Locust Hill: historic home in Chariton County, Missouri

CJ Coombs
This image of the Locust Hill/McGruder Home was also included in the NRHP nomination form of October 1979.Photo byFacebook/Missouri's Little Dixie Heritage Foundation

The construction of Locust Hill began in 1860. In 1880, it was expanded. It's located east of Brunswick off of State Road Y in Chariton County, Missouri.

On January 10, 1980, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and also references the home as "McGruder Estate" in the nomination form for the NRHP. It's possible the name is not spelled correctly as multiple places on the form refer to the name as "Magruder." Also, according to Find-a-Grave and other geneaology sites, the family's last name is spelled Magruder, so for the purpose of accuracy associated with those websites, the name will be Magruder below.

This two-story house reflects the architectural style of Second Empire. It has a mansard roof and mansarded cupola above the main entrance. It featured France-imported wallpapers in the parlors. At the time the home was nominated for the National Register, it was privately owned.

Locust Hill

This estate is within a rural farming area. On the property aside from the house is a garage, root cellar, shed, summer kitchen, smokehouse, and privy. It has a large yard and land surrounding the property.

There is a partial basement located under the kitchen addition. The summer kitchen is now detached and thought to be considerably old. There were some additions to the house that included a two-story porch, an upper room on the south side, and a one-story kitchen on the east side. The house also has a notable open stairway.

When electricity was added to the home, the original gas, kerosene, and oil fixtures were adapted accordingly. There were also some original furnishings in the home that belonged to previous owners, the Herring and Magruder families.

This home is significant because of its architectural style of Second Empire on a farmhouse in the vicinity of where it was built. Also, two prominent families were associated with the home: William David Herring and Napoleon Bonaparte Magruder.

William David Herring

The first to live in the home was William D. Herring. In 1837, he and his mother and brother, Jonathan, came to Missouri from Maryland. They bought over 1,200 acres of farmland close to Brunswick, Missouri.

The structure containing the summer kitchen could likely be the first home built by Herring in 1837. In 1847, he married Nancy Turner, a native of Kentucky. They had a son named Lloyd who grew up to be a well-known local farmer, carpenter, and stock raiser. Like others, he went to California during the gold rush in the late 1840s.

When Lloyd returned to Chariton County, he became a judge. He also organized the Chariton County Bank.

William David Herring died on February 15, 1889, at age 71. According to Find-a-Grave, Nancy J. Turner Herring died on November 19, 1848, at age 19. One might presume she died during childbirth, but their son, Lloyd, was born in April of 1848. Joanna E. Herring Magruder died on November 6, 1926, at age 80.

Napoleon Bonapart Magruder

Magruder had an interesting first and middle name. His family was affluent. When he and his wife, Abagail, and son, Waverly Theophilus, moved to a farm by Brunswick, they also brought 43 slaves presumably from Amherst County, Virginia where they moved from.

In 1863, their son, Waverly, married Johanna Herring, the daughter of William and Nancy Herring of Locust Hill. This might have been when the large home was built at Locust Hill.

After William Herring died, the property was passed on to the Magruders by way of an inheritance to Johanna Herring Magruder.

Allegedly, the family had to hide in the cellar of the slave quarters during the Civil War. Union soldiers were in the main house. It's believed the summer kitchen and its partial cellar was the slave quarters building. It's also believed that building might have been the original house at Locust Hill and if that's true, the larger house was built nearby before 1864. Sometimes as with other older dwellings, all you have to rely on, in part, is family tradition stories.

Interestingly, the Magruder family continued to live at Locust Hill until 1973 when remaining family members sold the house. There are other nice examples of the Second Empire design in Missouri. One such home is called Rivercene built in 1869 near Boonville in Howard County.

Napoleon Bonaparte Magruder died on October 18, 1861, at age 47. His wife, Abagail Adams Magruder died in 1869 at age 52-53. The Find-a-Grave website indicates they had 10 children. Their son, Waverly Theophilus McGruder, died on March 9, 1923, at age 81. According to Find-a-Grave, he and his wife, Johanna, had 11 children.

Thanks for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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