Dinsmore Homestead

A few years ago, I was looking for a historic home in the Northern Kentucky area, and I came across Dinsmore Homestead. Various things happened, and we never made the trip. I kept the home on my radar and once things reopened after the COVID shutdown, I decided we would finally make the trip. Originally posted in April 2021 on our Facebook page, here it is in true blog format! Welcome to the Dinsmore Homestead!

Not your Average KY Historic Home

Dinsmore Homestead in Burlington, KY is one very unique historical home museum for several reasons:

  1. Unlike so many historical homes in Kentucky, the Dinsmore home stayed in the family until it was sold to a preservation society to become a museum. Every piece in the home is true to the family.
  2. It is one of the few historical home museums in Northern Kentucky.
  3. The home doesn’t flaunt wealth and isn’t a log cabin.
  4. The history of this family doesn’t begin in Virginia in the 1700s.

Come along with us on our visit to learn the history of the home and family.

Beginning in the North East

James Dinsmore was born in New Hampshire in 1790. After graduating from Dartmouth College, he moved south to the Mississippi Territory. He returned to the east in 1828.

Martha Dinsmore / Photo Credit: DinsmoreFarm.org

Martha Macomb was born in Georgetown, D.C. in 1797. In 1828, Martha was staying with family in Philadelphia and met James Dinsmore.

James and Martha were married a year later at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Burlington, New Jersey on May 13, 1829. Shortly after, James and Martha moved to Louisiana (where they raised sugarcane and cotton) and welcomed three daughters into their family; Isabella Ramsay (1830), Julia Stockton (1833), and Susan Bell (1835).

Georgetown, D.C.

Georgetown, D.C. is a historic neighborhood in northwest Washington D.C. It was founded in 1751, in the province of Maryland, as a port along the Potomac River.

The Port of Georgetown predates the federal district and the city of Washington by 40 years.

Uncle Silas

James’ beloved uncle, Silas Dinsmoor, wrote to James (sometime between 1835 and 1838) about a beautiful piece of land near the Ohio River in Boone County, Kentucky. Due to health issues, debt, and a desire to be near his aunt and uncle, James purchased 700 acres of land in Kentucky in 1838. In 1842, James moved Martha and his 3 daughters out of Louisiana and into their Greek Revival style home.

Their Home

The floor plan was unique, and the home was in no way pretentious. As a matter of fact, I have never visited a historical home in Kentucky that felt so… common. While touring the home, I noted that it reminded me of “The Waltons.” The front hall didn’t feel like a hall at all, but instead like a living room. The center staircase doesn’t demand attention, it is in no way elaborate. While the home is large with roughly 20 rooms, it didn’t feel massive and was not built to flaunt wealth. The home, instead, feels cozy and quaint, simply meant to be a comfortable home for James and Martha’s family.

The Back Porch of the Dinsmore Homestead
Image #: 410417 The house that was home to the CBS television family “The Waltons” is shown in this October 24, 1975. CBS /Landov

The Farm

James and his uncle, Silas, worked to build a diversified farm with the help of slave labor. They raised sheep, tended orchards, grew grapes for wine, and had a willow baskets business. (The willows used to weave the baskets were from the willow trees on the farm.)

The homestead grew to have several outbuildings which still stand on the property today. James never became rich, but he and his family lived a very comfortable life.

Love and Loss

In 1851, James and Martha lost their youngest daughter Susan, just 15 years old, in a boating accident. She was laid to rest on the property atop a nearby hill. Martha was laid to rest near her daughter in 1859, and the family cemetery grew larger when James and Martha’s oldest daughter, Isabella, was added to the cemetery in 1867. She passed after becoming extremely ill just a few months after the birth of her second daughter.

In 1872, James passed at the age of 82. Julia, James and Martha’s middle daughter, was left to run the farm and to raise Isabella’s 2 young daughters. She did so quite successfully over the next 50+ years. Julia was laid to rest with her family in 1926.

Visiting Today

Today, the Dinsmore Homestead Foundation runs and cares for the home and its 30 remaining acres. There is a most wonderful lady that gives tours of the home. She knows so much about the history of the family and you can see the passion she has for the homestead. You can tour every room in the home, you can step into every building on the property, and you can hike to the top of the nearby hill to visit the family cemetery.

This is a trip worth making! My mom, my daughter, and I visited on a chilly day during spring break. I had messaged to say we were coming for a visit, only to learn the home would not open until the next week. The tour guide was so kind, she offered to give us a tour even though they were not officially open. We received a personal tour when we arrived!

To finish the day, we asked about a place to stop for lunch. It was recommended that we try the Tousey House Tavern. It was a perfect ending to the day. The restaurant was in a historic home in town, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere quaint and perfect! You can’t go wrong loading up in the car to make this trip. It is an extremely unique piece of Kentucky history!

Tousey House tavern

Make sure to check the website here for dates and times of operation!

Until next time, Happy Travels!

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