Vol. I, No. 3, Winter 1988


The Preservation Corner

by Lynn Morrow



Since the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Missouri preservationists have been successful in registering over 900 single and multiple properties on the National Register of Historic Places. This honor roll of cultural properties and its associated archive constitutes a major descriptive and interpretive body of literature about Missouri people and places, patterns and processes of history. An example is the Rinehart Ranch, near Ink, in Shannon County.

The 2,000 acre Rinehart Ranch, located in a great horseshoe bend of the Spring Valley, has at its center a 1907 frame vernacular "l-house." Symbolic of successful 19th century agriculturists, the I-house has a double veranda, limestone chimney, two-story ell with an exterior stair for tenants, pine and hemlock interior paneling, remains of a carbide light system, and one of the first concrete foundations in the region.

This country house was the new homeplace of DeForest and Susan Rinehart, Protestant Germans and Republicans from Phelps County, who bought the ranch in 1900 to pursue a vigorous stock trade. Rinehart immersed himself in the long-established Ozark cattleman's tradition of buying lean, rangy, Arkansas steers -- Mississippi

Yellow-Hammers to some -- and fattened them in Spring Valley before driving and shipping them northward. He soon bought a set of scales to weigh his neighbors' cattle who found a convenient local market at Rinehart's. The cattle economy was his primary money-maker, but it was augmented by swine and mules.

Rinehart became known for his many innovations in the locale. He introduced crop rotation, built a pipe system across his bottom field to water cattle, built a wooden silo, and bought surplus stock from locals at any time of the year. Although he profited greatly from the expanding timber economy of the early 20th century in Shannon County, he refused permission to the mammoth Missouri Lumber and Mining Company to build a tram railroad across his land or to harvest his timber.

Present owners Cheryl and Scott Frescoln in front of the Rinehart Ranch house, holding the certificate they received from the National Register of Historic Places, 1980.

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Following the 1929 stock market crash the over-extended Rineharts set-fled their accounts and relocated near Sedalia where DeForest Rinehart built ranches in Pettis and Johnson counties. [n Shannon County the Bunker-Culler Lumber Company bought the ranch and milled its great stands of white oak. Later, in 1955 at the age of 87, Rinehart was killed in a truck accident while on his way home from work.

During the great demographic turnaround of the Ozarks, 1965-85, young Nebraskans reviewed ads for Ozarks land in the Wall Street Journal. The college-educated Frescoln and Nelson families purchased the 2,000 acre Rinehart Ranch, revitalized the historic house, invested in livestock, and engaged several phases of the timber industry. Their quality work attracted the attention of timber-magnate Leo Drey, who employed them in timber stand improvement. These Arcadian Ozarkers, new immigrants to the land, have nourished part of our past in the maintenance of the Rinehart house, while becoming themselves a part of broad historical patterns at the Rinehart Ranch.

Lynn Morrow, Consulting Editor for OzarksWatch, is a public historian who lives in Taney County.

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