Lige Hensley House

This 1940 photo of members of the Hensley family at the settlement includes Anna and Lige (holding son Lawrence) Hensley in the back row.

Photo courtesy of the Hensley family

 
Lige and Anna Hensley 351
An earlier undated photo of Lige and Anna Hensley, son and daughter-in-law of Sherman Hensley.

Photo courtesy of the Hensley family

Family Life
Family to the residents of Hensley Settlement was important. Family brought joy and obligations; they shared meals, as well as work. Herbert Hensley recalls that "when my daddy built a fire, when one of us boys built a fire, and our mother got up to get us breakfast; we didn't do like lots of people does today, one get out at a time and eat, we all went to the table at the same time, when breakfast or dinner was called. . . we knowed nothing else excepting all go to the table at the same time." Obligations of family meant caring for the elderly no matter how burdensome or inconvenient it might be, as Jess Gibbons remembers: "We kept three beds in there [back bedroom] all the time, until my grandfather broke up housekeeping and come here to stay with us and live. Well, he wanted his bed hisself. He put it over in behind the door in there. . . that's the only time I can remember four beds being in there, when he come in and stayed with us about, oh, I guess ten or twelve years before he died."

Herbert Hensley says emphatically, "we had one thing that you don't see going today, we was a neighborhood." To Jess Gibbons that meant an equality of friendships: "They was just all friends together. Didn't have no special friends amongst them." The value placed on getting along led to expansive hospitality, especially at times such as Decoration Day. Jess Gibbons recalls, "when they got through with their church up at the schoolhouse, the graveyard, why, the people'd just gather up and tell 'em all, just 'all that wants to go home with me, let's go.' Just gather up and take off. I've seed as high as thirty or forty here for dinner."

Sherman Hensley says that, at the height of the settlement's population, when "between fifty and sixty" people lived on the mountain, "most of them was [related]. . .two other people lived up there that wasn't related to any of us." Although he says there is no relation between the Gibbons and Hensleys initially, when Willie Gibbons married "old man Jack Hensley's daughter," the two families became intertwined on the mountain.

 
 
chair and radio
Rocking chair (cat. #535) and radio (cat. #623) from Hensley Settlement

This rocking chair in the park collection was made by Willie Gibbons, the community blacksmith and carpenter. Grand-daughter Dorothy Muncey remembered that "grandfather and my grandma always liked to sit in a rocking chair" in front of the fire.

Two of the more popular social activities on the mountain were listening to the Victrola and the radio. Park Hensley and Jess Gibbons both remember the community getting together on Saturday nights and listening to the Grand Old Opry. "It was a big night," Gibbons recalled.

 

Last updated: June 18, 2015

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