The Hoover Houses and Community Structures
Historic Structures Report
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HOOVER COTTAGE (continued)


A. Significance

The Hoover Cottage is the birthplace of our 31st President and is of 1st Order of Significance. In this simple three-room board and batten structure on August 10, 1874, Herbert Hoover was born. The second son of Jesse and Huldah Hoover, Herbert lived in this cottage with his parents and older brother and younger sister until May 1879. Orphaned in 1884, Hoover rose above adversity to become a distinguished statesman. In 1938 Mrs. Lou Henry Hoover had the cottage faithfully restored.

B. Legal Description of Property and Chain of Title

The Hoover Cottage is located in the northeast quarter of Section 7, Township 79 North, Range 4 West. On January 23, 1852, Aaron Baker of Baltimore, Maryland, entered on the northeast quarter of Section 7, Township 79 North, Range 4 West, surrendering a land warrant issued to him for service in the Mexican War. [1] Baker's 160 acres extended to the north and east to what is today the intersection of Main and Downey streets. Within four months, Baker sold his 160 acres to Samuel King of Cedar County for $162.50. [2]

King and his wife, Constant, on March 28, 1853, sold to Joseph Steer for $208 a tract in the subject quarter section, beginning at the northeast corner of Section 7, then west 69 rods with the section line, then south 30 rods, then east 13.54 rods, then south 130 rods, then east 82.54 rods to the section line, and then north with the section line 160 rods to the point of beginning. The tract conveyed contained 80 acres. [3]

Steer in turn sold five acres in the northeast corner of the subject tract to J. M. Wetherell. In 1871 Wetherell divided his five acres into town lots. [4] On April 13 of that year Wetherell sold Lots 42 and 43 to Jesse Hoover for $90. In the ensuing months, Jesse Hoover erected a three-room board and batten cottage on Lot 42. [5]

Nine years later, on May 25, 1879, Jesse and Huldah Hoover sold to G. M. D. Hill of Johnson County for $1,000 Lots 41, 42, and 43 in Joseph Steer's plat of the Town of West Branch. Lot 41, on which Jesse Hoover's Blacksmith Shop was located, was 35 x 86 feet and Lots 42 and 43 were each 30 x 99 feet. [6]

G. M. D. Hill and his wife (Martha) on Christmas, 1885, sold Lots 41, 42, and 43, along with the improvements thereon, to Z. T. McCaleb for $500. [7] The McCalebs retained possession of the property for 21 months. When they disposed of the subject real estate, on September 17, 1887, they sold the cottage and Lots 42 and 43 to Victoria Hill; the Blacksmith Shop to Dr. Joseph Baker; and Lot 41 John Hirst. Lots 42 and 43 and the improvements thereon brought the McCalebs $250. [8]

Victoria Hill, following her marriage to Oliver C. Pennock, sold Lots 42 and 43, along with the Hoover Cottage and other improvements, to R. P. Scellers on December 23, 1889, for $250. [9]

R. Portland Scellers and his wife, Jennie, had previously acquired four lots in Joseph Steer's plat of the Town of West Branch. On January 13, 1886, they had purchased from Samuel and Anna Gruwell for $100 Lots 37, 38, 39, and 40. These lots bounded Lots 42 and 43 on the west. [10] In 1901 Scellers added to his real estate holdings north of the Wapsinonoc. He purchased from C. L. and M. A. Penrose for $25 a 16-foot wide strip of land, bounding Lots 37-40 on the south and Lot 43 on the west. [11]

Port and Jennie Scellers in December 1900 had found themselves short of cash, and they borrowed $100 from the West Branch Bank, giving as security a mortgage on Lots 42 and 43. [12] The loan and interest were repaid, and the Scellers given a release. Three years later, in February 1904, the Scellerses mortgaged their real estate (Lots 37, 38, 39, 40, 42 and 43, and the 16-foot strip) to D. E. Fairall, as security for a $500 loan at seven per cent. The mortgage was satisfied on January 10, 1906. [13]

On November 13, 1911, Port Scellers purchased five more lots in Joseph Steer's Plat. Lots 44, 45, 46, 47, and 48, to the south of Lot 43 and bordering Downey Street on the west, were bought from Sem Jenson for $300. [14]

Port Scellers died in July 1916, having willed his "home place, including the lots to his beloved wife." [15] The widow continued to reside on the property until her death on June 28, 1934. Mrs. Scellers "left to her four children her property to be divided equally," after her son, Elmer, had received $800 from the estate. [16]

The heirs on July 29, 1935, sold to Fred Albin for $4,500 the 12 lots they had inherited. Albin had acted as agent for Allan Hoover and on Tuesday, October 15, 1935, he conveyed to Allan the subject lots. It was noted in the deed that "no consideration has passed between the parties hereto other than the $4,500 shown in the deed from the heirs of Jennie Scellers . . . to Fred Albin." The grantor, Fred Albin, had taken title for the benefit of Allan Hoover. [17]

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Last Updated: 28-Jul-2006