Charles Samuel Rannells, born in Mason County, Kentucky, in 1814 married Mary Warder (b.1819) in 1842 in Springfield, Ohio. At this time Charles had been living and working as an attorney in St. Louis since 1836.
By 1848 he had earned enough to purchase 320 acres in Central Township from Ann McElderry. This property lay adjacent to and just west of the northern part of James Sutton’s farm. Present day Big Bend follows the property line that once divided these two farms.
Charles was a successful attorney and respected in the community. Beginning in 1850 he was elected to two terms in the Missouri State Senate.
According to the excellent research done by Kris Zapalac, PhD, “By 1860, the farm had grown to 2,200 acres, of which 800 were now cleared and improved, producing 1200 bushels of corn, 300 of oats, 1000 of potatoes, 100 of buckwheat and 100 bales of hay. Their livestock holdings were impressive as well: 20 horses, 9 mules, 12 dairy cows (producing 400 pounds of butter), 3 yokes of oxen, 20 beef cattle and 75 hogs. Small wonder that Rannells valued his real estate at $410,000.”
The good times wouldn’t last. Charles and Mary lost a young son in 1863. He was buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery where his father was an original trustee.
About this time an accident befell Charles about which the details are murky. Apparently he suffered a head injury presumably while traveling on his horse, or perhaps buggy, when according to family historian Elise Rannells Todd of Richardson, Texas, “he was waylaid…on the way home.
"He was found three or four days later -- out of his head and unable to remember. The people were holding him for ransom, as he seemed well-dressed & prosperous. He never recovered fully -- and developed a grave drinking problem.”
Woodside (ca.1848), the wood Greek Revival farmhouse of Charles and Mary’s farm, is the earliest known architectural treasure of Maplewood that survives. Preserving Woodside has been the goal of a large number of citizens of Maplewood and the historic preservation community at large.
The effort has involved overcoming former owners who have wanted to demolish Woodside, and the relentless assault of the elements. The home, now owned by the City of Maplewood, has received a new roof and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Woodside is located at 2200 Bredell, and is being offered for sale to an historically-sensitive new owner.
A fascinating account of the history of the Rannells family can be found in the superb National Register application by our county historian, Esley Hamilton, and Kris Zapalac, PhD, preservation specialist for the Department of Natural Resources.