Robey House History
Winery Expands to Historic Robey House
Monroe County History as published in the Lake Gazette by Nancy Stone
April 7, 2010
When the Osbournes bought the “Robey Place” at the west edge of Monroe City to expand Indian Creek Winery, they acquired more than just 30 acres of ground, a historic home and barn. They purchased a piece of Monroe City history that has ties to their current home and business on Highway 24.
Monroe County had sufficient population to be formed from Ralls County January 6, 1831. The northeast corner of the new county was a rolling prairie and was not then considered highly desirable property for the settlers from Kentucky who intended to farm. However, land speculators from New York, William and Matthias Halstead, and Richard T. Haines, each purchased adjoining sections of that prairie land at the Palmyra Land office, probably at the going rate of $1.25 an acre, as an investment. Their land patents were issued November 2, 1837; there is no record of them living in Monroe County, Missouri.
By the 1850s it was known that the Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad would cross northeast Missouri. Edward B. Talcott was associated with the building of the railroad through William Halstead’s 640 acres, Section 13, Township 56N, Range 8W and knew that a station would be located in that vicinity. He bought the east half section of William Halstead’s land, 320 acres, for $5 an acre, a total of $1,600. In 1856 Talcott laid out the original town of Monroe on the east half of Section 13 and town lots were sold on July 4, 1857. The west half of Talcott’s land, about 160 acres, was left in prairie grass.
By 1876 George W. Galloway, a native of Indiana, had acquired part of the original Halstead land, from the Hannibal & St. Joe railroad north to the Marion County line, and adjoining property to the west that was part of the original Haines land patent in Section 14. On September 18, 1880, the City of Monroe organized an election year picnic for all residents of Monroe and surrounding counties in Galloway’s Grove west of town. The Honorable Champ Clark, Democratic candidate for Presidential Elector from the 13th District, T. P. Bashaw and George Hersman, candidates for Representative, and “other gentlemen of ability” from the Greenback and Republican parties were also invited to speak. The Monroe City string band provided music for dancing. Of course, it rained, but about 700 folks braved the storm with their picnic baskets to hear the “stumping.”
By 1896 one of Monroe City’s longest residents and most prominent citizens, William Richard Pinkerton “W.R.P.” Jackson, had bought just over 90 acres of Section 13, west of Cemetery Road and north from the railroad to the Marion County line. When the Monroe City Bank was organized in 1875, he was the first cashier. He resigned in 1880 over a wage dispute and then engaged in the hardware business. He also served as treasurer for the City of Monroe, was president of the City of Monroe School District, and was a devout member of the Methodist Church. He was instrumental in the organization of the Farmers and Merchants Bank in 1887 and was cashier at that bank until his untimely death October 12, 1925.
“Pink” Jackson was so well known for his walks from his home about three-quarters of a mile west of town into Monroe City that a grateful client, Mrs. Mary Caroll, once presented him with a gold-headed walking cane. The June 17, 1921 the Monroe City NEWS reported that “W.R.P. Jackson’s walking regime has taken him the equivalent of one-and-a-half times around the world. He has walked back and forth to his home twice daily, regardless of the weather for 25 years.”
On that fateful Sunday evening in October, Jackson was enjoying his walk on the new section of concrete “slab” of State Highway 8, now Business Highway 36, which had recently been completed through Monroe City to his home. He was on his way to the Methodist Church when he was struck and killed by a Chevrolet roadster, driven by Russell Yancey of Hunnewell. Jackson would have been 75 years old December 2.
Yancey said a Ford car, driver unknown, was approaching from the east and he dimmed his lights, which “with the reflection of the street light at the corner, completely blinded him.” At first he thought he had hit a piece of road equipment, so great was the impact with Jackson’s body. The NEWS reported that Jackson’s death “enshrouded the entire community in gloom.”
While it is not known exactly when the brick house on the Robey Place was built, the Monroe City NEWS of November 20, 1917 reported: “The large 12-room residence of W. R. P. Jackson just west of town, was completely destroyed by fire Sunday evening. The fire was discovered about six-thirty o’clock by members of the family who saw the reflection of the blaze from the room in the windows. At the same time several neighbors detected it and immediately gave an alarm. Practically all the household goods on the lower floor were saved but nearly all those in the second story including all linen, bedding, etc., were lost. A large amount of fruit and other items in the basement were also burned. The loss is estimated at $10,000 with only $2,000 insurance. The origin of the fire is supposed to have been either from defective wiring or the flue.”
The current home does not have twelve main rooms and there is no evidence of a fire. It is highly likely that the Jacksons rebuilt and with the small amount they received from the insurance, may have mortgaged the property to do so. Probate records for W. R. P. Jackson show that at his death there was an $8,000 note against the 93.5 acre farm in section 13, payable to W. W. Longmire. The note was due June 26, 1929. Equity in the property was valued at $7,000. To settle the estate, the property was sold at a sheriff’s partition sale from the steps of the Monroe County Courthouse November 26, 1928. John D. Robey’s bid of $13,620 bought the Jackson farm.
It will be remembered that in 1904 J. D. Robey was co-founder of the Robey-Robinson Lumber Company at Monroe City. He and W.R.P. Jackson had both served as city officials and were contemporaries in their importance to the business and banking community. Within a year after Jackson’s death, the banking industry began showing signs of distress. Mergers were made to try and keep smaller banks solvent. In Monroe City, the Farmers and Merchants bank and the Citizens Bank merged to form the Union Savings Bank in November 1926. J. D. Robey was elected president and Charles L. Elzea was vice-president. Elzea owned the farm where the Osbournes first established Indian Creek Winery in 2007. On May 7, 1929, J. D. Robey and Alpha Elzea, daughter of Charles L. Elzea, were united in marriage at St. Louis.
John D. Robey’s wife of 27 years, the former Johnnie Catherine Hubbard, died November 7, 1924. She had suffered for years with arthritis. Her mother, Mrs. E. J. Hubbard, had lived with the Robey family for 26 years as they raised four sons. An infant daughter died in 1910. Their eldest son Paul, died at age 20 in 1920 from pulmonary tuberculosis. J. D. Robey died September 6, 1963. His will left the home farm, consisting of 60 acres in Section 13, to “my devoted wife Alpha Elzea Robey.”
In the 1980s Monroe City anticipated a boom in population and business from the creation of Mark Twain Lake. In May 1983 the Robey Place and all of Section 13, including the proposed Mosswood Golf Course, were annexed to the City of Monroe.
Alpha Elzea Robey died April 18, 1997 in her home. She was 98. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, one son, James Elzea Robey, and one sister, Charlesa L. Freidank. The Robey farm passed to her nephew, William “Bill” Freidank.
On March 23, 2010 the Osbournes purchased 30 acres of the former Robey property from Bill Freidank and his son Darren and wife Robin Freidank. They plan to open their “Robey House at Indian Creek Winery Gift Shop and Wine Tasting” business in the historic home for this season. The barn, which is probably some years older than the house, will be renovated to house the winery.