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Clinton Grizzler Combs’ Homestead

There once was a man named Clinton Combs, who was nicknamed Grizzler. In 1829 Clinton had an illegitimate child with one of his cousins named Matilda Combs. Their son was named Hiram Combs. In 1837 Clinton married another one of his cousins, her name was Elizabeth Combs. The year Clinton and Elizabeth married they built a home on a branch of Maces Creek.

Hiram Combs moved to Arkansas and got hitched to a woman named Mary WALKER. They had three children when they lived in Arkansas, then came back to Kentucky and had seven more children, one of which was Jeremiah who was born in 1859. Jeremiah’s descedants call him Jerry, so we will call him Jerry in our story.

In the year 2000 I was lucky enough to find the decedents of Jerry Combs on Maces Creek. They were at the homestead built by Clinton (Grizzler) Combs in 1837. The house built by Clinton is still there. It was 163 years old when I was there in 2000. The old log house has been fixed up and very well cared for over the many years it has stood on Maces Creek.

Back of house and outhouse.

The day I found Jerry’s descedents they were having a family reunion. Their reunion is not like most I’ve seen.

Most of the people at their reunion live in Franklin, Ohio. They come to Maces Creek once a year, for a week, and during that week they live as our ancestors did in the 1800’s. Except for a few modern covenants such as running water, a fridge and electric stove, a few fans and an inside bathroom. Even though the old homestead has been somewhat modernized it still retains it’s 1800’s charm.

When I arrived at Clinton’s old homestead. I was welcomed by a nice lady named Irene Combs Caudill Swift.

Irene is the daughter of D Combs, who is the son of Jerry Combs. She was born in 1921 and was 79 years old when I met her. She told me she was born in Clinton’s old house.

Irene gave me a tour of the homestead, she showed me a hole where a bullet was shot through the wall during the Civil War. The hole was in a bedroom, where there was an old iron post bed in one corner.

Next Irene walked me through a place she called a dog-walk. The dog walk is like a covered porch or walkway, that connects two smaller buildings to make one house.

Irene showed me the old fireplace in the living area, and the kitchen, she pointed out that when her grandfather lived there, they had no running water, and no electricity, she said “her grandfather had an old coal cook stove”.

She made sure I noticed that the ceiling and door rims were all kind of low, she said “that was because the Combs’ did not have much height”. I am 5’8” tall myself and had to stoop over to walk thru the doors.

Then Irene took me outside and showed me the root cellar she said “it was used for storing can food and non perishables like flour and such”.

Irene showed me the corn crib, and pointed out how short the entrance was. She said “of course they used the corn crib to store corn, they used a lot of corn, not only for theirselfs but also feed it to their livestock”.

The chimney was crude but to me very beautiful it was made out of rock that was hauled from the creek.

When Irene showed me the smoke house, she talked about it a long while. Irene said “when she was a young girl they would salt there meat and hang it in the smoke house and it would keep all winter. Hams, shoulders and midleans were kept in the smoke house, but meats with bones in them such as ribs and backbone had to be cooked and canned. Because they would not keep if smoked”.

I noticed the smoke house had windows in it. I ask Irene, “why they would have windows in a smoke house” she said “that in the summer they would use the smoke house for a kitchen so as not to heat up the house”.

The last thing Irene showed me was an old well and she talked about, as a young girl hauling water from the well to the house.

The day I was there, they were roasting a pig in a stove that looked like it had been made out of some kind of old iron barrel. And they were cooking white half runner beans with bacon and onions in an old iron kettle.

While I was there I was also lucky enough to watch them making felting hats, from raw sheep wool the way our ancestors did in the 1800‘s.

The process took a long time and seemed to be very hard work, but was very enjoyable to watch.

They start with raw sheep wool and use a spinning wheel to turn it into 2-ply wool yarn. Then they take the wool yarn and turn it on a drum carter. This transfers the wool into what they called batts. They rub down the batts with soap and water to mesh the fibers together and make felt.

Then they put the felt on a hat mold and rub it more to shape it into a hat. Then they trim and dry them and there done.

I ask the man who was shaping the hats what they were going to do with them, he answered and said, “if we are not to ashamed of them we’ll wear them”.

There was also a man there who was making chairs out of tall hickory bark.

After taking the tour Irene and I sat on the old porch in old wood rocking chairs. And she started telling me stories that had been passed down to her from her grand father. The one I found most interesting was the one she told me about Hiram and Jerry.

The story was that when Hiram left Kentucky for the second time, the river was high enough to float rafts on.

I know my mother (Goldie Combs) has told me that when she was a young girl they used to swim in Carr’s Fork, she said “the water was way over their heads in most places and the river was a lot wider then it is now”. I remember when I was very young watching people being baptized in the river. Since that time they have built a damn and made Carr’s Fork Lake. Now in most places the Carr’s Fork and Maces Creek are only about 12 inches deep.

Sometimes I sit on my porch at Carr’s Fork and try to imagine what this place looked like when the 8 brothers first came here, with no roads, railroads or houses, and a lot more trees. I bet it was the most beautiful land in the country. And I have been told there was a lot of wild life here. My grand mother was from a place called Bear Branch. She said “in one year they killed 99 bears there, that is how it got it’s name”. The beauty and wildlife may be why our ancestors stayed here.

Anyway, back to the story of Hiram. Irene’s story was that when Hiram Combs left Kentucky to go to Arkansas the second time, he took a raft down the river. She said “Hiram, his son Jerry and one of Hiram’s daughters, where going down the river and Jerry jumped off the raft. Jerry told Hiram he could not leave his home. Jerry went back to Maces Creek and stayed with a man named Henry Caudill for a while. Then Jerry married Henry’s daughter Judith. After they married Jerry and Judith moved into Clinton’s old house”.

I ask Irene if she knew anything about Mary WALKER the wife of her great grand father Hiram Combs. She said “all she knew about Mary was that she was buried in a hollow on Maces Creek”.

Written By
Barbara West
‘2005´


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Clinton's Home

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Back of house

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Out House

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Irene

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Log Wall

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Bedroom

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Dog-Walk

fireplace

Fireplace

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Part of Kitchen

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Kitchen

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Ceiling

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Door Frame

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Root Cellar

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Root Cellar Door

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Corn Crib

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Chimney

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Chimney Rocks

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Windows

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Smoke House

Well

Well

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Outside Cook Stove 2

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Outside Cook Stove

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Pig Roasting

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Iron Kettle

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White Half Runner Beans

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Spinning Wheel

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Two-Ply Wool

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Drum Carter

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Batt of Wool

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Meshing the Felt

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Hat Mold

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Shaping Hats

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Hickory Chair

     

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