Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Another grand old house that got away

Some of us were talking a couple of weeks ago about the block north of the square bounded by North Grand and North Main streets, Roland and Auburn avenues. Its most prominent landmarks now are First United Methodist Church at the southwest corner --- now occupying its third building on the site --- and Autumn Park, which replaced the old Eikenberry Lumber Yard at the northwest. This also is the block in which the Harper House now is being demolished.

Until 1956-57, this grand old frame Italianate and its grounds occupied the entire southeast quarter of the block, south of the Harper House.

So far as owners were concerned it had been lucky before that. Elijah and Lydia Copeland built the house, probably ca. 1880, and their daughter and son-in-law, Eloise and Luther H. Busselle, occupied until their deaths during 1948.

The end came not because of the condition of the house, but because of its location and the fact it occupied so much territory. When Keith and Mary Gartin were looking for a site for their new grocery store during the early 1950s, that quarter block seemed ideal. They bought it, sold off the house to be torn down, cleared the lot and built their new SuperValu, which opened in 1957 and now is occupied by a dollar store.

Elijah Copeland was born during 1833 in Zanesville, Ohio, and married Lydia A. Baker during 1856 at Marion, Ohio. They came to Chariton in 1869 where Elijah opened a bank in partnership with his brother, Earl Percy Copeland.

E.P. Copeland didn't stick around long, however, and Elijah then partnered in the banking business with W.C. Penick and H.H. Day, but branched out into a variety of other enterprises. By the turn of the 20th century, he was among Chariton's most affluent citizens.

Lydia Copeland died in this house during 1914 and her remains were taken back to the couple's old home, Marion, Ohio, for burial beside three daughters who had died young. Elijah continued to live here with L.H. and Eloise Busselle, to whom he sold the house, until his own death on May 14, 1919, age 86. He, too, was buried in Ohio.

Luther Busselle, although largely forgotten now and never into self-promotion, was a major financial player in Chariton during the first half of the 20th century, principally in partnership with longtime business associate William A. Eikenberry. Eikenberry & Busselle were principals in First National Bank & Trust Co., now Midwest Heritage, and also purchased as partners during 1909 the old Smith H. Mallory estate, including its mansion, the Ilion, and the 900-plus acres of adjoining Brooke Farm.

Luther Busselle, Eloise (Copeland) Busselle --- and William Eikenberry Sr. --- all died during 1948, and that set the stage for the demise of both this old house, and the Ilion. The Mallory property was sold in order to untangle the estates of Eikenberry and Busselle. 

The Busselles had no children, so there was no one left to even consider moving into the old Copeland-Busselle house; it was sold, too, and became ripe for the picking as retail expanded off the square --- but not yet to the "suburbs."

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