Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick

Dr. McClure's Impressive Home

The large house that was the home of Roy and Pearl Ratcliff(e) for well over half a century has been one of the major landmarks of the village of Douds since it was built. 

According to my grandmother, Mary Ina Ratcliffe Fellows, sister of Roy Ratcliff, the house in question was built by Dr. McClure in 1888. 

Using material written by the late Marie Greenfield, real estate agents have listed the house as being built in 1898.  It is my understanding that both women are correct in their dates.  McClure began building the impressive home in the 1880s but work didn't stop on construction until 1898.  Actually, the six rooms on the upper (3rd) floor were never completed.  Instead of it being an open attic, partitions exist for the six planned rooms (possibly intended for hired help) that were never completed. 

Both Marie and my grandmother were historians.  Both attribute the building to Dr. T. G. McClure.  Marie says that the good doctor married the daughter of Dr. Crawford who had been the first new resident of Douds Station in 1866 when the railroad came through and the name of the village was changed from Alexandria.   

For an ailment from which he suffered, Dr. Crawford unfortunately took the wrong medication and died.  After his father-in-law's unfortunate demise, Dr. McClure was the area's only doctor.  McClure busied himself in community affairs and did a great deal to promote and improve the town. 

In addition to the impressive home situated near the stores of downtown, Dr. McClure also built a smaller Victorian home on top of the hill as you go out of town.  Earl Greenfield lived there for many years.  Another large Victorian home out on the Libertyville Road (on what I recall was the Baird farm) is also said to have been built by Dr. McClure.  It is believed to have been the last of the large houses he constructed. 

Roy Ratcliff married Pearl Armentrout around the turn of the century.  In the early 1900s he purchased Dr. McClure's large home.  The cosmetic appearance was still good in the mid-1960s, but behind the facade the house had fallen into disrepair.  Cy Greenfield bought the house (circa 1967) and did a lot of necessary restoration work. 

Twenty years earlier, the flood of 1947 had damaged the first floor of the grand home.  Many pieces of hardwood flooring buckled and had to be replaced.  High water stood about fifteen to eighteen inches deep and left telltale stains on the natural wood, some of which could never be successfully removed.  Mud filled the basement rooms and extensive structural damage resulted in heavy bracing to keep the house solid. 

Roy and Pearl raised their family in the grand mansion-like home, and later ran a boarding house similar to a bed and breakfast. Roy, his brother Gerald, and his son Dale operated the Ratcliff Coal Mines just north of town for half a century.  If you wonder about the spelling of their name, Ratcliffe women always spelled their name with an "e" on the end but the men thought that was too fancy.   

Along the sidewalk southeast of the huge house was a smaller house that had been Dr. McClure's office.  Around 1950 Julius Hintz purchased the locker plant. Julius, along with his wife and daughter Karen made their home in the former office. 

The beautiful and spacious home of Dr. McClure, Roy Ratcliff and Cy Greenfield has been a historic landmark of Douds for twelve decades.  It will be sorely missed. 

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick