Benjamin Craven built the log cabin on the 400 acres he purchased from Bird Smith, a War of 1812 veteran, and his wife Elvira Price Smith on January 8th, 1836. Elvira most likely inherited the property from her father Philemon Bird Price when he died in 1835 in Woodford County, Kentucky. Philemon Price's brothers all owned property near and around Burlington in the early 1800's and the land may have been part of a larger inheritance from their father, Pugh Price, Jr. Pugh Price III sold a separate parcel of land to Benjamin in 1831 and the Craven and Price families were long time neighbors. By 1840, Benjamin Craven had purchased the majority of land just north and east of Burlington along North Bend Road and the Burlington Turnpike.
The 1836 deed (K-154) describes the newly purchased property as having quite a large stand of beech trees. According to Don Clare of Rabbit Hash, the timbers of the large cabin consist of beech wood. More than likely, timbers for the new cabin were harvested right on the property. The cabin would have been considered large for the time period. Benjamin Craven and his wife, Cynthia Markland were married in Boone County in 1819 and raised a total of ten children- nine of whom were born by the time the cabin was built. The family most likely moved from a smaller home located on property further north on North Bend Road, which Benjamin received from his father, Jeremiah.
Benjamin and Cynthia's second son, Noah, married a young widow named Louisa Merrick Neal in 1863. On December 28, 1866, Noah purchased 100 acres, including the cabin, from Benjamin and raised Louisa's two daughters from her first marriage, Mary and Martha, along with their son Charles (Charley) in the house. By 1900, Mary and Martha were married and living nearby. Charley, his wife Clara Aylor, and their three sons were living on the property with Noah and Louisa. Noah Craven died in 1909. Louisa and Charles sold the house and property to AW Gaines after Noah's death. Charles moved his family to Constance, where he owned a grocery store. Louisa died at Charles' house in 1914. Both Noah and Louisa are buried in the Burlington IOOF Cemetery near the house. Louisa's obituary states that both Noah and Louisa were life long, founding members of the Universalist Church in Burlington.
Louisa's obituary provides a clue as to what the family's overall beliefs were in nineteenth century Boone County. Universalists were staunch anti-slavery and records show that the Craven family did not own slaves. Benjamin Craven and his sons farmed several hundred acres of land by themselves. Considering how much land they owned, it is unusual for the Boone County farming family not to have at least a couple of male slaves to assist on the farm. This circumstantial evidence, raises questions as to whether or not the Craven family was involved with helping runaway slaves. There will not ever be direct written evidence to expose the Craven family as Underground Railroad conductors. In Boone County, such activities remained hidden from neighbors and to write evidence in a journal would risk exposure in a potentially hostile community. But the evidence that is available provides a tantalizing look into the hidden history of Boone County.
Post Script: The Stephens family purchased the farm sometime between 1912 and 1917 or so. The family was Thomas P. Stephens (1878- 1922), Susie (1885-1970) and their children: Evaline (1906-1998), Wilton (1909-1965), Zelma Lee 1912-2000) and Alvin (1915-?).