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Descendent preserves 149-year-old farmhouse

Staff writer

“One day in the spring of 1869, a handsome young man with coal black hair and a fine face, riding a splendid horse, rode in at George Coble’s ranch three miles south of Peabody.”

That’s how Coble remembered A.N. Allison 40 years after he arrived in Marion County.

Allison was born in Ohio but lived in many different states before he settled in Kansas and purchased a homesite southwest of Florence from a squatter for $150.

Les and Linda Allison now live on the site A.N. developed under the Homestead Act of 1862.

It sits close to a high limestone wall, with a spring-fed stream named Spring Creek at its base. A spring that gushes out from the wall can be seen from the house and is known as Allison Springs.

Doing all the stonework himself, A.N. built a rock house in 1873 and 1874. With 18-inch-thick walls, it has smooth cornerstones and rock cornices over doorways and windows.

He received a deed to the 160 acres, signed by Ulysses S. Grant, in July 1875.

Les found the deed in a box of items collected by his grandfather, T.W. Allison. He framed it to hang on a wall in their home.

A.N. developed the springs by digging into the limestone wall. The area was a favorite recreation spot. He also built a log cabin and a spring room with a water wheel and pipes to carry water directly from the spring to the cabin. He built a big limestone barn in 1881.

A story passed down through generations was that A.N. reserved a calf every year to give to Native Americans as they traveled from west to east to gather shale from the Flint Hills for arrows and knives.

Les and Linda moved to the house in the early 1970s. It had been vacant for 45 years and needed a lot of work to make it livable.

Both were teachers.

“We lived pretty primitively for a few years,” Les said. “We had electricity, but a phone line had to be built to the place.”

In 1976, using a purchased kit, Les and Linda built a large log addition to the house. Carrying on the tradition of Les’s great-grandfather, the couple did the work themselves.

The attractive house has a wide, covered porch along the east side. Dining room windows overlook the spring and creek.

Linda has a large sewing and quilting room in the old part, which was insulated and lined with dry wall. It also has a utility room and bathroom. The upstairs is a bedroom.

Les said Linda sometimes had end-of-year creek parties for her students. They swam and splashed in the creek.

Their family consists of three children, including Raquel Welch of Florence, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They lost a son to ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, five years ago.

“I appreciate the family history of this place,” Les said. “We enjoy having friends and family out.”

Last modified June 2, 2022

 

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