The West-Metcalfe House in Wayne County was the first brick house in this part of Kentucky and served as Confederate headquarters and a battlefield hospital during the Battle of Mill Springs. Thorough the efforts of the Mill Springs Battlefield Association, Joe Brent of Mudpuppy and Waterdog Inc., and Ed Wolfe of Hollow Woodworks, the 200-year-old home was completely restored in 2010.
The West-Metcalfe House was once a home to the West and Metcalfe families. Isaac West was the first of the family to move to Wayne County, building the West-Metcalfe House in 1799. Isaac West's granddaughter, Margaret Jane Lynch, married George Chilton Metcalfe Sr. at Mill Springs on April 1, 1845. Shortly thereafter, they moved to McMinn County, Tenn., where she remained until the death of her husband on Oct. 9, 1848. Margaret returned to Mill Springs in 1849 with her two infant sons (Charles Pollan Metcalfe and George Chilton Metcalfe Jr.). She lived with her mother, Nancy Saulter (West) Lynch and her uncle, Allen Russell West, at the West-Metcalfe House during the Civil War.
The house served as Confederate Gen. Felix Zollicoffer's first headquarters in this area. When the Confederates moved their headquarters to the Brown-Lanier House, this house was converted into a hospital. The original structure consisted of two rooms with fireplaces; a second level under the roof; and a cellar equipped with a fireplace and long stone shelf where surgeries were performed on the wounded and sick soldiers.
After the battle, journalists traveling with the Union Army reported seeing many injured and dying soldiers lying outside the house.
Slaves at the West-Metcalfe House
African Americans also played a vital role in the history of the West-Metcalfe House. Records show that the West family employed slaves. In 1810, Solomon West had at least one slave and perhaps others. By 1850, Allen Russell West owned 20 or more slaves and approximately the same number in 1860. Given this information, it is possible that slaves were involved in firing the bricks and building the West-Metcalfe House.
The main cooking area for the home was in the basement or cellar area, and, looking at photographs, there is evidence that some of the slaves occupied this area as living quarters.
The 1850 slave schedule indicates that Allen West manumitted (freed) one of his slaves. It is believed that several slaves are buried in the West Family Cemetery.