Rural Missouri - November 2013 - (Page 28)
Grundy County group preserves a historic gem for future generations
the success of saving the Thompson House," says
he built a Federal-style, two-story brick and stone
Ellen. "It's made the impossible possible. We cared,
home that everyone in Grundy County has come to
so they cared."
know as the Thompson House over the decades.
Gary says the group has raised nearly $100,000 in
"It's pretty amazing to think that
he trail is well worn by the feet of traveldonations. Other funds came from grants the
people came here in a wagon, with
ers. Wild grapes drape over the pathway, as
group received. He says the last big undertakonly hand tools, and built a house
water quietly trickles under a bridge leading
like this back then," says Gary.
into the meadow. A young buck steps out
Edinburg ing will be the custom-built windows for the
impressive 180-year-old home.
The grounds also included slave quarfrom the edge of the woods to survey the serene sur"This has been a great grassroots
ters, a family cemetery and a food cellar.
effort," adds Ellen. "It's been more than
Over time, the Thompson family and
One might imagine explorers crossing these
saving a piece of local history - it's
relatives passed away or moved on, leaving
trails nearly 200 years ago. Today, they are part of
preserving something that connects
the stately brick home vacant on land that
Crowder State Park in northwest Missouri. And near
our past to our future."
eventually became part of the state park.
the Grand River, at the edge of the nearly 2,000-acre
Kasey Bailey, an eighth-grade social
Time, weather and vandals eventually wore
park, are ﬁve acres housing a special piece of history.
studies teacher at Trenton Middle School,
the house down, leaving a mere shell for park guests
A stately brick home that had fallen into disuses the local historic site as a teaching tool. He's
to see. And that's when The Friends of Thompson
repair has been brought back from the brink of
implemented projects about the Thompson family
House was initiated.
destruction. Today, it's serving as a living reminder
and home into his curriculum, which makes learnIn 2007, an unlikely group of history buffs comof Grundy County's history.
ing history fun.
prised of retired engineer Ted Druckenmiller, farmer
"The Thompson House is the oldest known
"The students have researched the family, made
Gary Dolan, lawyer Tad Trombley, state represenstanding building in Grundy County," says Trenton
videos about pioneer living, made virtual tours,
tative Casey Guernsey and auctioneer Ed Arnold
native Gary Dolan. "It was the ﬁrst white settler's
designed websites, written articles," says Kasey.
started discussions with Mishome built in 1833 by Dr.
"We've even taken class trips to the Thompson
souri State Parks to acquire the
William Preston Thompson."
homestead and done our own little excavation,
property the Thompson House
When the tract of land the
ﬁnding shards of old dishes, brick, pieces of metal.
sat on so they could preserve a
house sits on was acquired
Then we discuss what we think is possibly from the
piece of their area's history.
by Missouri State Parks in
1800s and what isn't, then catalog our ﬁnds.
"It took quite a bit of talk1994 and incorporated into
"Part of the future is knowing where you came
ing, but eventually, the state
Crowder State Park, the house
from," adds the teacher. "You can open a textbook
allowed us to swap another
and learn history, or you can go dig into it, into the
piece of property for the house
"The fact that the home
dirt, and talk about a real family who lived here.
and few acres the Thompson
sat nowhere near a busy
You can learn the skills that helped them live back
House sits on," says Gary.
road is probably why it still
then. That brings history to life for us all."
Now that the non-proﬁt
stands today," adds Gary's
The Friends of the Thompson House committee
had the title to the home, the
wife, Ellen. "Usually, historic
is working to raise a ﬁnal $30,000 or so they think it
group needed to assess what
homes like this get knocked
will take to get the custom-made windows built and
repairs were needed and how
down and forgotten so someinstalled, ﬂoors completed, original paint matched
much that might cost. The
thing new can be built."
With pieces of the original trim still intact in
and redone. And with the hired help of the skilled
roof was long gone and over
The Dolan's, members of
the Federal-style home, workers will be able
Amish builders in the community and numerous
the years, trees had grown up
Grundy Electric Cooperative,
to match the paint.
volunteers, the home should be complete sometime
in the middle of the home.
share that Thompson, a docnext spring.
Many of the windows were
tor who served as a brigadier
Gary smiles as he looks around the Thompson
broken. And without a roof, the clay bricks, which
general in the War of 1812, came from Virginia to
House and grounds.
had been handmade by Thompson's slaves, had
Missouri to secure land that was granted to him for
"I think of this as our little Monticello," he says,
crumbled or fallen away, leaving the home in a sad
payment for his military service.
referring to the stately home of President Thomas
"While we know he came for the land, we're a bit
Jefferson in Virginia. "I'm really proud we've been
With a long to-do list in hand, the dedicated
puzzled as to why Thompson stopped here to setable to preserve this for another hundred years and
group began making the citizens of Trenton and the
tle," says Gary. "My theory is that the government
surrounding towns aware of the situation. Many
subsidized him to come and give medical treatment
communities might have asked, "Who cares?" but
to the Indians who were being hit hard by smallpox
For more information about Thompson House, go to
The Friends of the Thompson House found just the
and measles at the time."
www.friendsofthethompsonhouse.com. You also may
Thompson came to Missouri with his wife, Sally
contact Gary and Ellen Dolan for more information by
"I think just about anyone we spoke to about it
Meek, a few other relatives and seven slaves and
sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
could feel our passion, and that's been a big key to
built a cabin on the property in 1832. The next year,
by Heather Berry
photo provided by The Friends of the Thompson House
Dr. William Preston's 1833 Federal-style home as it stood in 2008 when The Friends of Thompson
House began renovation plans. The home stands in the northern part of Crowder State Park.
The home as it currently stands, with the addition of a kitchen where
the original kitchen was located behind the home.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - November 2013
Rural Missouri - November 2013
White mules and family wine
Helping our neighbors
A rolling tribute to freedom
Out of the Way Eats
Big man from a small town
Hearth and Home
Best of rural Missouri
Rural Missouri - November 2013