Carrie Westlake Whitney.

Kansas City, Missouri : its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 1) online

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Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center



Its History and Its People




Its History and Its People




Col. R. T. Van Horn

Rev. William J. Dalton

Sen. William Warner

John C. Gage

E. M. Clendening

Frances Logan

O. Van Millett

Dr. James M. Greenwood
J. V. C. Karnes
Joseph L. Norman
Milton Moore
William H. Winants
Mrs. William B. Thayer
Frances A. Bishop


Vol. I









This volume as indicated by the title, "Kansas City. Missouri: it- his-
tory and its people," is an attempt to give the characteristics of the people
who made Kansas City and further to record the more important events that
have made for the development of the city.

The History of Kansas City will give the people a better appreciation
of the motto of the Commercial Club, viz. : "Make Kansas City a Good
Place to Live In," which originated with Mr. Frank A. Faxon. As the rec-
ord of events in the growth of the city unfolds year by year, it may be inter-
esting to note the hand that gave the master strokes here and there, toward
the accomplishment of the spirit of this motto.

The finality of Western history still lies in the distance. The many
documents on the explorations, settlements and developments of the Western
states simply attest future possibilities of the West. The AVestern element
knows no note of decadence. The glowing ambition of youth always will
predominate in this Western atmosphere.

By the generous encouragement of the people of Kansas City, my work
has been greatly facilitated. For chapters on special subjects I am indebted
to those better fitted from their various positions to do the subjects justice.

Referring to chapters on special subjects, may be noted the complete
data on the Latter Day Saints, which was recorded by Mr. Frederick M.
Smith of Independence, president of the Latter Day Saints. The chapter
on railroads in Kansas City was given by Mr. E. S. Jewett. Mr. Jewett was
the first ticket agent to open an office in Kansas City, coming here in 1867.
Mr. E. R. Crutcher, president of the real estate exchange, contributed the
excellent material on realty. Two valuable papers, one on Public Utilities
and another on The City Charters, place the author under great obligations
to Mr. Dante Barton.

In the chapter on Civic Associations, the data relating to the Manu-
facturers' and Merchants' club was received from the secretary. Mr. Justin
A. Runyan; the Business Men's league from Mr. D. M. Bone, secretary: the
Civic league from Mr. A. 0. Harrison: and the Commercial club from the


secretary, Mr. E. M. Clendening. Credit is here given to Mr. Edmond D.
Bigelow, secretary of the Board of Trade, for information on the Board of
Trade. The sketch of Convention Hall is used by permission of Miss S. M.

The complete history of education in Kansas City no one conld better
write than onr worthy superintendent, Dr. J. M. Greenwood. For the com-
pilation on church history, I have drawn fully from articles previously
written. Credit is due to Rev. Father Dalton for the article on the Catholic
church; to Bishop Hendrix for that on the Methodist Episcopal church
(South); to the late Rev. J. O'B. Lowry for the Baptist denomination; to
the late Dr. Henry Hopkins for the Congregational ; for the Presbyterian
denomination to Rev. John B. Hill ; and for the Universalist church to Rev.
Mary E. Andrews.

Mr. George F. Damon in his position as superintendent of the Asso-
ciated Charities, made every effort to gather together the historical sketches
of the many charitable organizations and due credit is hereby given him ;
also to Mr. Jacob Billikopf for the data on Jewish charities. No one in our
city is more competent to tell of the fine park system and of the beautiful
boulevards and parks of Kansas City, than the president of the Park Board,
Mr. Franklin Hudson. The history of the art movements of Kansas City
was written by Mrs. E. R. Weeks, one of our public spirted women who has
always been associated with the art movements in Kansas City. The article
on the Museum was written by Miss Mabel Green. Miss Anna C. Gilday's
forte in ''doing things thoroughly,'' is shown in her excellent work on
AVomen*s Clubs. Miss Elizabeth Butler Gentry collected the notes on Social
Life from the descendants of the early families of the towns of Independence,
Westport and Kansas City, and I am indebted to her for an exceedingly inter-
esting chapter.

Relative to authorities consulted, I do not present a complete biblio-
graphical list, but only mention those of the greatest importance. The list
of the most important works consulted is appended.

I have not scrupled to quote at length from "Commerce of the Prairie"
by Josiah Gregg, as the author was far more capable, in his graphic style,
of describing the Western country in the early days.

The valuable set of the Encyclopaedia of the history of Missouri and
the admirable volumes of the Kansas Historical Society publications are in
themselves a mine of information.

Albach. J. R. Annals of the West.

Barns, C. R. Commonwealth of Missouri.

Billon, F. L. Annals of St. Louis.

Bone, D. M. Kansas City annals.


Boone County, History of.

Brackenridge, H. M. Journal up the Missouri, 1811.

Campbell, R. A. Gazetteer of Missouri, 1875.

Case, Theodore. History of Kansas City, Missouri.

Central Magazine.

Ohanute, 0. and G. Morrison. Kansas City bridge.

Chappell, Phil. History of the Missouri river.

Chittenden, H. M. American fur trades of the far West.

History of early steamboat navigation on the Missouri river.

Coues, Elliott. Forty years a fur trader on the. Upper Missouri.

Dalton, W. J. Historical sketches of Kansas City.

Davis, W. B. and D. S. Durrie. History of Missouri.

De Sonet, Father. Life and letters.

Doniphan's expedition.

Donohue, James. Greater Kansas City year book, 1904-a.

Encyclopaedia of the history of Missouri.

Gilpin, William. Central gold region.

Gregg, Josiah. Commerce of the Prairie.

Howard County, History of.

Howe, Henry. Historical collections of the Great West.

Inman, Henry. Old Santa Fe Trail. First Edition. 1881.

Irving, Washington. Astoria.

Tours on the Prairie.

Jackson County. History of, to 1881.

Kansas State Historical Society collections.

Leftwich, W. M. Martyrdom of Missouri.

Lewis and Clark, Journals.

McCoy, J. G. Cattle Trade.

Miller. W. H. History of Kansas City to 1881.

Paxton. W. M. Platte County annals to 1897.

Peck, J. M. Annals of the West.

Perkins, J. H. Annals of the West.

Platte County, History of, to 1885.

Scharf, J. T. St. Louis City and County.

Schoolcraft, H. R. Journal of a tour into the interior of Missouri and

Switzler. W. F. History of Missouri.

Trickett, W. P. Railroad systems of Kansas City. 1857-1000.
Western History, Magazine of.
Wetmore. Alphonso. Gazetteer of Missouri, 1837.

Mrs. Carcte Westlake Wiiitxey.
































Chapter XVI











Chapter XXII















Chapter XXX

At the Kaw's Mouth 19

Independence and Westport 32

' Zion" Redeemed 63

The Town of Kansas 88

Hills and Hollows Transposed 109

The Levee Outgrown 125

On the Road to Santa Fe 149

Civil War Period 179

The New Era 204

Banking and Finance 235

The Story of the Railroads 246

Realty in Kansas City 260

The Public Utilities 269

The Civic Associations 284

Education 302

Free Public Library 349

The Press 364

Churches 402

Charities 446

The Legal and Medical Professions 465

The Great Industries 481

Federal Department in Kansas City 493

The Newer City 504

Revival of River Transportation 526

The City Charters 538

Parks and Boulevards 569

Art Movements in Kansas City 596

Women's Clubs 616

Social Life 641

Kansas City in Prophecy 663

Appendix 671


Chapter I. — At the Kaw's Mouth.

Portrait of James Bridger 25

Portrait of Pierre Chouteau 18

Portrait of Father de Smet 29

Keelboat in the Fur Trade 33

Indian Bullboat 23

Pioneer Steamboat, 1820-30 33

Chapter II. — Independence and Westport.

Old Westport City Hall 61

Colonel Doniphan's Army 45

Portrait of L. W. Boggs 57

Portrait of Isaac and Christiana McCoy 57

Portrait of Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan 41

Independence Female College 53

Two-Story Brick Depot of Independence and Wavne City Railroad, Built

in 1848 49

Early Map of Westport, 1855 37

Chapter III. — "Zion" Redeemed.

The "Mormon Bible" 65

From the Mormon Bible 71

Chapter IV.— The Town of Kansas.

Old Chick Homestead 89

Walnut Street Between Sixth and Ninth Streets 105

Home of James McGee, First Brick House in Jackson County 93

McGee's Hotel on Grand Avenue 99

Chapter V. — Hills and Hollows Transposed.

"Petticoat Lane," Eleventh Street Between Main and Grand Ill

Main Street Looking South from Twelfth 115

Grand Avenue, North from Twelfth 125

"The Grade" in Kansas City 110

Wyandotte Street, from Third to the River 114

Baltimore Avenue, from Ninth to Eleventh, in 1S90 118

Old E. D. Parson's Homestead, Eighth and Cherry, 1867 119

Chapter VI. — The Levee Outgrown.

City Hall 147

Main Street, North from Missouri Avenue, 1867 139

Main Street, North from Tenth, 1867 135

Kansas City in 1852 126

Old Gillis House 131

Kansas City, 1869. Topographical map 143

Kansas City in 1855 I 27

Chapter VII.— On the Road to Santa Fe.

Advertisement of Santa Fe Trail from Journal of 1858 166

Santa Fe Trail Markers 1 58 > 1 59 > 16 l

Fort Zarah 167

Indian Alarm on the Cimarron River 155

Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Fe 1-55

Pawnee Rock l 6 '^

Santa Fe Trail Marker in Pennsylvaia Valley Park, Kansas City, Mo 159

Santa Fe Stage Company Building, Second and Main 171

Pack Train to Santa Fe, 1S20 J J"

Santa Fe Terminus of Old Santa Fe Trail 151

Portrait of Josiah Gregg ]'°

Map of old Santa Fe Trail lo °"



Chapter VIII.— Civil War Period.

Portrait of General Sterling Price 197

Fort Union 201

Chapter IX.— The New Era.

Main Street Looking North from Eleventh Street 205

Ninth and Main Streets, Showing Junction Building 217

The Great Bend in the Missouri River, from an Old Print 213

The Old Exposition Building 225

Fire Department 209

Chapter X. — Banking and Finance.

First National Bank 241

Chapter XI. — The Story of the Railroads.

Map Showing Kansas City as a Transportation Center 247

Kansas City Bridge, 1869 253

Building Kansas City Bridge, 1868 257

Chapter XIII.— The Public Utilities.

Elevator for Raising and Lowering of Teams, Inter-City Viaduct 277

Chapter XV. — Education.

Central High School 335

Westport High School 339

Manual Training High School 343

Washington School 307

Humboldt School 303

Franklin School 311

Lincoln School 315, 319, 323

Morse School 331

Woodland School 327, 331

Norman School 347

Benton School 343

Map Showing Growth of School District 338

Chapter XVI.— The Free Public Library.

Westport Branch Library 351

Public Library 351

Chapter XVII.— The Press.

Kansas City Star Building 387

Kansas City Star Paper Mill 387

Octuple Hoe Press, Kansas City Star 389

Journal Building 369

Photograph of R. T. Van Horn 373

Photograph of William Rockhill Nelson 381

Chapter XVIII.— Churches.

Institutional Church 415

St. Paul's Episcopal Church 427

M. E. Church, South Mt. Washington 427

St. Francis Regis Church, First Catholic Church in Kansas City 405

Day Nursery Dining Room of Institutional Church 415

Chapter XX. — Legal and Medical Professions.

Jackson County Courthouse 467

Chapter XXL— The Great Industries.

Live Stock Exchange Building 487

Trading Pit in Board of Trade 491

Plankinton & Armour Plant 483

Exchange Building, 1871 483


Chapter XXII. — Federal Department in Kansas City.

Old Federal Building 495

New Federal Building 499

Chapter XXIII.— The Newer City.

Willis Wood Theater 515

Shubert Theater 511

National Bank of Commerce 505

Convention Hall 521

Chapter XXIV. — Revival of River Transportation.

Snag Boat "Suter" 535

Arrival of the Lora, 1906 531

Portrait of Lawrence M. Jones 531

Portrait of E. C. Ellis 527

The Tennessee 535

Chapter XXVI. — Parks and Boulevards.

Parade 593

Cliff Drive 571

Valentine Road 587

Penn Valley Park 575

Pergola on the Paseo 581

Park and Boulevard System 570

Kersey Coates Terrace 587

North Terrace Park 581

Chapter XXVII. — Art Movements in Kansas City.

Portrait of George C. Bingham 603

Order No. 11 607

Kersey Coates Terrace, Before Grading 611

Kersey Coates Terrace, After Grading 611

Chapter XXVIII.— Women's Clubs.

Portrait of Mrs. J. C. Horton 617

Chapter XXIX.— Social Life.

Fashions in Kansas City in Early Days 643

Chapter XXX. — Kansas City in Prophecy.

William Gilpin's Prophetic Map, 1859 667



Its History and Its People



It has been conceded since the earliest times that climate, soil and
natural surroundings have vast importance in shaping the history of states.
What is true of nations is even more true of cities. There is a good reason
why every great metropolis is where it is. The physical conditions that sur-
round a city — the rivers, seas, valleys, hills and plains — determine its great-

In ancient and mediaeval times when "might made right," the clans
and tribes of the Old World sought the fastnesses of the hills where all ap-
proaches might be guarded, the more easily to defend themselves from the
attacks of their enemies. Changing conditions later developed systems of
barter and trade, and men devoted themselves more to commercial pursuits
and less to strife and warfare. In the New World adventure developed com-
merce and trade demanded means of transportation. Rivers and lakes, the
highways of nature, solved the problem. The location of settlements, vil-
lages and cities, in pioneer days, was determined largely by the blue strips
of water in the form of rivers or lakes.

Travel in the early days by boat, horseback or stage required stopping
places for man and beast. In consequence settlements were established on
river banks, in foothills, in valleys and on the plains where necessity required
rest and refreshment for the travelers. These natural stopping places be-
came commercial centers that developed into towns and cities. Trading
posts, as some of the centers were called, attracted a thrifty class of people.
Prosperous merchants, through their desire for better conditions of living,
brought together various classes of tradespeople and mechanics, and in this
manner progressive communities were formed.

Kansas City, of all the great inland cities of America, is the most fortu-
nately situated. A river, having a carrying capacity equal to one hundred
railroads, flows past its port in an endless stream. For her tributary ter-


ritory Kansas City has the great Southwest, an exceedingly fertile region.
The center of the national domain, as demonstrated by William Gilpin in
his discussion of "The Cosmopolitan Railway," is one hundred and twenty
miles west of Kansas City. The author and philosopher discovered these
interesting facts :

"If from a point where the junction of several small streams forms
the Kansas river, 120 miles due west from the Missouri as a center, a circle
be described touching the boundary line of 49 as a tangent, the opposite
circumference of the circle will pass through the seaport of Matagorda, in
Texas, through New Orleans and Mobile. This point is, therefore, the cen-
tre between the northern and southern boundaries of our country. If from
the same center a larger circle be described, it will pass through San Fran-
cisco, and through Vancouver City, on the Columbia, grazing almost the en-
tire coast between them. The same circle will pass through Quebec and Bos-
ton on the Atlantic, through Havana on the Gulf, and through the city of
Mexico. The same point is then the center between the oceans.

"Thus at the forks of the Kansas river a point exists, in latitude 38° 45',
and longitude 97° west of Greenwich, which is the geographical center-
north and south, east and west — not only of the Mississippi basin, but of our
entire national domain."

In the early days of Kansas City, the Missouri river and its tributaries
drew from the mountains, hills and plains the riches supplied by nature
for the use of the pioneers of commerce. From the distant regions of the
Rocky mountains, where outposts had been established, down the treacherous
waters of the Missouri, came small craft laden with furs to be sold to trad-
ers at the Kaw's mouth. The fearless boatmen in the employ of the fur
traders were the tentacles that reached out into the wilderness and brought
forth its riches. To these traders, hunters, trappers and boatmen, Kansas
City owes its beginning. The shrewd commercial instincts of the early
pioneers led them to realize the geographical value of the site at the con-
fluence of the Missouri and Kaw rivers as a location for a trading center.

The importance of the fur trade as a factor in the colonization of the
great West, must be appreciated to understand the beginning and develop-
ment of Kansas City. To the Spanish explorer the gold and other precious
metals of the South country brought reward, but no less profitable was the
traffic in furs carried on by the early French settlers and English adven-

From Louisiana up the Mississippi river came hunters and trappers in
the employ of the trading firm whose junior partner was Pierre Laclede
Liguest, known as Laclede, this company having, in 1762, obtained from
the Governor-general of Louisiana exclusive control of the trade with the



Indian tribes as far north as St. Peter's river. The fur trade extended from
New York to Montreal, through Canada into the Northwest.

The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 opened a new and wonderfully rich
territory for the traffic of pelts. Transportation was afforded by means of
Indian canoes, keelboats and other small river craft. The new acquisition
included the great water shed of the Missouri river and a large part of the
Western country. It was known throughout the Lewis and Clark expedition
that this wilderness abounded in fur-producing animals.

John Jacob Astor was not slow to perceive the possibilities of the fur
trade in the new territory. He organized the American Fur company in
1808 in New York, and established the Pacific Fur company in 1810. The
fur trade along the Missouri river, however, was largely controlled by the
Chouteaus. Chouteau is a name familiar in the annals of the West. The
members of this French family were noted for their business foresight and
their ability to deal successfully with the Indians. Auguste Chouteau, head
of the family and one of the founders of St. Louis, was born in New Orleans,
August 14, 1750. His brother, Pierre, with whom he was associated in the
development of the fur trade in the Missouri river valley, was six years
younger. With St. Louis as the base of operations, the Chouteaus extended
their fur traffic west to the Kaw river and into the wilderness beyond.

Increase in the volume of fur trade and the demand for more sys-
tematic business methods led the Chouteaus and several associates to organ-
ize the Missouri Fur company in 1808. After several years of intense rivalry
between this company and the American Fur company, the two firms were
merged in 1813.

In an effort to monopolize the fur trade of the West, in 1821 the Amer-
ican Fur Company sent Francois Chouteau, son of Pierre Chouteau, into this
territory to establish new trading posts and to bring independent fur traders
into subordination to the larger firm. A location was desired that would
be accessible to the greatest number of trading points reached by river craft and
by overland transportation. With the good judgment that characterized the
Chouteaus, Francois discerned that a position near the junction of the Missouri
and Kaw rivers would be the most desirable and he chose a site in the Missouri
river bottom, opposite Randolph bluffs, about three miles down stream from
Kansas City. He brought with him about thirty active men, couriers as the
French called them, with whom he was able to concentrate at the central depot
the trade of the Tran-Mississippi country. The family of Francois Chouteau
came from St. Louis in canoes and pirogues, the journey requiring twenty
days. Francois Chouteau's younger brother, Cyprian, came to the central
agency in the following year and established a trading post on the north bank
of the Kaw river near the site of Bonner Springs, and the post became known


as "Four Houses." It derived this name from the fact that the defense con-
sisted of four log houses arranged so as to inclose a square court.

Misfortune came to Francois Chouteau in 1826 when a flood in the
Missouri river washed away his warehouse. The merchandise and peltry
saved from the flood were taken to the "Four Houses" post on the Kaw
river. Later Chouteau rebuilt his warehouse farther up the Missouri river
on higher ground, included afterwards in Guinotte's addition to Kansas
City. This second station was the celebrated "Chouteau's warehouse" of the
early traders. Francois Chouteau subsequently entered the land upon which
his warehouse stood and he lived there until his death in 1840. Again, in
1844, a flood destroyed Chouteau's warehouse. The family then gave up fur
trading and. engaged in other business.

Descendants of some of the Frenchmen who had been followers of
Laclede and others of the same class living in the wilderness joined the
Chouteaus at the mouth of the Kaw, shortly after the flood of 1826, and
formed a settlement of several dozen families. The French traders were a
people of peculiar traits. Thy possessed mild vivacity and gaiety and were

Online LibraryCarrie Westlake WhitneyKansas City, Missouri : its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 59)