Hensley Settlement Liner Notes

Atop Brush Mountain, in Bell County, Kentucky, Sherman and Nicey Ann Hensley were allotted 21 acres from Nicey Ann’s father, Barton Hensley, in 1903. The couple purchased an additional 33 acres. In 1904, family members began to move to the settlement. Nancy and Willy Gibbons hiked up first, then others followed. Families grew and a one room school was established in 1908. By 1925, the population peaked at 100. Conditions were always primitive; no running water, indoor plumbing, or electricity. Horses and mules did the work of tractors. When the world wars came about, many men left to join the army. Others went to mine coal. Some married spouses that could not tolerate the isolation of the mountain top. By 1951, the population dwindled to one, the patriarch Sherman Hensley, who finally retreated down the mountain, leaving Hensley Settlement to fall into disrepair.
Cumberland Gap Historical National Park dedicated the settlement as part of the park lands in 1959. Today it serves as a living history museum and tours can be made May through October. Folks also can hike 7.8 miles from Chadwell Gap in Lee County, Virginia to explore Hensley Settlement.