Test of Time

Memories still awash from
springhouse remains in area

Creasey Mahan springhouse
has a storied past
as the property passed down
through generations

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

August 2010 Kentucky Edition Cover

August 2010
Kentucky Edition Cover

(August 2010) – The limestone springhouse at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in Goshen has long stood the test of time. Built for utilitarian purposes, it has weathered storms, kept foods fresh on its interior stone ledges, and supplied water to any who drank from its cold spring.
Repairs have recently been completed on the springhouse, due to storm damage in 2008. “The roof flew off like an umbrella because it was not property bolted down,” said Creasey Mahan Executive Director Tavia P. Cathcart.
The former tin roof was not historically accurate, and has since been replaced with shingles by Steinrock Roofing, a company that donated labor for the project. The springhouse has been standing on the property since approximately 1805. Surveyors, and brothers, Hancock Taylor and Richard Taylor, first discovered the property that now houses the springhouse and Nature Preserve.
In 1805 Hancock Taylor’s descendant, James Taylor, sold the property to Virginian Frederick Edwards, who had fought in the Revolutionary War. Since Edwards had already acquired large land holdings near present-day St. Matthews, he turned the property over to his son, William. William Edwards is responsible for building the log house that still exists inside the walls of the preserve’s main residence, the Mahan House.
William died in 1822 and his wife, Lydia, held the property until she sold it in 1848. The springhouse remained for the next tenant, Sarah Henshaw (widow of Phillip Henshaw), to use.

Tavia Cathcart

"We use the stream as an educational location for field trips."
– Tavia Cathcart, executive director, Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve

Sarah Henshaw bought the property as an investment, eventually passing it on to her son, John, when she died. John sold the farm in 1876 to Samuel Snowden. Snowden’s son, Samuel Bussey Snowden, inherited the Nature Preserve property and resided on it until his death in 1920.
Snowden’s widow, Julia, sold the farm to Jenny Creasey, wife of Leslie Leigh Creasey. The Creaseys gave the property to their daughter, Virginia, and her husband, Howard, when the couple married. Upon their deaths, the Mahans left the farm to Oldham County.
As a wedding gift to his wife, Howard Mahan had water piped from the springhouse to the main residence. The springhouse remains, a testament to all of the families that relied on it daily.
Visitors to the Nature Preserve, located at 12501 Harmony Landing Rd. in Goshen, Ky., still find it a “spot they like to walk inside and cool down,” said Cathcart. “We use the stream as an educational location for field trips.”
It is used to study plants, dragonflies and amphibians. “It’s important in terms of wildlife,” she said.
The feeder spring flows under the adjacent service road and into Harmony Creek near the Mahan-Oldham County Public Library. The springhouse is “really a historic treasure,” said Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve board member Ellen van Nagell.
Van Nagell is aware of several other springhouses within Oldham County because of her job as a Realtor with with RE/MAX. Nana Lampton’s farm in Goshen, Anne and Duane Murner’s farm on Todd’s Point Road, and Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson’s farm along Hwy. 42 all contain springhouse remains.
The springhouse at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve “refers to a time before we had public water, a more primitive time,” van Nagell said. Dairy farmers are the reason the county received public water, because farmers like Carl Klingenfus banded together to make sure there was public water throughout the county, she said.
“You instantly see the springhouse when you drive up,” van Nagell said. “You’re taken back in time and given a peaceful feeling.”

Lee Clore

Photo by Helen E. McKinney

Lee Clore poses next to one of
two springhouses that sit on his
property in Crestwood, Ky. His father
restored this one. The other springhouse
is built below ground level.

The same feeling is apparent on Nancy Theiss’ property, located on North Hwy. 53 outside of La Grange. The original land owners were Moses (1760-1820) and Cynthia Duncan. “Dad bought the property in 1954,” said Theiss.
Two springhouses sit on the property, one located in a grove of trees and missing its roof. The spring from this one feeds into a pond which is “where I learned to swim,” said Theiss.
The hand-cut limestone springhouse contains a dip and sit area and a larger storage area. “The spring runs year round,” she said. “It has a lot of good memories.”
One can sit on the old limestone slab walls and hear nature in the woods that surround it, woods which also add to what is left of the springhouse’s once cool interior. It remains hidden from civilization, transporting one back to a simpler way of life. Even though it is not used anymore for its original purpose, the spring beneath it runs on through time.

Springhouse remains owned by Nancy Theiss

Photo by Helen McKinney

This is one of two springhouses
located on property in La Grange
owned by Nancy Theiss.

There are very few springhouses remaining, but of the ones that do still stand, they hold a lot of history within their walls. Lee Clore’s Crestwood property contains two springhouses, one above ground and one below ground.
Made of limestone, the above ground springhouse contains a tin roof and two rooms; it was restored by his father. There’s not much upkeep to the below ground springhouse, said Clore.
Clore said his great-great-great-grandfather, Elisha Clore (1808-1852), bought the farm which has been passed down through several generations. Elisha Clore’s son, Zachariah, “built the house I live in around 1850,” said Clore. He said the above ground springhouse was built around 1955. It was once used to pump water to the house, but is no longer used.

Don Puckett

Photos by Helen McKinney

Stonemason Don “Booney” Puckett
poses atop a springhouse he repaired at
the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve.

Perhaps one of the most famous springhouses still standing in Kentucky is over the county line in Jefferson County, Ky., near the intersection of Taylorsville Road and Hurstbourne Lane. Jefferson County’s last Indian massacre occurred on July 17, 1789, when the family of Richard Chenoweth was attacked. Three of his children and the two soldiers guarding them were killed at the family’s home on Chenoweth Run, about a mile west of Floyds Fork, which also runs through Oldham County.
History books have recorded Mrs. Chenoweth’s fame since she was scalped and left for dead by her Indian attackers. She managed to crawl into the springhouse to safety where she was found early the next morning by a rescue party. Even though her scalped hair never grew back, Mrs. Chenoweth lived to a ripe old age and covered her scalp with a dainty cap so no one would ever guess what had happened to her.

• If anyone in Oldham County has a springhouse on their property and would like to have its history recorded to put on file at the Oldham County History Center, contact the writer at (502) 738-9435 or via email at: hlnmck@aol.com.

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