The Horse Hollow Cabin Of "Raccoon" John and Anne Smith
Built Before 1814
Excerpt From Life Of Elder John Smith
"John Smith's dream of an education was much disturbed by this desire to preach. He had been thinking of leaving homo as soon as he could with propriety do so, and of going to some more favored part of the country, where he might attend a good school and sustain himself by his labor at the same time; but the reflection that his learning would be useless if he preached, that a knowledge of books would make him depend less on the power of the Spirit, caused him to lay aside his scheme for the present. He felt at the time that he could deny himself all knowledge, dear as it was to his mind, rather than destroy his influence by his learning. He waited on the Lord, therefore, for months with patient awe, and during that time kept under, as well as he could, his desire for an education.
"So constantly was his mind occupied in the meantime with the thought of preaching that it frequently disturbed him in his sleep. Once, in his dreams, he stood before some imaginary congregation and lifted up his voice so loud that all the family were startled from their slumbers. His mother had at last to break the spell that was on him by going to his bedside and screaming in his ears:
"'John, are you distracted, thus to preach without a call?'
"But John preached on in his dreams at night, and listened for the heavenly call by day, until at last he began to despair of hearing it at all.
"A more worldly project, too, soon engaged his attention. The region of country lying on the Little South Fork of the Cumberland, and formerly reserved as an Indian hunting ground, had been recently thrown into market, and was rapidly rilling up with settlers. His brother William had already entered some of this land, and John was anxious to secure a home near him. After visiting and examining the country, he purchased of a settler his head right to two hundred acres, for which he paid him the sum of fifty dollars. The land was in Wayne County, about twelve or fourteen miles southeast from Monticello, in a wild, narrow valley, called by the people "Horse Hollow," a name which had been given to it from the fact that, before the extinction of the Indian title, it had been the rendezvous of a band of thieves, who used to hide their stolen horses in that secluded spot. As soon as he could make the necessary arrangements at home, he went back to his old home and took up his books once more, for opening up his farm. It had already been settled—that is, some straggling backwoodsman had acquired a title to it, notched the comer trees with his ax, raised the pen of his log cabin upon it, and called it his home; but, saving these improvements, it was as wild and rough a piece of wilderness as could be found.
"In the midst of his preparations for farming, however, word was brought to him that a man of some learning had moved into Stockton's Valley, and was about to open a school. His desire for an education suddenly revived; the present opportunity could not be lost, and he resolved to improve it. Cropping his ax and abandoning his wild land in the Hollow, he went to live with his brother, and began his preparations.
-Life Of Elder John Smith, by John Augustus Williams, pages 58,59
More From Life Of Elder John Smith
"John Smith was not without susceptibility, and he was by no means wanting in a tender regard for the other sex. His respect for all virtuous women was, in fact, unbounded. But he was averse to gallantry, free from every tinge of romance, and wholly unskilled in the arts of courtship. He had a notion, too, that no young man should mingle much in the society of young women till he had first made up his mind to marry, and that he should then proceed in a businesslike way to seek one that was suitable and willing to become his wife. He had conscientiously governed himself by this rule; for, although he was now in the twenty-second year of his age, he had never spoken to more than one or two young women in his life.
"The impression which Anna Townsend made on his heart that evening was serious and abiding. He was now a man in years, and the owner of two hundred acres of land; he had left the parental roof forever, and he felt that he could push his own fortunes in the world. He resolved, therefore, to take a wife. After a few days' deliberation, he made his first visit to the cabin of old Mr. Townsend, and on December 9, 1806, he wedded the first and only maiden that he ever loved.
"On the next morning he proposed to his wife, as his clearing was some four miles off, and he would lose too much time in going so far to his work every day, that they should move over at once to their house in "The Hollow," and live to themselves. The proposal accorded with her own wishes; for, in the mind of a young wife, the idea of domestic independence is inseparable from that of home.
"The preparations to move were soon made. A deep and heavy snow had fallen during the night, and the shrubs and vines were weighed down and tangled across the narrow paths, until the forest was almost impassable. An ox sledge, drawn by a sturdy yoke, was made ready. A bed, a few cooking utensils, and some provisions Cthe gift of the mother, and the bride's only dowryCwere placed upon it. The bride herself sat bravely on the sledge, in the midst of her household stuff, while the groom, with his ax on his shoulder, stepped proudly on ahead to guide the floundering team and to cut open a road to his cabin.
"It was but an undaubed pen of logs. Through many a crevice the snow had drifted in, and it lay in piles on the earthy floor. The little square window was unshuttered and unglazed, and the entrance was closed against them by the bending shrubs. He cleared away the straggling branches, and his wife went in and took possession of her cheerless home. Gaping walls, a floor of dirt, and a stoneless hearth heaped with sooty snow, were all that met her eyes as she looked for the first time on her own fireside. But in a little while Smith had provided abundant fuel; his flint yielded the ready spark, and a heap of logs and rich fagots soon blazed like a conflagration in the fireplace. But an empty cabin, without a puncheon or a hearthstone, and open on all sides to December storms, was certainly no luxurious chamber for a bride, no very pleasant home for a young and hopeful wife. But she knew nothing of luxury, and, therefore, felt none of the wants which it creates. They were poor, indeed, but their poverty was unfelt; for none of their neighbors were rich, and all alike were accustomed to privation and toil.
"The roaring fire soon thawed the hovel, and the dirty walls and the unsightly floor were slept again and again. Smith, having cut a few stout logs of the proper length and thickness, brought them in upon his shoulders and laid them down for sleepers in a corner of the room. Across these he placed some clapboards, found piled in the woods close by. On this rude platform the bed was laid, while a spare coverlet or two was hung against the wall to turn the cold wind which rushed in through every crevice. When the evening came on, the fire was replenished, a great log was rolled before the hearth, and the contented pair sat down together upon it in the light of the cheerful blaze and talked over the toils of the coming day.
"His task for the winter was to clear a few acres of land, and have a field in readiness for planting in the early spring. During the day he labored alone in the clearing girdling the larger trees and cutting out the undergrowth of shrubs, whose polelike trunks he trimmed and piled away for fencing. At night he worked in his fire-lighted cabin, cheered and assisted by his wife.
"The walls were soon well chinked and daubed; a shutter was made for the window, and the awkward door was shaped and fitted till it shut out the wintry storms. His ax and wedge prepared the puncheons in the forest, which he laid down at night on the oaken sleepers, and then smoothed well with his adze. A few evenings thus spent, and he stepped on as firm a floor as cabin ever had. No happier feet ever pressed a carpet in the mansions of the rich.
"He next out from the forest the trunk of a young dogwood tree which forked at the proper height from the ground, and, having trimmed it, he set it up in his cabin for the outer corner post of his bedstead. One end was let into the floor with the auger, the other was fastened securely to the joist above. Two hickory poles, which served for rails, rested at right angles to each other in the fork of this post and in the crevice of the log on each side of the corner. Across this frame peeled hickory rods were laid in close parallels for slats; strips of clean linden bark, easily torn from the tree at almost any season of the year, were next laid down; the bed, with all its wealth of covering, was then spread, and the arrangements for repose were complete.
"The labor of inclosing and cultivating a farm in the wilderness without help was severe; but he found time to keep alive not only his own religious zeal, but that of his neighbors also. He had by his fervent piety and his force of character come to be the religious head of a scattered brotherhood. He had persuaded them to keep up their society meetings, at which he was always present to confirm or to comfort them by words of exhortation; and he now began to urge them to come together and to constitute themselves regularly into a church.
"His wife, who was unconverted at the time of her marriage, soon became deeply concerned on the subject of religion. He was, of course, much interested in the progress of her experience, but he reverently and 'hopefully left her alone with her God. The young husband, who, in any other trouble, would have succored her, even at the sacrifice of his life, abandoned her in this, the most solemn and perplexing of her trials; for no obtrusive human agency, thought he, must interfere with the work of the Spirit. She asked him one day what was the meaning of a certain text, and he was too considerate to give her any explanation at the time, fearing that, in the simplicity of her unregenerate heart, she might improperly take comfort from it, and rely more on the Word than on the Holy Ghost. Her joyous deliverance at last relieved his own heart and fired anew his zeal for God.
-Life Of Elder John Smith, by John Augustus Williams, page 64-67
Directions To Monticello, Kentucky Location of The Horse Hollow Cabin
The cabin, termed "Horse Hollow" cabin of John Smith is believed to have been the actual cabin that Smith built as early as 1814. The cabin was moved to its present location a few years ago. It is generally closed to the public, but if the church office next door is open, they are happy to let anyone go through it.
Monticello is not easily accessed from the national interstate system. In southern Kentucky it may be access from either I-65 or I-75.
87 miles from I-65 - Take Exit 43, Louis B. Nunn-Cumberland Pkwy. (Hwy.9008) and head east. You will go through Glasgow, Edmonton & Columbia. When you come to Somerset, you will take Hwy 27 south until you get to the south end of town, then take Hwy 90 toward Monticello. When you get into Monticello, turn left on Hwy. 92, (Columbia Ave.) Go to the center of town and follow the Hwy.92 signs. You will end up on Michigan Ave. Look for the Christian church on the right. The cabin will be sitting next to the church office.
54 miles from I-75 - Take Exit 11, Hwy. 92 at Williamsburg, and go west. The road is crooked! Follow Hwy. 92 until you enter Monticello. As you enter town, you will see the Smith cabin and Christian church on the left.
or D.d. 36.829421, -84.847230
click on photos for a close look
click on photos for a close look
Photos Taken May, 2011
Courtesy of Scott Harp
Special Thanks to Tom L. Childers & C. Wayne Kilpatrick for assisting in the production of this site. They were with your web editor in May, 2011 when these pictures were made.
Note: Recently, it was brought to our attention that the curator of the Wayne County Historical Museum is a diligent fan of "Raccoon" John Smith. Apparently he even dresses in old regalia, and entertains on occasion as portrayer of Smith. For more information on this contact the museum at 75 North Main Street, Monticello, KY 42633-2852 Phone: (606) 340-2300