Rock Walls/ Fences of the Bluegrass

donna

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These rock walls or fences were made of ancient limestone and are the hallmark of Kentucky's Bluegrass region. The earliest settlers to Kentucky built dry laid fences in the 18th century . They were built around farms, cemeteries and mills. They were built by Irish and Scottish immigrants who were stonemasons who were owners of farms, laborers hired for laying the stones and even indentured servants. As time went on these stonemasons taught black slaves how to lay these walls. So by the 19th century they were also called slave walls.

By the 19th century these walls were all over Central Kentucky. All stones are laid free handed with no mortar. It is a craft only now done by a few. Some say the best and most stone walls are in Kentucky.

A book on the fences is "Rock Fences of the Bluegrass" by Carolyn Murray Wooley. It is a must book to have for stone wall lovers. It has all the history and many photos of the walls.
 

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#2
Up in Missouri we have a lot of Limestone too, but I have only seen a few fences made of it, They used it for everything else though. Gravel, and just about everything else they can think of to do with it. A lot of old houses here were built on limestone pillars. Our old house built before 1850 sat on these pillars. My dad hated them, but they also preserve fossils well. I have seen a few of these wall or fences when I drive through Ky. We also had a lot of coal, like Ky.
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#3
These rock walls or fences were made of ancient limestone and are the hallmark of Kentucky's Bluegrass region. The earliest settlers to Kentucky built dry laid fences in the 18th century . They were built around farms, cemeteries and mills. They were built by Irish and Scottish immigrants who were stonemasons who were owners of farms, laborers hired for laying the stones and even indentured servants. As time went on these stonemasons taught black slaves how to lay these walls. So by the 19th century they were also called slave walls.

By the 19th century these walls were all over Central Kentucky. All stones are laid free handed with no mortar. It is a craft only now done by a few. Some say the best and most stone walls are in Kentucky.

A book on the fences is "Rock Fences of the Bluegrass" by Carolyn Murray Wooley. It is a must book to have for stone wall lovers. It has all the history and many photos of the walls.
Very interesting. It dawned on me when I began reading your post that I've seen photographs of similar dry laid fences in Scotland and Ireland and never made the correlation between the ones found in Kentucky. They are beautiful works of masonry.
 

donna

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TnFed

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Donna, due to some recent post, my interest in the civil war in Kentucky has been revived. It was a horrible time. Nothing glorious about it except the bravery of the men involved on both sides. It can be called a war between the states when you got some guy from Mississippi trading shots with a lad from Maine. But it was particularly brutal when folks from the same village kill each other. Thanks for your post.
 
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#9
What you all may fail to realize is that the original slaves building those fences were Irish and Scot. Indentured servant is a fancy highbrow title for a slave. In fact a Negro slave was worth 10 Irish slaves.
 

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