The historic Reed Log House built in 1857 represents early settler days in Missouri and still stands

CJ Coombs
Reed Log House, Shannon County, Missouri in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.National Park Service, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

This historic house is interesting to me because of the vertical board siding and the stone foundation. The Reed Log House has also been referred to as Macy Cabin, Prather House, or Keller House. It's 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. From around 1885 and 1910, there were a couple of additions made. The architectural design is Ozark vernacular.

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

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

The log structure had two rooms. The flooring has wide boards. An addition to the house toward the east dates to around 1900-1910 and contains a porch and another room. The building is roofed with corrugated tin.

While the building is very old and hasn't been used in decades, the Reed Log House is structurally in good shape. There are some places where the cellar walls have crumbled. 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 keep animals or people from entering the building, windows and doors were boarded up by The National Park Service. The stone fireplace in the house was probably the main resource for both heating and cooking. This furthers the idea that the house was built in the antebellum era.

Around the time of the Louisiana Purchase, settlers were coming to Missouri. Through the antebellum era, the Ozarks were a wilderness area.

Antebellum is a Latin term that means "before the war." The antebellum period in the United States was the time 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 most often used to refer to the Southern U.S. during that time period. (Source.)

Even though there were federal land laws allowing for the purchase of land, this wasn't practical for settlers in the Ozarks. They were poor and unable to make large payments for land. Then, you had the squatters. The 1841 Preemption Act said squatters could purchase the land they were living on after it was surveyed.

In 1854, with the passing of the Graduation Act, settlers could purchase land in plots up to 320 acres. The cost of land would be graduated dependent on how long it was on the market unsold. Squatters became landowners.

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

Thomas Reed

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

According to the Graduation Act, Reed and his family bought 700 to 800 acres along the Current River from 1854 to August 1856. He let his brother know he had planned on purchasing more land. It's possible the Reed House was located there.

Reed was Shannon County's first doctor. He moved there from Tennessee. His wife, Mary Chilton Reed, was respected in Ozarks society. They weren't the only ones to suffer during the Civil War. Dr. Reed and three of his children died as a result of the war. His daughter, who lived in Oregon Missouri, was shot 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 contested this. In 1884, title to the property passed to the next landowner. The last owner of the property was probably responsible for adding the first addition to the home and the fireplace was replaced with a wood stove.

Before the beginning of the 20th century, changes were coming. The cost of land increased. People were moving in as well as industries, lumbering, and railroads. With circular saws in mills, there were milled boards that replaced the log house floor.

By 1910, Shannon County and the Ozarks were getting into a new period of development. The lumber companies were leaving the area. The Moon-Larkin family purchased the log home in 1916 and were there until 1946. They built the first school in the area naming it Buttin Rock.

In 1967, the property was sold to the U.S. government for the Ozark National Scenic riverways. Up until that time, the Reed House was used as an outbuilding for storage. This wasn't uncommon for the old homes in the Ozarks. The Reed House is one of the oldest pioneer structures within the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Thanks 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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