1952, Courier-Post New Home Edition
reprinted in the Hannibal Courier-Post (MO) - Sunday, May 10, 2009
Author: Hannibal Courier-Post
The Silas Osterhout home in the northwest part of Hannibal, long a show place and a rendezvous for young people going on picnics in the summer and skating parties in the winter time, still stands against a background of history which pierces the middle portion of the nineteenth century.
Many Hannibalians, now in mature adult life holding responsible positions in many different phases of the business and professional life of the city, and others who have left the old hometown to seek their fortunes elsewhere, point back to the many gay times they have had on the 18-acre tract which furnished so much fun and amusement during their teen age life. And they remember with the same pleasure the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Osterhout .
The development of this tract of land, when Hannibal was merely a hamlet, goes back to the birth of a baby boy in North Carolina. William Hubbard was born in Milford county, Nov. 3, 1806, almost a century and a half ago. In 1808 his parents moved to Ohio. William lived there until 1842 when his yearnings gave way to the adventures of the territory west of the Mississippi river.
That same year he came to Hannibal when the town had a population of 500. He settled on a piece of land about a mile and a half west of the Mississippi river where he eked out a living by farming and running a cooper shop. He built the large two-story brick house which the Osterhouts have called home for so many years.
In 1849 William Hubbard got the "gold fever," like so many others of his day. He went to California and after a year of this adventure he returned to Hannibal and again engaged in farming and coopering. In 1873 he retired from active business. He had been married three times. Hubbard was a member of the Christian church.
Forty-five years ago Silas Osterhout bought the farm from the Bradley heirs, the homestead tract of ground consisting of eighteen acres. This tract began at a point between Willis Arnold and the home of the late Judge E.L. Alford, and continued down the avenue to Hubbard street, up Hubbard street to Flora avenue, across to McKinley street and then angled over to a point on St. Marys avenue. The eighteen acres were outside of the city limits for many years.
When Osterhout bought the property there were few houses in the area. They included the home now occupied by Judge B.E. Bigger, the Shepherd place, now Burgher's, and Capt. Chamberlain's, now the old Zimmerman place.
Osterhout laid the property out in what is now known as the Osterhout sub-division and he had had much to do with the development of this part of town. Public utilities such as lights, water, gas and sewer have been instituted in the area.
When Mr. Osterhout bought the property there was a barbed wire fence along the front of it. The old cooper shop was located in a gully deep enough to hide a man on horseback. Today, the homes of George Rupp and Paul Gore are located there.
Over a spring on the back portion of the track is a springhouse. No one seems to know how old it is. The springhouse is made up of stone, the same kind as used in the foundation of the house.
Osterhout added a pond to the premises and stocked it with game fish. Many children and young people have skated on the pond and fishing in it is still good.
The house is the same as it was when Hubbard built it. It has the original plaster on its walls, bedecked with the beautiful white pine woodwork. There is a circular stairway with its hand-trimmed walnut handrail. After electric lights and city water were brought into the sub-division, Osterhout added a kitchen, a bathroom and a bedroom. The present owner believes that the stone used in the springhouse and the foundation for the house was quarried out of the back part of the premises.
A black locust tree removed from the tract was believed to have been a century old. Mrs. Osterhout counted the rings on the tree and came to that conclusion in its age. For years and years it had been a rendezvous for squirrels and opossums. It had reached the lofty height of 125 feet, had become hollow and its location was considered dangerous for the house.
Mr. Osterhout has been interested in the development of Hannibal ever since he came here. Of Holland ancestry, he was born in Ralls county. He has owned the same farm in Ralls county for 55 years and is still engaged in farming, cattle and hog raising. For years he was connected with the old Hannibal Trust company and is still actively engaged in the real estate and insurance business at the age of 83. He once served as president of the Hannibal Chamber of Commerce and has many business connections in the city. He has always been an ardent fisherman and hunter.