editor's note: in correspondence, the MFS' Jim Hickam, who lives on the family farm in a rural area north of Jackson, Missouri, mentioned "...located on the farm is the shell of a farmhouse built by slaves in 1827." Because of our members' interest in historic and vernacular architecture, I suggested he might share photographs of the structure with us, which he quickly and graciously did.
"This is the first of 4 pictures: This house stands about 4 miles from Jackson, Oak Ridge, and Fruitland, Missouri. It stands on a hillside near Byrd's Creek. The house was built on a piece of land that was a Spanish landgrant to the Byrd family. This family and the family of Sen. William Byrd of West Virginia are related. The Senator visited here as a young man. The walls of the house are about 2 feet thick and were quarried from the bed of Byrd's Creek, a limestone bottomed stream. They were skidded in sledges to the house site. Some of the individual rocks must weigh well over a ton. For example, the rock above the first floor door."
"This inscription (A. B. OCT 1827) stands for Abram
Byrd and the date the house was built. It is chiseled into the
stone above the front door."
"This rock shelf stands just beside and to the right of the front door. It was used to support a bucket of water that served as a source of drinking water for the household. It extends out about a foot and a half, and is about the same length. The thickness is about 4 inches."
"The house has two large fireplaces on each end of the downstairs. The East end one (farthest away in this picture; you are looking at the northwest corner) has been closed up. The downstairs is divided into two rooms with a hallway between. Upstairs there are four rooms. The house had a double decked front porch at one time. There was a very steep stairs that ran from the bottom porch to the top. The house once had shingles on the roof, but has had a tin roof for many years. The roof is in dire need of replacement with new tin. Currently the house is being used for storage. It has no running water, no electricity, and no heating system. I would love to redo the old house to make it sound and water-proof again, plus restore the front porch, but that lies in the future......."
"The house and the farm it stands on (127 acres) has been in the family for more than 100 years, although we have not had it declared a "Century Farm" yet. My mother was born in this house. The farm is owned by my sister, Dorothy Hickam, and me."
James L. Hickam