Sentimental value great reason to keep past alive
I’d like to call this column ‘A River Runs Through It’ but that has already been used. There is no doubt, however, that this title works for the life of Missi Bush-Sawtelle. Her forebears, her grandmother, her mother and now her daughter live along Blue River in the old family house, a barn/camp beautifully made into a home, and now a farmhouse that Bush-Sawtelle’s daughter, Sunnye, is restoring with her artistic visions.
The Rothrock clan originally moved into the Blue River Valley in the 1840s and built as many as four flour mills selling ‘Mt. Pleasant Flour.’ Bush-Sawtelle’s great-great-grandfather lived in the family home which later became the Blue River Inn with its wonderful screened-in porch for eating out in the quiet and beauty of White Cloud.
‘You don’t seem to leave the valley once you’ve lived there. You really connect to the land,’ Bush-Sawtelle said.
I might add that she has also connected herself to the maintenance and restoration of the assortment of buildings and institutions all along Blue River, too. Fountain Church was an early project that Bush-Sawtelle, the church congregation, and Bush-Sawtelle’s husband, Bob, (who engineers and oversees) lovingly restored and attend every Sunday. Hottell School No. 4 looks like it was just built. Camp Merry Ledges, a retreat center used years ago by the Wesley Community House of Louisville, is rejuvenated and enjoyed every year for a Halloween party.
‘I was showing a college professor-type around, and he seemed a little shocked that I didn’t really have a long-range use in mind. I am just saving them for another hundred years or so,’ Bush-Sawtelle laughingly recalled.
She and her husband are in the early stages of restoring The Wyandotte Hotel which was an old stagecoach stop along S.R. 62. Almost to the point of demolition, Bush-Sawtelle stepped in and took on this three-floored history lesson just for the fun of it.
Bush-Sawtelle transported a pile of logs from Leitchfield, Ky., and built a cozy, log cabin that housed their family Thanksgiving one year. She also rejuvenated her own log cabin playhouse that sits behind a lovely family camp that is rebuilt and has a wooden winding stairway down to the river. Even an old vintage houseboat has found new life as a cabana ‘floating’ beside the family pool.
There is no question that all this rebirth and relife needs someone with abilities in energy, foresight, finance and desire to do the hard work.
‘It helps to have wonderful, supportive parents who enable me in so many ways,’ Bush-Sawtelle said.
Love of place is the thread that ties it all together, and it is no surprise that her favorite possession from the past is the original round brass stencils that the old Rothrocks used to label their flour product.
‘It is just a sentimental attachment,’ Bush-Sawtelle said.
But I can’t think of a better reason for keeping the past alive than that. Can you?