Description of The Blacksmith Shop @ Haun’s Mill
I was asked to do one other painting for this commemoration … the blacksmith shop at Haun’s Mill. This is the place where the saints took final refuge from the mob as they began their work of destruction. In all, 17 men and boys were murdered before it was all over at the hands of over 200 men on horseback, their anonymity hidden behind their painted black faces. Sobering indeed to contemplate the horrors that went on here so many years ago.
After studying the journal accounts of the settlement and events, this is how I envisioned the blacksmith shop. It was built by and owned by a member of the church, James Houston, and was still under construction at the time of the tragedy, so it’s cracks were not chinked or dobbed. It was about 18′ square, made of local timber and a bark roof.
When the mob rode it, the men went to the blacksmith shop where they had hidden their remaining weapons (the locals had illegally disarmed the saints previously several times). The women and children ran to the woods to hide. Basically, the men were defenseless. The mob came with their weapons and their bullets and their guns. The blacksmith shop was not secure enough that it could protect them, so the guns went through the spaces in the logs.
This has been a sobering yet faith promoting experience for me to participate in this project. I am grateful for those survivors and their descendants who have risen above this incident through the years, their faith still in tact.