The story of Brush Arbor in Renfro Valley
One section of the original reconstructed log home, now known as Brush Arbor at Renfro Valley, Kentucky, was originally built in about 1860 by James Pennington. The original cabin was located on Maulden Branch Road near Pennington Branch on the South East border of Jackson County near the Clay County line.
Research has shown that James Pennington and John L. Montgomery founded the original Mt. Olive Baptist Church near the original log home in the year of 1865. James Pennington's name appears second on the original charter; John L. Montgomery's signature appears first on the same document. Speculation has it that John L. Montgomery and James Pennington, being the first two charter members and founders of the church, not only were friends, but that John L. Montgomery probably assisted James Pennington in the b
uilding of his original cabin. John L. Montgomery, being a stone mason, most likely built the fireplace and chimney of the Pennington home place.
Present family members of James Pennington have traced their heritage back as far as England to the 1500's.
Present descendent's of John L. and Sarah Raines Montgomery, who are the restorers and re-builders of the James Pennington Cabin, now known as Brush Arbor, have traced their heritage as direct descendants of Mark Kenton, the father of Simon Kenton, Kentucky's original frontiersman and pioneer; the connection through Sarah Raines Montgomery.
John L. Montgomery married Sarah Raines in the year 1823. Sarah Raines was the daughter of Mary Kenton, who was a sister of Simon Kenton.
John L. Montgomery had 11 children, one of which was Fred Montgomery. Fred Montgomery married Rachel Wilson in the year 1845. They had 12 children, the next to the youngest was Stella Montgomery, who married James Wilson Davis in the year 1920. Stella Montgomery Davis had four children, one of which was Charlotte Jane Davis.
Charlotte Jane Davis married Robert Hayes, a sixth generation descendent of Patrick and Amelia Hayes, who arrived in this country from Ireland in the year of 1786, settling in Rock Hill, South Carolina, eventually moving into what is now Knox County, Kentucky, then on to Jackson County, Kentucky.
Robert and Charlotte Davis Hayes had three sons, one of whom is Jerry L. Hayes, the great-grandson of John L. and Sarah Montgomery. Jerry Hayes is the restorer and re-builder of the James Pennington Cabin, reconstructed on a 28 acre farm in Renfro Valley, Kentucky.
The 28 acre farm was purchased in 1996 from Doug and Janice Mullins. Doug Mullins' great uncle was John Lair, the founder of the world famous Renfro Valley. The farm and the original, reconstructed cabin are now a part of an expanded development called Brush Arbor Appalachian Pioneer Homestead and Village.
Brush Arbor, named by Hayes's father, Robert Hayes of Jackson County, Kentucky, as of March, 1998, consists of the following authentically restored log structures:
- The James and Liza Pennington 1860's Log Cabin
- The Uncle Andy Wilson, Farmhand Cabin
- 200 year old Smoke House from the State of Virginia
- 175 year old corn crib from Harrowgate, Tennessee
- 1820 Cantilever Barn from Pulaski County, Kentucky
- Restored Log Church
- Gibb Montgomery Blacksmith Shop
- 1797 Log Cabin from Madison County near Fort Boonesborough
Jerry L. Hayes, the 7th generation Irish descendant of Patrick and Amelia Hayes on his father's side, is also the 8th generation of Mark Kenton, the father of Kentucky's original pioneer and Frontiersman, Simon Kenton, on his mother's side.
Although the Hayes genealogy does not have the notoriety of Simon Kenton and Daniel Boone, the Hayes family was one of the original families who settled what is now Jackson County Kentucky in the 1840's.
Recent stories in the Kentucky Explorer Magazine give a historical overview of Simon Kenton's years, but also about the "hanging" in Knox County Kentucky, which resulted in Bobby Hayes', the 3rd generation of Patrick and Amelia Hayes, from the Cumberland Gap area, to settle what is today known as Jackson County, Kentucky, the neighboring county of Renfro Valley.
Bobby Hayes' father, Alexander Hayes, the son of Patrick and Amelia Hayes, arrived and settled in Knox County Kentucky, from Rock Hill, South Carolina, in the year 1812. Alexander Hayes built an L-shaped, two story log home in Artemus, Kentucky, at the exact place where Stinking Creek empties into the Cumberland River, near what is today known as Barbourville, Kentucky.
Alexander Hayes owned more than 1200 acres of prime and scenic land at Artemus. In addition to farming, his two story log home served as a boarding place and tavern for early settlers coming through the Cumberland Gap. Stage coaches, covered wagons, and eventually Confederate and Union forces during the Civil War, were frequent guests at Alexander Hayes' tavern. Alexander Hayes and his wife, as well as several of their descendants, are buried at the top of the mountain on his old home place, overlooking the
site where his cabin once stood ... where Stinking Creek meets the Cumberland River.
The Alexander Hayes Family Cemetery, lost in time, existed virtually unknown for over 150 years until recently discovered by Wayne Hayes and a nephew David Hayes in 1992. As a result of over 20 years of painstaking research, travel, court house visits, and correspondence, Wayne Hayes has documented over 6,000 descendants of Patrick and Amelia Hayes. The list of which is still growing.
Beginning in June of 1997, many of the descendants of Simon Kenton, John L. Montgomery, James Pennington and Patrick and Amelia Hayes will hold their annual family reunions at the reconstructed log home now known as Brush Arbor Appalachian Pioneer Homestead and Village, located at Renfro Valley, Kentucky.
Brush Arbor would not have been possible without the generous advice and counsel of Bob Leytze, whom we fondly call "the architect of Brush Arbor". It is interesting to note that Bob Leytze, is married to the former Mabel Montgomery, the great granddaughter of John L. Montgomery and Sarah Raines; Sarah being a direct descendent of Mark Kenton, Simon Kenton's father.
Original restoration artists Johnny Jett and Sherman Thompson relocated the log structures and "rough stacked" them. Nelson Hamilton, of Woodford County, Kentucky, and Jack Thompson, of Speedwell, Tennessee, have carried the torch of authentic restoration and finishing details of the antique buildings.
Kentucky State Representative, Danny Ford, Minority Floor Leader, stated at a recent meeting of the Mt.Vernon/Rockcastle County Tourism Meeting, "if you folks have not visited Brush Arbor, I urge you to do so. You will be hard-pressed to find an authentic restoration of the quality which they have achieved, especially on the Pennington home."
What started as the simple relocation and restoration of an 1860's Kentucky log cabin, has evolved into an authentic restoration of an Appalachian Pioneer Homestead and Village, currently consisting of eight log structures.
Brush Arbor Appalachian Pioneer Village, as featured in the Lexington Herald-Leader, and Lexington's WLEX, Channel 18, an NBC affiliate, is believed to be the only one of its kind in Kentucky, if not the nation, because of its privately funded beginnings, and the uniqueness as a living memorial to its founder's Kentucky ancestors and pioneers.
Brush Arbor features overnight accommodations at the Bed and Breakfast on site. Local Kentucky crafters, storytellers, humorists, musicians, and period re-enactors are featured on a regular basis.
Gardening, canning, quilt making, sorghum making, blacksmithing, and other Appalachian chores are demonstrated on an on-going basis.
Brush Arbor is available for ...
Groups ... family reunions ... picnics ... weddings ... anniversaries ... birthdays ... church retreats ... church services ... private dinners ... seminars ... business meetings .. seminars .. and other special events.