Caledonia, MO

Exploring the historic Harrison Queen House: an isolated 1875 log home in Missouri's Bellevue Valley

CJ Coombs
The Harrison Queen House, located along Highway C west of Caledonia, Missouri.Photo byTheCatalyst31, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes when you're learning about a historic place or historic structure, it takes your mind back in time. At the very least, you try to imagine what life must have been like.

This historic single-pen log house known as the Harrison Queen House was built around 1875. It's located close to Caledonia, Missouri (Washington County). This one-and-a-half-story structure also has a limestone chimney. This dwelling measures 16 by 18 feet. On June 27, 2002, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

The walls of this house are square-hewn logs and half dove-tail joints, and the roof is metal. The man who built this structure was Harrison Queen. The house is 1.3 miles west of Highway 21 on Route C. The below image is an example of a half dove-tail joint.

The foundation of the house has stone piers. There's actually a loft in this dwelling. It's believed the house was lived in during the mid-1950s. You can see the house from Route C. There's a creek running east and west that crosses the property.

Originally, this house was part of a 49.9 acre farmstead. There aren't any other buildings on the property to be part of the listing on the NRHP, and as such, only one acre is part of the listing. At some point after 1983, the last remaining building on the land was a smokehouse which no longer exists.

The building's north and south sides contain entrances. The south side of this house faces the small creek. The walls of the house are about 12 ft. tall which allows room for the height of the loft.

As you can imagine, the inside of the house is simple in nature. There's a fireplace on the east wall. On the same wall is a steep ladder serving as a stairway to get to the loft. There is a trap door at the top of the ladder stairs that would shut off the loft from the bottom level. The floor in the loft is made of wide planks and there are three windows on that level.

The walls have been covered with cardboard and then wallpapered with a floral print paper with a matching border that encircles the ceiling and runs along the side of the mantle. The loft is unfinished. (Source.)

The Harrison Queen House sits in the Bellevue Valley portion of Washington County. The way the log building was constructed was a common method used in the Midwest and the Ozarks.

Harrison Queen

From the information passed down through the decades, it’s believed the house remained in the Queen family until 1958. This house also might have been a place to live for the poor in which a person does what’s needed to survive, and it’s all good if there’s a roof over your head. 

It’s because of the construction techniques that the house has lasted so long. Missouri had a lead district and a mining area which weren’t too far from the house. At some point after the 1850s, Harrison Queen’s father, Cornelius, came to Washington County from Ohio with some of his children. He purchased a little over 204 acres in 1870. When Cornelius died in August 1870, the land was left to his two youngest sons.

A good source for Queen family history is Bellevue-Beautiful View, published by the Bellevue Valley Historical Society. (Source.)

After the Civil War, Harrison married Mary Martha Bean who was originally from West Virginia. Harrison received a government land grant that was close to the land his father had willed to the youngest sons, Hezekiah and Stephen.

It was Harrison who had built the log house to live in with his family. After he died in 1901, his family still lived in the house. His wife and children sold the house and land in 1918 to Harrison’s niece (also his sister’s daughter), Drusilla Rickman and her son, George.

In 1933, Drusilla signed over the ownership to her son, George, with the agreement she could also live there until she died. She passed away in 1947 and her son passed away in 1958. In that same year, the property was purchased which ended the Queen family ownership.

Some believe when you hear the term, single pen, it means the height of the house is less than two stories which could be why the Queen House is referred to as a single-pen dwelling. I’ve also read that it’s a typical log cabin with one room. But the Queen’s house did have hewn logs with half dove-tail corners which implies they intended it to be a permanent home.

The Queen House was traditional for its time. You also had to make the best of the space you had, which explains the stairway to the loft being ladder-like. It was probably steep and narrow. Also, because of the size of the space inside the home, there wasn’t a lot of privacy or space to store too many things. It was a simpler life where you actually put nails on the walls to hang up items, and you had minimal belongings.

It appears the log home never had additions as was common for other homes as the family grew. If a family prospered, they could build a larger home and use the original home for storage.

Harrison’s wife might have stayed in the log home because it had been her home for so long. Likewise, when Drusilla lived in it even though her son purchased it, it was home and a place of comfort. Another consideration for staying in somewhat of an isolated dwelling could have been a lack of or no means of transportation.

In that other log houses have been destroyed or collapsed with age, it’s nice to know the Harrison Queen Home still exists.

According to Find-a-Grave, Harrison Queen passed away on September 14, 1901, at age 56.

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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