The reconstructed cabin serves as a link to Wallendorfs in Cole County

When the brig. General Heinrich sailed from the port of Bremerhaven, Germany and arrived in New York on October 3, 1836, Joseph Wallendorf, his wife Elizabeth, and their six children witnessed their first vision of America.

The earliest evidence of the Wallendorf family in central Missouri is included in the 1838 list of parishioners as members of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Westphalia in which Father Helias served.

County records show on May 3, 1841, that Joseph’s son Matthias purchased In-lot 303 and 304 located on the corner of Mulberry and East High, where St. Peter’s Stadium is approximately located. The pieces cost $68 and consist of 104 feet along East High and 198 feet along Mulberry Street. A small house has already been built before the time of purchase in which the family lives.

During this time in Jefferson City, the Catholic Church was not formally organized. Liturgy was held in the various homes until the first log cabin church was built on the site of the present-day St. Peter’s School. Matthias Wallendorf’s marriage to Mary Bush was recorded on December 26, 1844, in St. Peter’s Catholic Church.

Tragedy soon struck the family in the late 1840s when a cholera epidemic spread across the city for several years; Two of their children were beaten and buried in the old Catholic cemetery of St. Peter.

Matthias Wallendorf in 1877 and the survivors were his wife, Mary Josephine, and his children Catherine, Frank, Jacob, Leo, Hermann, and Pauline the Younger. With the death of their mother in 1910, Pauline continued to stay in the house. Censuses of 1920 and 1930, Pauline is remembered at home, but her death was not until July 19, 1949. She was also buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery.

While Matthias and his family resided in town, his parents Joseph and Elizabeth purchased land southwest of town in 1843. This 40-acre property, Range West, Section 15, was an ideal lookout point for viewing Jefferson City. During the Civil War, Confederate General Sterling Price occupied the house where he made his decision in 1864 not to attack Jefferson City. Before leaving the house, General Price is said to have paid the family $27 in Confederate currency for his stay with the German family.

The application for filing in the National Register stated where the original location of the house was listed when Elizabeth Wallendorf’s estate was settled in 1854.

Skilled in carpentry, Joseph and his sons built the two-room, two-story cabin in the style of a dog trot. The cabin was ostentatiously 10 feet wide, under the cover of a breeze across the center. Housework can be finished outside the weather, used for storage or one can rest in the evening after a long day of work. The stairs to the second floor are located inside the dog trotting hole. The house was unusual in length and height and built on an original stone foundation unlike many cabins of this time period. Over the years, improvements have been made that have included closing the dog trotting area and a front central entrance as well as a rear entrance entrance.

Joseph and Elizabeth lived a simple farm life, planting gardens and fields with vegetables and grain to feed the family and livestock. With Joseph’s death in 1851, the remaining children took care of the farm for their mother as was the custom at the time.

After Elizabeth died in 1854, her son Bartholomew purchased the property at an auction at Cole County Courthouse. It eventually became a rental property before the City of Jefferson decided to sell it due to expansion and improvement at West Edgewood and Route 179. Rather than being destroyed, the property was purchased in 2004 by the Missouri Farm Bureau, which had just moved and returned it a few miles from the original location. Thus, this property has been in the Wallendorf family for more than 160 years.

The laying of foundation stone for the rebuilding of the house began on September 21, 2005, with construction of the foundation and exterior walls shortly thereafter. The main contractor was Clifford Wagner of Vienna, who specialized in the rebuilding and renovation of historic wooden houses. The house is furnished in a minimalist style that showcases the home’s furnishing from the past. Tour groups can be arranged by contacting the Missouri farm office. It is a particularly interesting project to tour for students as they study culture and history in early America, Missouri, or Cole County.

Anna Knabel is a Jefferson native and freelance writer. She co-authored “Military Memories” with Cindy Goans.

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