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History of the Bonneville House


The Bonneville House was constructed in approximately 1864 by David Allison McKibben.  Mr. McKibben was associated with numerous mining ventures in Missouri. He later worked in planning and promoting an electric trolley line between Kansas City and Leavenworth.  He moved to Fort Smith and established a department store and became quite successful. While in Fort Smith he married Miss Mary Frances Laing of Leavenworth. They moved to Leavenworth in 1886 establishing a mining company from the consolidation of other mining companies. In 1901 Mr. McKibben resigned his position as company president and busied himself in promoting the Kansas City-Leavenworth Trolley and developing his lead and zinc mines in Joplin MO.  Mr. McKibben died on August 11, 1911.


The house then purchased from the McKibbens by Sarah Neis Bonneville, widow of the famous explorer of the American West, Captain Louis Eulalie de Bonneville. Captain Bonneville met Washington Irving while in New York and sold the writer his notes on the western expedition. From this, Washington Irving wrote “Adventures of Captain Bonneville”.  Captain Bonneville’s associations included Sam Houston and Captain Belknap. Bonneville and Belknap were commissioned to establish a second Fort Smith. Mrs. Bonneville lived in the house until her death after the turn of the century.  


In 1962, the house went under restoration thanks to Mrs. Ralph Speer, Jr. of Fort Smith. In 1971 the Bonneville House was added to the National Register of Historic Places and sits today as one of the crowning jewels of the Fort Smith and the Belle Grove Historic District. Its architectural style is Barogque Renaissance, which was very popular between 1857 and the end of the 19th Century. 

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