A Trip Up Long Branch

This presentation begins on the southern section of Long Branch at the modern bridge crossing and continues northward, almost to the creek's source.

Click on any photo below to see a larger version. A new window containing the photo will open. Click on the image to the left to see a map of the photo locations.

Unlike Line Creek and the Walnut Grove valley, there is no one living on Long Branch today. You can no longer drive through the valley, without a small, high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle or ATV.

(1) The Concrete Bridge

Both of these photos were taken from the concrete bridge that crosses Long Branch (called Sinking Branch today) north of the Walnut Grove Cemetery.

The top photo is facing south--this land was owned by Holbert McClure Sr, then Holbert McClure Jr.

The bottom photo looks north up Long Branch. In 1866 Holbert Sr owned the land on the right side of the creek, Holbert Jr owned the left. Malakiah Linville's and Holbert Jr's land would have intersected on the left-hand side about where the creek begins to turn left and fade from view.

(2) The Big Spring

Part of Long Branch's water flow comes from the "Big Spring" (top). Water bubbles up through the center of the pool creating almost a boiling effect on the surface.

The bottom photo show the discharge from the spring alone which then runs into Long Branch itself.

There's no doubt this was an excellent water source for several generations of lower Long Branch families. It's possible this spring was mentioned in an 1825 land grant to John Baker. The reference was to Jacob Renner Jr's spring; we know at the very least Jacob owned some property nearby (probably owned the spring itself), perhaps this spring attracted him to this particular area.

2,300 feet from (1) on the left side of the creek

(3) The Old Bridge

Remnants of an old bridge that spanned the creek running out of Opossum Hollow into Long Branch.

3,500 feet from (1) on the right side of the creek

(4) The House on the Rock

This is the oldest homeplace on Long Branch according to sources in the landowner's family. It sits on a peninsular rocky outcropping up Opossum Hollow (the first large hollow to the right as you go up the creek), elevated 100 feet above the Long Branch valley.

The story is that the home was so situated in a protected area with a commanding view up the hollow in order to provide a good warning in case of an Indian attack.

I can neither confirm nor dispute any aspect of the story. However, the tale is intriguing, especially considering the home's location.

Perhaps it's a romantic thought on my part, but there is a possibility that this was the home of Jacob Renner Jr. From grant records, we know Jacob was living on Long Branch in the early 1820s and that his land, and that of his son Vincent, was very near this location. In fact, the land where the ruins are located may have been owned by Jacob. There is a small amount of error in the placement of the land grants in the area and this property is within the range of error I know exists for Jacob's land.

The top photo is a close-up of the home's chimney. It is unusual in that the arrangement of the stones indicate it was a corner chimney.

The middle photo is a wider view of where the site. Remains of one foundation corner can be seen on the left. There are no logs or wooden remains visible.

The bottom photo shows the approach up to the home. There is a bluff of moss-covered boulders on the front and sides of the site. An old road runs in up Opossum Hollow, passes in front of this bluff, and continues to the left and over the ridge, intersecting with the East Fork of Skeggs Creek Road. It was once the main route connecting Long Branch and the East Fork. Exactly when the road was built is not known; it was called a "path" in the 1860s.

2,200 feet from (3), up Opossum Hollow northeast of Long Branch

(5) Solomon Rowe's Farm

These photos (the top looking to the north, the bottom to the south) were taken from the what would have been Solomon Rowe's farm. His house was probably out of the frame and to the right of the bottom photo, but it could also have been a bit farther north.

When cleared, there was a surprising amount of what looks to have been fairly good bottom land running the length of Long Branch. These photos give an idea of what much of the area would have looked like when the valley was inhabited.

I believe there is a "lost" cemetery somewhere along Long Branch. There are way too many people who lived and died while living along the creek over the years to have been buried in the known cemeteries. There are some remembrances of a cemetery near this spot, up on the hill to the right of the bottom photo. This would seem logical, as we don't know where Solomon and much of his family are buried. His father, John, was among the earliest residents of the northern section of Long Branch.

1.1 miles from (1) on the left side of the creek

(6) Wesley Mink place

Ruins of a home on the former property of Wesley Alexander Mink (1856-1950). His first wife was Emily Doan, who died about 1881. He remarried to Elizabeth Barron in 1881. She died in 1935. Wesley and Elizabeth are buried at the High Dry Cemetery, but we don't know where Emily is buried.

Wesley's house was actually a short distance to the south of these ruins. Several of his children also lived on Long Branch; this could be one of their homes.

1.56 miles from (1) on the right side of the creek

(7) Long Branch School

The top photo shows the location where the Long Branch School once stood. In the background on both the left and right, are the outhouses. The girls' outhouse is shown in the bottom presentation.

The Long Branch School was a relatively new structure. The operation dates aren't known with certainty, but it was probably constructed after 1900 and was still in operation in the 1950s.

1.68 miles from (1) on the left side of the creek
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(8) The Tall Chimney

It's unknown who owned this home, but it was probably one of the larger, and nicer, dwellings on Long Branch. Solomon Rowe's father, John, and later Solomon, owned this property for much of the 1800s. Only the chimney remains today, but it is unusually well-preserved. Tall and stately, it is remarkably well-built and still stands almost perfectly straight.

Another unusual feature is that it originally had a double hearth; in other words, it was open on both sides. This suggests the chimney was near the center of the home, not on an end like most.

The top and middle photos are different angles of the same site. The bottom photo shows the remnants of a stone wall which ran some distance along a path or road in front of the house (the mossy rocks in the foreground of the middle photos are also remains of the wall).

The road in front of the house is the eastern end of a route that led from Long Branch up a hollow to the top of the ridge and continued on to today's High Dry Cemetery where it then connected with the High Dry Road. On some older maps, the route is called the Kirby Branch Road.

1.72 miles from (1) on the left side of the creek

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(9) Sam Rowe place

This is a classic example of an older log house which was later expanded and covered with wood siding (best illustrated in the bottom photo).

The original stone chimney had deteriorated and a newer brick top section was added in relatively recent times.

John Rowe Sr once owned this property; the cabin was on or very near his original 1824 land grant. Sam Rowe was the last remembered person to live here. This Sam may be the son of William Harvey Rowe, son of Solomon. If so, he was born in 1885. He and his wife, Lena, were living on Long Branch in the 1920s.

1.9 miles from (1) on the left side of the creek

(10) Adams Cemetery

This is the only cemetery in the Long Branch valley that is known today. There are two graves with readable stones: Lucinda Rowe Adams (1872-1901) and her daughter, Girdie May Adams (1895-1898). Lucinda, who married Allensworth Adams in 1891, was the daughter of William Harvey Rowe and Armilda McClure; William was the son of Solomon.

This doesn't appear to be a large cemetery. In addition to the two Adams stones, there are only five other identifiable graves. Two of those are a few yards beyond the Adams stones and are marked with fieldstones. They are of similar size and shape and may be the graves of William Harvey and Armilda.

The cemetery is on property given to William by his father, Solomon.

2.0 miles from (1) on the left side of the creek

(11) Lone Chimney

This lone chimney stands near the head of Long Branch, near an old road which once connected the creek with the Blue Springs area. There are no timbers remaining.

Although the land was originally owned by Andrew Baker (b. 1802), there's no evidence that he lived here; another of his grants, near Blue Springs, mentions his house. So whose home this was is unknown.

2,850 feet from (9) on the right side of the creek

(12) Falls of the Long Branch

An 1847 land grant issued to Andrew Baker (b. 1802) mentions the "falls of the Long Branch" as inside the grant, near northwestern boundary. The falls will provide a northern anchor point in reconstructing the configuration of the original Long Branch land grants.

Taking into account both drops, the falls are about 15 feet high.

3,250 feet from (9) on the left side of the creek

(13) Old Log Home

These photos are of the remains of another old log home. This one was located near the main route from Long Branch to Price Branch Road. We don't know who lived once here.

3,700 feet from (9) on the left side of the creek

(14) Home and Well

This home is unusual in that it had a dug water well a few yards away from the house itself.

The site is in a hollow about halfway up the ridge from Long Branch on a road called "Kirby Branch Road" on some older maps. This is the same road that runs in front of (8) above. This road is mentioned as a "path" in the 1847 Andrew Baker land grant (see 12, above).

The first photo is an wide-angle view of the home's remains. The second is a close-up of what's left of the chimney. The third looks down the well.

2,000 feet up the hollow from (8)