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History of the Columbia-Campbellsville stagecoach

The following history of the Columbia-Campbellsville stagecoach was written by my mother, Effie Heskamp (1910-2009) when I asked her to tell me what she knew about it. -- Ann Heskamp Curtis

The stage coach that operated between Campbellsville and Columbia around the turn of the (20th) century was owned by Joe B. "Buck" Barbee who bought the "Concord" model for $2,000. Mr. Barbee had the contract to handle passengers, mail and express to stop at every post office along the route between the two towns. He also was authorized to open the lock sack at each place.

Some of the post offices along the route at that time were Cane Valley, Coburg, Romine and Burdick.



J. B. Barbee was the father of Mrs. Alta Garnett and Joe Russell Barbee. (You may remember that Mrs. Garnett lived in the large two-story family home [next to the Baptist Church] at the corner of Greensburg and High Streets, and which was recently torn down. Joe R. Barbee resided on Highway 55 N.)

J.B. "Buck" Barbee sold the stage coach in 1901 to the Burton family of Monticello, KY for $1,000. At that time the stage coach ran between Monticello and Burnside where it had to ferry the Cumberland River each trip. When it ceased operation, it was the last one in Kentucky to do so. After that it was stored in a garage on the square in Monticello where it could be seen at any time.

About 50 years passed and the stage coach was sold at auction through Circuit Court for $38,750 to Kenneth Ballou of Burkesville. Mr. Ballou built a special building to house it and eventually sold it to the Wells Fargo Bank of California for $85,000.

The new owners sent a padded trailer to Kentucky to transport it to San Francisco where it stayed for a time. Afterwards it was placed in the Wells Fargo Bank's museum in Los Angeles at 444 Flower Street. There is no indication on it now that it came from Kentucky, but records are kept in the bank's archives as to its origin.

The stage coach was kept in a splendid state of preservation, with scenes painted on the doors still in good condition. It is surprising to the present day viewer that it is as large and as high as it is.

Mr. Barbee was especially fond of using white horses to pull his coach and at one time bought a white horse from Ben Heskamp of Coburg, the horse being called by the Heskamp family as "Gray Doc".

Artist Fred Thrasher painted a fine likeness of this stage coach as it ferried the Cumberland River, and the prints of that painting are very much sought after today. The work is entitled 'Crossing the Cumberland'."


This story was posted on 2020-09-15 07:22:55
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Postcard memory Columbia-Campbellsville stagecoach



2020-09-15 - Columbia, KY - Photo from family collection.
The history of the Columbia-Campbellsville stagecoach was written by Effie Heskamp when her daughter Ann Heskamp Curtis asked her to tell her what she knew about it. The stagecoach that operated between Campbellsville and Columbia around the turn of the 20th century was owned by Joe B. "Buck" Barbee who bought the "Concord" model for $2,000. Mr. Barbee had the contract to handle passengers, mail and express to stop at every post office along the route between the two towns.

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