Friday, May 07, 2010

Alonzo Hunt Home at Pilot Knob

I recently told a friend that my second most favorite place in Izard County is at the foot of the Knob...that is...Pilot Knob to be precise. To drive through the tunnel of rich forest growth leading to the site and emerging from the trees to the majestic site of the Knob looming before you is an exhilaration everyone should experience! It doesn't matter what season it is, it's always beautiful...and awe-inspiring!

But there's history at the foot of the Knob as well!

In fact, a President of these here United States of America once trod the top of Pilot Knob! In 1889 Herbert Hoover, a young engineering student, was a member of a group surveying an area of the Ozarks surrounding Izard County. In 1892, Alonzo Hunt, a young man who lived with his family at his father's home near the base of the big hill, led an small expedition to survey Izard County's most prominent geologic feature. At the time, Herbert Hoover was only a young 19 year-old in pusruit of a degree from a college in St. Louis. Upon first inspection, it was determined that the survey could not be done unless the knob's summit could be cleared of timber. Alonzo Hunt was hired for the job. The future president stayed in the Thomas Hunt home for two nights during the encounter. The expedition later returned to complete its task.

Besides these expeditions to Pilot Knob, the future president also surveyed the manganese fields in the Cushman/Lafferty area.

In 1869, Alonzo's family headed by his Father, Thomas Hunt, settled on the property first homesteaded by Charles Everett. Alonzo bought the property from his father in 1895 and in 1909 built a new two-story home for him and his wife, Mellvina (Mell). This house still remains, though only the framework is original. the current owners have just completed a total remodel of the home replacing all the exterior materials with natural siding that will be sure to preserve the home for at least another generation or two. The dinner bell that once stood on a pole beside the main house was recently recovered and awaits being raised back to its lofty position. The old cistern still exists intact. The original cook-stove, likely Mrs. Mell Hunt's most prized possession, installed when the home was first built in 1909 has been restored and still stands in the kitchen. The most significant building to remain on the property, however, is a small log store building built during Charles Everett's homsteading days and is believed to have been used to store powder and ammo during the Civil-War! The little building, which later served as a small store in the Knob Creek Community, is still in excellent condition.

Alonzo Hunt, like his father, was an industrious man. Not only did he farm, but he also operated a water-mill on Mill Creek. The Hunt-Mill (later referred to as the "Hunt-Copp Mill") stood just below the convergence of Mill and Knob Creeks near the little town of Jumbo. The EIC Crew was lucky enough a couple years back to have located the site of this mill and to view the old dam timbers still embedded in the creek bed!

The Hunts were also known to have housed paupers on their farm. Mr Lorenzo Dow Laffery Sr. Wrote in the October 1973 issue if the Izard County Historian:

Alonzo and Mellvina (known as "Mell" ) Hunt were, by the standards of their time, prosperous farmers and their place was well cared for. Alonzo was a stockman owning cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats in varying numbers at various times. He owned an interest in a mercantile business at Boswell. He also owned an interest in a water powered mill and gin at Jumbo. For a period of time Alonzo and Mell kept a number of the county paupers. While they had them in their care, one of the paupers died. As they were preparing him for burial, a few dollars were found in his pocket. Alonzo took the few dollars, added enough of his own money to cover the cost of a tombstone, and installed it at the grave. He is probably the only pauper in Izard County who has a tombstone.

Wiley, the current owner of the "Hunt Place", has collected many Native-American artifacts around the property and has them displayed in his home. Pilot Knob was obviously an important and revered site to those ancient Americans as well!

Note - The Gas-Register is the original one from the old store at Gid!

BTW, if you're wondering what my most favorite site in Izard County is, just look at the top photo of the first post below this one!

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