• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Midway siblings share stories about family, hometown

“REFLECTIONS OF MIDWAY: 1832 to Holly Hill Inn” was an opportunity for Amy Rouse Perry to share her family’s story during a special program at the Woodford County Historical Society on Jan. 25. Perry and her daughter have scanned over 1,000 photos and documents to tell their family’s story, she said. And she urged those attending the program to “write your stuff down. Put your information on the back of pictures.” (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Midway natives Amy Rouse Perry and Bob Rouse shared stories about their family, Holly Hill Inn and their hometown during a special program at the Woodford County Historical Society on Jan. 25.

“Holly Hill is where our great-grandparents lived and my grandmother was raised there and (my family lives) right behind it,” said Perry during her presentation.

“Reflections of Midway: 1832 to Holly Hill Inn” gives Perry an avenue for sharing her love of Midway and Holly Hill Inn with others. It’s based on the memories of Rex Lyons as told to historian Clay Lancaster and information in a Midway Woman’s Club book about the history of Midway, Perry said, “So the things I’m telling you are sort of true – mostly true,” which drew some laughter from those attending the Jan. 25 program.

Perry began “Reflections of Midway” by explaining some of the physical changes to the historic home now known as Holly Hill Inn. In 1903, her great-grandfather, Isaac Parrish, purchased the house and 200 acres of land, which began the family’s history with Holly Hill.

“The personal touch (to this story) is our grandmother’s journal,” said Perry.

While not pretty to look at, Perry described Honeywood Parrish Rouse’s journal as “pretty fabulous” because her personal stories are like other diaries – “plain-spoken, lively and full of detail,” which she said, “This one is.” She also shared some black-and-white photos of family members that her grandmother wrote about in journal entries.

Because life was so different a century ago, the Rouse family as well as others in Midway and elsewhere took care of their needs by raising a garden and canning produce for the winter. Mules, meanwhile, provided a mode of transportation as well as horsepower for farm work at Holly Hill, Perry said.

She said Holly Hill soon became a hub of activity with rooms for rent and a dining room for guests.

“They practically ran a restaurant over there,” her dad later said in an interview. “My grandfather never met a person who wasn’t a dear friend and most of them he brought home to dinner.

“He was like Elwood P. Dowd in the movie, ‘Harvey.’”

Rex and Rose Lyons eventually opened up Holly Hill Inn for overnight guests and wedding receptions before the property was sold to Ouita and Chris Michel, who continue to run a restaurant in the historic home known as Holly Inn, and named another of their restaurants for Honeywood Parrish Rouse.

Later during “Reflections of Midway,” Bob Rouse, Perry’s brother, read an essay – based on his sister’s research and other resources – about their great-uncle James Ware Parrish III. He drowned at age 27 while swimming in Elkhorn Creek near Midway on a Friday afternoon in the summer of 1932.

“It’s confounding that Jim would drown. He was not just a strong swimmer, but a heroic one too,” said Rouse, reading from his essay: “Young Jim Parrish: A Life Ended, but Not Completed.”

Four years earlier, Jim Parrish and a cousin rescued two young girls who were drowning. He also rescued little Benny Roach from a watery grave – only a day before he drowned near a dam at Moore’s Mill after being knocked unconscious by a chunk of wood or perhaps a stone, Rouse read.

“That boy Jim rescued, little Benny,” said Rouse, “grew up to be Dr. Ben Roach, described as a medical legend in Kentucky by a University of Kentucky president.”

Dr. Roach also maintained a family practice in Midway for 55 years, added Rouse, “and he treated and delivered countless residents including me.

“…I never met the man, but I have to think he’s part of me, part of Midway…”

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