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Four miles to Columbia: a long ago journey recalled


Imagine, if you will -- if you can -- a trip from near Burkesville to Columbia taking all day.

In January 1930, the Adair County News published a long article by H.C. Baker, then just days past his 89th birthday. Judge Baker, born and reared some two and a half miles south of Burkesville in the Horse Shoe Bend section of Cumberland County, became a citizen of Columbia in 1855 after his mother passed, his father having died several years earlier.

However, he had been to Columbia once before, an event he recalled with little fondness nearly eighty years later:

"My first visit to the town of Columbia was in the month of August 1852...A trip to Columbia then was a trip to be remembered. It was an event in my life. We left home at an early hour of the morning. My mother, an aunt and myself. It was the day of horseback travel. Only two or three buggies, if even that many, were in the county. I rode on the horse behind my mother.

"It was a long ride, and a tiresome ride and most of the way after leaving Renox Creek was in the woods and over a road then very little used until we reached Breeding. After leaving Breeding until we were within four miles of Columbia, we were continuously in the woods with only one house to be seen.

"The Sparksville country now, cleared and in cultivation, was a dense forest of oaks, beech, poplar, etc. When we emerged from the woods, we supposed we were near Columbia. We met three or four men. They told us it was four miles to Columbia. Four miles! Can I ever forget it? My legs went limp at the horse's sides."
(Under good conditions, the remaining four miles would have taken about an hour. With the horses tired and the roads less than exemplary, it likely took this weary band of travelers another hour and a half to two hours to reach town.)

This story was posted on 2021-09-12 10:29:10
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