Carrie Westlake Whitney.

Kansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 2) online

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a large circle of friends in the city.



LEMUEL CROSBY.



I.emuel Crosby, engaged in the contracting business in Kansas City lor
the past quarter of a century or more, was born in Nova Scotia, May 10,
1846. He resided in Canada for ten years and then accompanied his par-
ents on their removal to Minneaj)olis, where the succeeding seven years oi
his life were passed. In 1862, when a youth of but sixteen years, he
offered his services to his country in defense of the Union and was assigned
to duty Avith Company G, Tenth Minnesota Infantry, with which he served
for three years, being mustered out in August, 1865. He had all of the
experiences of camp life, participating in some hotly contested battles, tak-
ing part in long, hard marches and again doing duty on the lonely picket
line. He was in the campaigns against General Price and also in the en-
gagements against Hood at Nashville. He likewise assisted in the capture
of Spanish Fort at Mobile Llarbor, and in his military service traveled thou-
sands of miles throughout the South.

When the war was over Mr. Crosby returned to the North and after-
ward engaged in railroad contracting until 1876, when he turned his atten-
tion to general cai-pentering. In 1879 he went to Kansas where, secur-
ing land, he began farming, following that pursuit for several years. He
settled on a claim, for Kansas was at that time a frontier district and much
of the land was unclaimed and uncultivated. With characteristic energy
he begiui the development of a farm Ijut was compelled to leave the state
on account of the drouth which caused a faihu'e of crops.

Removing from Phillips county, Kansas, to Kansas City in August,
1880, Mr. Crosby here followed carpentering for a time and then began
contracting, Avith which line of business he has been connected foi- more
than twenty-five years. To his credit stand several of tlie prominent business
blocks and residences of the city, including the Arlington block, a large
warehouse for the Townley Metal Company, the Townley residence on
Gladstone boulevard, the home of Major Beahim on Thirtieth and Troost,
the home of David Benjamin on Thirty-sixth and McGee, and many others
equally fine. His son, J. E. Crosby, is associated with him in business, the
partnership having existed for the past ten years. The firm have a large
business outside of Kansas City, many of their patrons being in Kansas and
Oklahoma.

On the 28th of October, 1871, Mr. Crosby was married to Miss May T.
Goll, of Keokuk. Towa, who was there born in 1855. She was educated



HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY 131

in the public schools of Marion, Iowa, and her father was Malcolm Goll, a
pilot on the Mississippi river in early days. Both he and his wife, however,
are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Crosby reside at No. 4241 Harrison street,
Avhere he owns a beautiful residence, w^hich he erected. Their children are
James Edgar and Jessie May. The son was born at Marion, Iowa, March
14, 1873, and was educated in the public schools of Kansas City, being
graduated with the class of 1892. He afterward pursued a post graduate
course, in the high school of Kansas City, in 1893, and during the two
succeeding years attended the Kansas State University at Lawrence.
For ten years he has been associated with his father in business and
the firm of Crosby & Son is a prominent one in building circles. On
the 12th of September, 1898, he married Alice M. Boswell, at Sweet Springs,
Missouri, who was born there, October 16, 1875. Her father, F. M. Boswell,
is a carpenter now living in Kansas City. Unto this marriage have been
born two sons: James Edgar, whose birth occurred at Sweet Springs, Sep-
tember 25, 1899; and Harry Lemuel, born in Kansas City, October 5, 1901.
The family home is a beautiful dwelling at 4616 Virginia avenue, which
was built by J. E. Crosby. The daughter, Jessie May Crosby, born in Kan-
sas City, August 2, 1891, was a pupil in the public schools here and after-
ward attended Central College at Lexington, Missouri. She is now at home
with her parents.

Mr. Crosby has made a creditable record as a business man who, though
he has faced obstacles and difficulties has overcome these by determined pur-
X)ose and unfaltering industry and is today one of the substantial residents
of the community. In citizenship he is public-spirited, manifesting the
same loyalty to his country which he displayed on southern battlefields.



SEBASTIAN GARDNER.

In a record of the business development of Kansas City the name of
Sebastian Gardner figures prominently, as he was the first hardware merchant
here. Dating his arrival from 1866, he was throughout the remainder of his
life a factor in the commercial progress of the city, contributing through his
enterprise and progressiveness to the general development as w^ell as to indi-
vidual success. His birth occurred in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 17, 1841. His
parents there resided during the greater part of their lives, the father being
connected with the iron industry, and both he and his wife passed away in
Cincinnati.

Sebastian Gardner in his boyhood days was a pupil in the public schools
and also attended private Catholic schools of Cincinnati. When a youth of
fifteen he started out in life on his own account as a clerk in a hardware store
owned by Tyler Davidson, one of the pioneer merchants in that line in Cin-
cinnati. That he proved himself willing, capable and energetic is indicated
by the fact that he remained in that employ for seven or eight years. About
the clo.se of the Civil war he left Ohio and went to the south, settling in



132 HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY

Natchez, Mississippi, where he established a hardware business on his own
account, conducting the store for two years.

In May, 18G6, Mr. Gardner came to Kansa.s City and opened the first re-
tail hardware establishment here, constantly increasing his stock in order to
meet the demands of a growing population. From the beginning the new enter-
prise prospered. For several years he was associated in business with Mr.
Mullett, who finally sold out to John Calvin Boyd, who is still a resident of
the city, making his home on Armour boulevard, and is engaged in the real
estate business. The partnership continued for five years, after which Mr.
Gardner purchased Mr. Boyd's interest and successfully conducted business
here for over forty years, his store being located at No. 542 Main street. He
always carried a large and well selected line of goods, anticipating the wants
of the public and gaining a liberal patronage by straightforward methods and
mdefatigable energy.

Mr. Gardner was married in Kansas Citv to Miss Louise M. Alms, also a
native of Cincinnati and a representative of one of the pioneer families here,
her parents being Herman F. and Margaret (Dahme) Alms, who were born in
Germany but came to the United States in early life, settling in Cincinnati,
where Mr. Alms engaged in the hotel business until 1866. He then removed
to Kansas City, where he established a general mercantile enterprise at the
corner of Fourteenth street and Grand avenue, continuing in business there
until his death in 1871. Mrs. Alms afterward made her homo with Mr. and
Mrs. Gardner until her demise in 1896.

The death of Mr. Gardner occurred February 11, 1901, after he had
suffered from ill health for several years. In politics he was independent,
always supporting the men whom he regarded as best qualified for office. He
had no desire for political i:)referment, as his time and energies were concen-
trated upon the development of his business affairs, which reached extensive
proportions as the years passed by. The house ever sustained an unassailable
reputation for commercial integrity and year l)y year ]\Ir. Gardner added to
his financial resources until he became a man of afiluence. For five years fol-
lowing his death Mrs. Gardner carried on the business as sole owner and then
in 1906 sold out. She is Avell known here, having many friends, and is the
owner of a large and beautiful home at No. 702 East Fourteenth street, at the
corner of Holmes street, which was purchased by Mr. Gardner more than
twenty years ago.



JOHN A. ROBINSON.

John A. Robinson, wlm l)ecamc a resident of Kansas City in 1883,
was engaged in the grain trade hero fi'om 188." until bis death in 1902, and
the qualities which ho manifo.^tod as a representative of connnorcial inter-
ests entitle him to mention witli tlio representative men of tliis city. He
was born in Now Yoi-k city. .Tiil\- 20. 1847. Hi- fatluM- was a ]^apor-box
manufacturer there and l)eeaiiie a verv well-to-do man. but died when his




JOHN A. EOBINSON.



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HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY 135

son was a young man, while the mother passed away when he was six years
of age.

John A. Robinson attended some of the best schools of New York city
and at the age of sixteen was qualified for entrance to Columbia College but
decided not to pursue his studies further but instead to enter business life
with his father. He becamo his father's assistant in the office, where he
.remained for a few years and after his father's death made his way to the
west and south, living at different times in various cities, where he was
engaged in business. He finally took up his abode in Chicago, where he
conducted business interests for a few years, after which he returned to New
York city, where he resided until 1883. On account of his health he again
came to the middle west, making his Avay direct to Kansas City.

Wishing to thoroughly acquaint himself with the grain trade that he
might profitably engage in that line of business, he here accepted a posi-
tion as bookkeeper for a Mr. Merritt, a grain merchant. After being with
him for a short time Mr. Robinson later served as bookkeeper for other
houses until 1885, when he felt his knowledge of the business justified his
active connection with the trade as a grain merchant. He then formed a
partnership with H. F. Hall and others, under the firm style of A. J.. Poor
& Company, and they engaged in the grain business until July, 1886, w^hen
Mr. Robinson and Mr. Hall purchased the interest of the other members
of the firm and continued the business alone until the death of Mr. Robin-
son. From the beginning the enterprise proved successful and they annu-
ally handled large quantities of grain, making extensive shipments and
profitable sales. They had offices in the board of trade building and the
business has since the death of Mr. Robinson been continued, the firm being
now known as the Hall-Baker Grain Company.

i\Ir. Robinson was married in the east, in 1885, to Miss Hannah E.
Hogan, a native of New York city, and a daughter of Roderick Hogan, a
manufacturer of New York city during the greater part of his life. He was
ver\' successful and following his retirement he spent his remaining days at
his home in Mount Vernon, New York. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Robinson were
born four children; Graham, now twenty-one years- of age, and a graduate
of the Yale University, makes his home with his mother but at the present
writing, in 1908, is in Texas, learning the lumber business with the pur-
pose of devoting his time and energies to that department of trade. Ara-
bella is a student in Wellesley College. John H. and Elizabeth are attend-
ing school in Kansas City. The mother is giving to her children excellent
educational advantages, realizing the value of this as a preparation for life.

The death of the husband and father occurred November 23, 1902. In
the previous year his health failed and he traveled quite extensively, hoping to
be benefited thereby, but without avail. He gave his political .support to the re-
publican party at the polls but was not an active worker in its ranks and never
an office seeker. In the east he belonged to a number of leading clubs and soci-
eties in New York city and in Kansas City held membership in the Country
Club. Both he and his wife are consistent members and generous support-
ers of the First Presbyterian church here. In 1899 Mr. Robinson pur-



136 HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY

chased a handsome residence at No. 600 East Thirty-sixth street, where his
widow now resides. He Avas recognized as one of the prominent and pros-
perous business men here and gained many friends who recognize and
appreciate his many sterhng traits of character. Successful in business, his
path was never strewn with the wreck of other men's fortunes but was
carved out in harmony with the mo.st honorable principles.



CLARENCE JAMES FLETCHER.

Clarence James Fletcher, late vice president and secretary of the C. J.
Fletcher Grocery Company of Kansas City, w^as born in Toronto, Canada,
April 9, 1863. His father, Thomas A. Fletcher, was a descendant of the
famous English poet of that name. He came from England to America before
the day of steamboat navigation and located in Toronto. In 1870 he became
a resident of St. Joseph, Missouri, where he Avas engaged in the coal business
until his death. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Caroline Brown and
was a native of Ohio, is also now deceased.

Accompanying his parents on their removal to St. Joseph when but seven
years of age, Clarence James Fletcher was educated in the public schools of
that city and w^hen only thirteen years of age put aside his text-books to enter
business life, becoming an employe of the Townsend-Wyatt Dry Goods Com-
pany of St. Joseph. Mr. Townsend w-as also interested in the Sommer-
Richardson Cracker Company of St. Joseph, now a branch of the National
Biscuit Company. After seven years' service with the dry-goods company
Mr. Fletcher was transferred to the other company to look after Mr. Town-
send's interests there and so continued until 1886. He was thus for ten years
in the employ of one man, his capability and trustworthiness winning him
recognition in successive promotions until in 1886, when he resigned with the
intention of establishing an independent business. In that year he went to
Wichita, Kansas, whore he established a grocery business, conducting two
stores until 1898. On the 31st of August of the latter year he arrived in Kan-
sas City and established the Fletcher Candy Company, now the Fletcher Con-
fectionery Company. He was active in its successful management until Janu-
ary, 1905, when he disposed of his holdings in that company and jDurchased
an interest in the R. II. Williams Grocery Company, of which he became vice
president and secretary. The niiiiio was then changed to the C. J. Fletcher
Grocery Company and from that time until his death Mr. Fletcher gave un-
divided attention to the management of this business, which is today one of
the largest retail grocery enterprises of the city, doing business at Nos. 1114-16
Grand avenue. He also established six branch stores and thus conducted a
very extensive business but disposed of two of these shortly prior to his demise.
Mr. Fletcher was very prominent in business circles and was highly esteemed
as a man (tf unsullied reputation based upon his integrity and marked ability.
He attained a success unusual for a man of his years, for he was yet in the



HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY 137

prime of life when he passed away on the loth of September, 1907, at the age
of forty-four, his death resulting after a week's illness of peritonitis.

Mr. Fletcher had been married on the 8th of October, 1884, to Miss Carrie
Hastings, who was then a student in the University of Kansas at Lawrence,
in which city the wedding ceremony w^as performed. Mrs. Fletcher is a daugh-
ter of Samuel Hastings, a prominent grain merchant of Fairfield, Iowa, and
an early settler of that place, having removed there from Ohio when a young
man. Mr. Fletcher was a member of the First Church of Christ, to which
Mrs. Fletcher still belongs. He was survived by his widow and also two
brothers, Fred and Arthur Fletcher, wdio are residents of Chicago.

Such in brief was the life record of Clarence James Fletcher but those
who knew him recognized him as more than a sucessful business man — a man
who thoroughly enjoyed home life and took great pleasure in the society of
his family and friends. He was always courteous, kindly and affable and
those who knew him personally had for him warm regard. Possessed of much
natural ability, his success in business from the beginning of his residence in
Kansas City was uniform and rapid. Starting out for himself at an early
age, he quickly developed self-reliance and an independence of character which
were strong factors in his later prosperity. His death therefore was the oc-
casion of deep and widespread regret: among his contemporaries in business
life because of the respect which they entertained for his ability and integrity ;
in the city because he was loyal to the interests promoted for public welfare;
and in social life because he possessed those traits of character which awaken
strong friendship and kindly esteem.



SMITH D. WOODS.

Among those who by reason of the i:)Ossession of some particular traits
of character, or the accomplishment of certain tasks, have advanced beyond
their fellowmen into that class who are termed the prominent citizens of a
community, was numbered Smith D. AVoods, who figured in Kansas City as a
capitalist and successful merchant. He w^as also mayor of the city and his
influence upon the public life was always along lines of improvement and
advancement. Born upon a farm in Indiana not far from the Ohio state line,
December 2, 1830, he was a son of Samuel and Mary (Carroll) Woods, the
latter a representative of a prominent old Carroll family of Maryland. The
father was a farmer throughout his entire life, carrying on agricultual pur-
suits in Indiana to the time of his death, which occurred when his son, Smith,
was but ten years of age.

The boy was then reared in the state of his nativity by his elder brother,
who also bore the name of Samuel Woods, and who was a West Point graduate,
serving in the Mexican war as aide-de-camp to General Winfield Scott. He
acquired a good, practical English education in the public schools and remained
with his brother until 1858, when he came to the west, becoming one of the
early residents of Leavenworth, Kansas, where as a pioneer merchant he



138 HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY

formed a partnership with William Abernathy and opened a furniture store,
where they successfully conducted business until 1870, when Mr. Woods dis-
posed of his interest there and removed to Kansas City. Here he formed a
partnership in the furniture business with Colonel J. L. Abernathy and carried
on commercial pursuits in that line for eight years. He then sold his interest
to his partner and the Abernathy Furniture Company, which w^as then organ-
ized, is today in control of one of the best furniture stores of the city. Mr.
Woods retired from that field of activity with the intention of putting aside
business cares altogether, but indolence and idleness w^ere utterly foreign to
his nature and he found pleasure in the supervision of his investments. He
w^as interested in mining stock in Kansas and was also the owner of much
valuable real estate in Kansas City. He was, however, no longer bound down
by the ties of commercial life, but found leisure for those pursuits which con-
tributed to his welfare and happiness.

In 1857 Mr. Woods was married in Richmond, Indiana, to ]\Iiss Frances
Landon, wdio was born near Burlington, Vermont, was of English lineage and
a daughter of L. E. Landon, a member of a very prominent family of the
New England states. Her father always made his home in Vermont and
Massachusetts and through the careful conduct of his business interests be-
came very wealthy, so that he lived retired in his later years. He died in ^lassa-
chusetts when Mrs. Woods was but fourteen years of age. The year follow-
ing their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Woods removed to Leavenworth, Kansas, and
her sister, Miss Louise Landon, went there to live w'ith them, but soon after-
ward she made the acquaintance of David J. Brewer, then a young attorney
but now a justice of the supreme court of the United States, and to him she
gave her hand in marriage. The w^armest attachment always existed between
the Brewer and the Woods families and in their frequent visits to Washing-
ton Mr. and Mrs. Woods formed the acquaintance of many of the distinguished
statesmen of the country, including President Benjamin Harrison, wlio was
a classmate of Mr. Woods. He was also a personal friend of George W. Julian
and Ex-Governor L. P. Morton.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Woods were born two children, but Ella died in
Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1865. The other daughter, Mary L., is now the only
surviving member of the family. The father's death occurred December 28,
1888, while Mrs. Woods made her home in Kansas City until her own demise
on the 2d of December, 1907. She was a woman of charming personality and
many social characteristics, who was widely and favoral)ly known in Kansas
City. She became a pioneer member of Grace Episcopal church and was very
devoted to the church throughout her remaining days.

Mr. AVoods figured prominently and actively in political circles in Kansas
City as a leader of tlic democratic party and in 1874 was elected mayor, which
position he filled for two years. He was a nieniljcr of the Masonic fraternity
and attained the Knights Templar degree. He was the friend of every pioneer
and |))ominent business man of Kansas City and was well known throughout
the state. His business affairs were so capably tnanag('(l that he attained
wealth and his methods were .so honorable tliat the most envious could not
grudge him his success. He left tlie impress of liis individuality upon pu1)lic



HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY 139

life, upon the welfare of the city, upon its commercial development and also
upon those with whom he came in contact. He was a man of strong and
forceful character, who placed a correct valuation upon life and its opportuni-
ties and his personal worth was indicated by the fact that many distinguished
men were glad to call him friend. ^liss Mary L. AVoods occupies the old family
residence, which is a beautiful home at No. 1720 Penn street. When her
parents came to Kansas City this district was known as Cook's pasture, but it
is now in the center of a residence portion adorned with many palatial homes.



JUDGE WILLARD PREBLE HALL.

Judge Willard Preble Hall, widely recognized as one of the most dis-
tinguished lawyers of Missouri and one of the active forces in democratic
politics, has exerted an influence that has been as beneficial as it is far-
reaching. He is accounted the peer of the best thinking men of the age and
may well be classed with Kansas City's most distinguished citizens.

He was born September 19, 1851, at St. Joseph, Missouri, his father
being Governor Willard P. Hall, of Missouri. The ancestral history can be
traced back to the year 1634, when a widow and several sons settled at Med-
ford, Massachusetts. From one son, who married Majorie Davis, a niece of
Simon Willard, Judge Hall is descended. The name Willard has been
given to many other descendants in different generations. The great-grand-
father, Stephen Hall, who was a tutor at Harvard, wedded Mary Holt, a
widow and a daughter of Deacon Cotton, of Portland, Maine, where they
lived subsequent to their marriage. His son, John Hall, was a mechanic
and inventor and for many years was superintendent of the government
armory at Harper's Ferry. Being a government employe, the government
would issue him no patents, although he brought forth a number of valu-
able inventions, one of which. Hall's carbine, was the first breech-loading
gun placed upon the market. John Hall was united in marriage to Statira
Preble, of Portland, Maine, a daughter of Isaiah Preble and a sister of Wil-
liam Pitt Preble.

Willard Preble Hall, son of John Hall and father of Judge Hall, was
a graduate of Yale University of the class of 1839 and in 1840 became a
resident of Missouri, settling in Randolph county. He became one of the
most distinguished and prominent men of the state and became war gover-
nor of the state in 1864 upon the death of Governor Gamball. He wedded
Anne Richardson, a daughter of Major W. P. Richardson, w^ho came from
Kentucky late in the thirties and was a noted whig politician, at one time
serving as Indian agent at a post in Kansas. Unto Governor and Mr.s. Hall
were born four children, three sons and one daughter.

Entering the public schools of his native city, Willard P. Hall, Jr.,
passed through successive grades until he had completed the high school



Online LibraryCarrie Westlake WhitneyKansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 2) → online text (page 13 of 65)