Wednesday, April 7

This Old House

One of Perry County's most romantic and legendary landmarks is the old Johnson home at Chavies. It is reputed to be the oldest dwelling in Perry County.

The two-story home, located just off Kentucky 28 at Chavies is now owned by Paul Johnson, postmaster at Chavies. Paul is the grandson of Tom Johnson, who built the house about the time of the Civil War.

Paul's father, S.B. Johnson, better known simply as "Brown" to the residents of Chavies, is the closest living link with the traditions associated with the old home. Brown was born on the farm 82 years ago, when the property surrounding the house covered over 2,000 acres of timberland owned by the family.

Brown now lives with his son Paul in a large frame house within sight of his birthplace. Every day he walks the few yards up the road to the store and post office, where he spends quiet morning hours reading newspapers and sometimes telling stories of his family's history.

One if his favorite stories concerns his father's participation in the Civil War as an officer in the Union Army. Thomas F. Johnson and two brothers-in-law, Billy and Abner Eversole, went together in forming a company of infantry composed of mountain men.

By previous agreement, the man who signed the most recruits would be Captain of the company. Thomas Johnson wound up 1st Lieutenant under Captain Billy Eversole.

Perhaps the most violent engagement the company was involved in, other than several mild skirmishes, was the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky. Brown Johnson still chuckles when he recalls his own elders telling him about the battle. One relative came home wounded in the back of his leg, relates Mr. Johnson. The man vowed he became a casualty during the vigorous charge at Richmond. But he was never able to successfully explain to his relatives just why the wound was in the back of his leg.

There is considerable humor and irony in many of the old family stories Brown Johnson reflects upon today. In one case an attempt to instill the habit of truth into a daughter back-fired on Johnson's maternal grandfather, Joe Eversole. It seems that when Mr. Eversole was home on leave from the Union Army he was forced to hide out in his own home from a band of marauding Rebels.

The Rebels asked Eversole's daughter where her father was. Remembering the life-long counsel her father had given on the virtue of always being truthful, the little Eversole girl replied, "He's upstairs hiding out." The Rebels then dragged Mr. Eversole from the house, took him down the trail toward Krypton, and killed him. 1960

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