In the days before Memorial Boulevard existed, the road north crossed Sulphur Fork Creek and headed up Porter’s Hill. Toward the top of the hill was located a lovely old home, built around 1845.
It had been given the name Sun Rise.
On Wednesday, Jan. 16, 1957, Sun Rise burned to the ground.
As with many older wood structures, the fire was intense. The flames could be seen from Springfield, and the smoke from a greater distance.
The house had been built by William Henry Johnson, the grandfather of Bess Woodard Miles.
The yard had been landscaped by Jacob V. Johnson, who had also set out the trees. He was the father of Mrs. W.V. Dozier and of Mrs. Forrest Bibb, Sr.
Mrs. Jamie Bell noted these family connections in her column in the “Springfield Herald” on Jan. 24, 1957.
One of the daughters of William H. Johnson married a “Mr. Garrett.” They had lived in the home for a period of time.
Later, Sun Rise was purchased by Judge John Woodard. Around 1882, Roseanne Woodard Bell Porter moved with her husband, Arch Porter, Sr., into the home.
She was a daughter of Judge Woodard.
Rose Woodard had first married Egbert Bell. They were the parents of Charles E. Bell and Carrie Bell Long.
Later, Rose Woodard Bell divorced her husband and married Arch Porter. They were the parents of John W. Porter, Jim Porter, Mary Porter Powell, Annie Porter Castleberry, and Arch Porter, Jr.
When Judge Woodard died in 1903, the house was willed to Mary Porter Powell. She had been born in that house, and she lived there until her death.
Arch Porter, Jr., had died in 1901 at Sun Rise. He was the brother of Mary Porter Powell and father of Calista Porter Baggett. His wife had died a year earlier.
Calista Porter was a baby when her parents died. She was raised at Sun Rise and married Gilliam Sprouse Baggett there in 1918.
Many will remember their daughter, Mary Porter Baggett Bigger.
At the time that the house caught fire, the owner was Joe Kemper. Russell Holman, manager of the farm, and his family were the only ones living there.
Johnsons - Woodards - Bells - Porters - Powells - Baggetts - so many families connected to Sun Rise. So many families important in the history of Robertson County.
In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.