Editor’s Note: This is another in a continuing series of stories authored by Robert Kroeger about barns in Highland County he has painted, most of them framed with wood from the actual barn. Kroeger called this painting “Morgan’s Raiders.” His most recent paintings will be auctioned off April 8 at the seventh annual Highland County Extension/4-H Dinner and Auction fundraiser.
Hillsboro residents Sandy and Tim Shoemaker took me to meet the barn’s owner, Marjorie Pulse – 92 years old when we met her in the spring of 2016. She rents out most of her 200 acres for farming corn, soy beans and wheat. Her husband, John William Pulse, has passed away, but his ancestors go back over 100 years, enabling this farm to be registered as an Ohio Century Farm. There are two barns; one old one, white with green trim; and another one, newer but still old, painted red. I painted the white one.
On Oct. 6, 1847, John D. Pulse purchased this land. I presume that he constructed the white barn, though it may have been already built. In the 1920s or 1930s a tornado damaged this barn and destroyed some of the hand-hewn beams, which were replaced by saw-cut rafters. However, the barn survived and its outside appearance remained intact. I named it after its history involving the Civil War.
When Morgan’s Raiders, led by Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, approached Highland County, the Pulse family took horses out of this barn each evening and hid them in woods about a half-mile away to keep them out of Confederate hands. From June 11 to July 26, 1863, Morgan and his hand-picked band of over 2,400 cavalrymen began a march from Tennessee to northeastern Ohio, hoping to divert attention from the Union Army of the Ohio and possibly to stir up pro-southern sentiment in northern states. The move reminded me of the Japanese ploy to split up our Pacific fleet when they occupied the Aleutian Islands in World War II. Both plans failed.
Morgan’s army marched into Ohio on July 13, destroying bridges, railroads and government buildings, bringing the terror of war to Ohioans. Harper’s Weekly reported this on July 25, 1863: “On the 13th General Burnside declared martial law in Cincinnati, and in Covington and Newport on the Kentucky side. All business is suspended until further orders, and all citizens are required to organize in accordance with the direction of the state and municipal authorities.”
Morgan continued through southern Ohio on his way to West Virginia.
During the daring expedition, termed The Great Raid of 1863 by the South and the Calico Raid (because of what the soldiers often took from homes and stores) by northern newspapers, Morgan’s army captured and paroled about 6,000 Union soldiers, destroyed 34 bridges, and disrupted railroads in over 60 places. In Ohio, the army raided over 4,300 homes and businesses and stole over 2,500 horses. But they didn’t get any at the Pulse farm.
Marjorie’s husband, John William Pulse, was the great-grandson of the patriarch who started this family farm. In addition to this old white barn that I painted, the family built a bank barn, now painted red, in 1901. I was able to use wood from this barn to frame the painting.
I’m not sure what will happen to this Century Farm, since Marjorie has no direct descendants, but it will continue to survive in this painting and essay, another legend of Highland County.
Robert Kroeger is a former Cincinnati area dentist who has since ran in and organized marathons, took up the painting skills he first picked up from his commercial artist father, become a published author, and is a certified personal trainer that started the LifeNuts vitality program. Visit his website at http://barnart.weebly.com/paintings.html.