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White Oak: A house of many memories

This undated photo shows the historic W.H. Pine house, which was long-time residence to Tipton Tyree Graves and his family. Photo contributed by Jeanne Atkins.


George W. Pine, the third in succession of eight known children born to William H. and Maria P. Sanders Pine, spent a portion of his childhood in a house still standing at 3700 James Road in Hannibal, Mo. Believed to have been in his mid teens when the house was constructed, he likely attended nearby Turner School, and later, as a young man, he did attend Gem City Business College in Quincy, Ill.

His name, since his death in 1933, has faded from prominence, but in his era George W. Pine was among the most influential men of Marion County, Mo.

Born to William H. and Maria P. Sanders Pine in 1855, George likely remembered when his father’s barn was burned by Kansas Troops in 1861, as described in last week’s story. He was old enough to have helped with the construction of the family’s two-story colonial house on the hilltop (still standing) circa 1870. And he was certainly old enough to be influenced by his father’s skillful agricultural management, growing his holdings from a few dozen acres to a hundred or more Marion County acres as the end of the century neared.

The house where the Pine family lived was grand by any standard: Three large bedrooms on the second floor, and equally large rooms - dining, parlor and living space - on the first floor. The two levels were tied together with a grand curved staircase, honed from native wood.

1870 itself was likely the most fulfilling year for William and Maria Pine, with seven of their eight children still living under their roof. One daughter, Mary E. Pine, married William L. Weatherly in 1869 and they lived nearby.

The family unit was first broken in 1871, when 9-year-old Sterling O. Pine died. Sterling’s death left George and his older brother, Lazarus E. Pine, as the only surviving sons. But it wouldn’t be long before Lazarus set out on his own, settling at various times in Kansas and southern Missouri.

In 1879 George W. Pine was married to Mary B. Ward, and they had two daughters, Mary S. Pine (Mrs. Arthur Crossan), 1881-1958; and Edith Pine (Mrs. Newton Arthur Mulkey) 1885-1936.

Pine homestead

After the Pine estate was distributed in 1897, Tipton T. Graves, son-in-law of nearby farm family W. Henry and Sophia D. Christian Atkins, took possession of the Pine farm and home fronting James Road (Route MM) in Section 25, Mason Township. T.T. Graves and his wife, Mary Catherine (Mollie) Atkins Graves (1852-1918), had three children: Earnest William Graves, (1881-1939), Samuel M. Graves, (1883-1971), and Pearl E. Graves, 1884-1918. After T.T. Graves’ death in 1937, Sam Graves, a lifelong bachelor, continued to live in this house until his death in 1971.

Sam Graves’ first cousin, Loren Atkins, (1925-2007) son of J. Oney Atkins (1898-1982) and Mabel Fountain Atkins, (1901-1988) purchased the property, and spent a year modernizing the house, being careful to maintain the historic home’s integrity. He and his family, including wife Betty, and daughters Joan, Susan and Jeanne Atkins, lived in the house until 1993.

Hannibal native Bradley Brice and his wife bought the house from the Atkins family, then in 2006, Mark and Carrie Shields-Danner purchased the property for use as White Oak Counseling. Last summer, the Danners sold the historic old house to Michell Niemeyer.

George, a politician

George W. Pine, true to his roots, stayed close to home, spending most of his life in his home county: Marion.

After his parents’ deaths, George settled near the center of Section 24 and north in Section 25, in 1913 owning 98 acres with frontage on West Ely Road, in Mason Township.

A natural born politician and a friend to nearly all he knew, he was elected or named to the following posts during his lifetime, as listed in his obituary:

In 1898 he was elected associate county judge from the eastern district of Marion county, and in 1900 was re-elected to the same honored position.

In 1902 he was elected presiding judge of the county court, and was re-elected to this post in 1906 and 1910.

In 1912 he was appointed deputy United States collector of revenue under Hon. Geo. H. Moore, collector of the revenue for the eastern district of Missouri and held this position so long as Mr. Moore continued in office.

In 1917 he was appointed public administrator of Marion county, succeeding John A. Miller, deceased, and served out the unexpired term of Mr. Miller in this office.

In 1929, although his health was failing, he was again appointed to office, this time as justice of the peace in Mason township to serve out the unexpired term of justice Thomas S. Hagan, deceased.

In 1930 he was re-elected as a justice of the peace in Mason township, death claiming him before the end of his term.

Hard surface roads

George W. Pine took particular pride is providing hard surface roads throughout Marion County. A note from his obituary in the Palmyra Spectator on May 17, 1933:

“A pioneer in gravel construction in the rural sections of the county, he fought for and obtained the foundation of Marion County’s hard road system which is today recognized as being one of the best in the state, with scarcely a community or neighborhood in the county which does not have a gravel road connecting it with the outside world.”

Curious occurrence

Palmyra Spectator March 28 1895:

“On the old Atkins farm three miles west of (Hannibal), occupied at present by Tipton Graves, a small flow of natural gas and petroleum oil was struck yesterday morning at the depth of 255 feet. Mr. Graves was searching for a supply of water and a six inch drill had been inserted into the ground to the depth of 305 feet. After reaching the 205 foot mark Mr. Graves concluded to fill up about 50 feet and insert a dynamite blast, which was done yesterday morning, opening a flow of water, oil and gas. R.W. Cash was present when the petroleum was discovered and states that a steady flame 6 inches high burned when a lighted match was held over the top of the aperture. Although there is not much of a flow in the well there is unquestionably plenty of it in the locality - at least it is thought so. Hannibal Journal”

The White Oak Farm house, circa 1991, when it was owned by Betty and Loren Atkins. Contributed by Jeanne Atkins.

Samuel M. Pine, pictured at Christmas 1969. He occupied the historic W.H. Pine House until his death in 1971. Photo contributed by the daughters of Loren and Betty Atkins: Jeanne Atkins, Joan Atkins Kavanagh and Susan Atkins Hibb.

George W. Pine, as pictured in the Palmyra Spectator, April 16, 1902.

George W. Pine, as pictured in the July 1, 1914 edition of the Palmyra Spectator newspaper. He was son of the W.H. Pine, the featured home’s original owner. In addition, George W. Pine held many important county offices during his lifetime.

When she owned the historic house at 3700 James Road, Carrie Shields-Danner was particularly drawn to this fireplace on the historic home’s first floor. Her husband, Mark, updated finishes throughout the house. Photo contributed by Carrie Shields-Danner.

This wrap-around staircase is a special feature of the 1870s house, which was historically known as the W.H. Pine House. Photo contributed by Carrie Shields-Danner.

Mark Danner took special care to touch up some of the details on the W.H. Pine House, including this ceiling medallion. Mark and Carrie Shields-Danner owned the 1870s-era house at 3700 James Road from about 2006 to the summer of 2022. The building was used as the White Oak Counseling Center. The house is now owned by Michell Niemeier. Photo contributed by Carrie Shields-Danner.

During his lifetime, Samuel M. Graves collected arrowheads that he found on White Oak Farm, while plowing the fields with a team of horses. Betty Atkins replaced the background and displayed the arrowheads while she and her husband Loren owned the house. Photo contributed by Jeanne Atkins.

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 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 Her collective works can be found at


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