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James Kinney House
Historical Info About The James Kinney Farmstead

Located in the heart of Smith Township just 4 miles southeast of 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



The following info was written up by Floyd Simpson for the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the James Kinney Farmstead


James Kinney Farmstead
Listed on the National Register


Historic Places

James Kinney, an immigrant from Ireland, was a successful livestock dealer, farmer, drover, county commissioner.

In 1852 he bought the original Ignatious Burns property that has been an ongoing drovers station. Kinney continued the practice of droving as well as participating in accommodating the drovers who came through the road known as the Drovers Trail. The drovers stations were about 10 miles apart and were important to the movement of livestock from the mid-Ohio and northern Kentucky area up the Zanes Trace drove system. Livestock on their way to better markets, especially Baltimore, MD were in need of water and feed at regular intervals, thus the need for drovers stations like Burns had established.

As a successful station keeper and himself a livestock dealer as well as droving cattle, Kinney was in a financial position to upgrade his farm by building a 17 room, brick home and complimentary structures which were completed during the first week of July, 1863, The outbuildings were a compliment to the mid 1800’s lifestyle and included a three room brick summer kitchen, used for summer meal preparation and incidental storage, a smoke house complete with a unique “hanging chimney”, a two section wood and coal house and of course the essential two hole frame privy. Today this is the only feature that has disappeared in the last 150 years.

At some time later the Kinney family needed a wool storage house in addition to the barns they constructed what we now call a carriage house. These five structures form the core of the farmstead living needs. Other structures on the National Register of Historic Places are a frame drive through wagon and corn storage building that was on the property when Kinney bought the farm in 1852, this building is possibly dated to 1835 to 1840 but an exact date is unknown. In 1874 Kinney built a large 60 by 50 bank barn for dairy and horses in the downstairs and hay and grain upstairs. Today this building stands as a premier example of barns of the era.

Due to the timing of the construction of the house and core buildings as noted by the daughter of James Kinney as “The last nail was driven during the battle of Gettysburg.” The Civil War was raging on a number of fronts. Of course Gettysburg which was in nearby Pennsylvania but Vicksburg, MS and an even more personal was a raid by previous friend and fellow drover, John Hunt Morgan, now coming east with his Confederate raiders through eastern Ohio.

One can only imagine the trepidation of the Kinney family since this new home and farm complex stood right on the drovers road that Morgan knew so well.

As history shows us, Morgan turned north at Old Washington crossing the drover road as it existed at that time. He and the remaining raiders were captured in the East Liverpool area of Ohio before they could escape to newly formed “West” Virginia where he had supporters.


James Kinney Farmstead celebrating 150 years on July 6,2013


The following links include historic photos of the James Kinney Farmstead:

1800's Photos  -  These photos were provided by Mrs. Ruth Gannaway.
1900's Photos  -   



James Kinney Farmstead - Summer  Kitchen and Wood Shed

Tractor - Haybine




Loading Hay

New bales - 2008


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