Thursday, July 02, 2009

Photo Tour: Rosine, KY, and Bill Monroe Home Place

Rosine, KY, the birthplace of bluegrass music is about a 40-minute drive from Owensboro and the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Despite my attendance at the ROMP festival for the last four years, I have found it difficult to make it to Rosine. ROMP ends late on a Saturday night and the Bill Monroe home in Rosine does not open its doors to the public before 1:00 p.m. on Sundays - timing that does not work out for someone who has over 900 miles of driving to do that day.

This year, however, it was so hot in Owensboro that three of us decided to make the drive to Rosine one morning, opting to hit Yellow Creek Park a little later in the day when things might be a bit cooler (fat chance, that, as it turned out).

The Rosine Barn Jamboree is sure to catch your eye as you drive into town. The barn is right next door to a little general store and cafe that should not be missed either. The store is a great place to get directions to the Bill Monroe Home Place and something cold to drink on your way out to the house. The cemetery in which Bill and much of the Monroe family is buried is just a few hundred yards from the interesection in which the store and Barn sit.

This is a close-up of the circular plaque on the left side of the Rosine Barn Jamboree building:

Just a couple of miles from the general store is this sign marking the way to the old Monroe home, my favorite "dangerous curve" sign of all time:

A few hundred feet down the winding road pictured on the sign will bring you to the Bill Monroe Home Place, the house Bill lived in for much of his life. Monroe was born in a log cabin on the site of this home but the cabin burned to the ground when he was five years old and by 1918 the family was living in this "Cumberland home." The home was fully restored in 2001, by salvaging about 80% of its original wood, and it contains personal furniture, pictures, and other items that belonged to the Monroe family.

The home includes a living room, kitchen, three bedrooms and a back porch on which the family took many of its meals. Bill had the smallest bedroom to himself, his five brothers shared a larger bedroom, his parents had one to themselves, and his three sisters slept in the living room.

This is the scene just off the back porch of the home:

Photos from the Rosine cemetery, including the burial spot of Bill Monroe and much of his family:

And there you have it. Rosine, KY, the birthplace of Bill Monroe and bluegrass music is simply not to be missed. It took me four years to finally get to Rosine but I plan to go back again next year for a more "informed" look around the home place and cemetery. Now that I know what's there and what to expect, a second visit will probably be even better than the first one.

One side note about a nice surprise we got in the general store - Bill Monroe's daughter sitting at a table in the little cafe part of the store, and along side her were the legendary Tom Gray and his wife.


  1. That is the most amazing winding road sign I've ever seen! Thanks for sharing the fun pictures!

  2. I do love that sign, Rhapsody...I had to circle back around and stop to grab a photo because we didn't stop on the way in. That road is just a little over one lane wide, too, so you can imagine how slow it has to be driven.

  3. READER BEWARE: Bill Monroe had only ONE daughter and ONE son. Melissa is deceased and James is Bill's only surviving child. ALL OTHERS ARE IMPOSTERS/WANNABES

  4. Anonymous, the woman in the picture was pointed out to me by an employee of the little store as "Bill's daughter." Everyone having lunched treated her as such and she seemed to be accepted as who she says she is.

    I assume you are of the Bill Monroe family or that you are a family friend. I make no claim about this lady other than what she has made about herself - and as the citizens of Rosine represented her to me.

    She is apparently also accepted at the Home Place as who she says she is from what I can tell.

  5. I met Gloria in 2002. She had learned a story from one of Bill's friends about her real parents. He told her Bill was her father. I have met not only Gloria but her brother Al Jones and he is the spitting image of Bill Monroe. I think you only have to look and listen to them to know they are who they are. I love them both dearly and hope they will forever be my friends. I have never heard even the family in Rosine dispute either of their parentage. God be with them

  6. I agree, Anonymous. The resemblance (although I have only seen a picture of Al Jones) between Bill Monroe and these two people is remarkable. If visual evidence counts for anything, he is almost certainly their father.

    Gloria was very comfortable in Rosine and met no animosity at all from anyone while I was there. I tend to believe her claim.

  7. There is ABSOLUTLY no DNA or other evidence that these two are of any relation to William Smith MONROE.
    Doc Mercer has Used their Stories to promote the homeplace and are using their supposed names to futher his RFD TV/festival (they have also donated large sums of monies to the Rosine Projects) and yes they are accepted in the Rosine community as such, however be assured they are not MONROE'S CHILDREN.

  8. Is there DNA evidence proving they are not Bill Monroe's children?

    You "sound" very certain they are not Monroes. If you have a reason to believe this (other than personal reasons or prejudice) please present it. Otherwise, all you are doing is giving one person's opinion - and you're never going to change anyone's mind that way. You demand proof of others. Where is yours?

  9. is likely the "Little Georgia Rose" of Bill's famous song of that title.

    In Richard Smith's bio of Bill : "Can't You Hear Me Callin'," this young lady is said to have been born to Bill and his long time companion/Bass Player; Bessie Lee Mauldin.

    She is said to have been given to, (and raised by), someone close to Bessie Lee, (presumably in the state of Georgia, originally).

    She is said to have ridden along a time or two on the road though, with Bill and Bessie when she was quite small, and Bill would get her to sing songs with him, while riding along; hence, the 2nd verse of "Georgia Rose" : "We often sang old songs together - I watched her do her little part - she'd smile at me, when I would tell her - that she was my sweetheart."

    It IS said that Bill would not admit publicly to having another Daughter, and did not acknowledge her in his will, BUT, he IS said to
    have accepted her privately, AND, she was summoned to visit him shortly before he passed away in 1996!

    Lastly, I have met Mr. Tom Gray, and he is a very upright and honorable gentleman, & so I can pretty much assure you, if Tom and/or his late wife introduced this lady as Bill's daughter, then she MUST MOST ASSUREDLY BE the daughter of Bill and Bessie Lee!

  10. Thanks for the info and theories, Ron. Everyone involved was very sincere and I detected no false steps from anyone that day that would make me doubt this woman's story. Thanks for stopping by.