Doniphan, MO

The Randolph Columbus Barrett House in Doniphan, Missouri, a town that has some interesting history

CJ Coombs
Randolph Columbus Barrett House.Jon Roanhaus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

An old house in Doniphan, Missouri was built in 1881. It's referred to as the Randolph Columbus Barrett House. It's a two-story, three-bay home with the architectural style of Classical Revival. In the front of the house, there is a two-story portico including rails on both levels. In 1976, this house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This house was built by Marcus Moler who was the local carpenter. He used materials from the sawmills in the area.

The Barrett House is important because it's one of the oldest homes that survived in south-central Missouri. It's notable because of the uncommon architectural detailing in the area. You could say the house was somewhat of a showplace. The exterior of the house in its appearance hasn't been altered too much.

Doniphan, Ripley County, Missouri

The City of Doniphan was established in 1860. It's also the county seat of Ripley County. It served as a terminal for the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railway.

There was a lot of destruction experienced during the Civil War in Doniphan. This would explain why there aren't a lot of buildings from the 1860s still standing. In 1881, Randolph Columbus Barrett purchased the lot for his home. He and his wife, Clara Pauline Borth Barrett, were married on December 11, 1881.
Randolph Columbus Barrett.Barbara Barrett, via Find-a-Grave.

Around the time Barrett married, he became a junior partner with his brother-in-law's (Herman Borth) company of Borth, Barrett and Company. The business operated as a general store and lumber company.

Barrett was also involved with Democratic politics and served as county treasurer on six occasions. In late 1930, he resigned due to poor health. His daughter, Mrs. Clara B. Chapman, completed his term. This also made her the first woman to be elected to a position in the area.

There were many occasions of political gatherings in the Barrett home. During the time Barrett was involved in the lumber business, it was successful during Doniphan's growth period. It was a significant timber-producing location. In November 1896, the company was sold to pay off debts.

For about 50 years, the Barretts lived in their house. After Barrett died in March 1931, his wife and daughter, Mrs. Chapman, continued to live in the home. When Mrs. Barrett died in 1951 and having then lived in the home for some 70 years, the house was maintained and lived in by Mrs. Chapman who was their last surviving child. She died in 1969.

There were subsequent owners who lived in the house. It is unknown if the home is currently occupied.

Doniphan, Missouri

Doniphan is southwest of Poplar and south of the Mark Twain National Forest. According to the 2020 census, the population was 1,781. The first settlement was in the 1840s. The town was named after Alexander William Doniphan and the post office of the name Doniphan has been operating since 1848.

Since 1900, Doniphan had been known as a sundown town. A past resident who lived there from 1960-1965 learned about the sundown law while there. He also learned that it meant that after 5:00 pm, all persons of color had to be out of town.

While sundown towns still effectively exist in the United States, a viral image used to illustrate that point came from a movie that was set in the 1960s. (Source.)

Thank you for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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