In the years prior to the Civil War, Metcalfe County was then part of Barren County, and was a rural area, consisting mostly of small farms usually worked by family members. Metcalfe, which became a county in its own right in 1860, did not have as many slaves as other surrounding areas. The names of most of the slaves have been forgotten with time, but one freed slave in the Randolph-Hickory College community of southwest Metcalfe County left his mark. He did not do anything historic, but he was remembered by the residents of the area in the generations following him for a tract of land that into the 1970s and early 1980s, still bore his name.
Ned was born into slavery in Virginia in 1801, and received his freedom at the age of 22. On 2 December 1823, Henry Crutcher of Barren County, KY, freed Ned by stating, “… in consideration of the former fidelity of my servant Ned, and for and in the further consideration to me in hand paid… hereby in most ample manner… and emancipating said slave forever…”
Little is known of “Free Ned” until he came to the Randolph-Hickory College community. On 1 December 1849, he bought 27 acres of land from Steven Glass for $30, and in the deed, he is referred to simply as “Ned.”
On 15 March 1853, he sold the 27 acres he had purchased from Steven Glass to William Glass for $260. In the deed written for this sale he is known as “Free Ned.” At that time, his closest neighbors were the Hundley family and the family of John S. Gill.
By 1 October 1857, he is called “Ned Clark, a free man of color.” He bought 25 acres of land on the waters of Fallen Timber Creek from William Defries. Clark lived in a cabin on a hillside near a tributary of Fallen Timber Creek. This became known as “Neddie Hill.” It is believed he got his name from a Clark family who lived on Clay Lick Creek, in the same general area of Metcalfe County. The bluff and hillside are located on a farm formerly owned by Emmitt and Pernie Harbison.
In the 1870 Metcalfe Co. KY Census, Clark’s wife, Hannah, was listed as being 60 years old. Clark himself was not listed and was probably deceased by this time. Two other Clarks, Tilda, age 90, and Toodle, age 3, were also listed as living with Hannah at this time.
According to oral sources, Ned Clark, his wife Hannah, son John and John’s wife Frances, were all buried in a cemetery on the farm formerly owned by Emmitt and Pernie Harbison. In the 1980s, it was owned by Greg Jaggers, and when I asked someone local, they believed it is now owned by an Edwards. The property in question is 6.5 miles north of Summer Shade, on the right side of Hwy 640. The cemetery was near the cabin on the farm he owned.
Included in the tract of land he owned, there was a hollow with a series of caves that became known as the “Ned Caves” and the whole known as “Neddie Hollow.” These were named after John Ned Clark, Ned’s son. John Ned Clark would trade in horses and cattle, but either he did not have the feed to give them, or was not educated in how to provide for his animals. As a result, several of the animals died. When this happened, he dragged the dead animal to the bluff of the hollow and threw it over the bluff. Local people started calling this particular place “John Ned’s boneyard.”
On the land formerly owned by Ned Clark, in “Neddie Hollow” near the “Ned Caves,” is a prehistoric Indian site. To protect the site from plundering or destruction, the exact location has been withheld. In the 1980s, the caves and rock shelters appeared to be less than 25% disturbed. One rock shelter and cave was located on either side of a large waterfall about 18 feet high. The creek bed is about 40 feet wide at this point. About 150 feet north of the large waterfall is a smaller waterfall with rock ledges running along either side of the falls. The stream is about 8 feet wide at this point.
At the base of another small waterfall was a rock used by the Indians to grind nuts and grains. The streams and waterfall at this point were abut 25 feet wide. There are approximately 11 holes of different sizes and depths. The largest hole was 28 cm deep and 27.5 cm in diameter. The smallest hole was 8 cm deep and 9 cm diameter. The holes have been cut into the limestone rock. At this point there are no rock ledges on the banks.
Bits of charcoal and a soil change to a darker brown were noticed about 8 cm from the surface under the west ledge near the base of the large waterfall. On the east side of the stream a second spot was examined about 86 feet from the large waterfall and 24 feet from the center of the stream. One chert flake and some bits of bone were found at this location. The primary kinds of artifacts which were found were hammer and grinding stones.
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