Post-Civil War era homestead holds generational memories
For more than 150 years, this colonial house has stood atop a hill on James Road, Marion County, Missouri. The house at 3700 James Road, originally dubbed the W.C. Pine house, is now owned by Michell Niemeyer. In 1861, during the Civil War, Mr. Pine farmed this land, and Kansas Troops set fire to his barn, destroying all of its contents. Photo contributed by Meryle Martin Dexheimer.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
“There is a saying that it is always darkest just before day, if this is true then methinks it must be near day dawn in Missouri, for surely it can hardly get much darker than now.” Diary entry (believed) written by Ellen Benton, sister of Sarah Benton Selmes, Hannibal, Mo. Aug. 31, 1861.
She continued: The dark days of September 1861 began “with the state in the hands of the Secessionists and the enforcement of Confederate laws. The railroad was in Confederate hands from St. Joseph to Palmyra, and the train cars were under constant fire.”
Just days later, Kansas troops marched onto the farm of W.C. Pine, located just a few miles west of Hannibal on James Road, and set fire to his barn, thus destroying all the contents: grain, hay, a harness and a new buggy.
He was never sure what he did to provoke this attack, believing the action was meant for another farm. (History of Marion County, Missouri 1884)
An early settler to Marion County, Missouri, W.C. Pine was a cooper and farmer by trade, arriving in the county circa 1846. That same year he was united in marriage with Miss Maria Sanders, and together they raised a large family.
For three years, circa the early 1850s, Pine worked the gold mines of California, then returned to Missouri, purchasing the farm where he would spend the rest of his life:
In Miller Township, “the northeast quarter of said Section 25, Township 57 north, range 5 west, containing forty acres more or less.”
On that property, circa 1870, the Pines are believed to have constructed a two-story colonial, three-bedroom house, with a stone foundation and wood-burning fireplace, size estimated at 2,348 square feet.
The house also featured a wrap-around staircase and at least one ceiling medallion. A kitchen was added on at a later date.
That house stands today at 3700 James Road as a testament to W.C. Pine’s rebound from Civil War losses and his industrious contributions to the growth and prosperity of his adopted county and state.
W.C. Pine died in 1893, and his wife died in 1897. They are buried at Riverside Cemetery.
“George W. Pine (son of W.C. Pine) has just completed his threshing seventy six acres of wheat, averaging 36 bushes to the acre. Steve Glascock has 175 acres which will average as much.” Hannibal Courier. Quincy Daily Journal, Aug. 2, 1887
After her parents’ deaths in 1893 and 1897 respectively, Nellie Pine Schoknecht and her husband, Henry A. Schoknecht, filed a partition suit, asking that the land acquired by her parents, W.C. and his wife during their lifetimes, be sold so that the estate could be divided among the heirs.
Defendants in this suit were:
George Willard Pine
Lazarus E. Pine
Mary E. Pine Weatherly and her husband, William J. Weatherly
Sadie Pine Ellison and her husband, William Ellison
Annie M. Pine Testerman and W.F. Testerman, her husband
David M. Carroll, (husband of Margaret Pine Carroll 1858-1893) and his minor children, Emma, Alice, Nora, Mary E., William, Dimple May, David M. and Lulu Carroll.
Tipton T. Graves was also a defendant. He was the son of William H. and Nancy Graves, and husband of Mary Catherine (Mollie) Atkins Graves.
In 1898, William Weatherly and his wife, Mary E. Pine Weatherly, purchased a portion of the Pine estate in Miller Township and made plans to move from Columbia to Hannibal. This property was located to the north of the West Ely Road, consisting of more than 100 acres.
George Willard Pine took ownership of about 100 acres directly to the west of his brother-in-law’s farm. Both the Weatherly and Pine farms were in Section 24.
Tipton Graves acquired some 40 acres, which was land consisting of the aforementioned W.H. Pine’s homestead in Section 25.
Tipton T. Graves
Tipton Graves, (1856-1937) born at Spalding Springs, Ralls County, Mo., married Mary Catherine (Mollie) Atkins in 1879. She was the daughter of Henry Frederick Atkins (died in 1891) and Sophia D. Atkins (died in 1888) of Miller Township.
Henry Atkins owned a large farm across James Road, to the south, from the W.C. Pine homestead, referenced as “the old Atkins farm.” His farm was later divided among his heirs, including (but not limited to) F.A. Atkins, F.B. Atkins and C.A. Atkins.
Tipton and Mollie Graves raised three children:
William Ernest Graves 1880-1939
Samuel M. Graves 1883-1971 (never married)
Pearl Ella Graves 1884-1918 (never married)
Samuel M. Graves lived out his life in this house.
In 1901, Miller Township:
Palmyra Spectator, May 8, 1901
George W. Pine owned 119 acres
George W. Atkins owned 144 acres
T.A. Atkins owned 55 acres
C.W. Atkins owned 55 acres
F.B. Atkins owned 62 acres
J.O. Atkins owned 156 acres
H.F. Atkins owned 80 acres
T.T. Graves owned 60 acres
W.F. Testerman owned 51 acres
W.J. Weatherly owned 117 acres
June 30, 1898
“Henry Atkins, a progressive young farmer of Miller township, has planted an acre of ‘multiplying corn,’ that is veritable ‘cornucopia,’ which produces from five to eight large ears on each stalk. It is the first of the kind tested in this region.” Hannibal Post
Note: Spelling for the Atkins family name was also found listed as Adkins. For consistency, “Atkins” is used throughout this story.
Note: Information for the early history of W.C. Pine and his house is a compilation of information taken from “The History of Marion County, Missouri," published in 1884; information obtained from Esley Hamilton’s research for the Identification and Protection of Historic Resources in Hannibal, Missouri, in 1983, and tidbits of information found in Marion County newspaper articles, via newspapers.com.
Note: The Selmes family Civil War diary was obtained from the Selmes Family papers, MS 1021, Arizona Historical Society-Tucson.
Next week: A closer look at the W.C. Pine homestead.
Mary Lou Montgomery, retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Books available on Amazon.com by this author include but are not limited to: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870,” and “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’” 47 stories of the Market Street Wedge and on west to Lindell Avenue. Montgomery can be reached at Montgomery.firstname.lastname@example.org Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com