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James Kinney House
Historic James Kinney Farmstead

Located in the heart of Smith Township near the village of Belmont stands the only Belmont County farmstead listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior. Noted for its 1860’s architecture, history, and importance to the agricultural community the James Kinney Farmstead represents much of the past as it would have been seen during the days of the great Eastern Ohio Drovers Trail.

Floyd and Shirley Simpson have owned the property since 1957. The Simpson family has hosted an annual celebration of the Drovers Trail with a festival on the third weekend of August. The 2001 Festival marked the bicentennial event of the drove road. In 1801 Congress approved the Grade Road from Dilles Bottom to Old Washington as an alternate to the Zanes Trace, a westward route.

Kinney, an immigrant from Ireland, came to the United States as a 7-year-old in 1817 with his family. It is reported that the family prospered as livestock dealers. James purchased the farm from David Burns, son of Ignatious Burns, a pioneer and early drove station owner in the area. Ignatious Burns had purchased the property from John Barnes, a nephew of James who founded Barnesville. Burns had purchased the tract from the government when the original owner, John Franz, failed to make payment in 1813. It is believed that Franz had lived here in a log house as early as 1795 and signed a credit purchase agreement for the land he was living on when it was surveyed.

It is known that Ignatious and David had been involved in the movement of livestock (droving) from the area to the eastern markets. The farmstead under their ownership had prospered and became a stop on the ‘Grade Road’ later to become known as the Drove Road and in recent times became State Highway 147 in the Smith Township area. One building remains from their ownership. A small corncrib-wagon shed would have been used in the 1830’s. A 30’ X30’ sheep barn was lost to old age and a windstorm in 1998. Kinney built the remaining buildings In 1863: A 14-room brick residence prefaced with a portico with doric columns in antis, also a brick summer kitchen. The bricks were kilned on the ridge near these buildings. Wooden structures that support the farmstead were built at the same time and include a smoke house with ‘hanging chimney’, a wood and coal house and a carriage house. The 60 X 50‘ main pegged, timber frame bank barn was built in 1874 which features wooden cow milking stalls, horse stalls, two large haymows, grain bins, and driveway from the main traffic circle to the upstairs of the barn. There are no splices in the 60 foot long oak sills.

Other interesting features listed on the 57 acre National Register property are a 5-acre virgin forest, a 200 foot mound and traces of the original Drove Road which can be seen from the Drovers Trail Festival site.

The following link to the Ohio Historical Society website shows the Kinney Farmstead nomination for the National Register of Historical Places (pdf file): http://www.ohiohistory.org/resource/histpres/docs/JamesKinneyFarmstead.pdf



James Kinney Farmstead - Summer  Kitchen and Wood Shed

Tractor - Haybine




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New bales - 2008


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