Sunday, January 10, 2010


I travel many country roads looking for interesting subjects for folkways notebook. Usually I spot something of interest then stop to take photos. I have found that this sometimes leads to dog confrontation issues. I love dogs and I do respect their instinct to protect their territory. Above are two large, beautiful dogs that greeted me as I stepped out of my car to take photos of old gate posts in the Kirksville area of Madison County, KY.

I found their demeanor a bit edgy. I find the universal dog recognition of a stern "NO" deters them from coming close. Then I sweet talk them while I take the photos for my post, all the while keeping them at a distance with a constant eye on them.

I call my investigative trips for my posts -- field trips. So far, I have been lucky not to have met an overly protective dog. I am careful, believe me.

Anyway, the above gate post was one of a pair that sat on either side of this particular drive opening. It was constructed of painted white stacked limestone and had a large slab of natural limestone as its capstone. The drive continued across acreage to a large new house being built. No sign of an old home. The aged gate posts were surely part of an old homestead. I think the gateposts were all that was left of what was in all probability a historic farm. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I had come to this area to take photos of several gate posts that I had noticed on a previous trip to the area. There are sprinklings of posts in central Kentucky but this area seemed to have an abundance of them. For the most part, many had an aged look.

Before I came back to the area I had done some research on old gate posts in Kentucky and came up with nothing. So, most of what I write about today is purely from my observations and thoughts about their age.

Above is a pair of walkway posts constructed of limestone. Limestone being an abundant natural material in this part of Kentucky and was used extensively by early builders. As a natural resource it was used for such things as buildings, steps, gate posts, building foundations and other types of construction.

Kirksville is a very small rural town with a farming base. The Kirksville church above was built in 1878. Perhaps the gate posts of this church were from that time-frame? I feel that they are from the 1800s. The motifs on the body (upright part) of the above limestone posts are found on other similar posts around Kirksville. Perhaps a local stone mason had a shop in the area , using this motif to identify the business like today's commercial logos?

Above is a similar yet with a slight variation of the limestone motif of the previous church's posts. The capstone is very different. Here we see a capstone of a mushroom form with square capstone. The post's uprights have the same motif as the previous church pair. As the above photo shows, these posts were used aside a drive rather then as a walkway entrance.

I believe that when posts near the road were of the drive type, they led to a farm with acreage. If the posts near the road were of the walkway type then it was for a non-farm homestead. All the old gate posts I discovered abutted the roadway, both drive and walkways types. None were set back far from the road. Many of the old extant posts I discovered did not have structures associated with them: apparently they had disappeared from the landscape. Now they stood alone.

Above is similar to the church pair: a walkway type post entrance. The motif is almost identical to the church posts motif as well as the drive post uprights. Here we have what I feel is the original ironwork gate. The church post pair had iron fragments that indicated a gate had once been attached. The church walkway posts as well as the above walkway posts have limestone steps leading up to them. No home was present with the above pair.

Above, I tried to take a clear photo of the iron tips on the top of the walkway's gate . The motif of the iron tips are similar to types that I have seen on Victorian fencing.

Leaving the Kirksville area, I thought that some historic preservation student could do some great research in this area on these old gateposts.


  1. Interesting observations, Barbara. Around here, it's not unusual to see a set of big posts at the road edge, marking the driveway to a big house that is no longer there. Sometimes, the barns are still there, and sometimes all that's left is the family graveyard.

  2. Genevieve -- What significance do you attribute your architectural posts? Do you live in an area that once had large wealthy farms? Do you have posts that would have led or do lead to smaller homes in your small towns? Do you have the same motifs on the posts in your county? Are many of the posts limestone? I know -- lots of questions. I am curious if these posts were used across Ky? Also, I would like to date them a little more accurately. Thanks -- Barbara