The Reeve Stone House
A History Of The Old Stone House
by Birdell Butson
In the 1800's, news of the fertile soil, excellent timberlands and rivers of the
Midwest was sent to the Eastern United States and across the ocean to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, England and Ireland. Because of the political upheaval, military service, poverty,
religious persecution, and restlessness, many people began looking for a new life.
In 1833 white easterners and immigrants began pouring across the Mississippi River into Iowa. Land could be purchased for $1.25 an acre from the U.S. Government.
In April of 1853, Leander Reeve came by train from Ashtubula County, Ohio, to the end of the line in Rockford, Illinois.
He then traveled by stage coach to the end of its route in Galena, Illinois.
From there on he walked to Franklin County to find his brother, James, who was living with Mr. & Mrs. John Mayne in a log cabin which was located about a half mile west of the Stone House location.
This house was the first and only cabin in Franklin County at the time.
After doing some trapping, he took over the parcel of land where the Stone House sits from Addison Phelps, who had claimed it the previous year.
He broke ten acres of this prairie sod east of the house. Prairie sod had thick matted interwoven roots two feet deep that hadn't been disturbed in 8,000 years.
In Illinois 16 years earlier, 1837, John Deere had invented a a steel mould board
that was needed to turn this sod. Strong oxen were better able to pull a plow than horses.
Perhaps Leander had such a plow. Any provisions and supplies had to be gotten from Cedar Falls or Janesville by foot or by horse and wagon.
Leander then went back to Ohio and the following spring of 1854 he returned and built the Stone House.
The stone surely came from Mayne's Creek nearby. The walnut timbers in the cellar on which axe marks are still visible surely came from Mayne's Grove.
This house must have been elegant for this area as most others were log cabins.
Soon, many came to Mayne's Grove, the first settlement of Franklin County.
They conducted church services in cabins, had the first court house in James Reeve's cabin and a sixteen year old girl named Octiva Smith, taught the first class of children in the county.
Except for the Mesquakies at Tama, very few Indians or buffalo were seen in Iowa after 1854.
Leander brought his family here in 1854, but his wife could never like Iowa, she longed for the more
civilized life in Ohio. So, they went back for good, three years later. Leander's wife apparently had household help as Marion Boots of Dumont said her grandmother walked from Four Mile Grove to work in the Reeve home.
Simeon Carter bought the house and farm from the Reeves. In 1859, four years after the Stone House was built, D.W. Dow, a young lawyer came to Hampton, which had
acquired 75 residents and 25 homes and several businesses. He set up a law office in the Hampton House but had only one client that summer who paid him in watermelons.
So, he had to carpenter and then taught school in the Mayne's Grove settlement.
Here he met Simeon Carter's daughter and they were married in the Stone House. Her wedding dress is on display at the Franklin County
Museum. They were the third residents in the house, followed by about 13 more families.
The list is on the north wall of the house.
The floor plan has never been altered. There was never electricity until the restoration committee had plug-ins installed.
The committee began to restore the house in 1979, just as it was beginning to fall.
None of the house's contents were ever owned by those who occupied it.
View - Outside View