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Family treasures old home

Stone structure sees many changes over the years

Staff writer

Looking at the home of David and Abigail DeForest north of Florence along U.S.-77, one would never suspect that its roof once was blown off in a storm and rain ruined everything in the house.

The Deforests are the fourth generation to own the stone house.

Built in 1873 by one of Marion County’s wealthiest early settlers, Mahlon B. Riggs, who came to the county in 1864, the two-story house replaced a log cabin.

A stone addition was added later.

A stone barn was built in 1899.

Riggs was often praised in local newspapers for his excellent wheat crops and shorthorn cattle.

His daughter, Mary and her husband, H.S. Lincoln, took over the farmhouse sometime after his death in 1905 and did extensive remodeling, including electric wiring.

In January 1913, the Marion County Record reported the installation of large beams, paneling, and fine woodworking of solid oak.

The beams and woodwork remain. David DeForest said his mother refinished the wood several years ago.

Porches on the front and back were torn off and rebuilt.

The upstairs had four bedrooms and a sleeping porch that later was enclosed.

David’s great-grandfather, John DeForest, purchased the farm in the late 1940s.

The stone barn became home to laying hens which supplied his DeForest Hatcheries business.

The house and farm were passed to David’s grandparents, Charlie and Joyce DeForest, who lived there from 1957 to 1962. Charlie added a round-top machine shed.

After the house was rented out for 20 years, David’s father, Chuck Deforest, born in 1957, moved into the house in 1982 with his wife, Cathy, and later purchased it.

David and Abigail purchased the farmstead and 80 acres in 2017. They moved into the house when his parents moved to a new house on the same section of land.

The couple has two children: Haskell, 2, and Hattie, 8 months.

They are looking forward to many more years in the historic home.

Last modified Sept. 18, 2019

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