Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh, The History

I forgot to mention, if it even matters, the location I normally ring a bell at is right across the road from the cemetery that Jesse James is buried in. The James Family Farm, now a county park, is right down the road. The site of the first daylight bank robbery, committed by the James brothers, is down the highway about 10 miles. Lots of history around here.
I worked for about a year with some good guys that are from the deep south. They kept telling me that Missouri was not really a Southern or Confederate state. They didn't understand when I told them Missouri was fighting the civil war before it ever started. Actually the Missouri delegation DID vote to secede and join the Confederacy and the Confederacy voted to allow Missouri to join. The only thing that no one counted on was a Federal Army moving in to arrest the Missouri Assembly. The elected officials scattered to avoid arrest and a group favoring the North was seated in their place.
As a pre-teen and early teen, my grandfather used to take me to a genuine Civil War era Grecian mansion located in Platte County Missouri. The structure was still standing and down the hill near the creek you could see the foundations of the slave quarters. As he had permission to remove wood from the building, occasionally we would go there for the salvaging of the wood. Everything was walnut, the trim, the floors, the stairs and banisters, everything. Once you entered through the front double doors you were greeted by a huge room with a 16-18 foot ceiling. Across the room was a semi-circular stair case descending from the upper rooms. The parlor had plaster coat of arms, once done in gold leaf, used as crown molding. The upper rooms all had their own fireplaces and dumbwaiters. Upon entering the "staff" area the finishes all got quite a bit more rough. The inside kitchen had a set of stair going to the upper floor that was so narrow that as a teenager, I had to turn sideways to use it. This place even had a "dungeon". The basement, on one side, had three rooms that had iron doors with iron rings and chains set into the stones of the foundation. Grandpa and I were careful about what we removed, unlike the "others" that came there. The midnight pillaging and wanton damage got so bad the owners finally had it bulldozed. Had we know at that time it was going to happen we could have gotten more of the fine wood out of that place. Once while there I was wondering around, hoping to find a child's toy or something. Looking the place over I found a huge stump off from the house a little bit. Inspiration struck and I started to sift through the fine dirt at the base of the stump and lo and behold I found a marble! Another time I was looking around and found a loaf of bees wax. It was about 10-12 inches in diameter and about 6-8 inches tall. I later found out that bees wax, at one time in Missouri, could be used to pay your taxes, so this may have been a tax loaf. I kept that bees wax for years and don't know where it ever got to. Any way, Grandpa used that walnut to make jewelry boxes for all his daughters. Many plaques and candle holders came from it as well as a beautiful grandfather clock. When Grandpa died I got quite a bit of the wood left over from that fine old mansion.

No comments: