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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Log home holds family memories

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Family, honor, tradition and history run deep in the Hayden Estes family. Its roots trace back locally to the mid-1800s on a farm about two miles west of Ash Flat where an old log home still remains.

The 400-acre farm is peaceful and serene, untouched by time. It has a charm and character that words cannot describe. Many have traveled the path to the old log home to do some serious soul-searching, said Tommy Estes and Carolyn Estes Stewart, son and daughter of Hayden and Rexine Estes.

Estes said his father, Hayden, told him the house was started before the Civil War. Construction stopped when Hayden's grandfather, Henry L. Roberts, traveled to Rolla, Mo., to fight on the side of the Union to serve the "Boys in Blue" by working in some of the mills and new buildings in the northern states.

Fighting against the Confederate Army could not have been an easy task for Roberts because his brother, John Stacey Roberts, also left his home in Ash Flat to join the war. But his brother was fighting for the South, literally pitting "Brother against Brother."

When the war ended Roberts returned to Ash Flat to finish building his home, which sits on a slate rock foundation, from cut logs of local timbers.

The log home was homesteaded in 1855 by Roberts. Described as a "Lincoln style" home, the house has three rooms with a flat-roofed porch that extends the entire length of the home. A well and family cemetery are also located on the farm.

Roberts died in 1898 during a trip to town. He had purchased a pair of shoes for his daughter to get married in but when he brought them back the two shoes were for the same foot, Stewart said. Roberts hitched his mule up to the buggy to exchange the shoes but something apparently spooked the mule by the creek. Roberts was thrown from the buggy; he died from a head trauma after hitting some large boulders, Stewart said. Roberts is buried in the family cemetery on the farm.

Only three have claimed ownership to the farm: Roberts, Harvey Estes and Hayden Estes. Estes said there has never been a recorded mortgage on the farm.

Estes said his father was born and raised in the old home. He replaced the porch and reroofed the house with sheet iron in the 1970s.

Stewart said her parents were asked if they would ever consider selling the farm. Her father replied, "How could you ever sell your grandpa?"

Stewart said she remembers her grandmother washing clothes in the creek. She recalls old log barns, long gone now, that were used to store hay.

History of the old homestead is being passed on to Estes' grandson, Kerry Boles, 11, of Cordova, Tenn.

Estes said Boles spends about three months a year roaming the farm and learning every inch of it. Boles is fortunate because his grandfather and his great-aunt recall tales about the farm.

Boles returned to the farm over the 4th of July weekend and the first thing he asked was to see the neighbor's peacocks, Estes said.

Stewart said she remembers skipping rocks across the pond on a lazy summer day.

Estes said he, Stewart and another sister, Charlotte Fowler, all have wonderful childhood memories of time spent on the land.

Stewart said the farm has been the "rock" for family members. She recalled that her father once told her he wished the land was flat so he could see the view of the entire farm.

Estes said his grandson hops on his modern-day "mule" to watch the wildlife -- deer, turkey and coyotes. He loves to fish the stock ponds and travel through the woods.

Stewart said she and Boles have scavenger hunts on the land. She said family members always take small mementos home from the farm.

She said sometimes when she is walking over the land she will call a family member and say, "Guess what I'm looking at?" She said it might be a special tree that brings back a cherished memory or a recollection of her working in the fields.

Estes purchased a 10-acre farm in January 2002 which adjoins his parents' land. Stewart said it's wonderful that her brother lives so close to the old farm; it's a home base now.

Estes said he always wanted to move back to the farm so buying the land provided the perfect opportunity.

Old wagon trails were found on the land which were used to travel to Agnos. Stewart referred to a 150-acre parcel she fondly calls "booger woods" because of the thick woods that is home to panthers, bear, turkey and deer.

Blackberry bushes, wild cherry trees, pecan and walnut trees stand gracefully on the land.

Grandpa Harvey was a socialite, Stewart said. He loved people and people loved him, she recalled.

Each year a big square dance was held in honor of his birthday. Stewart said she would like to start a big Harvey hoe-down in memory of her grandfather.

Stewart referred to herself as a summer tour guide as she drove her "mule" to an old Oak tree where she and her father had placed a rock in the base of the tree in 1976 with their carved initials. "There are some things priceless. I remember it like it was yesterday," she reminisced.

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