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Four-lane expansion for US 68 in KY

A new $20 million four-lane road will be built from just south of Southland Christian Church to just north of the Y intersection of U.S. 68 and Ky. 29 near Wilmore.

Project Manager Keith Caudill said the District 7 Office is in the process of getting an appraiser to evaluate properties along the intended route for the new four-lane road.

“We’re hoping by the spring of 2006 to start the right-of-way acquisition process,” Caudill said.

The expansion should mean four lanes all the way from Lexington to Wilmore, I believe, as I’m pretty sure the construction they’ve already done has made it four lane up to Southland Christian.

The real reason this article was written was because they’ve dug up some fascinating historical artifacts from a slaveowner’s home along the route.

The two-room house was owned by Mason Barkley, a hemp farmer who owned about 25 slaves, said Susan Andrews, project manager for AMEC Earth and Environmental.

The dig has peeled back earth to find evidence of a stone hearth where there was once a chimney. Bigger stones are pier stones where wood members were laid.
Another structure revealed by the dig is a detached kitchen and slave house from the 1840s. There is evidence of a stone cellar, and you can still see the stone steps that went down into the cellar.

Around the time of the Civil War, the shed was demolished and the cellar was filled, and a kitchen with a chimney was built onto the main house, Andrews said.

The site also has the remains of two kilns where clay bricks were made. Bricks were found in straight, neat rows.

Clay and water would be mixed and then the bricks would be formed by hand, Andrews said. They were thoroughly dried, stacked and then covered by a clay chamber. Then they would be burned for three days, and after the fire died down, the bricks were allowed to cool.

“A lot of big farms would make their own bricks,” Andrews said. She is aware of only two similar kilns being dug up in the state.

Household artifacts have been found at the Jessamine site as well.

“We’ve found beads and jewelry, some of the things that have fallen through the floor,” Andrews said. “We found pierced brass disks, which is something found a lot near houses occupied by slaves. We found hand-formed pipes, smoking pipes, lots of smoking pipes, actually.

“We’ve found broken dishes and glasses and bottles and buttons. In that cellar we found a huge part of a bone that might have been an ox. They must have had oxen up here and slaughtered one.”

The site might add more information about slaves in Kentucky, Andrews said.
“There’s not much known about how slaves actually lived, especially in the Upland south of Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia, because they lived differently than down South, where they had hundreds of slaves living on a plantation. Slaves didn’t write, and most of the history was written by well-to-do white men, and you get a certain bias with well-to-do white men.”

It’s a really amazing find. The artifacts will probably be kept and studied by the University of Kentucky. It’s too bad they can’t just transplant the whole site and set it up as a museum!

But before you go growling at the US 68 expansion for destroying a historical landmark, read this:

Parts of the existing two-lane U.S. 68 will remain as a service road and a bike path.

Bike path!!!!! See, that makes it all okay ;>