The Old Cowan Springhouse

For Sale by Duane Bristow - 2017

In the late 18th century people began to move in large numbers from Virginia and other eastern states into Kentucky.

Many of these people who came from Virginia came to settle on 200 acre land grants probably earned by their service or their relative's service in the Revolutionary War. This includes Francis Pierce and the Cowan Brothers - James, William and Andrew and possibly David.

James Cowan, Sr. settled in a forested area on Smith Creek in what is now Clinton County Kentucky. The area where he settled is now known as the Cowan community. He and his wife raised a family and for over a hundred years the Cowans and their children and grandchildren converted the forest to rolling farmland in the process building a house and a barn that they put together with wooden pegs because nails were scarce. Several of the Cowans were buried at their death in a cemetery on the property; the last buried there in 1899.

Sometime during this period encompassing the 19th century they built a house over the spring where they got the water to support their family. These people meant to build things to last as best they could, so they built their springhouse in two stories of hand cut limestone blocks. The lower story was set in the ground with the spring flowing through it and with stone steps leading down to the spring. The Cowans, having no electricity, used this cold spring water as a refrigerator storing milk and other perishable foods in this lower story to keep them cool in the summer.

The upper story of this springhouse contained wooden shelves and it was here that they stored, through the long winter months, the many jars of fruits and vegetables that their womenfolk canned every summer. The flowing water beneath and the heavy stones of the building kept out the winter cold so that their canned goods didn't freeze.

Sometime in the middle of the twentieth century this cold limestone spring ceased flowing under the springhouse and came out of the ground at another place nearby. So the old springhouse ceased to be used.

If you would like to own this old springhouse send me a bid in 2017 and by the end of that year I will evaluate the bids and, if they seem high enough, sell the springhouse to the high bidder. What the bidder will get is a deed to a 20 foot by 20 foot square of land with the springhouse in the center. The deed will also include a right of way for access to the springhouse and a provision that if the springhouse is ever moved the land will revert back to the owners of the original farm from which it came.

Last revised October 12, 2016.

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All contents copyright (C) 2016, Duane Bristow. All rights reserved.