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Historic Site

Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site

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Missouri

312 Dawson Road
New Madrid, MO 63869

Website: www.mostateparks.com/hunterdawson.htm

The Hunter-Dawson home illustrates the life-style and culture of one particular wealthy southeast Missouri family prior to the Civil War. However, such houses and culture were not uncommon along the Mississippi in this part of the state. William Hunter and his wife Amanda Watson Hunter had established themselves as prominent merchants in the area. New Madrid was a thriving river port at the time and the Hunters were very successful in the mercantile business. They also bought large quantities of land, eventually holding 15,000 acres in four states. William died of yellow fever in April 1859 before the house was finished but Amanda and her seven children moved into the house, which was to be occupied continually by her descendants until 1958. Missouri was a divided state during the war, but the town was distinctly Southern in its character and one of the Hunter boys served in the Confederate forces. Much of the 1st Missouri Infantry, an integral part of the famed Missouri Brigade, was raised in New Madrid. During the Battle of Island No.10 and the Siege of New Madrid, the Hunter property was passed over and occupied by Union troops preparing to besiege the town. The house was used as the headquarters of General John Pope after the occupation of the city by Union forces. Despite battles, guerilla activity and continuous Federal occupation, the community of New Madrid retained some semblance of solvency during the Civil War and the Hunter family and their home survived the conflict relatively unscathed. The house still reflects the grand lifestyle enjoyed by the successful "Bootheel" planter prior to the Civil War. Adding to the significance of the site is the collection that came with it. It is estimated that the state received approximately 80% of Amanda's original furnishings. Several items of furniture and a large part of the library of Ella and William Dawson are also preserved in the home. The documentation that survived and remained with the family adds to the importance of the collection. It is believed that the site possesses one of the largest collections of Mitchell, Rammelsburg furniture in the nation.