Efforts to save a witness to war: Bloomfield, Missouri

Earlier this week, John Hennessy noted the Decline of Clover Hill in Culpeper County, Virginia.  Sadly that historic home is in disrepair.  Dating to the 1770s, a lot of history passed by that house, including notable Civil War events, over 235 (give or take) years.

With that fresh in my mind, when my father (who provided the photos seen in this entry) related the story about a house in Bloomfield, Missouri, I noticed some similarities… and differences.

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The Miller House, Bloomfield, Missouri

The Dexter Daily Statesman ran an article in September detailing the plight, and preservation effort, of this house:

Restoration bids to be taken on Miller House

The process of renovating the house built by Henry Miller on Old Cape Road in Bloomfield started in 2009 and should be ready to put out for bids sometime in late September according to Sue Tippen, head of the Stoddard County Development Foundation. The Foundation, a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit organization has secured a $200,000 grant for renovating the exterior of the historic home through the National Scenic Byway Program administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The grant requires a $52,000 match which can come in the form of in-kind matching labor, research and property.

Dr. Sheila Perry wrote the grant for the Development Foundation which is under the Industrial Development Authority of Stoddard County. Tippen said the project is part of an overall plan developed to capitalize on the historic structures and history of Bloomfield. The old courthouse, the Christian Church and other historic buildings are hoped to be part of the scenic byway in Bloomfield that could help attract tourists to the area, Tippen said….. (Full story.)

The article goes on to discuss the background of the house.  Like Clover Hill, the exact date of construction is unknown – perhaps as early as 1843, but certainly by 1850.  Yes, a full three-quarter century after the Culpeper county dwelling, but we are talking about a locality on the other side of the Mississippi River, mind you.

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Damaged Exterior of Miller House

As to Civil War activity around the house:

The house played a major role in the Civil War as it sat on Crowley’s Ridge with a good view of the surrounding area, said Tippen. The Millers, whose sympathy was with the South, lived there throughout the war. Amazingly, the house was never burned by Union forces or the bushwhackers. There are theories on why the house was preserved, but no verifiable records. One theory is that the house served as a military hospital and thus was spared by Union forces and the bushwhackers. Another unsubstantiated story is that the house had ammunition stored under a under-the-roof storage area during the war.

I’ve discussed Crowley’s Ridge some time back in relation to the Battle of Chalk Bluff.  Although no big “named” armies passed down the ridge, the route served as an avenue for those on patrol or raiding into the no-mans-land that was Southeast Missouri for much of the war.  As mentioned earlier, there’s a new marker for the “hanging tree” incident that occurred in town. I would also point out there’s more to the Bloomfield area than just the bushwacker activity.  The “Stars and Stripes” newspaper was first published there.

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Miller House and grounds

I do hope the foundation is able to secure the matching funds and proceed with restoration efforts.  I also hope further research will clear up the questions about the wartime activity in the house.

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Miller House, Bloomfield, Missouri

But of course that is where the similarities between these two houses end.  Clover Hill’s past is well documented.  We have photographs that illustrate it’s story.  There’s more than enough information for someone with a desire to restore and preserve.

And of course the other difference I would note.  The folks in Stoddard County, Missouri are recognizing the history in their area and looking to preserve part of it.  They are “fighting the good fight.”

In Culpeper County?  The Brandy Station Foundation is silent about Clover Hill.  The board acts as if they don’t know where the house is located, much less understand its significance.  There is no effort from that quarter.

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

One thought on “Efforts to save a witness to war: Bloomfield, Missouri

  1. I enjoyed your post! I am currently a graduate student at Southeast Missouri State University and am also a member of the Historic Bi-Way Commission that is overseeing the Henry Miller House. It is a magnificent place, with much of the original interior still in place and unaltered.

    The story of the Miller’s goes so much farther that the Civil War. Henry was a major player in Southeast Missouri before the war. He was involved in building railroads, draining swamps, politics and other business affairs. I actually wrote a senor thesis concerning Henry Miller, which will be published within the year.

    The house did survive the war and we are not sure why, in fact he was never arrested for being a southern sympathizer. I can say with some certainty that the home was never a hospital, though we do believe their barn was used as such. The other rumors cannot be proven or denied and will most likely remain Bloomfield folklore.

    The house will soon be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and we will be seeking further funds to restore the house. I really do appreciate your post and should you have any questions about it I would be happy answer what I can. My email address is cwkinder1s@semo.edu.

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