THE BARN
I feel a little bad responding to this one after my comments on the old home. I could just about say "ditto" on this barn. As kids, we spent just about as much time in this old barn as we did outside and in the house. These days, kids are just about raised inside. Dad told me that Sam Lewis built this barn in 1902. According to deeds and abstracts, Charles H. Grimes & Martha Grimes sold the "homeplace" to Samuel Lewis Feb 23, 1921 (mortgage holder capacity). Charles & Martha sold it to John A. & Millie F. Hunter Mar 23, 1921. It lists John & Millie as half owners, and it also lists Oscar G. Hunter & Anna Hunter as half owners. On Mar 22, 1923, Oscar G. Hunter, unmarried, transferred his part to John & Millie.

​The mortgage release from Sam Lewis was Apr 1, 1927. John & Millie got a mortgage Mar 19, 1927 with Federal Land Bank of Louisville, Ky. Millie transferred it to Conley & Oma M. Hunter May 10, 1941. I have one interesting thing that Dane Jones told me. He said that Virgil Hunter broke his arm in this barn.

​Also, Charlie Hunter told me (we wrote it down) when he drove our school bus that he came to Metamora Mar 7, 1921, from Cincinnati, and they moved to the "Hunter farm on Pipe Creek" before John & Millie bought it. That seems to hold up, since this is 16 days before the records say John & Millie bought it. Charlie was the son of William Henry Hunter & Lucy Sizemore Hunter. Now for my personal stuff in regard to the old barn:  I'm guessing this photo must have been taken about the mid-1930s because it looks as if they just re-roofed it. We re-roofed the barn with metal in 1969. I can still remember the fear that me and Bud (my brother Paul) got as we climbed up the ladder on the inside end of the barn, busted out a hole through the roof, trying to ignore active wasps, and climbed out onto the roof, 40 feet above the ground. We just remained there motionless for a long time, saying "there's no way we can re-roof this barn". I can also remember me (ha, at a braver 20 years of age) volunteering (I was the lightest at about 115 lbs.) to ease out over the center driveway to tear out an old rotten section of rafters, and later, nail the new rafters. Dad just about had a fit, but he let me after I agreed to do it with a rope around my waist.

​We play many games of basketball up in the loft, "carefully" avoiding the rotten section in the floor, right beneath the basket. We improvised back in those days, and made do with what we had, because that was all we had, and all we would get. We used to put up hay (loose) in the loft, using horses, and later, a tractor, to pull the rope away from the barn while the hay fork lifted the load clear to the top of the barn, ran horizontal to near the end, when we would "trip" the fork, and the entire load would drop onto a huge haystack.  I can also remember we got reprimanded (whipped) for sliding down the haystack, which, of course, half-ruined the hay as cattle feed. There are a thousand more similar stories here.

Millie Hunter and the toad

As told by Douglas Hunter to William Smith

Millie (Sandlin) Hunter

He hated toads.  He saw a toad and crushed it with a rock. 
Doug Hunter was only seven years old when this particular
toad croaked his last.  Where his aversion to frogs and toads
came from, he still doesn’t know.  However, one thing he does
know, his grandma did not react as he had hoped.

He was staying with Grandma Millie Hunter at her home.  She
was out back working in the garden.  “Grandma, come see!”
called Little Doug.  Millie, with hoe in hand, walked over.  As
Doug lifted the stone to reveal the dead toad, a look of horror
and panic came across Millie’s face.  “What have you done!?!”
yelled Millie.  “What have you done?  Now the cow will give
blood for 30 days!!!”  She was shaking and Little Doug was confused.

That’s when she started chasing Doug around the yard hitting him with the hoe handle.  Eventually, Millie collected herself long enough to give the boy some important instructions, “Now you take that toad down by the creek and bury him belly up with his head facing the north.  Bury him by the tree and get yourself back up here.”

​Doug didn’t know what to think, but he knew to obey.  With tears still streaming down his face and welts developing from the hoe-handle beating, he did as he was ordered. He took the toad down by the creek and buried it.

When he returned to the house Millie still looked as if she wanted to lay a few more whacks on the boy, but she simply said, “Let’s hope that works.  Let’s hope the cow doesn’t give blood.”

Early the next morning Millie woke the boy up from his sleep and walked him out to the barn to milk the cow. Tension filled the air.  As Millie began to milk the cow, however, a sigh of relief escaped as milk, not blood, came from the cow.  Millie looked at Doug.  “Good job boy.  You did just as I told you.”

At the time Doug did not know that an old superstition had followed the Hunter and Sandlin families down from the Cumberland Mountains and out of Clay County, Kentucky.  The myth was a common one:  kill a toad on the farm, and your cow will give bloody milk.

​By the way, Doug Hunter still doesn’t care for toads.

John Anderson Hunter

John Anderson Hunter was a diabetic.  Some also believed
he suffered from a condition known as dropsy.  Dropsy is
now called edema, a medical problem which results in
excessive water accumulating in soft tissue.  Edema is often
associated with congestive heart failure.  We know that John
Hunter died from congestive heart failure, so the references
to his struggle with dropsy are credible.

The thorn in John’s flesh came in the form of a large open
sore on his leg.  Some said the painful lesion actually was
deep enough that bone could be seen.  He had to pack the
wound to prevent infection and to diminish the oozing of fluids
from the wound.  It also caused him considerable discomfort.

As he approached the twilight of his life, the diabetes made
healing difficult.  One night as he lay in bed the pain was
excrutiating.  As the evening wore on he prayed out to God,
​“Please let me die!”  Legend has it that this is when he saw a vision.  According to family accounts, John saw the ceiling open so that he could see the sky and stars.  One bright light in particular caught his attention as he heard a voice say, “Do not pray to die.  Pray to live.  If you pray to live and speak on My behalf you will be healed.”  John prayed to live.

The next morning Millie came to John’s bedside to dress the wound, as was her custom.  You can imagine her surprise when the dressing was not needed.  Instead of the wound, she found new skin.  “It was like new baby skin,” she would say.  Both John and Millie provided testimony to God’s healing power.

Not long after the vision and healing, a revival was being hosted at Elm Grove Baptist Church with a traveling evangelist.  At one point in the message,the evangelist invited John to join him in speaking during the revival.  After the sermon John made his way up to the evangelist.  “I’m not much of a public speaker,” John explained as he declined the invitation.

​Soon after the revival, John took to his bed and died.

The night the ceiling opened

by Douglas Hunter, son of Clyde Hunter

The wagon was pulled by a couple of horses.  The haul was a large granite slab which was to be used as a step in the walkway leading to the old Hunter homestead in Metamora, Indiana.

Some recall that the heavy stone had been ordered from a quarry in Bedford, Indiana.  As the wagon made it’s way down the road to the Hunter home, something terrible happened.  A wheel from the wagon gave way under the weight of the granite slab and crushed one of the workers escorting the stone.  To make matters worse, the crash of the wagon spooked the horses, causing them to buck and scramble, dragging the wagon, stone and man.  It was an awful tragedy.

After removing the man and cleaning the area, the stone was eventually taken to it’s destination at the Hunter homestead where it remained for many years.

However, for stretch of road where the accident occurred became known as a place where horses would not travel without coercion and a side-step to the edge of the road.  Could the horses sense the tragedy of years gone by? 

​The area was “hainted” according to many locals.  The legend of the haunting is still a topic of discussion among some from the area.

The Hainted Stretch

by Douglas Hunter, son of Clyde Hunter

photos by Keith Hunter and William Smith.

Hunterston Castle - Ayrshire, Scotland

THE HOMEPLACE
This surely does bring back a lot of memories. My parents, Conley and Oma Hunter, lived in this house from 1941 to 1958, when it burned. I was born in 1949, so my childhood was right there. The old swing hanging from the cedar tree was the best to us. We didn't know what a store-bought swing was. We'd go so high in this that we would be horizontal. The brave would jump out sometimes, dangerous considering there was a bank there heading down toward the gravel road. Notice the weeds in the yard. A lot of our summers were spent "mowing" grass with hand cycles. Me, Garry, Larry, and Bud each had a cycle to cut with. Of course, we would never get caught up.

The sidewalk leading up to the house was hand-laid rock (ha, with no concrete between), bordered by rocks on edge. We also had to pull the crabgrass from between the rock. Again, we'd never get done.

​We used to cut arrows out of the straight growths in the firebush shown in the yard. We would glue pigeon feathers to the shafts, and maybe put a nail in the front, and use our homemade bows to shoot the arrows straight up, trying to see if the arrows would come down right on top of us (not very smart). I can remember many long summer nights sharing games of tag, kick-the-can, and hide-and-go-seek with cousins and neighbors outside (long after dark). The days seemed like a month long, and we didn't need anything to make us sleep. I remember "driving" a toy truck on my knees in the smoothed dirt beneath the cedar tree, and most of my britches (nobody uses that word anymore) had holes or patches in the knee.

​Just to the left of the picture was the driveway, mostly a pull-off loop with a small level place on top. We parked our car here. Mom once had a burgundy and white '57 Rambler that was notorious for non-shutting doors. One rainy day, Mom talked Dad into taking it down to the barn to work on the door handles. While he had it down there, a storm came and blew that cedar tree right where the car was normally parked.

​We tried to do some remodeling of the house. We got it wired for electricity in 1949 and hand dug a basement under half the house for the new furnace we had put in. Ultimately that was a mistake, since the furnace was the cause of the fire. Dad was in the stripping room at the bottom of the hill stripping tobacco Dec. 3, 1958. The Omar (bread) man had left bread not long before. A passing neighbor saw the smoke and blew her horn. By then, Dad could not get into the house to save anything. I remember riding home on the bus that evening with no knowledge of the fire, and our bus driver, Roy Curry, said "Conley Hunter's house is on fire". It was devastating to us. We have a picture somewhere of me and Garry sitting on the side steps in our earmuff caps and pea coats with the burned walls in the background. We eventually built back on that same sight. Our life was filled with little more than work, but it was a wonderful life as well. Lots of people have made lasting memories at this old homestead.

running the race

Reflections on the Metamora Hunter Homestead

by Jim Hunter, son of Conley Hunter

The following is a retelling of a story written on August 25, 1952 by Lillie Miers, the 11th child of Hiram Hunter and Polly Keith.  At the time, Lillie was living in Knoxville, Tennessee. Hiram was married three times and Polly was his second wife.  This version of the story is retold by Ernestine Hunter, daughter of John Anderson Hunter and Millie Frances Sandlin:

​“In this letter of August 25, Lillie spoke of her Great grandfather, along with two of his brothers, coming to the U.S.A. from Ayrshire, Scotland.  To her knowledge, one brother settled in the area of Charleston, South Carolina, the other was believed to have stopped somewhere in the Northeastern part of the Country (New York or New Jersey) and the other, Robert, settled in North Carolina and was an officer in the army under General George Washington.

“The story of their arrival to this Country was printed in a Washington, D.C. paper about 1935.  The paper believed to have been the Sunday Star.

​“Robert was the great grandfather to Lillie Miers.  He lived in or around Marshall, North Carolina and the number of his children is unknown and his wife was unknown.  But it was known that one of his sons, Robert Nathan Hunter lived in the area of Marshall or Jupiter, North Carolina (Buncombe County).

“George Washington Hunter (1st) was the fourth child of Robert Nathan Hunter.  It is believed that Robert Nathan left North Carolina (…about four or five words are not legible here…) Missouri in or about 1824.

​“The Hunters owned land in the Jupiter section of North Carolina.  This lies just off U.S. Highway 25 east of Alexander and between Marshall and Asheville, North Carolina. Today the farm is known as the Bead-Smith Place.  Here the Hunters lived for years raising their families.

​“To the North, a new land was being opened and, an opportunity seem to present itself to the Hunter boys.  Three brothers, the sons of Robert Nathan Hunter, took their families and started in search of this new land.  These boys were George at the age of 42, William age 37 and Nathan age 35.

​“Today, with its modern roads, the distance from their home to Cumberland Gap is approximately 150 miles.  It was over this trail, they chose to travel.  It was the trail called Wilderness Road, that was laid out by Daniel Boone in 1775.  The year was around 1857 and the mode of travel was horse and wagon.  So you can see that such a distance was a challenge.  The trail took them over Smokey Mountain Range, through the land of the Cherokee Indian, what is now the Pisgah National Forest, across the Valleys of the French Broad and the Holston Rivers and into the Clinch Mountains.  Then they faced the Clinch and Powell Rivers before crossing the Cumberland Mountains at Cumberland Gap.

“This was the only place for many miles in either direction where such a crossing was accessible. Here the states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia come together.

“After crossing the Cumberland Mountains, they traveled past what is now Middleboro, Kentucky, up through the Pine Mountains, and about 25 miles up to Flat Lick.  Here in a place called “Big Bottoms”, there was a stockade, where many families could stay with safe protection from the Indians.

​“Although no tribes lived in this part of the Country, many Indians from North, South, East and West, used this for their hunting grounds.  The traveling was so rough, and the dangers so great, the men decided to leave their families at Big Bottom, in safety, while they went on to find suitable home sites before bringing their families farther.

“William stayed behind, but George and Nathan pushed toward the North, into the Central and Eastern part of Kentucky.  George stayed in Clay County, and bought land in Sexton’s Creek.  Nathan went on to the adjoining County of Jackson and bought some land in what is today known as Gray Hawk.

​"After getting this land, they returned to get their families.  When they got back, William had gone up to the falls in the Ohio River.”

A Legendary account

from Ayrshire, Scotland to the North Carolina

by Lillie (Hunter) Miers

​August 25, 1952

The Hunter History & Stories from family members

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