Monday, June 06, 2016

A tale of two Eikenberry houses

I'm doing a program on vintage Chariton houses for the Chariton Woman's Club around noon today and while getting ready for that Sunday afternoon, it occurred to me that I didn't have decent photos of either of the Eikenberry houses. 

One is that big, foursquare and white colonial revival number at the intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and South Eighth (top) now owned by Robert and Trinity Thatcher. The other is the more fanciful, light-hearted and beautifully restored and painted victorian (below) owned by Dave and Vicky Edwards just west across South Eighth and a little south.

Between them, these two dwellings housed four generations of the Eikenberry family, once one of Lucas County's most prominent. What now is the Edwards house was the original Eikenberry house in this neighborhood. Just before the larger and more "modern" Eikenberry-Thatcher house was built, the older Eikenberry-Edwards home was picked up and moved to its current location to clear the way.

So I sat out to take these photos, had a long and interesting sidewalk conversation with Dave Edwards and tried to explain to the Thatchers why that strange guy was standing on the sidewalk taking photos of their home. 


Serious development in this part of town --- mostly farm land and a few scattered houses large and small --- began ca. 1885 when Edward Ames Temple (who went on to found what now is the Principal Financial Group) began to subdivide the land surrounding his own home, called Woodlawn, source of the name Woodlawn Avenue and a couple of small subdivisions.

We don't know where the Temple home was or, in fact, how long it survived after Mr. Temple moved to Des Moines to be closer to the offices of what then was known as Bankers Life, then sold it some years later. 

The new subdivisions rapidly became a popular location for construction of some of Chariton's finer new homes, including the original Eikenberry house.

The builders were Daniel and Lizzie Jane (Alexander) Eikenberry. Daniel had arrived in Chariton ca. 1865 with his business partner, George J. Stewart, and they engaged in the lumber, grain and livestock business with sidelines in real estate, even coal. Both became prominent --- and among Lucas County's most affluent businessmen.

The Eikenberrys were married during 1871, had two children --- William Alexander Eikenberry and Sarah (Eikenberry) Sigler --- and probably moved into their new home ca. 1885. Daniel Eikenberry died there at age 68 on Oct. 11, 1893; Lizzie continued to live in the original house until her own death on Dec. 30, 1901, age 49.

Their son, William A. Eikenberry, continued to live in the house after his parents' deaths while continuing his father's business operations. During 1905, he married Marcia Murray and a few years later --- happy with the location but not with the older home --- they decided to build a new one on the same site.

As a result, during 1912, they sold the old house to Effa (McCollough) Brown, daughter of a prominent Chariton merchant family whose unfortunate husband, John Edwin Brown, had dispatched himself with a pistol during 1907. Mrs. Brown then ran for the office of county treasurer, and was elected for the first time in 1911.

Here's how The Chariton Leader of May 9, 1912, reported the transaction: "W.A. Eikenberry has sold his present residence building to Mrs. Effa Brown, who will remove it across the street south of the McCormick residence. Mr. Eikenberry will erect a large modern residence on the grounds, which are among the best in the city. Chariton is fast becoming a city of pretty homes."

The Leader provided an update in its edition of Aug. 22, 1912: "Work on Mr. Will Eikenberry's new house is progressing nicely and this promises to be one of the finest residence places in the city, situated as it is in one of the best locations. The building moved from the grounds and across the street, purchased by Mrs. Effa Brown, is fast being put in shape and will soon be ready for occupancy."

Some three years earlier, Will Eikenberry and his business partner, Luther H. Busselle, had purchased the old Mallory estate, Ilion, consisting of the mansion itself and some 1,000 acres, from federal banking receivers. 

The Eikenberrys moved themselves, their children and their belongings into the old mansion and lived there during the summer of 1912 while their new house was under construction.

Will and Marcia Eikenberry raised a family of three children in the new home --- Bill, Ruth (Whalley) and Betty (Whitaker). He died during 1948, age 72, and she died during 1955, having moved into a newer and smaller house a few doors west along Woodlawn.

Bill Eikenberry married Josephine Peterson during 1940 and they eventually moved into the family home where they raised their two children, Dan and Linda.

Bill and Josephine sold the family business during 1968 and eventually, the family home, too, and moved into a new house in what then was called the Ilion Acres Subdivision. The couple moved to California during 1979 where he died during 1994 and she died during 2010. They were the last of the Eikenberrys to live in Chariton.

Across the street, Effa (McCollough) Brown married William Edward Douglass as her second husband during 1919 and they lived together in the original Eikeneberry house until his death during 1929. 

Effa continued to live in her home on South Eighth Street until her own death at age 78, of a heart attack, on June 26, 1935.


Obama Supporter in Iowa said...

that is so interesting. I used to spend the night with Peggy Sherman who lived in the Edwards house during high school and Vicky Edwards is a life long friend.

Unknown said...

Bill and Jo Eikenberry and children also lived in a smaller home they later donated to the Methodist Church for use as a parsonage.

Pauline Askren said...

Loved this blog, thanks for sharing your research.
I lived with my parents (Perry/Louise Sellers) on the Ilion place owned by WA Eikenberry & Lute Bussell. (my Dad managed the farm for them for over 20 years)
I remember going to the beautiful home in the middle '40s to try on and receive some of Betty's clothes -- the nicest "hand-me-downs" I ever had! Thoughtful and generous family --- Thanks for the memories, Pauline Sellers Askren

Unknown said...


Thanks for the information. The colonial revival at the intersection of Woodlawn and South 8th Street should be called the Eikenberry-Hobt House. Ralph and Joan Hobt and their seven children lived in the house and lovingly cared for it from 1965 to 2006. I spent a lot of time there and played a lot of basketball out by the garage with my friend Jim Hobt.