Making History at the Old Stone House

The weekend of October 22 will mark the first annual hands-on-history fundraiser sponsored by the Leander Reeve Home Committee of the Franklin County Historical Society. The event, Making History, will allow attendees to try their hand “making history” when they participate in various activities and handicrafts that were routine parts of life in rural Iowa in the mid-1800s.

Committee members, local farmers, and other volunteers will host two days of fun and informative activities in a family-friendly setting. So bring your blanket and picnic basket, or purchase food on-site.

Activities take place at the Leander Reeve Homestead, Vince Tiso farm, and the Jeff Burkley farm. Both farms are adjacent to the Reeve Home. Off road parking will be available, and we anticipate providing transportation between the locations.

The Home will be open for tours both days. Guided tours will be offered at nine, noon, and three on Sat­urday. The guided tours will include the off-site locations of the Maysville schoolhouse, and the REA Plant and Museum. Tours will begin at the Old Stone House at the above times.

Things to do at the Making History Event

  • food available for sale on grounds
  • Blacksmithing Demonstration
  • Tours of Stone House, Maysville and REA Plant
  • Kids Leather Craft (hands-on)
  • Bonfire lighting and S’mores
  • Story telling by Denny Carlson and Darwin Meyer
  • Worship Service
  • Kids Potholder Weaving (hands-on)
  • Kids Games

Other Activities:

  • glass sculpture,
  • horse drawn plows
  • caricatures
  • photo booth
  • quilting
  • soap making
  • wood turning
  • knife making
  • butter making
  • drumming circle
  • chair side massage
  • beaded jewelry making
  • rug hooking
  • wine making
  • nature craft

General Information:

Deb Brown 641-580-0103

Darwin Meyer 641-892-4852



Leander Reeve Homestead: Making History

The weekend of October 22 will mark the first annual hands-on-history fundraiser sponsored by the Leander Reeve Homestead Committee of the Franklin County Historical Society. The event, Making History, will allow attendees to try their hand “making history” when they participate in various activities and handicrafts that were routine parts of life in rural IowaContinue Reading

Ackley Tractor Enthusiasts Visit

Saturday June 6 Marv Fritz and the Ackley Lions Club made their annual tractor run.  They visited Whispering Willows, the REA Plant and the Old Stone House.  There were 28 tractors, lots of fellas having a good time and the visits were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Copies of the new book, “My First Tractor” whichContinue Reading

UNI History Intern Produces Old Stone House Videos

UNI History Education Manjor, Shawna  Massow, chose the Old Stone House committee as supervisors for her 15 hour “Making History” project. The work was a requirement of an Introduction to the Study of History class she was taking. “When I saw on the project list that an internship was available in Hampton, I jumped rightContinue Reading

Recap Movie of Historical Tour of Homes

Sunday December 6 we visited six locations and learned many historical footnotes.  ABCM provided a bus and many took advantage of riding and not driving.   This event was a fundraiser for the Old Stone House. Harriman Nielsen committee members decorated the home for the holidays.  We send a big thanks out to them!  Did youContinue Reading

Historical Tour of Homes

December 4 from 1 to 5 p.m. join us on a Historical Tour Homes in Hampton Iowa.  ABCM is providing a bus for those who do not want to drive.  For only $15 you’ll get to visit six historical locations.  The bus will leave from Leahy Grove around 1:30 p.m. Harriman Nielsen Historic Farm HouseContinue Reading

Plastic Goes Up on the Windows

We’ve got geothermal heating in an old, old house.  We need to help it along a little. The plastic was put up on the windows last week downstairs.  The Kellers, Jeff Burkley, Darwin Meyer, Deb Brown and her nephew Steven all went to work.  First the dead bugs had to be swept up.  Then thereContinue Reading

Winter is Coming

The Old Stone House has geothermal heating.  The temperature can be kept at about 55 degrees all winter long inside the house.  First, the building must be winterized.  Nathan Erickson from Total Interiors in Geneva has been contracted to make a basement door.  He is working with Joe Pitsor to create a door that reflectsContinue Reading

Pie and Ice Cream Wrap Up

Pie and Ice Cream Wrap Up Joan Truax Wipf tells of the chickens living upstairs and the water was always frozen over in the morning.  Her mother lived in the Old Stone House and had many stories she shared with her children, Joan is her daughter. Gerald Whitmore was born in the Old Stone HouseContinue Reading

Reeve Home

A History Of The Old Stone House


In the 1880’s news of the fertile soil, excellent timberlands and rivers of the Midwest was sent to eastern United States and across the ocean to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, England and Ireland. Because of political upheaval, military service, religious persecution, poverty and restlessness, many people began looking for a new life. In 1833 white easterners and immigrants began pouring across the Mississippi River into Iowa. Land could be purchased for $1.25 an acre from the Government.


In April 1853, Leander Reeve came by train from Ashtubula County, Ohio, to the end of the line in Rockford, Illinois. He then traveled by stagecoach to the end of its route at Galena, Illinois. From then on he walked to Franklin County to find his brother, James, who was living with Mr. and Mrs. John Mayne in a log cabin which was located where the During farm in now, about ½ mile west of the Stone House on the north side of the road. This was the first and only cabin in Franklin County at the time.


After doing some trapping, he took over the parcel of land where the Stone House sits from Allison Phelps, who had claimed it the previous year. He broke 10 acres of this prairie sod east of the house. Prairie sod had thick matted interwoven roots two feet deep that hadn’t been disturbed for 8,000 years. In Illinois sixteen years earlier, in 1837, John Deere had invented a plow with a steel mould board that was needed to turn this sod. Strong oxen were better able to pull a plow than horses. Perhaps Leander had such a plow. Any provisions and supplies had to be gotten from Cedar Falls or Janesville by foot or by horse and wagon.


Leander then went back to Ohio and the following spring of 1854 he returned and built the Stone House. The stone surely came from Maynes Creek nearby. The walnut timbers in the cellar on which axe marks are still visible surely came from Maynes Grove. This house must have been elegant for this area as most others were log cabins. Soon many came to Maynes Grove, the first settlement of Franklin County. They conducted church services in cabins, had the first courthouse in James Reeve’s cabin and a sixteen-year-old girl, Octavia Smith, taught the first class of children in the county.


Except for the Mesquakies at Tama, very few Indians or buffalo were seen in Iowa after 1854. Leander brought his family here in 1854 but his wife could never like Iowa, she longed for more civilized life in Ohio. So they went back for good three years later. Leander’s wife apparently had household help as Marion Boots of Dumont says her grandmother walked from Four Mile Grove to work in the Reeve home.


Simeon Carter bought the house and farm from the Reeves. In 1859, four years after the Stone House was built, D. W. Dow, a young lawyer, came to Hampton, which had acquired 75 residents, 20-25 homes and several businesses. He set up a law office in Hampton House but had only one client that summer, who paid him in watermelons. So he had to carpenter and then taught school in the Maynes Grove settlement. Here he met Simeon Carter’s daughter and they were married in the Stone House. Her wedding dress is in the Franklin County Museum. They were the third residents in the house, followed by about 13 more families. The list is on the north wall of the house. None of the house’s contents were ever owned by those who occupied it.

The floor plan has never been altered. There was never electricity until the restoration committee had plug-ins installed. This committee began to restore the house in 1979, just as it was beginning to fall.

History Begins Here

The Museum is open from January 15 through November 15: Monday - Friday, 1 to 4. 

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the museum is also open Sunday 1 to 4.

We will happily open at other times by appointment. Send an e-mail any time, call during regular museum hours, or during off hours, call Franklin County Tourism at 1 641 456 5668.

Franklin County Historical Museum is located at:

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