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Ann Heskamp Curtis: Of the Town Branch, and much more

With a great deal of interest in Coffey Cave in the past month, Ann Curtis Heskamp remembers, with Sammy June Hancock Cundiff, childhood memories of the two forks of the stream in a time when the waters were clear, minnows darted, and childhood explorers found delights - and imagined dangers along its beds and banks. From a time when growing up in Columbia was, in fact, idyllic.
Click on headline for complete story. SEE ALSO: JIM, History: More on Columbia's Simon Spring inspired by this writing

By Ann Heskamp Curtis

The Town Branch

One of my favorite Landscapes from Columbia's past was the Town Branch.

it originated from Simon's spring in a field near Tutt Street, and wound its way down the valley along Hurt Street. It traveled on to run under Jamestown Street, Lindsey Wilson Street, and Fairground Street, eventually emptying into Russell Creek just a little west of the bridge at Campbellsville Street.

My memories of the Town Branch centered around my grandfather C.H. Sandusky's home at the foot of Jamestown Hill in the 1940s and 1950s. There, the water in the little stream was so clear that minnows could be seen darting about in it. PaPa built a little wooden bridge to cross from his yard over to Mary Dee and Chelsea Barger's house next door. He also built a low stone wall that followed the course of the branch along his entire property my grandmother played it beautiful tiger lilies along the wall.

Sammy June Hancock Cundiff, whose family lived on Fairground Street, remembers:
"I did love that branch. When Bobby Jeffries was my Girl Scout leader, she took our little group on a walk along the branch from its beginning in the field by Norris Tupman's house on Tutt Street all the way to the bridge in Gran and Grandaddy's cow field. We walked through everybody's yards, and all along where the branch went..."
The stream was prettiest and most visible in the long valley between Lindsey Wilson Street and Fairground Street, where it ran beneath a stone bridge that was part of a curving driveway up the hill. Of this area, Sammy June relates:
"Just about my favorite place in town! Tim (Hancock, her brother) and I used to Wade in it, and I remember our running home for our lives one day when we saw a giant Water Moccasin coming after us. (probably a foot long water snake.)"
Another fork of the branch originated just off Burkesville Street, in a cave.

Sammy June continues:
"There was a cave behind Sales Coffey's house that went into a sort of high rocky bluff-like formation." From there, this stream ran behind Meadowh Hill Inn and on toward the Square. "I know it used to run through Dr. and Mrs. Flowers' pretty back yard... past the Dr. Pepper plant and joined the Town Branch somewhere under downtown (probably near Schrader's, or thereabouts.)"
Dr. and Mrs. Flowers' house filled that whole corner from Burkesville Street to Reed Street. The house was close to the street, so the back Garden was long and lovely and filled with dappled shade and sunlight. Randy (Flowers) has told me about their pet black snake -- a real long one, as they usually are -- that used to come up from the branch to stretch out on the back step. Dr. flowers would rub it gently with a stick, and it would lie there until he rubbed it the wrong way and made it leave."

Sammy June summed up our mutual interest in the little waterway thusly: "You and I may be the only people left who care about the Town Branch, maybe because it run ran by our grandparents' houses and was such a big part of our childhoods."

- Ann Heskamp Curtis, 2011

This story was posted on 2018-03-11 03:40:34
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Town Branch running strong on Monday snow day

2018-03-13 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
This photo is for Ann Heskamp Curtis who wrote memories of the little Town Branch that runs through downtown Columbia. Clicking 'read more' below goes to her story. This part of the Branch is strong year-round, helped by a spring on John and Missy Arnold's town farm. On this day, yesterday 12 March 2018, it was framed by the beautiful snow which appeared in the early morning and melted completely away by late afternoon. -- LW

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