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The historic Reed Log House built in 1857 represents the early days of settlers in Missouri and still stands | CJ Combes

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Reed Log House, Shannon County, Missouri in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.National Park Service, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

This historic house interests me because of the vertical plank siding and the stone foundation. The Reed Log House has also been called Macy Cabin, Prather House or Keller House. It is located near Eminence, Missouri in Shannon County along the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The house is an example of a pioneer log dwelling. In 1991, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The house was built in 1857. Between about 1885 and 1910, some additions were made. Architectural design is the vernacular of the Ozark.

Vernacular architecture is generally defined as structures that groups of people make for daily use, that is, buildings not designed by professional architects but representative of popular culture, produced by members of the community to meet certain needs or desires and guided by the conventions of the locality. . (Source.)

The fields surround the Reed house. Buttin Rock Road is located east of the house and connects the house to a rural Ozarks school, Buttin Rock School. Buttin Rock is also the name of a bluff abutting the river. The Current River is to the west.

The log structure had two pieces. The flooring has wide planks. An addition to the house to the east dates from around 1900-1910 and contains a porch and another room. The building is covered with corrugated iron.

Although the building is very old and has not been used for decades, the Reed Log House is structurally in good condition. There are places where the cellar walls have collapsed. The house has been vacant since the late 1930s or early 1940s. At one time chicken feed was stored in the house.

In order to prevent animals or people from entering the building, windows and doors have been closed by the National Park Service. The house’s stone fireplace was probably the main resource for heating and cooking. This reinforces the idea that the house was built in pre-war times.

Around the time of the Louisiana Purchase, settlers were arriving in Missouri. In pre-war times, the Ozarks were a wilderness.

pre-war is a Latin term meaning “before the war”. The antebellum period in the United States was the period before the American Civil War, which began in 1861. It is most often described as the period between the War of 1812 and the Civil War, and it is the most often used to refer to the Southern United States during this period. (Source.)

Although there were federal land laws allowing the purchase of land, it was not practical for settlers in the Ozarks. They were poor and unable to make large payments for the land. Then you had the squatters. The Preemption Act 1841 stated that squatters could buy the land they lived on after it had been surveyed.

In 1854, with the passage of the Graduation Act, settlers could purchase land in parcels of up to 320 acres. The cost of land would be graduated according to how long it remains unsold on the market. The squatters have become landowners.

The Graduation Act, passed in 1854, addressed the problem of undesirable land that remained unsold because minimum government prices were too high, leaving potentially workable land unimproved and untaxed. (Source.)

Thomas Roseau

In 1857, squatter Thomas Reed purchased 114.15 acres. Reed had a large family. He was a doctor and a farmer and was already nearly 60 years old. According to letters he sent to his brother, he and his family had been squatting on Current River since the late 1830s.

Under the Graduation Act, Reed and his family purchased 700–800 acres along the Current River from 1854 to August 1856. He let his brother know that he planned to buy more land. It is possible that the Reed House was there.

Reed was Shannon County’s first physician. He moved there from Tennessee. His wife, Mary Chilton Reed, was respected in Ozark society. They weren’t the only ones to suffer during the Civil War. Dr. Reed and three of his children died because of the war. Her daughter, who lived in Oregon Missouri, was shot dead by a robber. In the spring of 1865, Dr. Reed and two of his sons were taken from their home and shot.

Reed’s son David C. Reed sold the property in 1871, although other Reed family members disputed this. In 1884, the title deed passed to the next owner. The last owner of the property was probably responsible for adding the first addition to the house and the hearth was replaced with a wood burning stove.

Before the beginning of the 20th century, changes were on the way. The price of land has gone up. People were settling as well as industries, logging and railroads. With the circular saws in the mills there were milled boards that replaced the floor of the log house.

In 1910 Shannon County and the Ozarks entered a new period of development. Logging companies were leaving the region. The Moon-Larkin family purchased the log home in 1916 and remained there until 1946. They built the area’s first schoolhouse, naming it Buttin Rock.

In 1967 the property was sold to the US government for the Ozark National Scenic Waterways. Until that time, the Reed House served as an outbuilding for storage. This was not uncommon for old houses in the Ozarks. The Reed House is one of the oldest pioneer structures on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Thanks for reading.

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