It’s All Relative
How One of Jefferson County’s Busiest Intersections Got Its Start
Writer / Beth Wilder,
Director Jeffersontown Historical Museum
Anyone who regularly travels around Jeffersontown knows to be prepared for a bit of a delay at the intersection of Hurstbourne Lane and Taylorsville Road. Next time you are patiently awaiting your turn at one of those extremely busy stoplights, take a look around you — you are sitting in the middle of one of the earliest pieces of Jeffersontown’s history. Each corner of that intersection has a story to tell, yet they are all interrelated by family ties. The Funk family, to be precise.
It all began in 1792 when Jacob Funk received a deed of conveyance to 150 acres of land on the headwaters of the South Fork of Beargrass Creek, which was part of the Lynn Station tract originally owned by Peyton Short. Jacob Funk, his son and grandchildren had moved to Kentucky from Maryland around 1790, journeying down the Ohio River in a raft, then making the trek from Harrodsburg to Lynn’s Station on foot. In 1794, upon the death of Jacob, the property passed into the hands of his only surviving son, John. It would appear that Jacob and John operated Lynn’s Station not only as a farm but as a wayfaring post for travelers to rest themselves and their horses when bringing pelts, whiskey, hemp, tobacco and other products to the Ohio River for transport to more distant locations.
John married a woman named Margaret (Peggy), and they had 10 children. A stone springhouse stands near the northeast corner of Hurstbourne Lane and Taylorsville Road — local legends relate that it was used as an early family dwelling for the Funks, or that it served as a schoolhouse. Conflicting accounts indicate that the large two-story Georgian house facing Taylorsville Road on that same corner was constructed either around 1795 by John and his son Peter Funk, or that in 1814, Peter himself built the lovely timber and brick home, a year after he married Harriet Hite, the daughter of Colonel Abraham Hite. Regardless, when Peter inherited the 150-acre tract on Beargrass Creek, he named the house “Avon.”
Peter Funk was an industrious man — he was a farmer, surveyor, horticulturalist and he (along with his brothers) owned an architecture and construction business known as Peter Funk & Co., which was later sold. He served as a Captain in the War of 1812 and was a Major of Horses at the battle of Tippecanoe. It is said that in 1825, he had the first horse race in Kentucky on his farm.
Somewhere around 1860-1865, Peter and Harriet constructed a house on the southeast corner of what is now Taylorsville Road and Hurstbourne Lane for their son James Henry Funk, upon his marriage to Mary Yenowine. This one-story, hipped-roof house was purchased by the Bickel family about 1930, and they dubbed the property “Stony Brook.” The Bickels farmed the property until 1986 when it was sold for development and to create a portion of Hurstbourne Lane. When the Stony Brook shopping center was under construction, it was decided to preserve the house by moving it to the southwest corner of Hurstbourne Lane and Taylorsville Road. Later additions made to the home were removed, and only the original structure now remains near the intersection, along with the circular ice house from the property.
In 1862, Peter and Harriet deeded 100 acres of land to their daughter, Harriet (Hallie) Funk, who had married Alfred Hise in 1854. Their gorgeous, one-story, hipped-roof house, which sits a little beyond the northwest corner of Hurstbourne Lane and Taylorsville Road, is known by the appellation “Nunnlea,” although originally, it was called “Willowbrook.”
It is rare in Jefferson County to find so prominent a grouping of family residences so close together, and although the sprawl of progress has changed the outward appearance of most of the homes and eliminated many of the outbuildings that once dotted the vast acreage, it is still a piece of history that residents are fortunate to be able to view.
So, the next time you are bored out of your mind, stuck in traffic at the intersection of Hurstbourne Lane and Taylorsville Road, take a look around you and imagine the once peaceful farmland that was shared by the members of the Funk family who wanted to live within sight of one another and who undoubtedly were able to walk back and forth across that intersection without ever having to stop even a moment for a vehicle.