Cary, NC – A.J. Bartley bought a farm on Penny Road in 1957. Known today as the Barnabas Jones Farm, now owned by the Town of Cary, the farmhouse and out-buildings are being restored and Jack Smith Park was built on part of the land. A.J. and his son, Jon, were both interviewed and told us their memories of stories as told to them about the farm.
Originally, a [Jones] family acquired the farmland and built a one-room cabin with a fireplace and a porch. There, they lived while a two-story house with two rooms on each floor and a chimney on both ends could be built. On the back, they later added a multi-purpose room. After moving into the farmhouse, they turned the little cabin into a kitchen house.
Later, the Barnabas Jones family, with nine children, acquired the farm. There were no schools in the area, so two of his daughters started a home and a school for local children. They had ten or twelve children living in a special house on the farm, and turned the kitchen house into the schoolhouse.
When Barnabas and his widow died, the farm was divided among family members. The two unmarried daughters inherited 101 acres including the house and barns. When the last sister died in 1938, the property was sold outside the family. In 1951, retired navy veteran Paul Bringham bought the farm. Then in 1957, my father bought it from Mr. Bringham. At that time, two of our neighbors, Lee and Clovis Jones, each had houses and twenty acres apiece on adjoining land.
About 1960, an older Jones couple who had grown up on the farm, came to visit and told us stories about their family. They estimated the house was originally built in the 1830s. They said Barnabas Jones set fires, possibly accidentally, and several of his out-buildings had burned down. Over the years, we took several out-buildings down, but in 1957, the two-acre yard was surrounded by farm buildings, and three of the originals are still standing. One was a little three-room house where Lee Jones and his wife had originally lived. We called it “Lee’s Mansion.” It’s still there, but in terrible condition. We used it as a hay barn.
The Jones couple told us that during the Civil War, when Sherman’s troops came to Wake County, they came to the farm and took all the food, except for country hams stored in a box inside the granary. While they were searching the buildings, children sat on that box and it was never opened. After the troops left, those hams were the only food they had left. The farm next to them was burned by those troops. When I was a boy, in a field due west of our house, now part of Dutchman Downs, was a homesite ruin with a two-story chimney still standing, presumably the house that burned during the Civil War. The chimney is gone now.
Barnabas and eight other Jones’ are buried in the family cemetery which is now part of Birkland subdivision, across Penny Road from the park. It’s a nice little cemetery that had a low fence built around it.
Story by Peggy Van Scoyoc. Photos by the Town of Cary. Much of Cary’s Heritage is taken from the book, Desegregating Cary, published in February, 2010. The book is a collection of oral history interviews conducted between local citizens and Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel. The rest comes from later oral history interviews with local citizens.