By Peggy Smith Hake
A few weeks ago, the story (with pictures) appeared in the county newspapers about the razing and burning of the old Stillwell house which sat near the Tuscumbia high school. I had wondered if the old house had an interesting history but did not venture any further into research to learn its story. Sometimes strange things happen and this is such a time......I have received a letter from Hilary Adcock Dunnaway of Lee's Summit, MO who was born in that old house in October 1901!!..........she told me a very interesting story.
Hilary's father, John William Adcock, had the house built for his new wife, Ida Mae Thomson.
The house was built by his brother-in-law, John Milton Kallenbach, Alonzo/Lon Waddell and a little help from his father-in-law, Daniel Frazier Thomson. John and Ida Mae were married on
May 28, 1899 and for about 4 months lived with Ida's sister and her husband, John Milton and Dixie (Thomson) Kallenbach. They moved to their new home and began their married lives together. Their first two children were born in the "Adcock/Stillwell House"---Hilary in 1901 and Helen in 1904. The third child, John Folk, was born at White Haven Farm in 1907.
While they lived the few years in the village of Tuscumbia their near neighbors "on the hill" were
William Perry and Alice Freeman (he was circuit clerk and recorder of Miller County); Warren
Mary Barr; George P. & Martha Swanson (he was postmaster and owner of a hardware store); Herbert L. & Mary Olive Moles (a teacher and storekeeper); Theodore B. Robinson (attorney); and Mord & Lillian McBride (owner and publisher of the "Autogram" newspaper). John Adcock was a steamboat captain and worked on several boats which plied the Osage, Gasconade, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers. He kept a daily journal of his adventures on the early riverboats and Hilary has part of his writings. He began his duties on the boats in 1888 at the age of 21 years and worked in many capacities before becoming a captain including deck hand, cook, watchman, clerk, and pilot.
In 1904, the Adcocks bought a 120-acre farm in the Flatwoods community located northwest of Tuscumbia. They left their beautiful home in Tuscumbia and moved to the farm. Some of their neighbors were the Skinners (from Skinner Ridge), Harbisons, and Hills. When they moved to the Equality Township farm, it had a two-story log house on the land where they lived for awhile.
Later, John built a fine new home which he designed to look exactly like their first home in Tuscumbia. He called it "White Haven Farm".
From Hilary's letter I learned the Stillwell house was built in 1899 and was one hundred years old when it was torn down to make room for a new high school. Progress is part of the American way of life, but it is sad to see a piece of history just fade into obscurity and become overshadowed and forgotten by prosperity. I am so glad Hilary shared her memories with me but even more wonderful are the books she has written in her sunset years which tell of her life in the Tuscumbia area in the early to mid 20th century.