History in Bloom(ingdale)

Post updated concerning Roberts Cabin, 23 September 2016.

This week’s post is written by archives volunteer Kari Roueche.

HistoricSites
(© 1976, The Sullivan County Historical Commission and Associates)

The original photographs published in the 1976 book Historic Sites of Sullivan County are contained in the Muriel C. Spoden Collection (KCMC). Lately we’ve been slightly obsessed with trying to find these historic structures and discovering their current condition. This week, we tackled Chapter I, “Reedy Creek and Bloomingdale Environs.”

Our search began just west of the intersection of Bloomingdale Rd. and John B. Dennis/Wadlow Gap at the John Thompson House.

The Thompson House or Red House Tavern, c. 1972, is located just east of Stuffle Heights on the south side of Bloomingdale Pike.
The Thompson House or Red House Tavern, c. 1972, is located just east of Stuffle Heights on the south side of Bloomingdale Pike.

Part of a 1780 land grant, Thompson built the house just after 1809 on 180 acres that had three previous owners. The Red House name was given after Thompson sold the home to Thomas Hopkins.

The original masonry on the chimney is one of the Thompson House's unique features.
The original masonry on the chimney is one of the Thompson House’s unique features.
Thompson House, 2015.
Thompson House, 2015.
The grounds and outbuildings, one of them original, are meticulously kept.
The grounds and outbuildings, one of them original, are meticulously kept.
The John Ketron House, c. 1972, is located in the Arcadia community on Bloomingdale Rd.
The John Ketron House, c. 1972, is located in the Arcadia community on Bloomingdale Rd.

John Ketron (or Kettering) was born in Virginia to German immigrants. He settled in the log home, now covered in siding, around 1790. The house was still owned by Ketrons at the time HSSC was published.

The Ketron Mansion in 2015. Notice the spring house in the foreground.
The Ketron Mansion in 2015. Notice the spring house in the foreground.
Ketron-Hobbs-Gaines House, c. 1971, is located across the street from the John Ketron House.
Ketron-Hobbs-Gaines House, c. 1971, is located across the street from the John Ketron House.

Ketron land was part of the 1772 Reedy Creek Settlement. This 33-acre parcel was separated from the main tract in 1874 for Sarah Ketron and her husband David Hobbs. The log dwelling was occupied by sisters Fannie and Eula Gaines at the time the above photograph was taken.

The Ketron-Hobbs-Gaines cabin in 2015.
The Ketron-Hobbs-Gaines cabin in 2015.
The Green-Hickam House, c. 1973, is located on Arcadia Rd.
The Green-Hickam House, c ,1973, is located on Arcadia Rd.

The two-story portion of the dwelling was possibly built by Robert Green from land purchased from the Hicks family in 1844. The single-story addition was added by John Green during the Civil War. Green’s daughter Susie married Melvin Hicks and the couple lived out their lives in the home. Their descendant, Mabel Hickam-Nottingham was living in the home at the time HSSC was published.

The Green Hickam House in 2015.
The Green Hickam House in 2015.
The Hickam log home is across the road from a beautiful, large pond.
The Hickam log home is across the road from a beautiful, large pond.
The Fain Plantation photographed in the early 1970s.
The Fain Plantation, photographed in the early 1970s, is located on Bloomingdale Rd between Arcadia and Ollis Bowers roads.

Thomas Fain (1809-1898) began building on the land, including 6 log structures, a post office and, eventually, the main house, in 1836. He and his wife Rachel christened their land, which stretched from the Virginia state line to the Chestnut Ridge, Arcadia.

The Fain Plantation in 2015.
The Fain Plantation in 2015.
A couple of the well-preserved log cabins on the property.
A couple of the well-preserved log cabins on the property.
View from Timber Branch Rd.
View of the Fain Plantation from Timber Branch Rd.
Fain spring house.
Fain spring house.
leslieMill
Leslie’s Mill, undated, is located at the southern end of Boozy Creek.

The grist mill is on land that Andrew Leslie purchased in 1851, but a mill is likely to have been at this location as early as 1827.

The Leslie Mill in 2015.
The Leslie Mill in 2015.
An undated photograph of Leslie's Mill.
An undated photograph of Leslie’s Mill, looking north.
Leslie Mill on the banks of picturesque Boozy Creek.
Leslie Mill on the banks of picturesque Boozy Creek.
The John Roberts Cabin is located on Boozy Creek Rd. at the Virginia end.
The John Roberts Cabin was located in a bend on Boozy Creek Rd. between Cole Hollow and Scott Rds.

John Roberts built his home about 1773. On September 24, 1774, John, his wife, and three of their children were killed in an Indian attack. Another son was taken prisoner but eventually returned in an exchange. A fifth child was seriously wounded and eventually died of his injuries.

Update: At the time of this blog’s publication, the cabin was dismantled and the land fenced. However, another, very old photograph of the cabin was located within the Spoden Collection and is included below.

robertscabin

The Sullivan County Historical Commission did not document every historical structure in the county during the 70s, and the archives does not retain every photograph taken at the time, but their work was remarkable and, we think, worth re-visiting. Patrons are welcome to examine the collection.

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29 thoughts on “History in Bloom(ingdale)

  1. This is like a walk through my family’s history!

    The Roberts cabin: John Robert’s son James is the one who had been captured then ransomed back; he lived there for another 25 years, then sold the cabin to my fourth-great grandfather James Bright, when he first moved here. James Bright’s grandson, my great-grandfather, was Thomas Fain Bright, named after Thomas Fain. My grandfather was Leslie Newland Bright, named after Leslie Newland, whose ancestors include the Leslie family.

    1. James Roberts is my 4th great grandfather. He married Margaret Woods and they had a daughter named Elizabeth who married William Burton. They had a son named Joseph Richardson Burton who married Elizabeth Smith. They, in turn, had a son named Milford Aleck Burton (my great grandfather) who married Mary Ellen Wright. They were the parents of my grandmother Pearl Mae Burton who married George W. Baker who were the parents of my father Joseph T. Baker.

      1. My grandmothers name was Fannie Bright she married Earnest Eaton. I wonder if there is any relation to the brights mentioned here

    2. Leslie, John Roberts was my 5th great Grand Uncle. I am a direct descendant of his brother William. Is it possible to arrange a short visit to this cabin. I would love to see it first hand. Please reply to my email at mroberts0109@gmail.com

      Thanks
      Michael Roberts

    1. I totally agree/ This is very interesting. There is more history here in our area that really needs to be put out there such as this has been. I love looking at the old houses and recall seeing quite a few of them through the years, The Mill is one of them! Very, very interesting.

  2. My grandfather was Keener Ketron who is part of all of the Ketrons in Arcadia. I have a family history that shows where his great grandfather, Johann Kettenring, came to America on the ship, “Chance”. I also got to see his name on the registry when I visiting Ellis Island in NY. Very cool!

  3. My husband and I lived in TN for awhile and we visited the Robert’s cabin and the relatives to who lived next door at the time. It was amazing. This was about 2001. In approx. 2007 we were told that they were tearing the cabin down and selling the wood. Now I see this photo of the “Roberts Cabin” that looks nothing like the original. Did they build a new cabin out of the wood and, if so, where is the “new cabin”? Thank you.

  4. Thanks for your wonderful work and photos. I am looking at your site because we recently visited Sullivan Co TN and Washington Co VA to research our German immigrant ancestor Philipp Pitzinger who was a miller in Washington Co in 1870. His neighbor Elkanah Ketron, was a wheelright and also appears to have transferred his land ownership to his young-ish son Ansel M Ketron. I think Philipp likely worked for “Caney” who owned the mill and operated his woodworking shop in one end. Caney had previously been a miller in Sullivan Co, thus my interest in the Ketrons of Sullivan. The Pitzingers were also in Sullivan abt 1852-1859 and the courthouse burned in 1863. These old mills were wonderful things.

  5. Carol, I’m trying to find out for sure if this is the actual cabin. My site is DiscoverKingsport.com and it has been quite a search to find the exact location of the Roberts Family. Ironically, my parents moved here from Ohio and it turns out that just a few miles from their home is where Chief Logan’s Family was massacred that brought his broken revengeful heart down to the Roberts. He thought the man who killed his family (he was told wrong) was at Fort Blackmore. He attacked there and then came the 20 miles south to this area and killed the Roberts Family. This started the war which was nearly the last against the Native Americans in this area.

    1. “Ketron land was part of the 1772 Reedy Creek Settlement.”—This early settlement came only three years after Daniel Boone’s trek through this territory on his way to Kentucke in 1769, as commemorated on the monument at Church Circle. Chief Logan’s Family were massacred in 1774. Boone and the thirty axmen set out from Reedy Creek to blaze the Wilderness Trail on March 10, 1775—commissioned by Richard Henderson of the Transylvania Land Company.

    2. Hello, Tim. I apologize for taking several weeks to get back with you! I would like to discuss the Robert’s cabin more with you if you wouldn’t mind. My email (which is easier than the blog) is crittermom1950@att.net.
      Thank you for your response. I’ve visited DiscoverKingsport.com and it’s a very nice site. Thank you for that!
      Have you been able to find out any more about the Robert’s cabin?

    3. The cabin was still there in 2012. It can be seen on googleearth. 507 Boozy Creek. It no longer stands. The picture above is not the original cabin location. It is in Virginia. The original cabin is just over a half mile north of Bloomingdale Pike on Boozy Creek Road.

  6. Verified. The cabin has been found. The above picture is not the cabin so be sure to not disturb them. The cabin is being fully rebuilt and restored at another location. Happily, I touched it with my hand, along with a relative of one of the original owners. I’ll be posting a full report soon on DiscoverKingsport.com . It was a very good day 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad that the photo is not the original cabin and that the Robert’s cabin has been fully restored at another location. I can breathe a sigh of relief that it was not destroyed. I’m glad I got to see it in the original location before it was moved thought. Looking forward to more information on the cabin! Thanks again, Tim!

  7. Thank you. I have often wondered about the history of “Ketron Mansion”. I pass it twice each day as I travel to and from Ketron Elementary School where I teach Kindergarten. Sadly, like so many of our historic home, it seems to be abandoned.

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