Reflections of Joellen Tyler Johnston
“I have often stood in the barn at Blackacre and been transfixed with the thought of the many things that barn has witnessed over the past two hundred years. It was built in the 1790s by Moses Tyler, with the help of family and neighbors. They used yellow poplar, cutting the tall old trees down in winter when there was little sap in the trunks. The felled trees were then stripped of their limbs and hauled to the barn site where they were shaped into squared logs using an adz and broad ax. After trimming the ends of the logs so they would fit together the men hoisted them into place to create a double-crib barn characteristic of the style brought to this area by early settlers from the Virginia region of Appalachia. And all this they accomplished using only their own strength and that of their horses.
“I have admired those massive logs forming pens for animals and lofts for grain but one question I often asked myself is – why did they decide on a two-crib barn? Could this barn have been for both Moses and his brother William to use? William’s farm was directly south, just across today’s Taylorsville Road. The brothers were close not only in the proximity of their farms but also in their feelings for one another. Their friendship and mutual respect can been seen in original deeds and felt even across the many years.”I climbed the ladder to the loft, which has a sweet smell of hay. Barn swallows were flying about and nesting in the rafters. When I shut my eyes I could almost hear the sounds of wagon wheels and horses hooves. I thought of the many hours men have spent working in that barn, caring for the sheltered livestock and tossing hay into the lofts. (According to the Agricultural Census in 1850, Presley Tyler, who owned the farm after his father Moses died, had 15 tons of hay.) I thought about the Kroeger family milking their herd of dairy cows and then taking the large cans of milk to the train at Tucker Station. There were echoes also of the Wheeler family who lived and worked on the farm in the early 20th century, continuing those days when older children provided much farm labor. And I thought of the many school children coming in the last 25 years to stand in the barn and learn about the self-sufficiency required of early farm families.
“In 1983 the barn underwent extensive restoration and at that time, the Courier-Journal described the barn as ‘…. The oldest continuously used barn in Jefferson County.’ It is all that, and much, much more.”