Historic Harris-Chilton-Ruble House in Howard County, Missouri is over 190 years old

CJ Coombs

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Harris-Chilton-Ruble House, New Franklin, Missouri (Howard County).Photo byJim Roberts, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Harris-Chilton-Ruble House is a historic structure. Also called the Chilton House, it’s a two-story home built in 1832. It’s located in New Franklin, Missouri (Howard County). This brick home has three bays in front (three vertical rows of windows) and the architectural design is Federal style. In 1982, the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The image above was taken in 2018 with a note the house was under renovation. The covered front porch has since been removed.

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Doorway detail above the front door (Historic American Buildings Survey, photographer: Lester Jones, taken Oct. 1940).Photo byLibrary of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS MO,45-NEFRA,1-

This house is on the northwest edge of the town’s business district. There is a one-story ell attached that contains two rooms. Isn’t it hard to imagine this house still exists after being built over 190 years ago? This house was built in what was referred to as the Boonslick region of central Missouri.

The Boonslick, or Boone's Lick Country, is a cultural region of Missouri along the Missouri River that played an important role in the westward expansion of the United States and the development of Missouri's statehood in the early 19th century. (Source.)

This was the home of Peter B. Harris. The counties or parts of them in the Boonslick region were Howard, Cooper, Saline, and Boone. It was named after a salt spring, or lick, in western Howard County. This area was worked by Daniel Boone's sons, Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone.

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Interior, parlor, showing paneled doors and mantel. Photo taken after 1933.Photo byHistoric American Buildings Survey, public domain, Library of Congress.

Franklin was a settlement built on the Missouri river bank in 1816. Within a year of the town being established, Harris began making hats. He made beaver hats for men and women. It's assumed he had some success because in 1822, he was advertising for apprentices.

The town of Old Franklin was replaced with New Franklin, which was chartered in 1835. The river's behavior diminished the banks which buildings couldn't survive in Old Franklin. New Franklin was established in the River Hills away from the river. The downside was the new location was away from river commerce.

The Missouri River Hills region is the largest block of quality woodlands and forest north of the Missouri River in our state. (Source.)

It's a mystery who designed and carved the woodwork for the Federal-styled homes in the Boonslick area. The work could have been performed by slaves or experienced cabinet makers.

Peter Harris was in his late 30s in 1831 when he obtained his lot in New Franklin. It's believed the builder was Owen Rawlings and his two slaves.

The builder, if Howard County oral tradition is reliable, was Owen Rawlings and his two prodigious slaves, Harry and Booker who, Howard County tradition again, seemed to have laid the brick for practically every house in the southern end of the county between 1830 and 1855. (Source.)

Harris owned the house for 12 years. There were a few different owners until it was acquired by J.W. Chilton in 1855. He owned the house for 46 years, which is why it's also called the Chilton House. In 1856, Chilton was postmaster for New Franklin and was a merchant for over three decades.

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Historic American Buildings Survey; photographer: Charles E. Peterson, September 1, 1940 view from southeast.Photo byHistoric American Buildings Survey, public domain, Library of Congress.

Around the early 1900s, Charles C. Alsop and his family lived in the house for 25 years. He was a merchant who managed a store in New Franklin for over 50 years. The above image displays the porch that used to be attached to the house.

The longest and continuous occupancy in the house was by the Skinner-Brookman-Ruble family, who lived there since 1925. Mrs. Lillian E. “Lily” Brookman Ruble lived in the house since 1947, sharing it later with her daughter, Norma Holstun. Lillian died on February 5, 1986, at age 85, and Norma died on December 16, 1994, at age 75.

According to the Harris-Chilton-Ruble House page on Facebook, it appears that renovations have been going on since 2017 and that the home is back in the Ruble family.

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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