Announcing the Louisville Civil War Round Table
2019 Winter Fund Raising Event at Midlane Farm
It’s easy to miss the Midlane Farm House as you drive down Hikes Lane in southeastern Louisville. Surrounded by the suburbia of the Hikes Point neighborhood, you could be forgiven for blowing right by the solid brown-brick house. But if you knew what to look for, it would be impossible to miss — a comparatively large two-story structure on two acres of land. The home is not all that imposing, but it looks classic and tasteful, and literally from a diﬀerent era. The home’s current owner and caretaker is Charles “Chas” Stephens. He is a bit of a raconteur, especially at ease talking about his home, which has been in his family since it was built in 1820 (some histories say 1824) by Stephens’ direct ancestor, George Hikes Jr. Today, thanks to Stephens’ patient and continual care, the house looks both of its time and invitingly livable, highlighted by a cozy Victorian back porch, ﬂowering magnolia trees, and rooms ﬁlled with period antiques, either inherited (such as a chest that came with the family from Pennsylvania that dates to the mid-1700s) or purchased by Stephens. But to him this isn’t a museum; it’s simply home, as it has been to his family since James Monroe was president. The family’s history in Louisville dates back to 1790 — “I don’t think anybody has been on their land as long as we have, maybe in the state of Kentucky,” says Stephens — before Kentucky was even a state.
It begins with George Hikes Sr., a Revolutionary War colonel who, according to The Encyclopedia of Louisville, purchased the land from another Revolutionary War oﬃcer, William Meriwether, in either 1790 or 1791. (Stephens says the land — somewhere between 1,500 and 4,000 acres — was a grant from the newly formed United States.) To walk through the home is to see the results of the never-ending piddling — his term — of both Stephens and his wife, Kim Laramore-Stephens. Antique touches abound. There is a parlor, complete with matching 19th-century sitting chairs; a couch from 1790; an antique bureau left by a lodger; paintings of long-deceased relatives, including Eliza Hikes, Chas’ great-great aunt; a collection of old stoneware jugs. In general, everything in the house looks from a period not our own, except for the modern stainless-steel refrigerator. A statue of an American eagle, a wooden carving created during the time between the American Revolution and the creation of the Constitution in 1787, has been in the house since it was constructed. The dining-room table would not be out of place on Masterpiece Theater, and the 77-key Boardman & Gray piano dates from at least 1860.
During the Civil War, Union soldiers camped alongside nearby Beargrass Creek, and his great-grandfather gave them potatoes and hams out of the smokehouse. “And in return, he asked them not to bother the people in the house, or the people on the farm, who were slaves.” The soldiers did as asked, even as they kept an armed guard around the home to protect it from guerilla action from Southern sympathizers. They stayed for two to three days and then marched on to the Battle of Perryville. (Taken from the Louisville Magazine Article by David Serchuk)