History of Milford Bone: Extraordinary Architecture of the Southern Midwest
1. The Houses
They were always there, perched on the ridge above the lake, four houses stood as guardians. Others lived below near the wetlands and into the hills, farmers mostly of the families Truelove, Robbins, and the Babinot that married a Potawatomi woman.
The Houses of Milford Bone will stand forever.
One of the first stories my mother told me about one of the houses is that a young man named Jerome found himself standing on the ridge looking up at the houses. He knew a writer named Lee Robbins lived in one of the houses and admired the writer’s work greatly, so he stood patiently waiting for the writer to emerge from his house. When Lee finally came out, his daughter and grandchildren walked out with him and they looked upon the young man and said “There you are! We have been looking for you.”
The young man did not know what to do, but the writer’s daughter came down and kissed him on the cheek, a sign of affection and familiarity. “Can you help me with the kids?” she asked him.
The children, likewise, embraced the young man as if they knew him. The young man was understandably confused but, in the name of wanting to meet the great writer that he admired so much, he played along with the interaction, thinking that as a part of the family, even if it wasn’t the reality he understood, he would have access to the writer, for he himself aspired to be a great writer too.
And so the young man joined the writer’s family as his son in law. When asked about it much later in life the young man, now old and on his deathbed, said that it just made sense, it was as if he had fallen asleep in his real life (for he had a spouse and children in his “real life,” he told me), exhausted from all of the things he was responsible for, and dreamed of Milford Bone. He accepted the dream as his life, as confusing as it was at first, and decided to claim his dream as his real life. I asked him if he had replaced his former, “real life,” and he looked confused. “I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I made my choice.”
Famous writers, historians, politicians have lived in these houses above Lake Manitou, most of them related in some way or form to the Reed Family of Milford Bone. The Bone, formerly known as Hogbone or Hogback, belonged to Dorothea Reed, one of the original landowners, and she controlled the building and selling of the plattes until she died.
There are other stories, of course, of the great houses of Milford Bone, four in total that stand as guards of Quiet Lake, renamed in a sacred ceremony of naming so that God may recognize the beauty of what they have created and that the Manitou (or Man-i-too) may forever stay at the bottom of the lake to never poison its waters or people again.
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