This Old House - A farm house with humble roots

-A A +A



John Smiley may never have imagined in 1804 that the log home he was constructing outside of Wakefield in rural Spencer County, using timbers that were 28 feet long, would still be standing more than 200 years later.

The home is still there. It has been added onto twice, but the Smiley’s labor is still evident by the stone fireplace and the exposed logs that are featured prominently. The house is now the home of Woodie and Lora Cheek, who have taken great care to preserve the historic elements, while adding enough modern amenities to make it livable in the 21st Century.

“It’s as modern as it can be to be as old as it is,” said Lora, who has embraced the history of the home and the 200-plus acre farm it sits on.

Lora’s family was raised in the area that sits near the Nelson County line. Cheek, also a Spencer County native, said his mother once lived on land nearby as well.

Smiley built the two-story log cabin, and then sold it to the Berkley family. Through marriage and a later land swap, the farm became home to the Green family, where it stayed until the mid 1980s. An addition was added in 1830, and the home remained pretty much the same until Cheek bought it.

The latest addition includes a modern kitchen area and a back porch that Lora said is her favorite feature of the home because it provides such a wonderful view of the sweeping landscape. Sitting on one of the highest points in the county, you can actually view Jeptha Knob in Shelby County from their porch.

History abounds in and around the house. Cheek was told that a Confederate soldier by the name of Samuel “One-Armed” Berry, who rode with the famed Gen. John Hunt Morgan and later with William Quantrill, whose group also included the likes of Frank and Jesse James, surrendered to federal troops in the living room of the house shortly after the Civil War. Later, Quantrill himself was mortally wounded and captured on a farm not far from the home.

Outside the home, a family cemetery contains the remains of those who called the farm home. The Cheeks have put a nice picket fence around the cemetery and respectfully maintain the resting spot.

The Cheeks have had the opportunity to travel the world, visiting six continents, but they say this is their place of refuge. Both said they were raised on a farm and the peaceful rural setting suits them perfectly.

“I like people, but I don’t want neighbors too close,” said Lora with a smile. They raise cattle and have rescued a couple of dogs from shelters and open their home up to friends and family often. In fact, several years ago, they organized a reunion for the Green family to return to their family home.

Woodie recalls that when he pulled up to the house before it was being sold at auction, “I just had some kind of feeling.” Now thirty years later, it’s the place he loves as he watches his grandchildren visit and play.