Lige Gibbons Farm

sheep and barn inset
The shearing of sheep was one of the activities re-enacted by park interpreters in the 1980s at Hensley. Wallace Hensley recalled taking the sheared wool down to the town of Cumberland Gap to the woolen mill to trade for blankets and cloth for his mother to make clothing from.

NPS photos

Animals on the Farm

Because hogs and sheep were so essential to the diet and household economy of the settlement, much traditional knowledge about keeping animals held sway. As Herbert Hensley explains: ". . .we had a rule, which was a law I guess, back then, that we marked all of our hogs, we had them marked. . .and if a hog was over six months old and wasn't marked, it might have been one of my hogs, but if it wasn't marked, you had the same right to it that I did."

Hensley bee gum sm cutout280
This bee gum (cat. #251) in the park collection is from the settlement.  Lige Gibbons kept up to 8 to 10 stands of bees while on the mountain, and recalls taking “as high as forty or fifty pounds of honey off one bee stand,” despite the foggy wet weather.

In addition to raising livestock, men of the settlement hunted and trapped wild game for food and for hides. They also kept bees for honey which served to supplement their diet. There was lore and traditional knowledge to hunting and trapping that the Hensley folk understood. Herbert Hensley recalls that his father and Willie Gibbons "had secret ways of trapping without bait. He would follow the trail for a fox 'til he found where it stepped over something. There's a little stick laying across the path or somethin' like that, he would find where it stepped over there. Then he'd set his trap there and the first time he'd come along, to the second time, he'd get 'em."

Lige Gibbons's barn in the early 1960s before restoration.

NPS photo, Earl Palmer Collection

The dogs and cats on the mountain were not pets, but domesticated animals who had jobs to do and roles to play in the life of the mountain farm. Dorothy Muncey says at her grandparents' home, "their dogs, and their cats, were never used as pets. . . I mean, they took care of 'em. . .but they were there for a reason. . .and they did their job. . .we had a dog that went for cows, a dog to help with the sheep. They had a dog for hunting. And their dogs served a purpose. So did their cats. They were at the barn. . . especially there for the mouse situation."


Last updated: June 16, 2015

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