County Messenger, Brandenburg, Ky., Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Travels of a 9-year-old boy
River Bluff

The land on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River was owned by the Reed family. The husband had been a steamboat captain and had died before I knew of them. The mother and her daughter, Irene, lived there by themselves Irene was a large woman near 40 years of age. She was a good music teacher and, I believe, gave piano lessons to my sister Pearle.

Our bridge crosses the river just upstream from the good two-story house. There was a good barn with a board roof which I later helped replace with a sheet iron roof.  These were Depression days of the 1930s. I don't know how they had money to live on.

A neighbor told me a story of them mortgaging a baby calf to my uncle W.D. Ashcraft. He asked them how the calf was doing several years later. They told him the calf had already gone to market. Uncle Will told them, "I can have you sent to the Kentucky penitentiary for that."

"That is all you can do," was their reply.

The daughter died around 1935, the mother moved to a Mason's home, and the farm and the possessions were sold in 1937. There were several nice furniture pieces sold. Dad bought the piano and a nice dining room sideboard.

Mr. Gardener Board from Louisville bought the 170-acre farm for less than $5,000. The field next to Hwy 228 was owned by Mrs. Oscar Board and was bought later. It joined the river from the Hoskinson down to the J. Morgan Richardson place, now owned by our Shacklettes. His son, Howard, and daughter-in-law Margy, did most of the farming. The field from the bluff to Board line had bustles and small trees on much of it, with small cleared fields where I helped set tobacco. It was covered with sinkholes, which we knew was a good place to pile the brush, which was later burned.

Howard hauled barrels of "jelly" from dry-cleaning places in Louisville. This was a residue from the cleaning process and needed to be discarded. I'm sure it is now a hazardous waste and costly to dispose of. There was plenty to dump on brush piles, which burned fast as if gasoline had been poured on them.

I have mowed hay on the lower bluff area next to the Richardson farm. It was a 12-15-acre field. This grew up to trees up to 12 inches in diameter, which have now been cleared for a new road and houses.

The farm provided living space for tenant farmers, who sometimes didn't fulfill all the wishes of the owner. I recall the story of two men being tenants there. The owners had left instructions for work to be done the next week. He came back next weekend and paid both workers for a week's work, as requested.

He then checked to see what was done, and found seven fence posts set. As he went home by Brandenburg, he listed the farm for sale at a real estate firm Mr. Wayne Pace and other banking interests bought it through the agency and owned it for several years.

Mr. Jim Doll was owner for several years and tried to promote a time-share program that failed. The recent owners tried to sell it for a profit, instead of farming it. The road down the bluff is still in the same place, but is much improved.

c 2003 Wilbur Ashcraft

Wilbur Ashcraft was born Feb. 4, 1920, in the family farmhouse in Meade County just off Battletown Road.  He and wife Evelyn still live in the same house, now modified to accommodate the wheelchair Wilbur uses as the result of a farm accident a few years ago.   This particular farm has been in the Ashcraft family since 1917, and Wilbur has farmed it continuously since his youth, including during WWII, when he had a farmer's deferment.  Wilbur took his first big trip as a 9-year-old boy, hence the name of the column.