The land opened up as I drove down from a forested ridge in the heart of eastern Kentucky to the Kentucky River valley. As I rounded a curve, I spotted a community that could contain no more than a few dozen people and the Middle Fork Kentucky River in the distance.
This part of Kentucky is like home, the terrain all too familiar. Hills, narrow valleys, small towns and county stores was part of my childhood, and revisiting this part of the state gave me excitement for what I could discover.
Past two closed schools and several residences, I came across a looming and forlorn residence in the distance. Set among the trees atop a dirt driveway, it didn’t resemble the newer houses adjoining it. It had wooden siding, a tin roof, and a long, linear rear porch. I parked and explored the grounds of the house.
To the rear of the property was two abandoned buildings, one of which was a kitchen and early slave quarters.
As I walked towards the old slave quarters, I heard the rustling of footsteps nearby that came closer with each passing step. An elderly gentleman soon appeared among the underbrush and gave a friendly wave. I discovered shortly after that he was a descendent of the David Snowden Jr. family who had built a log cabin on the site of the house back in 1825. That original cabin still existed, only covered later with insulation and clapboard. The family later added onto the house, including the two-story front, for their growing family.
The Snowden family lineage traced to 1759, when David Snowden Sr. was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Through the years, there came David Snowden Jr. who constructed the first cabin along the river in 1825, and Dudley Bishop Snowden, who served as postmaster for the community beginning in April 1914. He didn’t have to travel far for work – the post office was located in the rear of the house.
It is believed that the residence has been not in use for about 15 years. It is in remarkably great condition, with some fresh paint on the trim, repairs to the clapboard and the boarding of some broken windows.