The community lost a historic landmark on the morning of Tuesday, July 4, when the Snelson-Brinker Cabin was burned. It was the oldest building in Crawford County.

The community lost a historic landmark on the morning of Tuesday, July 4, when the Snelson-Brinker Cabin was burned. It was the oldest building in Crawford County.

Frank J. Snelson is a descendent of Levi Lane Snelson, the man who built the cabin for himself and his family in 1824. Snelson said he and his family took the loss personally.

“Because of my ancestry, this property meant something to us,” he said. In an email, Snelson said the cabin and it’s rich history was a “touchstone” to him. He said he visited it many times over his lifetime, and said the loss of its history is one that affects not only him, but the entire community.

“It was not only a home for different families, including mine, it has ties to Maramec Springs through Levi Lane.”

Deloris Gray Wood, of the Missouri Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association, spoke fondly of the Vannetta’s contribution.
“For a quarter of a century, Pete and Patti Vannatta and their family took care of the property,” she noted. “It was mowed, trimmed and protected during holidays like the Fourth of July, Christmas and Halloween. They made it a show place for taking photos. Photos were taken by people from all over the world. Weddings took place, buses of school children took tours of the cabin and visited the other cultural parts of the property and then went on to Maramec Spring Park-Massie Iron Works for lunch.”

According to Snelson and Wood, the cabin, which sat only a few miles east of the Maramec Spring-Park Massie Iron Works, served not only as a home for Levi Snelson, but served as a courthouse for Crawford County in 1834, before Phelps County was carved out. In 2006, Snelson-Brinker cabin along with Maramec Spring Park-Massie Iron Works were certified by the National Park Service, National Historic Trail, Santa Fe, NM, by Aaron Mahr, Superintendent with the Missouri Chapter Trail of Tears Association President Deloris Gray Wood and the Dent County Historical Society who arranged the certification and the ceremony.

Now, charred rubble and a fireplace marks the spot where the once historic county icon stood.

After the fire, the cabin’s shake roof is gone, along with the doors and windows, and the east and west walls are left leaning, according to Wood.

“I wish that people would think about vandalism, if that’s what this was, before it’s done,” said Snelson. “It’s just so senseless.”

The burning of the cabin is currently under investigation by the state fire marshal. As of now, no information regarding the cause of the fire has been released.