Henry Waller Calmes was born in Frederick County, Va., a brother of Gen. Marquis Calmes who had a large land claim at Indian Old Fields. Henry came to Clark County in about 1806, acquired a tract of Robert McMillan land, and built a handsome brick home on the place. The house is still standing — on Marquis Court in Calmes Estates — and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Henry served as a county magistrate for many years. He was a charter member of the Winchester Masonic Lodge, established in 1812. Henry Jr. later purchased his father’s homeplace and expanded his holdings to nearly 800 acres. Henry Jr.’s farm encompassed all the present subdivisions between McClure Road and Boonesboro Road (KY 627) except Westmeade and The Meadows.
He achieved high standing, locally and nationally, among the breeders of shorthorn cattle. Several of his bulls and cows — Clarence Jr., Betsey Duke, Annie English, and others — are listed in the official shorthorn herd books along with their detailed pedigrees.
Henry married Margaret Skinner, a daughter of Cornelius Skinner. He built a homeplace on a tract that included McMillan’s Spring, which was known thereafter as Calmes Spring. The home and spring are both shown on the 1861 historic map of Clark County.
Calmes Spring was still a noted stopping place when Lucien Beckner wrote about it in 1905. He stated that “the spring gushes out just below the large barn with such volume that the little branch is at once transformed into a creek.
This spring is one of the sources of supply of the reservoir, and in early days was a never failing gusher, but of late years, when the trees have been cleared away, it has not held up to its reputation.” (Note: since the dam was rebuilt, the spring no longer flows into the reservoir.)
Beckner added that around the spring “are innumerable Indian graves; in fact, the front pasture, where is the sunken spring, is a mass of graves where the plowshare turns out human bones every few feet. We remember, when a boy, of opening with our brother several of these graves and still have some of the bones and other relics we found therein. When the barn was being built, the grave of an important chieftain was opened and numerous articles of savage finery taken from it. We own several copper jingles that decorated the fringe of his hunting shirt and some mica that formed the chief ornament of his necklace.”
It should be mentioned that recent archaeological surveys of the area turned up no evidence of these burials.
Henry Calmes Jr.’s house stood at the end of Patton Lane off Old Boonesboro Road. The structure was described as a two-story frame T-plan with a stone foundation and polygonal tower. The house and 97 acre farm passed from Henry Jr. to his son Waller then was sold, successively, to Waller’s brother Thomas, Woody Ecton, the Rev. J. W. Fitch, and Sarah Tabor.
The question about where Patton Lane got its name, long a mystery, might be explained by the fact that Sarah Tabor’s daughter Ethel was married to Claude R. Patton. Clark County School Board purchased part of the old Calmes farm in 2008. The house, which had been abandoned since surveyed by the Kentucky Heritage Commission in 1976, was razed during construction of the new high school. Calmes Spring is still flowing today.
Although the area is badly overgrown with honeysuckle, brambles and weeds, the stone wall around the spring is partly standing, and the barn foundation stones are still in place. Perhaps some day the school will clean up the undergrowth and put in walking trails to these historic features.