As part of Jefferson City’s Civil War history, this cabin has a story to tell.
Nestled away behind the Missouri Farm Bureau building on South Country Club Drive, a two-story log structure offers a preserved glimpse from pre-Civil War times and pioneer life. The Wallendorf home was constructed circa 1830 in a classic dogtrot style, featuring a breezeway through the center (where dogs might nap) that signified wealth and prestige. The log home’s original location was in Frog Hollow, overlooking Edgewood, making it a perfect lookout point to view Jefferson City.
In early October 1864, Confederate General Sterling Price commandeered the Wallendorf home for use during Price’s infamous raid. They stayed there for two days, with General Price even sleeping in the Wallendorf’s ornate walnut bed. While staying at the home, Price contemplated attacking the Union troops in Jefferson City and decided not to engage. Instead, he planned his retreat.
The governor of Missouri’s deposed Confederate government, Thomas Caute Reynolds, was also in attendance during the decision. It is documented in the National Register of Historic Places that Governor Reynolds cursed General Price for not advancing on the Union troops. (If his Confederate troops had attacked and won, Governor Reynolds would have been restored as acting governor.) It also cites that the Wallendorfs were perfect hosts. Before leaving, Price paid a generous sum of $27 in Confederate money to the Wallendorfs for the stay.
The Wallendorfs, a German Catholic family, immigrated in 1836 with their six children. Joseph and Maria Wallendorf lived a simple life with their family on the farm, where Joseph worked as a carpenter and kept poultry and hogs for market. The family farmed the land near West Edgewood Drive for more than 140 years. It served as a rental home up until 2004, with its relocation occurring in 2005.
Due to the increasing need for commercial space on West Edgewood Drive, the house was in jeopardy. The chief financial officer of Missouri Farm Bureau at the time, Randy Campbell, read an article in the Jefferson City News Tribune about the projected demolition of the home and decided jointly with the Missouri Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture to give the house a new location instead.
The house was moved to the new location between November 2004 and early 2005. It was taken apart piece by piece, and each piece was numbered. Symbolically, the ground was broken with a plow and a team of mules (the official state animal) behind the Missouri Farm Bureau on September 21, 2005, with several dignitaries present, including Governor Matt Blunt. Reconstruction was completed in July 2007.
The Wallendorf home is a great example of Missouri history, as it is one of the few remaining known examples of a two-story, horizontal dogtrot log house in the state. The house is unusual in length and height compared to other historic log homes. As a carpenter, Joseph Wallendorf most likely had exclusive connections to high-quality materials, securing longer and wider lumber to use for the log home. Clifford Wagner and Wagner Construction LLC completed the restoration project and preserved the home to its original state to the best of their ability.
The home features the original oak and walnut tree logs, with only 12 or so being replaced due to the compromised nature of the originals. The 1,600-square-foot home features dovetail notching, securing the structure at each corner. Between each log, chinking was installed for insulation, which was replaced periodically to maintain quality. Limestone was hand-hewed and square-dressed by the family for the foundation, front steppingstone, and weather joint fireplace, allowing it to adjust during freezing and thawing. Some of the original glass is still featured, including visible ripples and air bubbles, and glass panes were included around the front door, which was rare for its time. The original limestone fireplace and red pine mantel are still intact, even surviving a fire that broke out while the house was used as a rental home. The dogtrot breezeway has been filled in, but traces of where it remained still linger.
Jill Fansler, director of the Missouri Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, now uses the home to give educational presentations on the stark contrast between agricultural life in the 1800s and modern times. More than 350 people, mostly fourth graders, toured it in 2019. The original furnishings are gone but have been replaced with many interactive materials to show what life was like in the mid-1800s for a Missouri farming family like the Wallendorfs. The Wallendorf home is available for tours by appointment online at mofb.org/education/log-home.