Rural Missouri - November 2013 - (Page 28)

SALVAGING HISTORY 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. roundings. 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 sat neglected. 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 state. "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 another generation." 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." You also may opposite reaction. 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 could feel our passion, and that's been a big key to built a cabin on the property in 1832. The next year, T 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. 28 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
Salvaging history
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - November 2013