The following article was written by the Fort Worth Star Telegram November 22, 1999.
Several sleek, inquisitive horses softly nicker at visitors as they enter theMedlin Barn in Trophy Club, a stately frame and rock structure built morethan 100 years ago. The huge red barn, which has a quaint cupola on top was a showplacewhen James Wilson Medlin built it in the early 1870's. One unusual aspect:
Because the barn was built on a slope, the second floor is ground level atthe barn's rear. The first floor, with 24 stalls for horses, is ground level atthe front. The magnificent building still draws visitors today, and recently it was thesite for a day's television filming of Walker, Texas Ranger starring ChuckNorris. If it could talk, the old barn would charm listeners with its history. Besides the squeals of laughter from the children playing in its third story hayloft, the rumble of wagons rolling in, the terrified braying of two mules that once bolted from second floor windows, the walls resound with another tale. More than once in the 1870's, outlaw Sam Bass who robbed stagecoaches, trains and banks from Nebraska to the Dakota Territory to Texas - slipped into the barn and switched a tired horse for a fresh one from the Medlin Brother's string."He rode in on the second floor and left his horse", said retired air force Col. Don Nance, who has leased the barn the past 14 years for an equestrian center. "He dropped down through the hay hole and got a fresh horse."Although a legend has sprung up that Bass and his gang hid out in the barn, Roanoke resident Mary Carpenter, 78, a descendant of the Medlin Family, wants to set the record straight."He did not hide in the barn", Carpenter said. "Bass stole horses from the Medlins. They would not have tried to protect Bass." The outlaw's hideout was in a cave near Grapevine Lakes North Shore, she said. "It's not very far," she said. "A couple of miles from the barn."The pioneer Medlin Brothers, Charles and Lewis, moved with 20 other families to the Roanoke area from Missouri in 1844. Charles and Matilda Medlin settled in Roanoke and Lewis near Grapevine, Carpenter said.Carpenter's grandfather, William Owen Medlin, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War, was the oldest son of Charles Medlin. James Wilson Medlin, who built the barn, was his second son.William and James raised horses, Carpenter said. "They were very close." Before building the barn, James Medlin traveled to Pennsylvania and studied some of the barns as models, a Denton County history book says. When the barn was finished, legend says Medlin showed it off to his neighbors by driving a team of young mules onto the ground level second floor entrance at the rear. "They were relatively unbroken mules," Nance says.The mules saw the daylight at the front end of the barn and bolted for the tall open windows."They jumped from the second floor," Nance says. "One was killed and the other had to be cut from the harness."Carpenter who grew up in Roanoke, recalls playing in the Medlin barn as a child. It was owned then by her mothers cousin, Louisa Medlin Gibson, James Wilson Medlin's daughter.The cupola wasn't just ornamental or a pigeon roost, Carpenter said. "It had some type of windmill in it. When the wind would blow, that thing would turn and grind their food.""I hope I'm not here if it is torn down," he said. "it's a grand old barn."