Kansas Indians live at the meeting place of
the Kansas and Missouri rivers. They speak a
Siouan language and number about 1,600. They
live in pole-frame lodges covered with bark,
cultivate corn, pumpkins, beans and melons,
and hunt buffalo twice a year. They also hunt
beaver, otter and deer.
1700s - French
and other explorers ascend the Missouri River,
hoping to trade with New Mexico, find precious
metals and exchange goods with the natives.
1724 - French
officer Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont passes
the area on his way to visit the grand village
of the Kansas Indians.
1804 - Lewis
and Clark and their Corps of Discovery stops
"at the upper point of the mouth of the river
Kanzas" on June 26th, remaining for 3 days.
1806 - The
Lewis and Clark expedition climbs the bluffs
on September 15th on its way back to St. Louis.
The men shoot an elk and pick custard apples.
1820s - Area
Indians have left the region as the result
of a treaty.
1821 - Beaver-felt
hats are all the rage in Europe, commanding
a handsome price. 21-year-old Francois Gesseau
Chouteau, a French fur trader, his teenage
bride Bereniece, and several other employees
of the American Fur Company, establish a trading
post. The place is called Kawsmouth. Chouteau
writes to his uncle describing the perils
of life at "Riviere des Kans." By the
1820s, Chouteau has set up his headquarters
there. The area becomes known as Chouteau's
of the hardy French Canadian and Creole trappers
have native wives -- Flathead, Cree, Gros Ventre,
Kickapoo, and Sioux. Their mixed-blood children
will be called metis, a people "in
never more than the home of a few dozen families,
the French settlement at Kawsmouth is the
center of an immense trade.
1823 - German duke, Paul Wilhelm, visits Kawsmouth. He finds
18-year-old Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the
son of Lewis and Clark's guide, Sacajawea,
1825 - Cyprien
and Frederick have both joined their brother
Francois. Together they establish satellite
trading posts up the Kansas River.
1826 - The
town suffers in a devastating flood. The Chouteau's
post and home are flooded, forcing them to
move to higher ground. The new house is built
on the river bluff.
1827 - James
Hyatt McGee, his wife, and about a dozen children
bring the first slaves to western Missouri.
1828 - After
the Osage tribe cedes rights to the future
Jackson County, U.S. pioneers begin pouring
in. A land office opens and soon Anglo names
soon overshadow the French in the plat books.
McGee buys 320 acres near Chouteau's warehouse.
In 10 years his holdings will have tripled.
1830 - The
Indian Removal Act brings the Shawnees, the
Delawares, and the Wyandots to the area. The
Miamis, the Ottawas, the Kickapoos, the Potawatomis,
the Weas and Peorias, the Iowas and the Sacs
and Foxes also show up. The "emigrant Indians"
will bring with them enormous buying power.
McCoy, a Baptist missionary and surveyor,
is hired by the secretary of war to survey
a boundary for the Delaware Indians who are
soon to immigrate to the new Indian territory
west of Missouri. He takes 2 of his sons,
Rice and John Calvin as well as 2 other white
men as chain carriers and a black man as cook.
Calvin will first meet Methodist minister
Thomas Johnson at Frederick Chouteau's trading
by a group of Shawnee, Virginian Thomas Johnson
establishes a Methodist mission several miles
inside Indian Territory. He will use slaves,
to the dismay of the Quakers.
1831 - Another
group of Shawnee request a Baptist missionary.
Isaac McCoy, a Baptist missionary and surveyor,
begins a mission with Johnston Lykins, his
daughter Delilah's husband, near the edge
of the ridge overlooking Turkey Creek.
Gabriel Prudhomme is killed in a brawl, leaving
a pregnant wife, 6 children, a riverfront
farm fronting the natural rock landing (for
which he had paid $340), and a ferryboat.
James McGee has designs on the property.
1832 - New
York writer Washington Irving, traveling with
a party that includes Paul Liguest Chouteau
and J.H.B. Latrobe, visits the Chouteau's
house. He will later write A Tour on
the Prairies, which will help solidify
the romantic image of the West.
of the Delawares die after drinking so much
Prudhomme is born. She will grow up to marry
Milton J. Payne, Kansas City's third mayor.
1833 - Priest
Benedict Roux arrives at Kawsmouth. The Chouteaus
support his efforts to build a church.
an eye on the Indian annuities and the Santa
Fe traders on their way from Independence,
college-educated surveyor John Calvin McCoy
returns to Jackson County and acquires land
near his father Isaac's house. He goes into
business with J.P. Hickman and J.H. Flourney.
natural rock ledge hugs the water's edge and
makes a small riverfront area. Isaac and Calvin
McCoy own a flat-bottomed ferry that uses
the ledge for a dock.
1834 - Father
Roux's log church is built--the town's first--with
funds from the extended Chouteau family. Its
name is St. Francis Regis but most people
call it "Chouteau's church." Roux will run
afoul of Chouteau's wife Berenice when he
preaches against the popular weekly dances
the French community holds.
steamboat John Hancock arrives
at the rock ledge landing with goods for Calvin
McCoy's store. Then McCoy transports the goods
4 miles south to his store.
McCoy purchases land from Dr. Johnston Lykins
and founds the town of West Port on one of
the roads running southwest from Independence.
He has the help of a black man named Tom who
is a slave. A post office is established at
West Port with McCoy as postmaster. He has
trouble inducing anyone to move to his town,
however. Between the visits of customers--business
is slow--he and Tom have time to clear away
the dense brush and vines from the land. A
road is cut to the new town from the Chouteau
warehouse on the Missouri River.
1835 - John
Calvin McCoy files a plat for a 9-square block
which is a portal to the western wilderness.
He and 13 other men buy 271 acres which hold
a natural levee and boat landing. He calls
it "Westport Landing." It is 4 miles inland
from Chouteau's Landing on the river, and
shortens the land route that goods have to
travel from the river to Westport outfitter's
stations. Independence, 10 miles to the east,
is the main outfitting center.
1837 - The
Society of Friends (Quakers) begins its own
McGee has accumulated 1,000 acres in Jackson
County and lusts after the Prudhomme property.
order of the court puts the Prudhomme property
up for sale. It is duly advertised in St.
Louis and Liberty newspapers:
of the best Steamboat Landings on the River...."
1838 - McGee
secures the role of auctioneer, selling the
Prudhomme land to a stranger in town, Abraham
Fonda. It's July 7th. An immediate uproar
ensues with McGee accused of collusion with
Fonda and paltry proceeds for the Prudhomme
heirs. The courts set the sale aside and another
sale is ordered for November 14th. A group
of 14 investors under the leadership of the
wealthy St. Louis fur trader William Sublette,
and calling itself the Town of Kansas Company,
puts in the successful bid of $4,220 (Fonda's
bid had been $1,8000). McCoy is one of the
other enterprising capitalists. Fonda is also
one of the partners--it's his idea to make
a town, his heart set on naming it "Port Fonda."
But the majority of the other proprietors
don't like him, so they refuse to allow it.
"Kawsmouth" is considered and rejected along
with "Rabbitville" and "Possum-trot." They
call it "Town of Kansas (or Kanzas)" because
no one can think of anything better.
John Sutter slinks out of Westport on a pony,
leaving his debts behind. He rides west.
Chouteau dies and is buried in St. Louis.
He leaves Bereniece and 8 children. Madame
Chouteau will live another 50 years, outliving
all of her children and most of her friends.
1839 - Johnson
moves his mission close to the Missouri border,
expanding his influence to an area of 2,240
1840s - Steamboat
traffic on the Missouri increases. The settlement
begins to grow as a river port. Calvin McCoy's
rock landing and the town overtake Independence
as the principal outfitting point for the
Santa Fe trade.
immigrant Dr. Benoist Troost arrives early
in the decade with his wife.
Wyandot tribe owns and operates a ferry across
the Kansas (Kaw) River. They found the area
as a town in 1843.
1842 - A
national depression hits Missouri hard. Prices
plummet and foreclosures and bankruptcies
1843 - Kentucky
farmer Richard Wornall buys a 500-acre farm
from John C. McCoy. He will bring his wife
and son John to the farm from Kentucky in
1844 - The
great Missouri flood devastates the area.
The Independence wharves are destroyed and
Westport Landing gains most of the Santa Fe
Northern and Southern Methodists split, forming
the Methodist Episcopal Church, North, and
the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
1846 - The
worst of the depression passes in Missouri.
lawsuits, financial difficulties, deaths and
a holdup on the transfer of the deed and title
to Prudhomme's property, the Town of Kansas
finally gets going. Calvin McCoy surveys and
prepares a plat with 318 lots, although the
land is so hilly that the back sides of the
lots curl up the hill behind the narrow river
levee. The 7 proprietors left set aside a
public square and dedicate land for a graveyard.
Pierre Chouteau, son of the deceased Francois
Chouteau, is their attorney. Dr. Troost buys
1849 - Asiatic
cholera kills many citizens, including McCoy's
wife and brother and William Gregory's wife,
and the uncle of his second wife, William
Gilliss, build the town's first brick hotel,
to cash in on California gold rush business.
Gilliss House is situated near the river at
the corner of Delaware and Wyandotte Streets.
1850 - On
June 3rd, the Town of Kansas becomes a municipality
when it is chartered by the county court.
The 700 inhabitants, including William S.
Gregory, who had successfully petitioned for
this to be done are mostly interested in improving
police services. Troost is a trustee.
represent one in 5 Jackson County residents.
Of 14,000 people, 2,969 are slaves. The free
black population is only 41. Hiram Walton
Young of Independence is a former slave. He
opens a wagon-making business. He is known
all along the frontier for the quality of
his wagons. He will buy many slaves at auction
in Independence and allow them to earn their
freedom by working in his shop.
Milton J. Payne arrives in town.
John Bristow Wornall marries, but his wife
will die a year later.
1853 - The
Town of Kansas is chartered by special act
of the General Assembly on February 22nd.
Population is about 2,500.
vote in the election for mayor on April 18th.
Grocer William S. Gregory wins over his opponent
Dr. Benoist Troost by 9 votes. There is also
a 6-member council. Gregory appoints a city
treasurer, assessor, marshal, tax collector,
and attorney. And he helps to write the city
charter and signs Kansas City's first laws.
It will be discovered later that he is ineligible
to serve because of residency requirements,
so Council President Dr. Johnston Lykins fills
out Gregory's term, while Gregory continues
as an alderman. The next year Lykins will
be elected in his own right.
1854 - Milton
Payne establishes the Kansas City Enterprise newspaper.
Coates arrives in Kansas City.
widower John Wornall marries Eliza Johnson,
the daughter of Reverend Thomas Johnson.
1855 - The
First Baptist Church is organized.
levee begins to receive not only tons of merchandise
bound for Santa Fe but settlers bound for
settlers coming into town from St. Louis after
paying $12 for the steamboat ride.
T. Van Horn comes to town with his wife Adela
and 2 young sons after seeing his newspaper
in Ohio collapse. He works as a common printer.
He buys newspaper shares for $500 and builds
a small brick home with a picket fence in
the suburbs near Walnut and 11th streets.
He begins to boost Kansas City as a business
center, centrally located, that would be perfect
for the railroads.
Johnson is elected mayor but Milton Payne
will complete his term. He will then be elected
5 times more.
man Jim Bridger buys a farm south of Kansas
1855-1857 - The
Wyandots sell their property and white settlers
take over, calling the place Wyandotte.
native and ardent free-state man Abelard Guthrie
lays out a new free-state town across the
river in Kansas. It has a long frontage on
the Missouri River and a rocky shore that
makes a good harbor. Guthrie names the place
Quindaro after his wife, a Wyandot Indian.
A 45-room hotel goes up. Warehouses are soon
filled with merchandise bound for Kansas.
People across the river despise Quindaro because
it is a refuge for runaway and stolen slaves.
1856 - Father
Bernard Donnelly brings 300 Irish laborers
from Connaught County to work a brickyard
on behalf of the Catholic Church, to cut roads
through the bluffs and to help build the city's
first Catholic cathedral.
New England Emigrant Aid Company sends more
weapons to Kansas, including 6 cannons. The
guns never make it. The Arabia docks at Lexington and a thousand pro-slavery
men take everything but the receipt.
T.L. Robinson, the wife of Governor Charles
Robinson, publishes Kansas : Its Interior
and Exterior Life. While some of
the book presents vignettes of pioneer life,
she also describes events in and around Lawrence
at the time and makes an impassioned plea
for help against the pro-slavery forces. One
of those who lambastes Sara most cruelly in
print is the editor of The Kansas City
hotel on the riverfront will record 27,000
arrivals in this year and the next. The parlor
floors are converted into sleeping quarters
and a bell is put on the roof to announce
side-wheel steamboat Arabia leaves
St. Louis on August 30th, carrying supplies,
provisions, 400 barrels of Kentucky bourbon,
one mule and 130 passengers for a trip up
the Missouri River. It leaves Westport Landing
on the way to Parkville on September 5th,
hitting a snag that rips open her hull. She
sinks within minutes in 15 feet of water.
All the passengers escape, but the poor mule
is tied below deck and goes down with the
Payne gives up his newspaper and devotes himself
to the city's business.
1857 - Van
Horn, Kersey Coates, and ex-missionary Johnston
Lykins concoct their own railroad company,
the Kansas City, Galveston & Lake Superior.
It only exists on paper and the Missouri legislators
laugh when approving it. But the charter allows
for the acquisition and grading for a spur
from Harlem on the Missouri's north bank to
the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad line
at Cameron 54 miles away.
S. Case, a struggling physician, moves to
officials pass laws including: "No person
shall deposit any dead animal, or any excrement
or filth from privies upon any ground in this
Lykins builds a palatial home downtown on
the southeast corner of 12th and Broadway.
This $20,000 showplace soon becomes a social
and political focus in Kansas City.
1858 - Wyandotte
is incorporated as a town.
and Eliza Wornall build a stately farmhouse
next to the main dirt road going west to Santa
1859 - Wyandotte
is incorporated as a city.
Wyandotte Constitution is framed in July.
Under it, Kansas will be admitted as a state.
1860 - Walter
L. Watkins builds a 3 and 1/2 story brick
mill near Lawson.
City's population has swollen to about 5,000.
1861 - A
Union candidate for mayor, Robert Van Horn,
is elected in April. He goes to St. Louis
to explain Kansas City's perilous situation
to Union Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon
and powerful Missouri Republican Frank Blair.
He comes home with a major's commission in
the improvised Enlisted Missouri Militia and
a plan to keep the city out of Confederate
hands. Kersey Coates joins Van Horn's battalion.
Civil War begins. It seriously damages the
economy of the area. Many move away from the
violence. The profitable river and overland
June all Confederate flags are pulled down
all over town.
U.S. Army builds Camp Union at 10th and Central
streets over the summer. It has walls, a guardhouse,
and a 12-pound howitzer.
1862 - W.H.
Chick's warehouse on the levee is burned.
Another on Santa Fe Street burns a few weeks
later. He moves his family to the New Mexico
Territory in the fall.
1863 - 4
woman relatives of Southern guerrilla leaders
die when their temporary prison on Grand south
of 14th Street collapses. One is the sister
of "Bloody Bill" Anderson. 8 days later, Lawrence is burned and about 150
people are killed. 4 days after that, Brigadier
General Thomas Ewing issues his General
Order No. 11 (painted here by George Caleb
Bingham), forcing all residents of Jackson,
Cass, Bates, and parts of Vernon counties
to leave their rural homes within 15 days
if they cannot prove their loyalty to the
Union to the satisfaction of Army authorities.
John Calvin McCoy moves to Glasgow where he
conducts his business as best he can.
of the population of the border counties is
1864 - Mayor
Van Horn musters 60-day volunteers into the
militia. All Kansas City men, Northern or
Southern, young or old, are asked to sign
General Samuel R. Curtis sets up headquarters
at the Harris Hotel in Westport. From the
roof, he and his staff officers watch the
early part of the Battle of Westport on October
23rd. It opens on the high ground above Brush
Creek. Although they gain an early advantage,
the Confederates are forced to retreat, leaving
their dead and many severely wounded men on
the field. An ambulance corps gathers up the
dead and wounded. Field hospitals are established
in nearby homes. The steamer Tom Morgan,
tied up at the city wharf, takes 86 wounded
Kansas State militiamen to the federal hospital
at Fort Leavenworth. The Methodist Episcopal
Church South is converted into a hospital
for Confederate soldiers. The Confederate
threat in the West is at an end, but the Civil
War does not end in Kansas City churches.
1865 - On
New Year's Day, guerrillas fire through the
front door of 62-year-old Reverend Thomas
Johnson's farmhouse. He dies and is buried
in the cemetery of his Shawnee Methodist Mission
and Manual School.
Civil War ends. Business leaders realize that
the future of the city depends on the railroad.
A showdown between Leavenworth and Kansas
City will determine Kansas City's future.
Dealmaker Charles E. Kearney and Detroit's
James F. Joy, a powerful railroad executive,
join boosters Van Horn and John W. Reid working
for The Bridge.
stands at 3,500. Union loyalists live west
of Main Street while Southerners favor roads
Calvin McCoy returns to Kansas City.
1866 - Jesse
James robs his first bank: Clay County Savings
Bank in Liberty.
First Baptist Church splits over sectional
differences. The minority Northern faction,
led by Reverend Jonathan B. Fuller, establishes
the Walnut Street Church.
Lykins founds the Widows' and Orphans" Home
for Confederate Dead. The home stands on about
40 acres at about 32nd and Locust streets.
But her strong Southern sympathies sometimes
make it difficult to raise the money needed
for the home.
1867 - Reverend
Fuller resigns his position and returns to
Octave Chanute moves to Kansas City to design
Kansas City School District is founded. Until
the end of the 1944-45 school year, students
attend school for only 11 years, including
a 7-year elementary education (no 8th grade)
and the traditional 4 years of high school.
Frank Foster reports that 936,000 letters
passed through Kansas City, 234,000 letters
were received, and $43,000 worth of stamps
were sold in the year.
1868 - Kansas
City is platted.
Peter and Paul Catholic Church is built at
Ninth and McGee streets.
launch The Kansas City Daily Times.
1869 - Kansas
City has far fewer people than Leavenworth
or St. Joseph and is barely keeping pace with
Atchison. All 4 cities want that first span
over the Missouri. The Bridge opens near the
foot of Broadway to national fanfare on July
3rd--the first railroad bridge over the Missouri
River. (Later it will be known as the Hannibal
Bridge.) There's barbeque, of course, liquor,
and fireworks. A poem read at the formal banquet
goes like this: "The Bridge,
it is finished / In all its ponderosity /
Trains have dashed over it / With great impetuosity
/ And thousands today / Have seen this curiosity." It helps to make the city a link in
the nation's transcontinental railroad system.
Leavenworth and St. Joseph merchants buy into
KC's hype, are convinced that their cities
have forever lost, and hightail it to Kansas
Chambers arrives in Kansas City and sets up
a brothel on the north side of the river.
Her business is an instant smash. A flourishing
ferry delivers her loyal following for 3 years
until she relocates in the town proper.
Chanute plats the towns of Lenexa and Columbia
(both in Kansas) on the same day.
1870s - The
city develops as a market for grain, a stockyard
center, and a meat-packing and flour-milling
center during the next 2 decades.
1870 - William
Warner becomes mayor.
City's population has exploded to 32,000 people.
Speers is elected Town Marshall on the Democratic
service begins to Denver.
Susan B. Anthony first visits Kansas City.
She strikes up a friendship with civic leader
Sarah Coates, "the one
woman upon who rested the claim of leadership
of our suffrage work in that city."
Coates Opera House opens. Kansas City's first
large theater, it soon becomes a hub for society.
1871 - Railroad
men and others organize the Kansas City Stockyards.
The West Bottoms becomes the feeding place
for cattle found for Chicago.
1872 - Booming
in commerce, population and politics in the
years after the Civil War, Kansas City becomes
the dominant city of the county. As land transactions
and legal wrangles multiply, more county business
must be handled in Kansas City. A new Jackson
County Courthouse opens on January 10th. It
is modeled in the French Second Empire style.
City is incorporated.
Central (or Walnut Street) and First Baptist
Churches reunite as the First Baptist Church.
rural cemetery, Elmwood Cemetery, is established
as a private cemetery although there are already
some graves that date back to 1840. Famous
landscape architect George Kessler designs
the park-like landscaping.
1874 - In
1874, the "Metropolitan Police Law" established
Kansas City's police department. Missouri
Governor Charles Hardin appointed George Caleb
Bingham, a Missouri artist, W. M. McDearmon
and H.J. Latshaw as the first Board of Police
Commissioners. Bingham became the first President
of the Board and led the Board in selecting
Speers as the first Chief of Police, a post
he held for 21 years.
Chief, Speers' unique policy was to, whenever
possible, proactively prevent crime. Rather
than waiting, as most police departments of
the time did, to respond and apprehend the
suspect after a crime had occurred, Speers
took a different approach. During Chief
Speer's tenure as Chief, Kansas City, Missouri
was situated on nearly all lines of the great
railroads leading from the Atlantic to the
Pacific, making it one of the great railway
centers. By 1901, an average of 20,000 people
would arrive and depart from the Union Depot
every day aboard the one hundred thirty five
passenger trains passing through the city.
Thus, 7.3 million people would travel through
the city every year aboard the trains.
Naturally, many professional criminals passed
through the city among the train passengers.
1876 - Jim
Pendergast, originally from Ohio, comes to
the West Bottoms from St. Joseph to work in
Lykins dies August 15th at age 76. His good
friend George Bingham will marry Martha Lykins.
1878 - Martin
Keck expands his father-in-law's (Henry Helmreich)
brewery into Kansas City's first amusement
park, the Tivoli Gardens.
Times labels Kansas City a Modern Sodom.
The population is close to 50,000. The 80
saloons in KC are 3 times as numerous as the
number of churches, and 4 times the number
of schools, colleges, libraries, and hospitals
1879 - Nearly
every boat on the Mississippi and Missouri
rivers is laden with former slaves who have
the mistaken belief that free land awaits
them in Kansas. The "Exodusters," some with
absolutely no money, land at Wyandotte. Rough
board shelters and tin shacks go up on the
river levee across from Kansas City. The African
Methodist Episcopal Church, Mayor George M.
Shelley, and Fort Leavenworth provide food
April 25th, the Wyandotte Commercial Gazette reports that more than 1,000 destitute people,
many from Mississippi and Louisiana, have
arrived. Some stay on, settling Juniper Town
and Rattlebone Hollow.
city's first telephone directory is printed.
It lists 58 telephones in Kansas City.
1880s - Octave
Chanute returns to Kansas City. He publishes The Sewerage of Kansas City, which
urges town builders to resist combining rainwater
with "house refuse."
The Vaile Mansion is built in Independence during the early
1880s by U.S. mail contractor Harvey Merrick
Vaile. The design is inspired by a large house
in Normandy the Vailes had visited during
a trip to Europe. The house, designed by Kansas
City architect Asa B. Cross, is completed
at a cost of $100,000. An 1882 article in
The Kansas City Times says that it is "the
most princely house and the most comfortable
home in the entire west."
1880 - Population
Union general, and notorious drinker Ulysses
S. Grant stays with Robert Van Horn in the
summer while he considers starting a business
in Kansas City.
Kansas City Evening Star profiles local
drag queens under the headline "Strange Men."
1881 - The
first time electricity is used indoors in
Kansas City is in March at the G.Y. Smith
& Co. dry goods store on Main Street.
Within a year, this "splendid triumph" of
science is extended to 13 stores in the same
poet Oscar Wilde lectures on aesthetics at
Coates Opera House on April 17th.
are driven from their homes and workers from
the meatpacking plants when Kansas City is
inundated by the flood of 1881.
Pendergast wins a racetrack bet, which he
puts to use launching a saloon below the bluffs
among the unpainted shanties. His saloon also
serves as a working-class bank.
tornado tears through downtown, killing 4
drunkard inside the White House Saloon guns
Martin Hynes on December 31st. It is Kansas
City's first slaying of a police officer in
the line of duty.
1884 - Rabbi
Joseph Krauskopt forms the nonsectarian Poor
Man's Free Labor Bureau to help find work
for the poor of all creeds.
a couple thousand dollars from his mother
in New York, Frederic Remington arrives in
the spring, fresh off a failed attempt to
run a Kansas sheep ranch. The 23-year-old
opens a hardware store downtown. But he soon
is out of the hardware business and into touring
saloons and poolrooms.
from the sale of his sheep ranch enables Remington
to buy an interest in a saloon. Although he
thinks it is a good investment, he keeps it
quiet to save his family from embarrassment.
marries an old sweetheart in New York in October.
He brings her to Kansas City. She is shocked
by his business and leaves him by Christmas.
1885 - The
students and staff of Park College assist
in building Benjamin Banneker School for blacks
in the community. The one-room brick building
will serve the community until 1902 when a
larger facility is constructed.
Remington moves in with family friends and
begins selling paintings through a Kansas
City art supply dealer. His bar fails by summer,
costing him his entire investment. He moves
back to New York, reconciles with his wife,
and continues to paint.
1886 - On
the morning of May 11th, a tornado rips through
the Missouri River railroad bridge and then
blows the top off of the Jackson County Courthouse.
15 children die inside Lathrop School and
10 other persons elsewhere in the city. Many
county records are lost or ruined.
City's first major-league baseball team, the
Cowboys, plays in the National League.
1887 - Martin
City is established as a railroad stop called
Tilden, and then renamed for himself by Edward
Martin, one of the town's founders.
Kansas City Exposition Building, inspired
by London's Crystal Palace, opens in early
October. It has multi-block fairgrounds, a
racetrack and a baseball field, as well as
a stunning roof containing 80,000 square feet
of glass. It will have a spectacular but brief
existence as the headquarters of Kansas City's
annual agricultural exposition.
first president to visit Kansas City while
in office comes to town on October 12th as
a part of a national tour. President Grover
Cleveland and his new wife, Frances Folsom
Cleveland, see the new Kansas City Exposition
Building and the federal building before leaving
for Memphis, Tennessee.
Lawn Tennis Club of Kansas City is the first
organized black athletic team in Kansas City.
Coates, having stoked his fortunes by dealing
in West Bottoms property where rail lines
and livestock pens merge, dies a millionaire
twice over. He is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
1888 - The
Board of Trade building, designed by Chicago's
Burnham & Root architectural firm, opens.
1889 - A
new charter officially changes the city's
name to Kansas City.
C. McCoy dies at his home on Olive Street.
1890s - Talk
of founding a university in Kansas City becomes
an increasingly evident part of the city's
sense of growth.
Allen White writes for Van Horn's Journal.
1890 - Charles
Dillon Stengel is born in Kansas City.
1892 - Voters
in the West Bottoms elect Jim Pendergast their
alderman. He will extend his influence to
the raucous North End where he develops another
1893 - With
attendance falling sharply amid the nationwide
depression, the Kansas City Exposition Building
1894 - Bennie
Moten is born on November 13th.
1896 - Colonel
Thomas H. Swope provides Kansas City with
1,334 acres for Swope Park, which is 4 miles
from the city limits.
1897 - Westport
becomes part of Kansas City.
1898 - Dr.
Thomas C. Unthank establishes the all-black
Douglass Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas.
1899 - The
city's first convention hall, designed by
Frederick E. Hill, opens to the music of John
Philip Sousa's band. It came in at a cost
of more than double the original estimates,
but is debt-free thanks to the donations of
Heim brothers open Electric Park next to their
brewery in the East Bottoms, boosting both
beer sales and their streetcar business. It
features a German biergarten, bathing facilities,
boating, rides, concerts, and a 2,800-seat
theater for vaudeville and light opera.
Dwight Lyman Moody begins his last evangelistic
campaign in Kansas City on November 12th.
He becomes ill during the last service, is
unable to complete his message, and will die
a few days later on December 22nd.
1900 - The
Democrats choose Kansas City as the site of
their national convention.
destroys the Convention Hall on April 4th
(as well as the neighboring Lathrop School
and Second Presbyterian Church), just 3 months
before the scheduled convention. The city
promises the Democrats a hall, and it does
it, building one of the world's largest indoor
arenas. Workers are adding the final touches
just as the first delegates arrive. The phrase
"Kansas City Spirit" is coined--a motto of
proven merit. Kansas Citians strut around
town wearing badges on their shirts saying "I Live in Kansas City--Ask
reaches 163,752. 10,000 children are reported
to be in "all degrees of poverty."
Thomas J. Pendergast, Jim's brother, is named
superintendent of streets.
Pendergast nominated 38 year-old James A.
Reed, the former prosecuting attorney for
mayor. In the 1900 election, Reed the future
senator owed his victory to Pendergast.
1900 Pendergast controlled the mayors office,
the street and fire departments and dominated
the police force. Pendergast named 123 of
the 173 police officers on the force.
City's $1 billion in bank clearings are among
the 10 highest in the nation.
City celebrates the turn of the century at
cars and electric streetcars are carrying
Kansas City's population southward, farther
and farther from its river origins. Urban
sprawl is setting in.
1901 - Kansas
saloon smasher Carry Nation brings her crusade
to Kansas City on April 15th, touring saloons
and criticizing their managers. She refuses
to disperse the crowd she had gathered on
the street and is arrested. Freed the next
day, the judge gives her until 6 p.m. to leave
Kansas City Times is bought by William
Rockhill Nelson, giving his afternoon Star a morning edition.
Coates Opera House burns down.
1903 - Swollen
by spring rains, the Kaw and Missouri Rivers
spill into the West Bottoms, turning the Missouri
River into an inland sea that reaches the
bluffs on both sides of the state line. The
second great Kansas City Flood makes more
than 22,000 people homeless, destroys bridges,
ruins the waterworks and shorts out telephone
and telegraph lines. After the flood, the
railroads drop the idea of building a new
station in the West Bottoms.
out of college, builder Jesse Clyde Nichols
sells houses for less than $1,000 in Kansas
killer streetcar mows down B.M. Blankenship,
a clerk at the Jones Dry Goods Co.
Thomas C. Unthank establishes the all-black
Lange Hospital in Kansas City.
1904 - Lyda
Burton Conley leads the effort which saves
the Huron Indian Cemetery from demolition.
She lives in a shack on the site for 6 years
while she studies law and becomes the first
Native American woman lawyer in the country.
Women's groups nationally pressure Congress
into passing a bill prohibiting removal of
Oil opens a refinery in tiny Sugar Creek.
The prospect of cheap oil spurs industrial
development in the Blue River valley.
City has only 5 beauty parlors.
1905 - Alexander
M. Dockery was Missouri, and he failed to
appoint Pendergast candidates to the Police
Board and Pendergast lost some of his influence.
The Kansas City World reporter wrote: It is
not extra-ordinary that Pendergast views with
alarm a measure that proposes to put the quietus
on the practice of doling out the positions
in public service as rewards for political
services rendered to party bosses. February
1906 - Jesse
Clyde Nichols buys a 10-acre tract of land
in order to build a "plaza" like the marketplaces
he loves in Spain in what woudl become the Country Club Plaza.
railroads settle on a site for a new railroad
station. It will be built in the bed of the
O.K. Creek, which runs south of downtown.
1907 - J.C.
Nichols opens his first "shopping center"
at 51st and Brookside. The trolley line runs
near the buildings.
Heim brothers open a new Electric Park at
46th Street and The Paseo, also conveniently
located on their streetcar line. It costs
10¢ to enter "Kansas City's Coney Island,"
with its artificial lake, roller coaster,
band concerts, and 100,000 electric light
bulbs that outline the buildings and rides.
It is a great place to go after work, and
more than 8,000 people do every day. But the
fountain with living statuary is its unique
attraction. 9 scenes are usually presented
during each evening's 15-minute performance.
1908 - A
small band of religious zealots take on the
entire Police Department. The cult's leader,
James Sharp, who calls himself "Adam God,"
and his armed followers take exception to
officers corralling their children for panhandling
downtown. A riot ensues. Adam God flees but
is found in a haystack in Johnson County and
is sentenced to 25 years behind bars.
1909 - Architect
Nelle E. Peters arrives in Kansas City. She
will soon be designing single-family homes
and apartment buildings.
Ford selects Kansas City as the site of the
auto industry's first assembly plant outside
ASB (Armour, Swift and Burlington) Bridge
opens, the second to span the Missouri River
at Kansas City.
by congestion, seediness, and the danger of
floods around Union Depot, the City Council
votes to build a new railroad station and
voters approve the idea.
Kansas City Zoo opens.
City annexes more land. It now covers 60 square
1910 - 18-year-old
Joyce Clyde Hall comes from Norfolk, Nebraska,
to sell postcards in the growing Kansas City
area. His move is inspired by a roving cigar
salesman's story of the Convention Hall rising
from the ashes.
Pendergast man, James A. Reed, elected to
the U.S. Senate in 1910.
fireproof Empress Theater opens in May and
is considered on of the most modern vaudeville
houses in the country.
J. Pendergast succeeds his brother Jim as
First Ward Alderman.
Roosevelt bounces into town. He rides
horses and speaks at Convention Hall with
some 20,000 admirers squeezed in, filling
every seat and aisle.
begins on Union Station. Design changes and
labor problems will delay the construction
process and it will take 4 years for the station
city's pioneering Board of Public Welfare
gets to work, although Pendergast's operatives
work to smash the board and keep the poor
all to themselves. The board and its hefty
staff of social workers put Kansas City on
the cutting edge of progressive thought. But
by the end of the decade, its good intentions
will fall victim to machine politics. The
board is a harbinger of the welfare state.
J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain is sculpted
in Paris by Henri Greber.
City is populated predominantly with native-born
whites: 80.35%. African-Americans comprise
9.49% and the foreign-born 10.15%. Kansas
City does have tiny ethnic enclaves of Germans,
Russians, Irish, Italians, Swedes, English,
Greeks, and Mexicans.
City begins regulating dance halls: you have
to be 18 years old or accompanied by a parent
or guardian to enter.
City's black population is 23,704.
1911 - Construction begins on the
Station building. The building is designed
in the beaux-arts architectural style popular
in the United States and France in the late
1800s and early 1900s.
Harlow is born on March 3rd at 3344 Olive
Park charges 10 cents for admission. It attracts
1 million people this year, or more than 8,000
Disney moves from Marceline, Missouri, with
his family to Kansas City.
ASB Bridge is completed.
Hospital No. 2, serving the city's blacks,
begins to employ black physicians.
1912 - Kansas City has 55,000 telephones,
221 churches, 72 public schools, 2,100 acres
of parks, 70 miles of boulevards, and 260
miles of "up-to-date" street railway. It also
has 81 movie theate rs with an average weekly
attendance of 449,064, almost twice the population
of the city.
Pendergast moved into the middle class 10th
Ward. The Pendergast machine took the election
Board of Public Welfare issues its "Report
on Housing Conditions" in June.
Lou Snyder is born on July 18th. She'll later
change her name to Harriet Nelson.
S. Dickey, a wealthy Kansas City manufacturer,
builds a stone mansion in the Rockhill district.
1913 - The
Board of Public Welfare issues its "Social
Prospectus of Kansas City, Mo." in August.
H.W. Hammil introduces motorcars to the Police
Department, ending horse patrols.
Ward opens a large mail order store at Belmont
Boulevard and St. John Avenue just in time
for the inauguration of parcel post, which
will carry the latest fashions to Kansas City.
1914 - Kansas
City is designated a Federal Reserve District.
American Horseshoe Pitchers Association is
formed in Kansas City, Kansas.
the spring, Kansas City has so many members
of the radical labor union Industrial Workers
of the World, called "wobblies," that the
city's Municipal Fair is full of them.
wanted to control the Board of Police Commissioners
and did so with the help of Democratic Governor
Elliot W. Major.
city begins regulating skating rinks. Next
will come the licensing of saloons, pool halls
and billiard parlors. It also adopts a censorship
law for moving pictures, proposed by the Board
of Public Welfare.
management of General Hospital No. 2 is turned
over to African-Americans--the first municipal
hospital in the nation to do so.
and high school teacher Margaret DeWitt convenes
Kansas City's first Suffrage School in a room
at the Norquitt Building on Grand Avenue at
10th Street in the summer.
Kansas City Post prints a special suffrage
edition edited by women. It rolls off the
press on Thursday, October 23rd. Kansas City,
Kansas, women have gotten the full vote (1912)--now
it's Missouri's turn.
Jarvis Hunt's Union
Station opens on October 30th. Union Station
is considered by many to be Kansas City's
grandest building. Just after midnight on
the morning of Nov. 1, the first train, the
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Flyer, arrives at Union
Station. The station cost nearly $6 million
and was part of a $50 million investment by
KCTR that also included track additions, switching
towers, viaducts and bridges.
1915 - Independence's
disastrous Music Hall block fire on February
11th is battled by 2 Kansas City fire departments.
City, Kansas, schoolteacher Kathryn Johnson
takes a job as a fieldworker for a new organization
called the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People. She travels the South and
the Midwest, speaking to Pullman porters,
teachers, mail clerks and neighborhood activists.
By the summer of 1915 she has organized 8
branches of the NAACP, most of which have
white members. One branch is busy at work
in Kansas City, where the per capita wealth
of black residents is $80.61, compared with
$667.96 for whites.
travel is so common that the Police Department
has a motorcycle squad to catch speeders.
Rockhill Nelson dies.
1916 - Major
league baseball player-turned plainspoken
evangelist, Billy Sunday, sets up his big
tend "tabernacle" near Admiral Boulevard and
Virginia Avenue in the spring. Concerned about
crumbling Victorian values and the beginnings
of a new mass culture, he preaches his "Amusements"
Van Horn dies at 91.
1916 the Pendergast machine gained control
of the police department and used it to aid
Kansas City prostitutes.
1917 - A fire strikes the stockyards
in the West Bottoms, killing 17,000 cattle
and hogs and destroying half the structures
in the yards. Damages are estimated at $1.7
Rail traffic through Union Station peaks during
WWI-with 79,368 trains passing through the
Station, including 271 trains in one day.
U.S. declares war on Germany on April 6th.
A tented city with accommodations for 5,000
draftees springs up in Kansas City. The old
Home Guard practices maneuvers in Swope Park
and women volunteer to be Red Cross nurses
city sent state representatives to the legislature
in Jefferson City and enacted laws that would
aid in the use of the juvenile court as the
only source of adoption. Tom Pendergast established
a juvenile court in Kansas City in 1917.
school graduate Ernest Hemingway comes from
Oak Park, Illinois, to Kansas City, arriving
on October 15th. He spends 6 months as a cub
reporter for The Star, covering the
police, General Hospital and Union Station,
interviewing VIPs and lowlifes, and practicing "the best rules I ever
learned for the business of writing." Years later he will point to the Kansas
City Star stylebook--with its instruction
on using short declarative sentences--as the
guideline he had followed throughout his literary
1918 - Ernest
Hemingway leaves The Star on April
30th, despite his doctor father's misgivings.
The Red Cross is calling Americans to join
its ambulance corps in Italy. He and fellow
reporter Ted Brumback apply and are selected.
workers strike. Dynamite attacks on several
cars lead to the use of National Guardsmen
to protect passengers.
Bennie Moten is leading his own professional
1919 - The
Kansas City black community is growing fast
enough that Chester A. Franklin starts The
Kansas City Call, giving Kansas City 4
black newspapers. There's one in Kansas City,
Kansas City Monarchs is formed.
is heavy enough in Kansas City that L.J. Smyth,
director of the Safety Council, is experimenting
with one-way streets at Linwood Boulevard
and the Paseo. He projects that by 1921, 50,000
cars will pass the busy intersection daily.
1920s - T.J.
Pendergast is the powerful political boss
of Kansas City government. Corruption among
Kansas City politicians is common. Business
interests will have to contend with his machine
for the next 30 years.
had used the police in a previous election
because democratic governors Gardner and Major
had given him control of the Board of police
Commissioners. The 1920 elections were run
under deplorable conditions.
Nelle Peters is one of the most active architects
in the city and also one of the very few female
architects in independent practice. Her designs
include the Ambassador Hotel and the Luzier
Cosmetic Company, and surround the Country
1920 - Kansas
City continues to grow as a center of commerce
and industry. Population reaches 324,410.
The black population is 30,893--a 30.3% increase
in 10 years. It has risen 55% in Kansas City,
Disney joins the Kansas City Film Ad Company.
He helps make cartoon advertisements to be
shown in movie theaters.
1921 - Lumberman
R.A. Long's one-week fund-raiser to raise
$2 million to build the Liberty Memorial is
begun by him with a $70,000 donation. When
at the end of the week, the drive is short
$70,000, he writes another check.
Jackson County court under Pendergast rule
was under attack for excessive spending and
questionable contracting. Republican Governor
Arthur M. Hyde promised to put an end to the
Pendergast and Shannon controlled police department.
Pendergast s son James Pendergast had served
with Harry Truman in World War I. Truman was
known in the county, and had relatives throughout
the rural precincts. He was a Baptist, a Legionnaire
and a Mason. The Pendergast machine supported
Truman in 1921 in his election as county judge.
five World War I allied commanders, including
General John J. Pershing, arrive by train
at Union Station and meet together for groundbreaking
ceremonies for the Liberty Memorial. Located
across the street from Union Station, the
Liberty Memorial is a monument dedicated to
the men and women who served and died in World
War I. More than 100,000 people attend. The
memorial was dedicated in 1926.
Bennie Moten's ragtime trio plays regularly
at the Panama Club and the Streets Hotel Lounge.
1922 - Construction
begins on Country
Club Plaza. The Mill Creek Building is
the first retail building to open.
Nichols begins a new subdivision south of
65th Street, called Armour Hills. The houses
are more moderately priced than his Mission
Hills and Sunset Hill developments. Bungalows
cost $8,500 and 2-storeys are $9,500. Deed
restrictions, as in Nichols' other developments,
forbid ownership or occupancy by blacks.
1923 - Kansas
City has 26 beauty parlors and 19 Piggly Wiggly
Fairyland Amusement Park is built at 75th
Street and Prospect Avenue.
building permit is issued for Muehlebach Field.
red brick National Guard Armory is built on
Main between 36th and 37th. It has an indoor
"German church," Saints Peter and Paul Catholic
Church, sits on valuable property. It is torn
down to make way for "the march of business."
1924 - Wolferman's
market moves into its new Country
Club Plaza store in January.
people have assumed responsibility for all
the departments at General Hospital No. 2.
cornerstone of the Liberty Memorial is laid.
"First Colored World Series" of baseball is
held in Kansas City beginning on October 20th.
City has 140 beauty parlors.
Kansas City, Kansas, the Ku Klux Klan holds
its national "klonvokation" in Convention
1925 - Robert
B. Altman is born on February 20th.
attack the clay hills of the Old Town bluffs
with a pressurized water hose. They work day
and night for 3 months, applying 400 pounds
of pressure and 3,200 gallons of water a minute
until the bluffs melt away into the Missouri
August, white landlord Bert Jeffries opens
his apartments at Woodland Avenue and 7th
Street to 10 black families although no other
black people live in the immediate vicinity.
A mob surrounds the apartments and threatens
the tenants. Jeffries withdraws his offer
to the black families.
1926 - Former
President William Howard Taft says: "The
sons and daughters of our republic should
rejoice that there were persons of vision
and courage and energy near the geographic
center of the Union to give permanent material
form to a nation's tribute in this great work
of art." The finished Liberty
Memorial is formally dedicated
by President Calvin Coolidge--many important
world and national leaders are dedication
City has 223 beauty parlors.
1928 - Kansas City hosts the Republican
National Convention that nominates Herbert
Hoover for president. A new kind of journalist,
Graham McNamee, a "broadcaster," is on the
platform at Convention Hall. He reports over
the radio, including local station WDAF.
1929 - The charter for the University
of Kansas City is granted.
6-week visit to China by Kansas City Star
correspondent, Edgar Snow, will stretch into
a 13-year stay. He will be the first American
to meet and interview Mao Tse-tung.
stock market crashes on October 29th and the
Great Depression begins. The local black vote
will be transformed from 80% Republican to
70% Democrat from 1922 to 1932.
Kirk and his Orchestra record Froggy Bottom
in Kansas City on November 11th.
few strings of Christmas lights are put up
on the Country
1930s - More than 20 important projects,
financed by a $40 million public works program
along with federal assistance, make the decade
a period of unexpected growth. There is a
new city hall, a flood-protection program
for the Blue River, parks improvements, the
Kansas City Power & Light building, a
new Jackson County Courthouse, and a new Municipal
1930 - A city resident calls attention
to the fact that no street has ever been named
for Kansas City's first mayor, William Gregory.
71st Street is renamed in his honor.
1931 - Transcontinental and Western
Air Inc. (T&WA) chooses centrally-located
Kansas City for its headquarters in June.
Site-selection advisor Charles Lindbergh casts
the swing vote over Tulsa.
help from Hoover's federal relief committee,
the city hands shovels to 3,442 people late
in the year and puts them to work on sewer
1932 - Kansas City Police Returned
to Home Rule.
judge of the Jackson County Court, Harry Truman,
creates the first County Park Department.
democrats turned to the Pendergast machine
for leadership. Harry Truman made an unsuccessful
run for Missouri governorship in 1932. William
Igoe organized the trench workers in St. Louis
for Pendergast s nominee, Francis Wilson.
Wilson died suddenly.
Jackson County Medical Journal reports that
General Hospital No. 2 has produced more black
medical specialists than any other city in
the country. Among No. 2's first 4 black doctors
are Thomas C. Unthank and J. Edward Perry.
Samuel S. Mayerberg, head of the Temple B'nai
Jehudah on East Linwood Boulevard, launches
an anti-machine gun crusade--his car is sprayed
with gunfire and he begins sleeping with a
pistol. The National Youth Movement, meeting
in secret, is also at work. But times are
fragile and people are scared, but Kansas
City is doing a lot better than other places.
1933 - After a 40-acre donation of
land in the Rockhill district by philanthropist
William Volker and a citywide drive for funds
in the midst of the Depression, the University
of Kansas City announces that classes will
begin in October. A faculty of 17 is hired.
264 students enroll on October 2nd, surpassing
the board's minimum goal of 125. The Walter
S. Dickey mansion, purchased with funds from
Volker, is prepared for classes. 2 years of
class work are offered the first year.
possible by $14 million from the estates of
publisher William Rockhill Nelson and Mary
McAfee Atkins, the Nelson
Gallery of Art and Atkins Museum opens
on December 11th. "Whistler's Mother" is on
loan from Paris. NBC Radio carries the ceremonies
to a nationwide audience. It rates high praise
in national-circulation magazines and newspapers,
which exclaim over the opulence of the building,
the beautiful landscaping, the outstanding
art collection, and the state-of-the-art lighting
and ventilation techniques.
Station Massacre - One of the
most infamous dates in Kansas City history
is the Union Station Massacre. Convicted mobster
Frank Nash, under escort by a team of FBI
agents and police officers was shot and killed
outside the Station during a shootout. Four
law enforcement officers were also killed.
There are marks on the front of the building
that for years were claimed as bullet holes
from the shooting, but tests by Kansas City,
Mo. police recently showed the marks could
not have come from bullets. However, the myth
and the mystery of the incident live on. There
were various theories that other mobsters
had committed the crime, but the only man
ever charged was Adam Richetti who died in
Missouri's gas chamber. As result of the massacre,
Congress strengthened the power of the FBI.
had Judge Harry Truman given the directorship
of the Federal Re-employment program in Missouri.
This gave Pendergast more control of the Federal
programs. When the Federal Civil Works Administration
went into effect in 1933, Pendergast had even
more patronage to hand out.
1934 - Thugs roam the streets on March
27th, election day for the mayor and City
Council. Reformers are working hard to beat
machine candidates. 4 people are shot and
killed in factional disputes during the bloody
city elections: a poll worker, a sheriff's
deputy, a hardware store owner, and a machine
Pendergast had a history of illegal voting
practices from the time he took over the machine
in 1910. In the 1934 election in Kansas City
four people were killed. The police who were
put under home rule in 1932 (the city administration)
ignored the illegal voting activities.
Star finally begins to take a hard look at
how far some Democrats will go to maintain
Lazia, Kansas City underworld chief and Pendergast
ally, is shot to death July 10th as he steps
out of his chauffeur-driven car in front of
his fashionable apartment near Armour Boulevard
and Gillham Road. The names of his assailants
will never be determined.
Kansas City Monarchs draw so many fans to
Sunday baseball games that black churches
adjust their worship hours.
Presiding Judge Harry Truman, with strong
support from Tom Pendergast, wins a seat in
the U.S. Senate.
Kansas City Philharmonic finishes its first
Annie Chambers finds religion. Moved to tears
by a funeral sermon by Reverend David Bulkley,
she deeds her old brothel to Bulkley's cause,
the City Union Mission. Her house at Third
and Wyandotte streets is converted into a
its first year, attendance at the Nelson
Gallery of Art and Atkins Museum totals
about 315,000, an average of more than 1,000
visitors per day.
Mid-1930s - The Christmas lighting of Country
Club Plaza is already a tradition.
1935 - Harry Truman is sworn in as
a member of the U.S. Senate. Pendergast's
parting words to him are, "Work hard, keep
your mouth shut and answer your mail."
mid-1935 Pendergast appeared invulnerable.
He controlled Kansas City and Jackson County.
He reigned supreme in the state capital and
the entire Federal Work Relief program in
Missouri was under his direction. His patronage
organization had traded jobs and services
for support at election time. He also managed
to create an image of respectability around
his political machine. The seamy side was
fairly well hidden.
bandleader and pioneering jazz artist Bennie
Moten stays in Kansas City while his band
travels to Denver to begin an engagement at
the Rainbow Ballroom. He dies undergoing a
tonsillectomy on April 2nd at Wheatley-Provident
Hospital. Moving his head during the surgery,
he suffers a sliced artery and bleeds to death
on the operating table. His death merits only
4 paragraphs on page 10 of The Kansas City
Star. Moten's death will force Count Basie
to become his own bandleader. He and others
Moten mentored will soon move east and find
international stardom with the so-called "Kansas
airport is serving 60,000 travelers a year.
women apply for the first T&WA training
course for air hostesses.
Hart Benton has become the most important
muralist in the country. He returns to Kansas
City to teach at the Kansas City Art Institute.
1936 - The thermometer hits 113 degrees
F on August 14th.
Hall is torn down to provide parking for the
new Municipal Auditorium.
Thomas Hart Benton's mural in the Missouri
Capitol includes a devilish Kansas City: a
"business meeting" for which Pendergast himself
posed. Builder J.C. Nichols and banker William
T. Kemper are also in the picture, as well
as scantily-clad women dancing on a stage.
Roosevelt began deserting Pendergast once
the extent of the wholesale vote fraud became
evident in 1936. Federal District Attorney
Milligan, who prosecuted the Kansas City election
workers, was up for re-appointment in 1938.
Truman tried to have Milligan replaced. Roosevelt
1937 - Hearing about "the fix" Pendergast
worked out through the statehouse, called
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" by some, Governor Stark
calls for a federal probe after securing approval
from President Roosevelt.
1938 - The Kansas City School of Law
merges with the University of Kansas City.
Christian Science Monitor calls Kansas "wilder open than any place outside Reno" and attacks its
residents for being "astonishingly
complacent about it all."
1930's - Governor Guy
Park was swamped with request to use the state
police to bring law and order to Kansas City
but loyal to Pendergast he refused to do so.
a fight to control the Missouri Supreme Court,
Pendergast endorsed Judge James V. Billings.
Governor Lloyd Stark backed incumbent Judge
James M. Douglas. Pendergast still controlled
the Work Progress Administration. Stark controlled
state patronage. His tactics were little different
than Pendergast's. Judge Douglas won.
State employees were given leaves of absence
to campaign for Douglas. Many were forced
to contribute five percent of their annual
salary to Douglas campaign.
Judge Douglas won.
the Governor could not succeed himself Lloyd
Stark planned to run for the U. S. Senate
against Harry Truman in 1940. Stark reduced
Kansas City s share of state patronage. Employees
on state payrolls tied to the Kansas City
machine were dropped from the payrolls.
1939 - World War II begins. Kansas
City serves as a center of the defense industry.
is arraigned on federal charges of failing
to pay income taxes on the 1937 bribe. He
plead guilty and was sentenced to 15 months
in federal prison. His friends in City Hall
tumbled one by one including the leader of the gambling syndicate and local mafia chieftan Charley
Carollo went to jail.
McElroy's resignation, Mayor Bryce Smith's
audit of the books finds the city millions
Attorney General Roy McKeltside made a serious
effort at enforcing laws on illegal gambling
and the sale of liquor in Kansas City. Governor
Lloyd Stark tried to have the Kansas City
police department returned to state control.
This was accomplished in 1939. In Kansas City
gambling and other forms of vice were being
protected and criminals from other cities
had been finding refuge in the city. The newly
appointed police chief, Lear Reed found that corruption
was general and 50 percent of the police force
1940 - The Midland Theater hosts the
local premiere of Gone With the Wind on January
26th at 9:00 a.m. It causes a magnificent
reform group wins control of city government.
The Pendergast machine's 15-year domination
of city government. John B. Gage is the new
mayor. L.P. Cookingham is the new city manager.
The downtown slot machines are trucked away.
The jazz clubs lose their crowds.
Draft Bill passes and all male citizens 21-30
are called to register for the draft.
Arms Co. announces in the fall that it will
build an ammunition plant on 3,200 acres east
of Independence. The Lake City Ordnance Plant
will be cranking out 200 million rounds of
ammunition monthly within 3 years.
census reports that Kansas City has not really
grown in population in the last 10 years.
Truman wins re-election to the Senate.
Army Air Corps picks the Fairfax district
of Kansas City, Kansas, for a bomber plant
to run by North American Aviation. Plans include
the employment of between 8,000 and 12,000
persons--the work force will actually top
The Christmas lights on the Country
Club Plaza number about 25,000.
1941 - The Kansas City-Western Dental
College merges with the University of Kansas
24 hours of hearing the news about Pearl Harbor,
150 area men have enlisted at the Navy recruiting
office downtown. Retired Rear Admiral Hayne
Ellis volunteers to head the city's Department
of Civilian Defense, for which he will be
paid $1 a year. His operations will be staffed
by tens of thousands of volunteers. Kansas
Citians will be taught civil defense.
cent of every U.S. war-production dollar is
spent in the Kansas City area.
Benton has a dispute with the Kansas City
Art Institute and he is dismissed. But the
years following will be his most productive
1943 - The Monarchs thrill their fans
with 43 straight wins.
workers move to town in droves. The local
Board of Realtors reports 99.8% of housing
units full, even with 40,000 hometown soldiers
off to war. Classroom bulge, forging the school
district to hire 51 extra elementary teachers.
1944 - Hallmark Cards has a new slogan: "When You Care Enough
to Send the Very Best."
1944 at the Democratic convention in Chicago
the remaining city bosses put Harry Truman
in the Vice Presidential spot on the ticket.
At the time it was believed whoever took that
position would soon be the next President.
1945 - Pendergast dies.
the death of Roosevelt in 1945 Harry Truman
War II ends.
an unwritten agreement that bans African Americans
from the major leagues, Branch Rickey of the
Brooklyn Dodgers signs Monarchs shortstop
Jackie Robinson in late 1945.
1946 - Jackie Robinson is sent to
Montreal to play in Brooklyn's farm club.
He will lead Montreal to a pennant and lead
the league in batting.
1947 - Jackie Robinson takes his position
at first base at Ebbets Field for the Dodgers
on April 15th.
L. Holliday is the first African-American
student at the University of Kansas City,
admitted to the law school. 7 African-American
students will be enrolled by January of 1948.
The Blues win the American Association baseball
1948 - Paseo Massacre - On Monday, September
20, 1948, two officers, Charles Neaves, 30,
and Sandy Washington, 26, were dispatched
to 1334 Paseo on a disturbance call. The two
officers had responded to a call at that address
two days earlier and arrested William Bell,
on the complaint of Mrs. Helen Rainey.
the officers arrived they found a drinking
party in progress. They informed William Bell,
who was participating, that he was in violation
of the conditions of his Peace Bond and would
have to accompany them to police headquarters.
Bell, William's brother, objected to the arrest
and was subsequently told to come along. On
the pretense of looking for his coat George
Bell suddenly produced a shotgun and fired
point blank at Officer Neaves, striking him
in the stomach, and killing him.
trying to escape from the apartment, Officer
Washington was shot and killed by William
Bell with the same shotgun. William also killed
Officer Charles Perrine, 45, with a riot gun
taken from a police vehicle. William wounded
Sergeant William Wells, 34, and Officer Keiffer
Burris, 34, before he was killed. Also slain
was Edwin Burton Warren, 27, an innocent bystander.
in his career, Satchel Paige, the American
League's first pitcher of color, helps the
Cleveland Indians capture the World Series.
G.I. Bill boosts enrollment at the University
of Kansas City from 530 in 1944 to 1,200 in
Republican landslide predictions, Harry Truman
makes the experts look ridiculous. He travels
over 31,000 miles by train in a “whistle-stop”
campaign and makes more than 350 speeches.
He attacks the “do nothing” Republican Congress
and shrewdly appeals to the groups that had
strongly supported FDR--labor, farmers, liberals,
minorities, and many middle-class consumers.
His campaign adapts the 1921 ragtime hit,
I’m Just Wild About Harry, composed by Eubie
Blake and Noble Sissle: “My
country’s wild about, cannot do without, both
my country and me.”The election
of November 2 is the most dramatic political
upset in the nation's history. Truman is the
first Democratic president to be elected without
the "solid South." He wins 28 states and 303
electoral votes--and the Democrats also win
control of Congress.
1949 - President Harry Truman,
Vice President Alben Barkley and several Cabinet
officers join 3,000 diners at a big black-tie
dinner to honor the new Democratic Party Chairman.
It is held on September 29th at Municipal
Auditorium. William Boyle, the new party leader,
is a Kansas Citian who had worked his way
up in the Pendergast political organization
and a key figure in Truman's upset victory
1950 - Kansas stages a centennial
celebration with pageants, parades, and a
special Kansas City edition of "Hallmark's
Hall of Fame" on the important Boston meeting
on The Bridge, broadcast nationally on the
County's population is 541,035. 56,636 are
African-Americans. The Kansas City metropolitan
area's population is 814,357--that's Jackson
and Clay counties in Missouri and Wyandotte
and Johnson counties in Kansas.
The Christmas lights on the Country
Club Plaza number about 30,000.
Ewing Marion Kauffman begins his own pharmaceutical
company in his garage on Locust Street.
Joseph Binaggio and Charles Gargotta die in
gangland style killings.
The outbreak of the Korean War results in
the reopening of several World War II facilities
including the Grandview Airport.
1951 - The rain falls for 40 days
and the Great Flood in July inundates Armourdale
and the West Bottoms again, affecting the
packinghouse business directly. At least 5
people die. National Guard units take up positions
to discourage looting. To better maintain
order, Kansas City closes the taverns and
package liquor stores. City crews, desperate
to save the Municipal Air Terminal, dump junked
cars onto the embattled levees to fight the
surging water-and keep the airport dry. Many
Kansas residents are left homeless and will
be relocated to temporary homes in trailers
located on the Old Homestead Golf Course.
"Trailer City" will be occupied until Christmas
the flood, the Health Department of Kansas
City administers 111,711 vaccinations to prevent
typhoid fever. No typhus outbreak occurs.
A federal official compares the land to the
bombed-out cities of Europe in World War II.
A nonprofit collective called Disaster Corps
Inc. is formed to donate man-hours and equipment
for the cleanup. Remembering the test of the
city’s mettle in 1900 when the Convention
Hall burned down 3 months before the Democratic
National Convention, city officials make a
point of renovating the American Royal facilities
for the show, which open on time in the fall.
The country marvels at the collective Kansas
City character. Illustrator Norman Rockwell
paints “The Kansas City Spirit,” showing a
worker rolling up his sleeves while holding
a blueprint. Joyce Hall prints it on 20,000
brochures distributed across the county.
Prairie Village, Mission, Merriam, Roeland
Park, and Countryside are all incorporated.
Hallmark Cards begins its sponsorship of television's
"The Hallmark Hall of Fame."
1953 - Ernie Banks of the Monarchs
signs with the Chicago Cubs.
Bobby Greenlease, son of millionaire car dealers
Robert and Virginia Greenlease, is kidnapped
and later killed before the kidnappers are
able to collect the $600,000 ransom. Police
will apprehend the kidnappers and find Bobby's
The Trumans resume full-time residence in
1954 - The American League approves
the transfer of the Philadelphia Athletics
baseball team to Kansas City on November 8th.
1955 - Catcher Elston Howard of the
Monarchs is signed by the New York Yankees
1957 - Kansas City's transit system
stops using streetcars.
tornado levels part of the Ruskin Heights
suburb, killing 39 persons.
1959 - Wilbert Harrison's Kansas City
hits the top of the charts.
Conservatory of Music joins the University
of Kansas City.
1960 - The fountain sculpted by Henri
Greber is installed at 47th Street and J.C.
1962 - The Christmas lights on the Country
Club Plaza number about 75,000.
1964 - Chicago millionaire insurance
man, Charles O. Finley, owner of the Kansas
City Athletics, brings the Beatles to Kansas
City. He pays the group $150,000 for a 31-minute
concert at Municipal Stadium. About 20,000
people attend the concert on September 17th--fewer
than half the available seats are filled.
1965 - Satchel Paige, pitcher for
the Kansas City A's, at 59 is baseball's oldest
1967 - The Kansas City Chiefs lose
to the Green Bay Packers 35 to 10 in the first
Super Bowl, January 15th.
1970 - Population reaches 507,330.
antiwar comedy film, M*A*S*H, is Robert Altman's
first and biggest commercial success.
No major meat packing facilities exist in
the Kansas City region.
1972 - Union Station receives federal
designation as a protected structure and is
placed on the National Register of Historic
1973 - Richard Nixon appoints Clarence Kelley FBI chief.
He will bring the bureau into the computer
age, using advanced technologies to crack
down on white-collar crime.
1975 - Thomas Hart Benton dies in
his studio chair on January 19th, just 3 months
shy of his 86th birthday. His home
and studio will be opened to the public
as a museum.
1977 - Brush Creek ravages the Country
Club Plaza after a savage thunderstorm
dumps torrents of water on Kansas City on
September 12th. 24 die and property owners
suffer $94 million in damages.
1978 - Christo covers 2 and 1/2 miles
of paths in Loose Park with saffron-colored
nylon in October. "Wrapped Walkways" is one
of his most widely known works.
1980 - The population stands at 448,033.
heat wave of 17 straight days of temperatures
above 100 degrees leads to the death of almost
1981 - Two 120-foot-long walkways
above the lobby in the Hyatt Regency Hotel
tear loose from their suspension rods, dumping
65 tons of concrete, metal, glass and spectators
onto hundreds of people below during a dance
on July 17th. 111 persons die, including 18
pairs of husbands and wives. Of the 200 injured,
3 will die weeks or months later, pushing
the death toll to 114. KMB-AM radio newsman,
Walt Bodine, stays on the air all night, piecing
together events with on-air phone calls from
medical and emergency personnel, tea dance
attendees, witnesses, and reports. Blocks
away from the Hyatt, Kansas Citians stream
into the Community Blood Center and roll up
their sleeves. At one point, the donor line
stretches 3 blocks. The following Monday there
are 25 funerals. On Tuesday, 37 more. And
on and on.
This is the worst disaster I can recall
in my 25-years-plus as a police officer.
The closest thing I can recall to compare
to this, God forbid, was Korea.
-- Kansas City Police Chief Norman Caron
1982 - Satchel Paige dies on June
8th in Kansas City.
The Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra folds
in September after 49 seasons, but in an 11th-hour-save,
Crosby Kemper and his $1 million endowment
makes the October debut of the Kansas City
Symphony Orchestra possible.
Alan Wheat becomes Kansas City's first black
Restaraunteer Arthur Bryant dies at 80.
1983 - Bobby Bell is the first Chief elected to the
Pro Football Hall of Fame.
An August power failure in Independence causes
a blackout across the city.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital closes in
Atkins Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary
and reaps $51.1 million in birthday gifts.
1985 - The Kansas City Royals win
the World Series.
1980's - The downtown
loop experiences an increase in new construction
and the restoration of older neighborhoods.
1986 - Congress allocates money for
a Brush Creek flood control project.
District Judge Russell G. Clark orders a plan
to convert many Kansas City district schools
to magnet schools. He orders taxes increased
to pay for the change. Dozens of decaying
school buildings will be replaced or renovated
and new teachers hired.
Atkins Museum announces its acquisition
of a large collection of Henry Moore's sculptures.
1988 - Kansas City author Richard
Rhodes wins the Pulitzer with the book, The
Making of the Atomic Bomb.
In the worst loss to the city's fire department
since 1959, 6 firefighters die in an explosion
at a construction site in southeast Kansas
City on November 29th. 9 years later, 5 people
are convicted of setting the fires in the
truck trailers containing explosive ammonium
1989 - The last occupant moves out
Station. The mammoth building will sit,
deteriorating, for years.
1991 - In November, River Salvage
opens the Arabia
Steamboat Museum in the historic River
1992 - James Tate, a UMKC alumnus,
wins a Pulitzer Prize for his poetry.
1993 - Heavy spring rains flood vast
parts of the Midwest. In Kansas city, low-lying
areas are vulnerable to flooding in the spring
1994 - Wilbert Harrison of Kansas
City fame dies.
1995 - An expanded Kansas
City Zoo< opens to the public. It is now
the 10th largest zoo in the nation.
first phase of an $82 million flood control
project from Roanoke Parkway to Troost is
1996 - The Olympic Torch passes through
Kansas City on its way to Atlanta.
Barbeque celebrates its 50th birthday.
Village is 45 years old.
Altman's movie, Kansas
1997 - Philanthropist Ewing Kaufman
is inducted into the Hall of Great Missourians.
Kelley dies in Kansas City at the age of 85.
1988 - 11 people die in the flash
flooding October 4th while the Chiefs play
in the driving rain.
1999 - Kansas
City Police Officers Association formed representing Kansas City, Missouri
police officers, detectives, and sergeants.
The preamble of the KCPOA bylaws declares
one of the primary purposes of this organization
is to achieve collective bargaining. The organization was eventually reorganized into the Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #99 and continues on in the effort of representing working police officers in Kansas City.
Science City opens in the
Station on November 10th. The $250-million-plus
restoration involved a unique public-private
partnership among area civic and political
leaders, the second-largest private fundraising
campaign in the region's history.
2000 - Kansas City Police
Officers Association affiliates with
the FOP and becomes the KCPOA - Missouri Fraternal
Order of Police Lodge #99.
2001 - The U.S. Census confirms that Kansas City
has reversed a 2-decade decline in population.
The metropolitan area's black population has
grown nearly 13% over the last decade. Jackson
County now has a majority of minority residents:
56%, and that doesn't count the Hispanics.
than 61% of Kansas City area residents have
access to the Internet, making it the nation's
10th "most-wired" city, according to a survey
by Nielsen/NetRatings. 5 of the top 10 are
on the West Coast.
from the nonprofit Road Information Program
for the year 2000 list Kansas City as #10
in the list of U.S. metropolitan areas with
the most accidents per 100,000 residents.
2002 - An ice storm interrupts power
to 387,000 area homes, damages trees, closes
schools and businesses, knocks out streetlights,
and causes runs in area stores on candles,
sleeping bags, lamp oil, and generators. All
the motel rooms are taken. 300 out-of-state
utility crews from 12 states work 16-hour
days to restore power. The cost of recovery
after the storm is estimated at 20 million. A restored Liberty
Memorial is rededicated on the Saturday
of Memorial Day weekend. Its $90 million price
tag was funded mostly by public money, including
The Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police announces that if officially represents more
than 800 sworn members of
Club Plaza Christmas lights number 287,000.
2003 - A major tornado outbreak occurred
across the Kansas City area during the late
afternoon and evening of May 4, 2003. Significant
tornado damage has been reported in Kansas
City, Kansas, as well in Gladstone and Parkville,
Missouri. This was the first major tornado
outbreak in the Kansas City area since May
4, 1977, when a large tornado struck the community
of Pleasant Hill, MO.