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Graveyards and Burying Grounds

Penn-Marshall House, built by Charles Penn

It is estimated that sometime between 1810-1820 Charles Penn built his two-story stone house, flanked on each end by massive matching chimneys.  The most impressive feature of the house is its stone construction of Kentucky River marble (white limestone), which was quarried by Penn's slaves from a river cliff about a mile from the home.   The stone was transported to the site by barge and ox drawn wagons.

Charles Penn became a very successful farmer on the banks of the Kentucky River.  He increased his land holdings and slaves during his operation of the farm.  Charles Penn died in Franklin County leaving a will directing that his widow,
Margaret receive one third of the original farm, which included the dwelling house, barn, stables and choice of a man and woman slave.  Sons Squire, James, Hiram and Robert Penn were to receive the remaining two thirds of the farm.  At the death of their mother, the farm would be equally divided among the surviving sons. One record states, the widow Penn died in 1864 and Charles Penn, Jr. inherited the farm. The 1858 will of Charles Penn makes no mention of a son named Charles. However, Charles and Margaret Penn did have a son Charles Riley Penn, who died in Franklin County leaving a will proven in Franklin County Court, April 1855.  In 1882, the Atlas of Franklin County, Kentucky, by D. J. Lake and Company, Philadelphia, list James Penn as the owner of the Stoney Creek property.

In recent years the house has gained notoriety for the two murders that occurred on the property  in 1882 and 1918.
L. F. Johnson in his History of Franklin County, Kentucky states,  "On July 7, Charles Penn was assassinated, near his home, while taking his horse to paster. In a few moments after he left his house two shots were fired.  Upon investigation the body of Penn was found not far from the bars leading to the pasture.  He received the contents of a double barreled shot gun which was loaded with buck shot. The condition of the ground and weeds at the place of the murder disclosed the fact that the assassin had been lying in wait for his victim for some time and that the assassination had been well planned. Suspicion soon rested on a man by the name of George Gaines, who was arrested in a short time afterwards and in due course of time was tried and convicted and sent to the penitentiary for life.  The general supposition was that the wife of Penn was indirectly the cause of his death."  Who this Charles Penn was is unknown at this time.  Most likely a descendant of Charles and Margaret Penn, however, he was not their son.

In 1888 County Commissioner Posey sold the property to settle outstanding debts.  The farm was purchased by Curtis Marshall in 1909 and then passed to his son Elmer.  In 1918, Joseph Ethington, a recluse, was murdered on the Curtis Marshall property. Marshall came under some suspicion for aiding and abedding Field Ethington in the murder of his brother, however Field's accusation of Marshall did not stand up in court.

Legend has it the house is haunted and ghost periodically are said to visit the home. Today the Penn-Marshall House has been renovated and is the private residence of Reid Bishop.


The History of Franklin County, Kentucky, by L.F. Johnson
Frankfort 200 Celebration 1786-1986, by Frankfort's 200th Birthday Historical Research Committee



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