Baber Family of Ray County
Richmond, Missouri


From the book of "Ray County 1973" 
published by Ray County Historical Society, Richmond, Mo. 1973

 

"Squire" Thomas Baber received a Federal land grant in Ray County, 1831. In 1851 his slaves began work on a brick home west of Richmond which is still occupied. (As of 1973) His Son, Benjamin Franklin, served in the Confederate army.

   "Squire" Thomas Baber began building the house in 1851 and completed it three years later. The bricks that formed the 13-inch walls and partitions were made on the squire's farm; the wooden beams and floors were hewn from his own walnut trees.

    By 1854, the house consisted of six 15'-by-16' rooms; a square hall downstairs, leading into a parlor on the east side and a bedroom on the west side; and a square hall upstairs, leading into a bedroom on each side. Each of the main rooms was heated by a fireplace. A one-story frame addition served as a kitchen and dining room.

    The Civil War was a stormy period for Squire Baber and his family. Because the squire's five sons had enlisted in the Confederate Army, the Baber farm was periodically invaded by local bushwhackers - small bands of Northern sympathizers who attacked and harassed landowners loyal to the South.

    One night, when two of the Baber sons were home on leave a group of masked bushwhackers pounded on the door and demanded that the squire surrender his sons. After some argument, the squire agreed to fetch the men; he said they were asleep upstairs. But instead of producing his sons, Squire Baber started shooting at the bushwhackers from an upstairs window. One was wounded in the foot, and the group disappeared. The wounded man, no longer able to conceal his identity as a nocturnal bushwhacker, was forced to leave town the following day.

    Several months later, bushwhackers surrounded the house, again determined to capture one of the Baber sons who was home on furlough. On seeing the band approach the house, servants lowered the soldier down the backyard well, where he stayed for three days, suspended on a blanket. Food was sent down in water buckets. Squire Baber insisted that his son was not home. After watching the house for several days without seeing a trace of the soldier, the bushwhackers took off.

     During another ambush, Squire Baber sent the women of the family to hide in the wooded area on the farm. They camped among the trees for several days before they could safely return home.

     After Squire Baber's death in 1873, the thousand-acre farm was divided among his children. Two other families, the Duvalls and the Wagoners, owned the house before it was bought by Bernard " Barney" Macklin in 1885.

     Macklin, a Richmond tavern owner, tore down the frame addition at the back of the house and replaced it with a two-story brick ell. The new section contained a dining room and kitchen downstairs, two bedrooms upstairs. Macklin also added two porches, one-story wooden porch across the front of the house (this was removed in 1934) and a two-story side porch running the length of the ell.

      Macklin lived in the house until his death in 1930. His widow then turned it over to tenants who farmed the 95 acres of land.

      The tenants lived in the main portion of the house but used one of the upstairs bedrooms for raising chickens.

      When the Hills bought the farm from Eleanor Macklin, the house lacked electricity, central heating and indoor plumbing; one wall was weak, and the roof was sagging.

       But the old place was still sound; it had survived the Civil War, the Great Tornado of 1878, and 80 years of hard winters and hot summers.

       With some structural help from the Hills, it has survived the droughts, floods and storms of the past 37 years. Howard Hill, who with his wife now lives in the house, are confident that it will last at least another hundred years.


John Franklin Baber, DDS

   Dr. John Franklin Baber, grandson of Squire Baber lived in Richmond all of his life. Dr. Baber was president of his senior class, member of Delta Sigma Delta, graduated cum laude from Washington Dental School, St. Louis and practiced dentistry in Richmond his entire life.

   Dr. Baber was an honorary 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason; a member of Mary Conclave Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine and of the Ararat Temple Shrine; and held an honorary degree of the York Rite Freemasonry. He was also the building chairman for the Masonic Temple of Richmond. 

   Dr. Baber served on the Ray County Library board for 12 years and as president at the time the present building was erected. Dr. Baber also served as the Coroner of Ray County.

   From 1958 to 1962 Dr. Baber was a member of the Missouri State Legislature where he served as chairman of the Public Health and Safety Commission.

Additional Links:  Family Tree of "Squire" Thomas Baber

 

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