Something new is coming. My blog, My House The Trading Post, is slowly gaining followers. Wow!
The type of stories that I enjoy sharing are about the Belles of Westport, stories about Westport fashions then and now, stories of the Civil War, and Love Stories then and now. The posts that were least viewed were the stories of music and art that we make here at the house.
What I have learned about blogging is shorter posts are often viewed more than longer posts. Inspirational messages are also favored by more views. I have also learned that one post a day is preferred over multiple posts a day.
Just south of Kansas City, near the frontier town of Westport, thirty thousand men fought in the fields and hills along the Kansas border. On the rooftops the non-combatant families watched the clouds of smoke rising from the fields and listened in terror to the furious roar of cannons and the cracking of pistols.
The great battle of the Civil War started shortly before noon where the Country Club golf course is today. The troops charged upon the artillery of the Confederate guns. Among the men of Westport who enlisted for the Union army were a head master of the school, mayor of Kansas City, members of the School Board and several pupils.
Young eyes peered over the edge of the roof, safe in her mother’s arms. Families huddled on the roof. A fearful melee of plunging horses, the incessant ding of muskets, and shouting men increased in the man-to-man encounter. For hours cannons were firing at the rebels. The fighting carried on through the night.
The next morning, the road from the state line going south was littered with discarded gear left by the withdrawing forces. The fighting would continue for days throughout the hillside as troops continued to retreat south. Business continued in Westport with a wagon train and beef herd leaving the same morning which shielded some of the retreating Confederate troops traveling along state line.
My house the trading post stood strong during the battle of Westport, serving as a sanctuary with a stadium view of the bloody events. One half of the roof is a peak, the other half is flat. In the summer I enjoy sunbathing on the roof and taking in the scenery. I can see for miles from the roof just as the residence during the 1864 Civil War battle in Westport.
The water has always concerned me. U.S Congressman Sam Graves has made inquiries with the Environmental Protection Agency for an explanation of communities in violation of new ozone standards. Graves noted that the EPA included Clinton and Clay Counties on the list in 2008, because they had dropped the 80 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion on the ozone threshold. His concern was not for the safety of the community but that a smaller community could not afford to comply. This is unfortunate because the smaller community has experienced strange health concerns. However, no two health events were the same or repeatable in another.
As a mother, and a child that grew up in the Missouri town with the “suspected” tainted water, I can tell you I have always thought that there was something wrong with the Cameron water. And have spent most of my life not drinking water because of it. The town is divided, nearly down the middle, as to the safety of the water. I, for instance, feel it is not safe. My background, clinical laboratory scientist and my first husband the city water tester for Elwood, Kansas. The water was frequently tainted, and a boil order issued.
Congressman Sam Graves gave the EPA a tour of the County. That lady, Erin Brockovick, came to town and told every one that the Chromium 6 concentrations were high and caused from a nearby tannery that sold farmers sludge as fertilizer. I do not know what more was done. Only 776 health cases were identified in 2008. My daughter, suffers from a health concern that doctors have not been able to help with. And no one has taken my daughter’s issue as a concern of the water, but they should have, or I should have.
Does history repeat itself? Are selfishness and negativity put aside for the good of all the people?
The Chemist reported the water was poisoned. The Internet can bring poison into the home. The first water lines that ran to the homes carried tainted water. In time communities developed a means for filtering the water. The city was also responsible for building better roads and providing street lights for safe passage. In time the Internet community will become safer for all. Eventually it will be offered to the whole community, and to every citizen. I hope my adult children will be able to have Internet service. Currently, such service is a luxury that many American still cannot afford.
The rules are changing. The technology is evolving quickly. The folks of 1850 accepted all their new technologies; trains, phone, house water, electric, and cars. They kept disputes to a minimum. The individuals within each family of the community helped their city grow. Growth that made some wealthy and others lose it all.
There are two social classes of students that I have met. The first is the public school student; where in the public school less emphasis is given to history and more time is spent on teaching reading and basic arithmetic skills. The second is the private school student; where teachers don’t overlook the grammar issues, and move students forward with information. Administrative concerns in both environments pay attention to scales that measure performance. Kansas City was established by many people with varied backgrounds. Many of the pioneer citizens were educated (lawyers, doctors, nurses, chemists, interpreters, ministers, and teachers…) Kansas City currently has an unaccredited public school district. I wish, concerned more citizens.
In the history books the word monopoly is mentioned. A monopoly is the advantage of one supplier or producer over the commercial market. In America a monopoly exists when all, or nearly all of an article of trade within a community is in the hands of one person or corporation’s control and excludes competition. Monopolies have formed whenever new technology was created. Shortly after the technology was made accessible for the start-up businessman. Many small operators of the same technology sprung up. Corporations were able to meet the demand of the citizens better by buying up all the competing businesses. However, their product could only be afforded by a few. The monopoly created a power to control prices, to the harm of the public.
It has been an offense of law to possess or create a monopoly power, and fix prices and exclude competitors from the market. For example once the railroads were laid, and a railroad company established; other railroad companies formed, but there wasn’t enough commercial traffic to continue to lay multiple rails along passages. Soon there would be no room for the additional tracks and you may only end up with only a few riders per train. The formation of the railroad monopolies formed. They established a bigger company and bought up the smaller train companies. Government intervention created a system to limit the monopoly and balance control over the number of tracks and routes.
(The two pictures represent the same building; East side, after the civil war, and the West side in 2013)
When the electric companies formed. The light company was the largest public utility corporation in Kansas City. However, first there were several little companies operating that struggled to make a profit. Then the power company formed a monopoly that threatened the price of services, until Kansas City called the service a public good.
When the telephone was installed in the city, four miles of wire and poles were set across town. Two phone companies were in operation until 1908. When a new phone franchise bought out the original phone companies, the city was able to impose additional taxes, not previously considered, on the companies, their poles and wires, along with a percentage of the phone company’s profits.
Today, a similar situation is being expressed in the healthcare system. Insurance companies, were plentiful, but only a few citizens could afford the service. For years, most doctors wouldn’t even accept a new patient without insurance. Now the US Government is trying to break down the healthcare monopoly and make health insurance an essential service of public good.
History repeats itself. Monopolies form in every generation. Then municipalities make efforts to bring the essential good to all the people. Selfishness and negativity is put aside, otherwise, earthly humanity would die by its own poison.
The first settlers sat on a log in the woods marking a map in the dirt that divided out the land for settlements. McCoy, the founding father of Westport, wrote the following information regarding the towns early history. “In 1825, there was only one point west of Big Blue where white people lived. It was the trading post of Colonel Chouteau. An Indian trail marked the path to follow from the river bluffs to the high prairie. Several homesteads were settled. Robert Pattison, in 1825, settled at the Vogel place. The first Justice of the peace for the settlements of Westport was located near Westport Avenue and the State line.”
My House The Trading Post is located at the Kansas State line and Bell; or in the general vicinity of State line road and Westport Road. The Patterson Plat. The land was owned by the first Justice of the Peace of the frontier town of Westport. The streets have been renamed. Plats did not conform to other surveys of the town. Several land owners named the streets and determined their length and width in anticipation of a main road to Westport and the Santa Fe Trail Beyond. Westport Road has had several name changes over the years. First it started out as an Indian trail. They called it the Santa Fe Trail, for a while. For a short time, the founders referred to it as Westport Avenue.
Parks and Boulevards, 1908
The map only retains a short passage visible, of an angular street that traveled from Independence through Westport to the Kansas state line. The angle of the street was straightened out after the civil war. When the land was divided into lots for new homes. The woods around my house remained until 1900. The mud rutted trail that once led from my house, the trading post, to main street downtown was destroyed by the progress of time.
The Water Works was purchase by the city from a private owner in 1895. A new Westport water-pipe was put in. Service was able to be extended to more residents. The original storage basins had no filtration system. Pipes were placed beneath the ground leading from the river, to river, to streams. A storage basin was capable of holding nine million gallons of water and was constructed with pumps to force the water to the street reservoirs.
The city took over the water works system in 1908. The city council made plans to establish other reservoirs throughout the city. At this time the city knew it didn’t have a good fresh water filtering system. The original estimate to provide adequate filtering beds was three million dollars. Records from the city chemist regarding the purity of the water indicated that there were as many as three hundred germs per cubic centimeter in the city water samples tested. Water containing less than five hundred germs per cubic centimeter was considered wholesome. The chemist did not detect any specific pathogens or disease-producing germs in his research.
At the time, some of the wells from the local springs were determined to be contaminated with typhoid fever which were attributed to several deaths. Although the findings were not unusual, the city chemist fought for improving the water. He concluded that the few deaths from tainted water was too high and could be prevented. A problem for which the city office would have to approve in order to make changes and obtain support for the financial projects of the water works department. The city evolved, adopting several new civil service jobs and municipal departments.
The Internet has brought Google fiber to the neighborhood and a new age of technology should be documented. What is the cost of this service? It goes up each year. As a college professor, I am amazed at the number of students who do not have computers. The number of young ladies with children, working full-time; they do not have Internet. They do not have a budget for Internet service. Internet service is being offered for free in some neighborhoods, through a type of neighborhood coalition or association or contractors promotion. Internet is becoming a necessity like having access to clean water.
2013 Google Fiber Arrives
The newest technology of all, invites the world into your world. The Internet can be as intimate a community as the Santa Fe Trail was in 1850. A citizen could sit on the porch of their farmhouse watching the travelers go by on the main route to adventure. I can sit in my house the trading post meeting those traveling the Internet. In 1850, a trading post owner could set his building beside the road for traveling folks to purchase provisions. I’d like to set up a trading post online and sell books, poems, music, and artwork.
Essential services have improved the quality of life for everyone. We will still have poor folks, and still have capitalism. Sometimes many inventions and new technologies are developed so quickly, that it takes the city, state, and governments time to catch up. Local and Federal Governments have a little trouble reorganizing departments to handle the social need. Occasionally a political vote is needed to determine which, and if any, decisions to move forward. (But, only when race or prejudice is involved, does war break out).
My house the trading post, today is a stage for Bob, and I. While I, make visitors feel welcome with a batch of home-made cookies, Bob, entertains them with his “licks” on the guitar.
In 1967, Bob was part of a band called, The Horde. The Horde recorded a session in Durham, North Carolina while in college. That album was recently re-released this past summer. The band played gigs at numerous universities. They have been called the most exciting mid sixties garage band to ever be discovered. They starred at the usual teen dance clubs, Fraternity parties, and Student Union dances. The played songs like, “Paint It Black.” Which starts with Bob playing the guitar solo. The guys were considered hippies, traveling all over the place playing the ‘British invasion’ influenced music. They liked the raw in your face blues, filtered through British pop.
After the demise of the band the group went their separate ways. Bob graduated from college and went to New York to go to Columbia University Law School and later to Cambridge University, England. He now practices criminal law and family law.
He continued to play rock and roll and other music venues through the years. He had a band once called the, “Bell Street Blasters.” With the Bell Street Blasters he played theater and stadium level gigs appearing in shows with B.B King, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ray Charles, and others.
During, the past summer, twenty-five brand new vinyl, The Horde, albums arrived, with two-dozen CD’s. They sit behind the display counter in Bob’s law office. The album’s public recognition is a little late, only forty-six years, too, late. Very, very few people out there are buying the Horde’s album, “Press Buttons Firmly.” A song titled after the guys noticed the message on the juke box in a tiny coffee shop on campus.
North Carolina, in the sixties, was the deep south. The music the Horde’s were playing didn’t live up to the soul music country’s expectations. Bob and the band members, complained that the crowds constantly requested the song, “Stubborn Kinda Fella.” An incident the guys still talk about, is when a group of frat guys got fed up with the hippy band, and headed for the stage. Their drummer stared the angry mob down as the rest of the guys escaped. Take the time to listen to The Horde’s songs, amazingly good.
Today Bob plays jazz and country gigs on pedal steel guitar. He has been appearing in duos with Billboard charted jazz keyboardist Max Groove. Together they play Jazz R&B or original New Age Jazz. He is a talented musician who mostly jams with friends.
If you are looking for a unique gift for a music lover, or collector, please consider, The Horde, album, “Press Buttons Firmly.” I highly recommend the album, Break-A-Way-Records did a marvelous job remastering the album. Someone out there in the world actually owned the orignal version of the recorded songs and they put them on YouTube, that can be sampled at:
The original 1967 -record of The Horde last sold on ebay for $1800. There are only 25 copies of the original studio recording. The new album is also available on Amazon for just, $23.99.
The routine at the house includes watching X-Factor. Tonight, like many other nights, I was enlightened by a brief music history lesson given by my husband Bob. Now mind you, I have heard of none these individuals or the songs. The song, ‘Hallelujah’ was song by a contestant on tonight’s X-Factor, a televised talent contest.
Leonard Cohen, a musician in the Music Hall of Fame who also received three Juno Awards nomination, got his start in the music business in 1967. Cohen is credited as the singer and composer of ‘Hallelujah.’ One of his earliest hits was with folk singer, Judy Collins, for the song, ‘Suzanne.’ Bob made me watch a YouTube video of this act (while I was trying to enjoy the X-Factor show).
In 1967, Cohen moved to the United States to pursue a career as a folk music singer and songwriter. During the 1960s, he was part of the Andy Warhol’s “Factory” crowd. According to Wikipedia, Andy Warhol speculated that Cohen had spent time listening to Nico in clubs and that this had influenced his musical style.” His song ‘Suzanne’ became a hit for Judy Collins and was for many years his most covered song. His song, ‘Hallelujah’ found greater popularity through a cover by John Cale.
The New York Times praised the song ‘Hallelujah’ in a review, noting that “Cohen spent years struggling to write the song ‘Hallelujah.” Many singers have covered versions of the song. There are over 300 versions known. It is often called one of the greatest songs of all time.
John Cale was a member of the Velvet Underground, an American rock band, active between 1964 and 1973. The band was part of the first real scene of the high literature culture of Andy Warhol. These people were the hippest of hipsters. The Velvet Underground was formed in New York City by Lou Reed and John Cale. I believe, Nico was also a singer and songwriter for the band.
Lou Reed was a frequent performer at ‘The Factory’, a studio owned by Warhol. Andy often asked his assistants to help set up parties, which were groundbreaking assemblies of musicians, artist, hipsters, gay partiers, and drug addicts. The rented studio apartment in New York’s grubby 60’s neighborhood pre-dates the Studio 54 era. Bob tells me this, but as I always lived in the Midwest, and really don’t have a clear conception of Studio 54 either.
Bob says that Andy Warhol supported the music of the Velvet Underground and this influence started the avant-garde craze. Avant-garde is a term used in the fashion world, and when describing something that is ‘cutting edge.’ Andy Warhol designed the cover of the first album for the band, a banana. That banana is one of Andy Warhol’s most recognized artworks. It became the most popular album cover art of all time.
Lou Reed went on to write a song in 1972, called “Walk on the Wild Side” on his second solo album Transformer. Lou Reed had performed at Max’s Kansas City in New York and Studio 54, two of the most famous and treadiest clubs in New York. Leonard was famous for his poetic song lyrics, ’Suzanne.’ Like singer songwriter, Bob Dylan, he was the poet of the time.
The song contest show X-Factor, has enlightened me to the history of old songs. From my husband Bob, I learn that he is often irritated that shows like X-Factor don’t actually acknowledge the cover songs properly. The old songs are, too often, credited to modern singers, like Mariah Carey, or to the last pop singer that sang the song. Passive television viewers, like myself, pay no attention to the originality of a song or who composed it. I usually don’t even have an opinion as to who sang it best.
While I watch television, I’m thinking, the judges are babies. The female judges on the X-factor wear a lot makeup. They represent youth and have a good game for knowing their own limitations and their wealth hides any immaturity. Simons Cowell has matured and he has been less critical of the young singers.
The whole time I am unable to actually hear the girls and boys sing on the show because in the background my darling husband, Bob has picked up the acoustic guitar and plays. Singing songs like ‘Wild Wood Flower.’ A song, I never heard before. He says it is the greatest country song ever.
I’ve heard it before, only ‘cause he sings it whenever he picks up the guitar. He knows other songs, and I like other songs, but that’s not what he plays. I like when he plays ‘Greensleeves, or Jonny Cash’s, ‘Ring of Fire.’ My Lutheran upbringing loves to sing hymns like, ‘What Child is This,’ during the Christmas season. I happen to know Mary J. Blige is not the original composer of that song.
Once, Bob and I, recorded, ‘Ring of Fire,’ for our grandson, Eddie. On one of those recordable page books. Eddie, loves to turn the pages of the recordable book and listen to gran-ma and pawpa sing various folk songs. If you’d like, I’d be happy to make you a book; just let me know. We have a few for sale.
Typically, I don’t sing in public. However, I did sing in my high school choir. I have also, been known to take a shot of tequila and do a little goofing around singing. Last Halloween, at the Monster Bash hosted by a local Westport Tavern, I tried to perform an Amy Winehouse song.
A topic I am not comfortable writing about… is the lives of the slaves. I’ll discuss here under working class neighborhood. Nearly every family in Westport Missouri between 1830 and 1860, had two slaves per household.
I include this section as it is significant because on the map of Westport, in 1829, there are two spellings for the name Patterson; or there were two Paterson families registered living on the same land parcel. The map had the name Paterson, with one t printed in pencil. However, on all other documents regarding the land, the name Patterson, is written with two ts. The Census registers a black man, at the time as named, Paterson. The census also shows the Patterson household has eight members, with seven listed as white. Under slaves the box is left empty. The map shows a pencil drawing of a dwelling, which happens to have the shape of my two-story building. (The map is inside every book about Kansas City, or Westport- and available in real at the Missouri Valley Room).
Mr. A. Patterson and his family came from St. Louis Missouri, where they lived in an area with large plantations. Patterson was also elected the Justice of Peace in Westport Kansas City in 1828. Before he died in 1930, he officially married two couples. One of those couples was the owner of a trading post. The other was the owner of a furniture store. After Mr. Patterson died, parts of his land were rented. Both a black businessman, as well as Indian, leased the land.
History tells us that black men and women adopted the last names of their slave owners. Occasionally, slave owners fathered children with the slaves. Accounts of slaves during this time, like Mammy Pleasant, tell stories of her reliance on powerful men like Judges, and her time spent between adjoining plantations in Missouri.
White families continued to hire full-time domestic help throughout the years of 1860 until about 1960. Many African-American blacks, at the time my house the trading post was build, were free. There may be a link between the Patterson family and the Paterson family. I would like to collaborate with someone who is an authority. A lot went on in the early days.
The African-American black men and women of Westport Missouri would have had various talents, like the culinary arts, and business skills. As a slave, they may have been sold many times and with each new owner they would have learned new skills. Taverns with a reputation for having an outstanding cook, could make a fortune.
The Slaves ran the kitchens, in the year 1853; the year this house was built. Freed slaves, often found themselves in position of servitude, even for a fee. It was a difficult chore for a single person to prepare meals without help. The kitchens would have consisted of an open fireplace with a huge pot hanging from a crane as the stove. The frying pans covered in suet. A pointed rod with an iron handle would be near by to hold meats over the fire. In the tavern there would have been one main open room with a fireplace at one end. That area would be known as the kitchen.
During the various years, there would have been no reason to keep an employment record for someone who came to the backdoor looking for a job. Those parts of history will be lost. In addition, it is fortunate that the wooden pre-civil war saloon has survived tragedy like fire. Many Westport properties were lost in those early years to fire.
Missouri had both slave owners and Abolitionists. Gatherings in homes formed networks to support the antislavery movement. In 2013, a small town north of Kansas City uncovered a tunnel under their small city. The forgotten passage ran the length of the town, from the railroad station to the park. The park was once the location of a large university. I was driving through town when I noticed a commotion and stopped to hear the town gossip. No further news has been given the citizens. Such a passage could have been used for Abolition activities, also known as the Underground Railway, which provided the escape points from slavery.
The kitchen today, of my home, is beautifully modern. It is my favorite part of the house.
Missouri Plantation Recipe for Persimmon Beer, (1859, Mammy Pleasant)
Be sure the persimmons are fully ripe. Remove from them the stalk ends and the interior calyxes. Then mash the fruit and add enough wheat bran to make stiff dough. Form the dough into thin flat cakes and bake until crisp. Then break the cakes up into clean wooden barrels and fill them with water. Set the barrels upright and cover them with thin white cloths and set them in a place which is warm and dry. The cakes will rise to the tops and begin to foam. Three or four weeks later the barrels must then be moved to a cold place and wooden covers put on them. To make certain of success, toast dipped in yeast can be put into barrels with the persimmon cakes.