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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Nowlin House

I met a wonderful man who happens to be the superintendent in the school here. He stopped by to check on my son's bus schedule. Yes, stopped by the house, who does that?

He also happens to be a previous owner of the house and loves history. He wrote a paper on the house and this is it.



For over 100 years the two story frame house was known as the Nowlin House. Built in 1853 by storekeeper James Reed, then sold to another storekeeper, Bryan W. Nowlin shortly afterward, the house was given to Bryan's son, Sam Nowlin, in 1859 when Sam turned 21. Sam was born August 18, 1838.

Sam married Sarah Peery of Howard County on June 30 of 1861. They had two children, Thomas and Sarah. Mrs. Nowlin died on December 27, 1864. Sam went off to the Civil War in September of 1861 as a Southern cavalryman. He served his enlistment of seven months with the Missouri State Guard, became a Captain and Adjutant under Colonel Gideon W. Thompson, fought in the Battles of Lexington, Missouri and Pea Ridge, Arkansas. He returned home after being discharged at Van Buren, Arkansas on March 16, 1862.

He tried to live in peace and entered the grocery business with his father. But he and his father were arrested in April and were taken to the county seat in Liberty where they were made to post a $5,000 bond and take the loyalty oath by Colonel Penick due to their southern leanings. Colonel W.R. Penick and 500 Federal troops (Missouri Militia, 5th Missouri Cavalry) had been sent from St. Joseph to Liberty to occupy the town and root out the guerrilla fighters who were emerging in Clay County. Two others who had to post bond in the spring of 1862 were future guerrilla soldiers Frank James, brother of Jesse James, and Colonel Gideon W. Thompson, Sam Nowlin's former commander in the Missouri State Guard. They had also left the army hoping to live in peace.



Thompson didn't keep his oath and went "back out" where he used his commission to swear Charles Quantril and Cole Younger into the Confederate Army under the Partisan Ranger Act. Sam chose to stay close to home. But the war came back to him. On May 19, 1863 Frank James and 11 others rode into town as Southern guerrillas, killed the Captain of the U.S. Militia, Darius Sessions, Lt. Grafenstein and all the enlisted men present except one, who survived his wounds.



The guerrillas "broke into" James Reed's store, "forced open the safe, took $180 in gold, and destroyed all his valuable papers and other property."

Nearby they merely "plundered" Nowlin's store, did "considerable damage," and "charged about in a threatening manner." Actually, they came to the Nowlin store to get cigars and tobacco to celebrate killing Sessions for arresting Mrs. Lurena McCoy because she would not tell the whereabouts of her Confederate husband, Captain Moses McCoy. The Nowlins asked them to make it look like a robbery so they wouldn't lose their bond money. Frank James had served in battle with Sam Nowlin at Lexington. Bryan Nowlin had been in business with Darius Sessions in 1854, but dissolved that business in 1856. Sessions had become an outspoken abolitionist.

In January of 1864 "jayhawkers" from Kansas robbed the Nowlin store of $2,000 worth of goods. Eventually the war  ended in 1865 and the Nowlins got to live in peace. Sam's Colonel, Gideon Thompson, was brought to Federal Court in November of 1865 and was stripped of all his property for his role in the rebellion. The Nowlin's got their bond back.

The "Nowlin Store Building", as it was described in a newspaper ad, was sold in 1869 and became the Missouri City Savings Bank. Sam took up farming and Bryan Nowlin moved to Prathersville. The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sam's wife had died in 1864 but he married again, eventually having 7 children, descendents of whom owned the house until 1946.

Joe Fancher bought it, then left it to his son, Fred Fancher, who owned it until his death in 1979. After that the Henley's, then the McCaulley's owned it. In August of 2004 it was purchased by Jay Jackson for the purpose of renovation and preparation for the next 100 years.

The original house was two story, 18 by 30 feet made of native oak and walnut. It has had several additions and is now 2200 square feet with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, fireplace, two enclosed sun rooms, a garage and workshop, two basements, new central air, heat pump, underground electricity, new wiring, new plumbing, new roof, new carpet, three refinished hardwood floors, a painted canvas entryway, and a modern kitchen.

Written by Jay Jackson
revised August 28, 2010

Isn't that all fabulous information? It does leave me hanging for more and more though. He has promised me more history and I'm an eager learner.
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