by Joy Russell

On Saturday, January 13th, 1996, Wanda Lee Harwood (who is a direct descendant of David Ogden), Ray and Anne Fowler, and I visited the "Old Stomping Barn" pictured on the front cover, which is located on the old Ogden homestead a couple of miles from where I live at Witter, AR. As I looked at the old log building and heard stories that Ogden descendants told me about this old building, I began to want to find out more about when it was built, who built it, and what it was used for. Now back to the "Old Stomping Barn". I have talked with about a dozen Ogden descendants, and all of them tell me about the same story, with a few variations, that they have heard their parents and grandparents repeat. Since I know of no possible way to verify which story is exactly correct, I will tell the versions I have been told and each can draw their own conclusions.

* THE OLD BARN WAS BUILT BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR. All of the people I talked with agree that the barn is "way over a hundred years old", and most state that they think it was built when the first Ogdens settled here, as part of the old homestead along with the old log house that is also still standing. There was also a second barn located across the road from the one still standing, but the second one was torn down years ago. The first Ogdens probably settled here in the 1830's. There is no way to prove exactly when the barn was built but one descendant tells me that they remember hearing as a child, that small indentions in the logs were made by bullets shot at the barn during the Civil War. In the book "The Ogden Brothers and Their Descendants" under the photo of Sarah Cantrell Ogden and her daughters, it states, "Sarah and the older children carried on the farming while Pleasant was absent during the Civil War. She spoke of hiding their meager food supply to prevent the Feds from getting it, how she spun and weaved to provide clothing for the family and many other hardships of the day". The Ogden men fought on the Confederate side during the War. The cattle and horses were kept penned in and around the barn during the War so that they could be protected and other descendants have told me they remember similiar stories. It is very possible that shots were fired toward the barn by men wanting to take the livestock sheltered there.


The old Stomping Barn - Wanda Lee Harwood, Ogden descendant, is standing in front of it

* IT IS KNOWN AS "THE OLD STOMPING BARN" BECAUSE THE ROOM ON THE LEFT END WAS FLOORED WITH A SOLID PLANK FLOOR AND GRAIN WAS PLACED IN IT AND "STOMPED" TO GET IT OUT OF THE HUSKS. Proof can still be seen today of this, as part of the solid floor boards still remain. Upon examination of this room, it contains low openings in two sides that are approximately 2 1/2 feet high and 10 feet long. These openings are about three feet up from the ground and I was told that they were made this way so that a wagon could back up to them with the grain and it could be shoveled into the room easily.Inside the barn today, three homemade barrels still remain that stored the grain after it was hulled out. These barrels are about 3 feet in diameter and are made out of a hollow sycamore (some say sweet gum) tree. I have been told that at one time about a dozen of these barrels existed.


Two barrels in the old stomping barn.
These wooden barrels were made of hollow
sycamore or gum trees and were used to store the grain in.

Several people recall hearing that horses were used inside the barn to "stomp" the grain from the hulls. Others have told me that people used some type of a club or hammer to get it out . This grain was ground into flour to make bread. My first thought is this....a horse stomping around on grain to be used for flour?? Just think of the loose hair, as well as other unmentionables, falling onto the floor with the grain....yuk!! But several people remember it this way. I questioned several people about the large size of the room and whether this "stomping barn" was for the benefit of the Ogden family only or whether it was used by the entire community. No one knew for certain but most believed that it was solely for the use of the Ogdens. Considering the size of their own family, it would take quite a bit of grain to provide for them.

* THE BARN WAS FIRST BUILT WITH ONLY THE "STOMPING ROOM" BUT LATER ANOTHER ROOM WAS ADDED ON THE RIGHT SIDE TO STORE HAY IN. THE TWO ROOMS HAD A HALLWAY BETWEEN THEM RUNNING DOWN THE CENTER OF THB BARN. When you look closely at the logs in the "stomping room" walls and compare them to the logs in the other end, you can definitely see a difference. The logs in the "stomping room" are large and hand-hewed and the facings on the doors and other openings are put on with large pegs. The other room has part hand-hewed logs and part round logs and the quality of workmanship is not the same as in the "stomping room". It is not known by the people I talked to when the second room was added on.

The Arkansas Gazette printed a full page article with photos on "The Old Stomping Barn" back around 1951 (or early 1950's and before 1955). If anyone has a copy of this article , please let me know. If anyone knows any additional information about the Ogden homestead or "The Old Stomping Barn", please write me at: Joy Russell c/o Madison County Genealogical & Historical Society, P. O. Box 427, Huntsville, AR 72740. I will print any additional information received in future issues.


by Joy Russell

(The following is being printed as additional information to the foregoing article by Glenn A. Railsback III, and is in no way intended to take away from the excellent presentation of facts in his article.)

I read with interest the foregoing article "The War Eagle and The Horsehead" along with a book found in our library entitled "The Ogden Brothers and Their Descendants" by Chester and Frances Willingham. Even though I found extensive information on the lineage of the Ogden family, I did not find any information on this old log barn nor the homestead where it is located. I began to talk to every Ogden descendant I could think of and to search through the written records to try to answer my questions. Following are some of the facts that I have come up with.

The first time David Ogden and his brother, Francis Ogden, appear in the Madison County records, are on the 1837 Tax List. (But remember that Madison County was not organized as a County until 30 September 1836, so 1837 would have been the first tax list for Madison County). On Mr. Railsback's family group sheet for the David Ogden family, he shows that Rhoda Caldonia Ogden was born on War Eagle, Madison County, Arkansas, on 24 November 1834. He states that "...The Hunts now come into contact with the family of David Lawrence Ogden, who had come to the Arkansas territory in 1833 and were on the War Eagle 'The Night the Stars Fell'." "Turnbo's Tales of the Ozarks" records that this event occurred on 13 November 1833. So evidently the David Ogden family settled on War Eagle River about 1833.

How long did David Ogden and his children live on War Eagle? The David Ogden family is found on the 1840, 1850 and 1860 Madison County Census records. According to Mr. Railsback's family group sheets, David's daughter, Sarah Priscilla Ogden, married Moses Hunt in Madison County on 23 September 1861, and David's daughter, Irena Ogden, married John Hunt in Madison County on 4 January 1863. He also states "David worked as a cobbler for the Confederate forces in Johnson County during the War of the Rebellion." In the Willingham's book "The Ogden Brothers and Their Descendants", there is reference to a letter written by David's daughter, Cynthia, dated 1 August 1866, which states, "..we are still in Johnson County on the place we have always lived. Pa came home July 15, 1865. Pa, Aaron and Ples came home together". So from this information it looks like the David Ogden family left the homestead on War Eagle sometime after 1860 and definitely before 1866, but more probably around 1862 or 63.

David Ogden had a total of 14 children but the only one of his children that remained in Madison County was Pleasant "Ples" Carrol Ogden. This family still has descendants in Madison County today, and the old homestead where the old barn is located is still owned by Pleas' descendants. On 24 February 1848, Pleas married Sarah Adaline Cantrell, whose father, Abner, homesteaded land about one mile from the Ogden homestead. All of the other 13 children of David Ogden moved to Johnson County and are buried there.

Mr. Railsback states that the Richard Carter Hunt family was in Madison County by 1854. They are found in the 1860 census in Bowen township, household #606, with neighbors, including: Thomas Jackson; David Jackson, Jr.; A. J. Spurlock; Joseph M. Heriman; Jesse Guinn; Mathew Dennis; and Robert Lee. All of these families resided within a couple of miles of Aurora, Arkansas. By using land records and census information, it appears that while both the Hunt family and the Ogden family lived on War Eagle River, that the Ogden family lived about nine miles upstream from where the Hunt family is found. Three of the Hunt children married four of the Ogden children, with the earliest marriage recorded being Moses Hunt to Sarah Priscilla Ogden on 23 September 1861. Was nine miles a "far distance to go a-courting" in those days? I would think so but maybe not.

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