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Meade County area back-road history tour, part two

By TrishTurner

 As I continued on the back roads tour with Gerry Fischer, we went back into Payneville by way of KY 376. At Rhodelia Road, we turned right and, just past the post office, turned left onto Old Sirocco Road and stayed on that road until it became Richardson Landing Road. Gerry explained to me that the Richardson family, at one time, owned the land between what is now their farm off Midway Road and all the way to the Ohio River. I was amazed at that great expanse of the land the Richardson’s once owned. We then backtracked and drove to Rhodelia Road and turned onto Midway Road.  About halfway between Rhodelia Road and Highway 79, we came upon the Richardson Cemetery. This is a small, family cemetery that contains graves of the Richardson’s and allied families. Several times I had driven past this cemetery, and always wanted to stop to take pictures, but was usually in a hurry. One sunny day a couple of weeks ago, I grabbed my camera and drove there. I have always loved the views of the farmland amongst the rolling hills along Midway Road, and the cemetery was a unique location to take photos. I found that the oldest visible grave marker there is for Albert Garry Richardson and his wife Mary Stephenson Richardson. He was born in 1815, and she was born in 1813. There are others buried in that cemetery whose grave markers are no longer visible, but there are records to show that they are buried there. The oldest grave with no visible marker is that of John Wimp, born in 1790 in Pennsylvania. His daughter Mary Jane married into the Richardson family.  When I visited the Richardson cemetery by myself, I noticed that, on the opposite side of the road, there appeared to be an old quarry. I walked over into the quarry and took several pictures. On the day that I went there with Gerry, he drove past the cemetery and down the driveway to the gate that leads into the Richardson’s farm. He told me that, due to the proximity of the quarry I had seen across the road, it is most likely that the stones came from there that they built the gate for the farm with. The Richardson’s were slave owners before the Civil War, and Gerry told me that the slaves had quarried the stone and built the gate. In my mind’s eye, I could see that bustle of activity between the quarry and the entrance to the farm as each stone was put into place. Quite a feat!  We then continued on Midway Road, crossing Highway 79 and turned left onto Haysville Road, or Hwy 144. A little ways up on the left was a two=story farmhouse. “Oh, this is my landmark,” I remarked to Gerry. “I always knew I was on the right road heading towards Midway Road when I saw this farmhouse.” I had worked as a sub at the Ekron Elementary School’s cafeteria several times this year and got my directions home to Payneville mixed up a few times. One time I ended up almost in Irvington. So, if I saw this farmhouse on Hwy 144 I knew I was close to my correct turnoff. Imagine my surprise when Gerry told me that this was a very historically significant house. In 1864 this was the home of David Henry and his family. As stated in Gerry Fischer’s book Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky, “Living in the counties of the heartland was difficult and dangerous during the Civil War. If you openly favored one side or the other you became a potential target of the Confederate guerillas or the Home Guard units.”  Henry was rumored to be a Union man who often supplied the Federals with horses. He did not take kindly to Confederate guerillas Thomas Dupoyster, John Bryant, and their band of about 8 men riding into his farmyard and demanding that Mrs. Henry cook for his men and that he water and feed their horses. The story is told that while the guerrillas were leaving, Henry grabbed his gun and while firing into the air he shouted something that made the guerrillas think that a Union cavalry patrol was chasing them, and they raced off. Mr. Henry apparently told that story to several of his neighbors, and word reached John Bryant, who vowed revenge.On August 23, 1864, Captains Bryant and Dupoyster, along with about 30 guerilla raiders, returned to the Henry farm. David Henry ran upstairs and hid, but when he heard the guerillas abusing his wife and children, he came down to face them. When he stepped out of his doorway onto the porch, Captain John Bryant shot and killed him. As tragic as this event was, the consequences of this murder were just as tragic.  The Union commander of the District of Kentucky, Major General Stephen Burbridge, had issued Order Number 59 in July 1864 that stated, “Whenever an unarmed Union citizen is murdered, four guerrillas will be selected from the prison and publicly shot to death at the most convenient place near the scene of the outrages.” This is exactly what happened after the murder of David Henry. Both Bryant and Dupoyster were killed by early September, but that did not deter Burbridge from fulfilling Order Number 59 to avenge Henry’s death. Four young Confederate prisoners were taken to the Henry farm in Meade County, transported in a wagon and sitting upon their coffins. Mrs. Henry did not want them shot in her yard, so they were taken 300 yards down the road. The four victims were John Brooks from Mississippi, Robert Blinco from Hawesville, Julius Bradis from Louisville, and Francis Marion “Frank” Holmes from Cloverport. A Union firing squad executed the men near a pond close to the Henry farm. All were young men killed in the prime of their lives for a crime they had nothing to do with. Gerry pointed out to me the dip in the terrain where a pond used to be and where he suspects the men were executed. I felt a great sense of sadness while looking at that spot.  We will continue our story next time with our visit to the once thriving town of Meadville and the events that transpired there.