"Patty Myers" <mailto:[email protected]


"Joe Payne" <[email protected]>


Re: Restoration of Barthell Mining Camp


Mon, 30 Sep 2002 10:29:57 -0500


Thanks for the article on restoring Barthell Mining Camp.


The following is from my book Ancestors and Descendants of Lewis Ross Freeman with Related Families, based partially on the work of Freeman Worth Gardner and Willis Freeman. This was published in 1995. It had quite a bit of material on Robert Lyon Stearns, son of Justus Smith Stearns and husband of Laura Freeman, sister of my paternal grandmother Florence Freeman Barthell.


In a tape recording made New Year's Eve, 1968, by Edward East Barthell, Jr., is the following:

....After I got out of the Marine Corps in 1918, I went myself to Stearns, Kentucky, and spent a year doing everything from "mucking" (which means digging up mud in the coal mines) to being Postmaster at Barthell, Kentucky, the first mine down the mountain from Stearns. And during the year I spent down there I went to Jamestown, Tennessee, and Scottville, Tennessee, where I saw in my father's handwriting in the records were he apparently had made indexes of all real estate transfers from the date of the Revolutionary War on up.... and they are still there and are the official records.

Edward East Barthell was attorney for the Stearns Coal & Lumber Company, headed at first by Justus Smith Stearns and later by his son, Robert Lyon Stearns, whose wife was Laura Freeman Stearns, sister of Edward's wife, Florence.

           Stearns, Kentucky, was founded on May 22, 1902, when Michigan surveyor W. A. Kinne and Nashville  attorney, E. E. Barthell, road horses three miles north from Pine Knot to a Cincinnati Southern siding known to  the railroad crews as the Gum Tree Tie Yard. Acting as agents for Justus Stearns and the Stearns Salt &  Lumber Co. of Ludington, the two men, using a briefcase as a desk under the big black gum's boughs, signed documents which incorporated the Stearns Lumber Co., the Stearns Coal Co.,  and the Kentucky & Tennessee  Railroad. That was the beginning locally.

            The town site, one square mile purchased from the Bryant family, was uninhabited at the time but a fairly well  known place in the region. Riley Sellars had owned a farm there (now the site of the Stearns golf course)  where General Ambrose Burnside's troops had camped in September 1863 on their backcountry march to take Knoxville from the Confederates.

            Al Kinne, lived in Stearns the rest of his life and was a Kentucky state senator. Barthell moved his practice to Chicago, but remained the company's general counsel until his death. An in-law of Rob Stearns, he was honored by having the first company mine camp named after him. (Lore & Legend, Vol. 1,  No. 1, p. 3, published by J. P. Thomas, Box 248, Stearns, KY 42657.)


There's a lot of material in my next book on Stearns Coal & Lumber Company and Justus S. Stearns, who married Paulina Lyon, sister of my mother's paternal grandfather, Thomas R. Lyon. This book is the Lyon-Rice one which will have my Grandfather Barthell's Mountain Stories as well as some really funny stuff written by Robert Lyon Stearns.



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