Never a plantation
Pleasant View Farm had its beginnings in 1801 when Joseph Barnett bought 578 acres on the Hayes Fork of Silver Creek. By 1824 he had constructed the brick house that stands today. About the same time, Barnett is believed to have built the three slave houses that are known to have stood on the property in 1850. The brick portion of this building is thought to be one of those original slave dwellings.
Slaves accompanied the earliest settlers to Madison County. Slaves were property, labor, and a source of wealth and, like most well-to-do landowners, Joseph Barnett owned slaves. In 1820 Barnett owned twenty-one slaves, nine of whom were under the age of ten. Some, perhaps all, of those slaves lived in this and the other two dwellings that stood near here.
Barnett was probably the only owner of Pleasant View farm to grow labor-intensive "plantation" crops such as hemp, flax, and tobacco. Production of these crops, which were grown by most prosperous Madison County farms in the first half of the 19th century, was heavily dependent on slave labor.
William McCord, who bought the house and 200 acres in 1846, operated a typical, diversified family farm. Cattle and hogs were the principal livestock; corn and sweet potatoes were the principal crops. Like Barnett, McCord depended on slaves to provide the farm's labor. In 1850, when McCord owned seven adult slaves, over 34% of the county's population were slaves, the largest percentage of slaves in Madison County's history.
In 1856 McCord sold the property to Kavenaugh Armstrong, who lived in the house at the time of the Battle of Richmond. Armstrong, who had two adult slaves, owned the property until 1875, but slavery at Pleasant View and in Kentucky ended in December 1865, when it was abolished by the 13th Amendment.