Art, blog, History, Kansas City, music, photography, Story, Uncategorized

The Door, my house the trading post

Ranch House

Knock and I will answer. If you like my post, I will like yours. If you comment on my blog, I will reply. I’m just lonely and I’m waiting for you.

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Call The Doctor, my house the trading post

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The physicians were dispersed among the first pioneers of Westport. Some were college educated; others acquired their skills while working for an established practitioner. In 1881, twelve of the Kansas City physicians were women. Physicians served as specialist, surgeon, oculist, and dentist; treating every phase of bodily ailment. Most practiced medicine until their death. Westport physicians were well-known for their ability to patch up a man after a gun fight. The territory was continually harassed by predatory bandits before the civil war.

The first hospital wasn’t a great structure of lavish and remarkable architectural beauty.  The first hospital was nothing more than an old Westport trading post. The two-story wood structure was converted by the Catholic nuns as an infirmary accommodating twenty patients.

The old Kansas City Hospital, founded in 1870, was located at Twenty-Second street and McCoy streets. In 1884, a new brick edifice was erected. The city council approved funds to build a two-story brick building in 1895. The building housed the surgical department and women’s ward. At the time, the city physician managed the city hospital. His subordinates were the in-house surgeons, and medical graduates and their assistants and stewards. The supervisory management rests with the board of health.

The board of health, in 1895, consisted of the heads of the municipal departments. The mayor was the ex officio president of the board, with the city physician as executive officer. The subordinate officers were a city chemist, a health officer, a milk and food inspector and a meat inspector. Those officers reported to the city physician.

getimage.exeBy 1908, the new City hospital was a six-story brick fortress-like building. Built of gray brick laid in white mortar, the fireproof structure is pictured on 23rd street, facing north. McCoy street is on the east.

St. Joseph’s hospital was founded in 1875, by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. The building was completed in 1886 and was situated at 710 Penn street. It was modern for its time, having a an x-ray machine, and equipment of those in other metropolitan hospital. Much of the equipment was a gift by Dr. Griffith. The St. Joseph hospital was able to hold 100 patients. by the 1900’s. Abundant provisions were made to charity cases and accommodation of any patient or persons of all religions, all were admitted without question.

Signing up for healthcare was disappointing. I still can’t go to the doctor, and my headaches and nausea are getting worse. I enrolled in the healthcare.gov, after several attempts, finally got recognized by the system.  I qualify for free coverage with a $6500 deductible. I think that means I have to pay $6500 out-of-pocket expenses first, before the insurance company will kick in their share. I will not be going to the doctor, because I have empty pockets.

While I am not willing to spend money on my healthcare, I just took my pet duck to the vet. The duck needed surgery, she ate a lot of pennies. I couldn’t bare to see the poor bird suffer. I am looking forward to having Squeaky the Duck home for dinner, but not as the entree.

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A fan, and previous resident of the property, provided the following picture of the house in the 1970’s. He set up the old home movie projector and then took this on his cell phone. myhousethetradingpost.wordpress.com

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The Outfit, my house the trading post

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In 2011, FBI agent, William Ousely, involved in the prosecution of organized crime figures of Kansas City, published a book, “Mobsters in Our Midst, The Kansas City Crime Family.” He wrote several books about the mob era, 1900-1980s. In his testimony as an expert witness on mob activities, he claimed his sixth sense alerted him that danger was imminent or something big was going to happen. The existence of a Mafia-like organization has been disputed since the 1950s.

Do you know how funny, (lack of better word) to see your husbands name in a book related to organized crime? Bob Simons, my husband, a Kansas City attorney, has had the misfortune of associating with some of the city’s notorious criminals during his 40 years practice of law. He tells me of the days when favors and money flowed freely; but his secretary was murdered, and his law partner was shot in the head. As he recalls those days, the hair on the back of my neck and all along my arm start to feel like a cool air has passed over.

The historical reality is that the old Kansas City underworld has been a part of the fabric of Kansas City life. Prohibition helped fuel the growth of the vice and corruption between the crime family and the political alliance. The corruption was at the level of the judges of both the federal and Jackson County courts.  Mobsters in Kansas City played rough, leaving behind hundreds of bloody stories of gangland activities since the 1900s.

The mobs criminal activities have been referred to as the national alliance of crime families, La Cosa Nostra, the Outfit, or the Clique. By 1931, twenty-six U.S. cities were suspected to have similar crime families that were restricted to men of Italian descent who had political, economic, and good social standing in the community. No crime family has ever referred to itself as the Mafia.

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The Italians settled in the Northland of Kansas City. One of the founding fathers was Sicilian-born. In the early 1900s, the Italians of the Northland adhered to the culture and protocols of the Old World Sicilian Mafia. In 1940, Nick Civella was a member of the Kansas City outfit. Many have remained in the shadows, never being identified.

Joe Bonano was identified as the Who’s-Who of Hoods of New York in 1957. Along with, Joe Filardo and Nick Civella, who were identified as being part of the Kansas City Missouri mob family. Kansas City’s organized crime society has tried to avoid scrutiny. Their formula relied on ignorance, forgetfulness, and apathy on the part of the public and their political influence. The sponsors of the mob were members of the business community.

The Bonano family of Kansas City is responsible for the beautiful stone and masonry work in my backyard. Read the Garden of Eden for more about the backyard. Visit my blog again, myhousethetradingpost.wordpress.com for more stories of Kansas City’s unknown past.

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Fire Safe, my house the trading post

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From the time the log-cabins fell into disuse and the first frame business and house dwellings began to appear, Kansas City has had fire protection. Few cities have been so fortunate as Kansas City in escaping disastrous fires. In the beginning, neighbor helped neighbor. Later fire companies were formed which were also social organizations. The few men who formed the fire company were associated with both socially and in fighting fires. The head of the fire company’s social order was the foreman.

The first fire company in Kansas City was organized in 1837. After the war, the revival of commercial enterprises and erection of new buildings, came the need for better fire protection. Not long after the water works department had been established the city installed fire hydrants. Today, the Kansas City Fire Department is operated by the city under the command of fire Chief, Paul Berardi. There are 34 fire stations under Kansas City’s seven battalions.

My husband and I have a game we play, taking pictures of the fire truck and the firemen at the local Westport grocery store. We see the fire truck at the grocery store a lot. We try to get a picture of the guys buying junk food and stuff in between emergency and non-emergency calls. We understand that when there is a non-emergency, the fire trucks often have time to stop at the grocery store after going on a call. But their impulsive buying habits make my husband and I laugh.

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Streets Covered In Snow

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In Kansas City there is a natural road, the old Indian trail, provides the easiest route for me to drive about the city. There are two nice highways, constructed, in the Twentieth Century. Interstate-35, North and South, zips through the city. Interstate-70 takes drivers East and West.  However, the Indian trail, now paved, consist of a variety of inner city streets that are often S-shaped or at an angle to the block streets that dip and rise throughout the city.

During the cow town years, the clay roads became impassable when wet. In 2014, the streets in the “bottoms” still flood. The city around Westport floods. The cement city cannot absorb the rainwater fast enough on most rainy days. Many drivers have lost their cars and lives in Kansas City due to high water. I have been caught in such a scary situation before.

Your heart is racing, the streetlights providing the only light to guide you. Unless the transformers have blown up, lighting strikes out the streetlights. The darkness hides the dips in the road that are under water; if you drive into a street under water there is a chance your car will float away into a deep ditch and sink. I’ve seen it happen before my very eyes. With the children still young, screaming at the top of their lungs in the back seat, out of fear for their life.

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This morning the snow laid on the ground, all the neighborhood covered in white. I love the snow. I also love to drive in the snow, or at least I don’t mind it. My husband and son were not as thrilled that I drive at all. I drive a Mustang. I am an old’ fashioned girl; every woman in 1850 owned her own pony. I own a modern pony.

My son was late for work; he needs to get up an hour early to be able to ride the bus to work. He rightfully lost his drivers license (years ago), and walks to most of his destinations. The metro bus driver zoomed past his stop, earlier in the morning at 1:00 am.

E-mo had just gotten off work. Pappa John’s is right in front of the Metro Bus stop, so E-mo knows the bus had not stopped yet. He stood in the dark of the night, the snow falling, and the streets becoming harder to maneuver. The metro bus came roaring down the street. E-mo was the only person standing on the sidewalk, among the white snow, his black and red Pappa Johns hat obvious below the streetlight. The bus drove past him, never stopping.

Behind the bus traveled three cars. The first car passed by. E-mo put out his thumb to hitch a ride. The second car had three men swerving in the snow, laughed and flipped E-MO off. The third car was a Jimmy John’s delivery car. All appeared to pass E-mo by in the snow, so early in the morning. E-mo looked up, and saw that the first car that drove behind the bus had stopped. The car was backing up, he was coming back to pick him up. E-mo had a ride.

The driver was an out of town man, driving a rental. He was Asian and had a bit of an accent. E-mo thanked the man for picking him up. Promised to give the man a free pizza if he’d like to visit Pappa John’s and buy a pizza.  The man appreciated the offer, however, he was just in town for a business meeting and wouldn’t be staying long. The stranger seemed to know the streets, like he’d been to Kansas City before. I prayed for the stranger after he dropped Emo off at the house.

The stranger was now in the oldest part of town. The streets dip and rise to an elevation that is impossible to drive up. In the distance I can hear the tires of a car stuck in the snow. The city plow trucks will not be done with the streets for many hours.

The morning comes too soon, when it snows; E-mo overslept, and needed a ride to work. His only option was for me to drive him in the snow with my Mustang. I was up, dressed, and warming up my car. My husband shaking his head “no.” My son dragging his feet in the snow wishing I didn’t have to drive him. He was scared. Bad memories from the days of the flash floods. Snow is different.

I learned how to drive, growing up in Chicago, my birthday, is December 21. Do I have to give any more references to my snow driving qualifications? I can out drive any Missouri driven SUV or 4WD, on a snow day. Do not get in the car with me on a bright, clear, warm, sunny day; then my mind wanders and I drive like an idiot.

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The first route I took the tires on the Mustang spun and spun; however I was proud to have gotten up the hill further than the Camaro that I passed.  I turned the Mustang into a driveway, backed up into the street and headed down hill. The car picked up speed and I used the slippery snow to make the turn at the bottom of the hill. My son holding on to the dashboard and the side handle of the door. Taking a one-lane, Side Street that is rotted with potholes, now smooth in the snow. I ride the car through the stop sign so that it will pick up speed and make it up to Rainbow Boulevard. I’m in Kansas now. In Kansas, they have all their streets cleared of the snow. I have to get back over to Missouri, and up to 20th street.

I turned onto Westport Road, merging back into Missouri, the snow is several inches thick on the roads, and the plows are in front of us; three trucks in a row. The snowplows were barely skimming the pavement. It appears that the Kansas City snowplows are traveling too fast and the shovel isn’t engaged low enough to move any snow off the street. I’m driving and thinking their technique doesn’t look right. Then I turn onto McGee, and 20th, and drop Emo off in front of Pappa John’s Pizza.

The return trip was uneventful, except I followed three more snowplow trucks that were driving in a row without the shovels low enough to move snow off the street.

Sunday, in Kansas City, is like a ghost town. The buildings look empty. The streets are lacking of people. The lonely cars parked along the streets, the only indication people are near by.

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The Train Era-My House The Trading Post-Hemingway Visit

My House the Trading Post, The Train Era

Union Station

Union Station

On the Fourth of July, 1863, Kansas City celebrated the opening of the first railroad bridge over the Missouri River. In fact, it was the only bridge across the Missouri River. The owner of the Union Pacific Eastern Railway, made a successful ascension in his Balloon from the public square, now known as the present City Hall location. A crowd from Missouri and Kansas cheered amid the firing of a cannon. The Coates House or Broadway Hotel hosted a grand banquet in honor of the railroad.

The first passenger train, in 1864, ran between Kansas City and Lawrence, Kansas. The Topeka stop was added next. By 1909, a trip to Topeka from Kansas City, took two hours with many passenger trains on three different rails. The rails were extended 385 miles West, by the year 1868, and allowed excursions from Kansas City to Denver. The ride required two nights and one day for the trip. At this time, buffalo still roamed in herds, that often delayed the trains which had to wait for the buffalo to cross the tracks. A trip from Kansas City to Denver, cost $45.00. Today, Amtrak will get you there in eleven hours, for $166.

It was a round about journey from Kansas City to the East before the Missouri Pacific railroad. Travelers would leave Kansas City by Steam boat and arrive in Weston, Missouri. At Weston a connection was made with the Platte Valley railroad that went to St. Joseph, Missouri. The St. Joseph railroad would take passengers to Hannibal, Missouri. Passengers bound for Chicago, would board a Steam boat from Hannibal to Quincy, Illinois. Connecting with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railway of Illinois. The trip from Kansas City to Chicago was made in forty hours. There was only one train a day, and no choice of route.

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The train was established in 1854; Kansas City broke ground for the first rail lines in 1860. Soon afterwards, parents of unwanted children started to use the train to dispose of children. “The Childrens Aid Society of New York Orphan Trains,” ran in the years 1854 to 1929. My grandmother, was one of those children. A note was pinned to a little girl’s jacket by her mother, when she was five years old, most likely announcing her availability to be adopted. The train traveled from junction to junction until at last it stopped for a long time.  All the little boys were chosen first.  She was an overlooked little girl, she traveled on the train until it ran out of tracks. She was placed on a returning train back to New York. When the train stopped at the train station, a couple decided to adopt her.

The older couple had no children of their own. They had come to the train station to adopt a little boy, but they had been running late. Her name, Dorthy, was the only child left to pick from. It isn’t clear if their intent was to make her their scullery maid, but she spent the next ten years cleaning their house. Soon after Dorthy was adopted, Mrs. Brandt had a child of her own, a son.  A year later, the Brandt’s had a daughter. Dorthy’s chores increased with her new bother and sister.

The Brandt’s were a wealthy German family, at the turn of the Century. Mr. Brandt, is known for his architecture. There are several historic homes and apartment buildings that give credit to him in the Chicagoland area. However, the Will that he and his wife bequeathed, left out their adopted daughter, Dorthy. All their wealth, went to her brother and sister, natural-born heirs.

Dorthy, passed away years ago, during the Thanksgiving holidays, in a nursing home north of Kansas City. She had just moved into the nursing home due to a colon problem. She got the opportunity to meet her real mother in the 1960’s. It was a surprise to find out that her mother was a Pennsylvania Amish woman, who had gotten pregnant by an ‘English’ man. Apparently, the young Amish woman and the ‘English’ man, did not stay together. The Amish woman tried to care for her twin children for as long as she could. She had placed the children on the train, in about the year 1910, when they were just five years-old. As the old Amish woman spoke to Dorthy, she remembered she had a twin brother. Her twin later contacted her, after their mother who abandoned him, located him living on a farm in Illinois. He’d been adopted by an Iowa farm family, who were very kind to him. After he inherited the family farm, he bought a bigger farm in Illinois, where he retired and passed away in the same year Dorthy passed.

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By 1870, the railroad industry had become a monopoly, as it was the life blood of American commerce. After, competing railroad companies layed duplicate tracks to do business in the popular cities, the railroad companies realized merging operations would increase profits. The railroads were allowed to exist as a “natural monopoly” because multiple companies would be a waste of financial and material resources. The train slowed the amount of business Westport once saw. Hunters no longer needed trading posts. Wagon trains were obsolete like the need for a place to quench your thirst after traveling the dusty trail. Union Station became the hub for business travel and pleasure adventures.

In Ernst Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls he writes about the angst of farewells at the train station. ” He had taken the train… to go away to school for the first time. He had been afraid to go and did not want any one to know it.”   He also wrote, “the Kansas City train stopped…There was nothing in sight but the road and few dust-grayed trees. A wagon lurched along through the ruts, the driver slouching with the jolts of his spring seat and letting the reins hang slack on the horses’ back…”

Ernst Hemingway arrived in Kansas City by train. Hemingway came to Kansas City when he was 17 years old. It was in October of 1917. Ernst’s brother had gotten him a job at the Kansas City Star as a cub reporter. His brother Tyler Hemingway was living in Kansas City and had a friend who was the Star’s chief editorial writer. Although, Hemingway only stayed in town for six months, Kansas City likes to take credit for being mentioned in 5 of his novels, 4 published sketches, and dozens of short stories. He reported on the activities at Union Station. The train station had people coming and going. This is where he got introduced to ‘shady characters’ and celebrities.

His story, In Our Time,  resembles the work he did for the Star. Another one of his passages describing Kansas City is found in, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

“In those days the distances were all different, the dirt blew off the hills that now have been cut down, and Kansas City was very like Constantinople. I was walking from the Woolfe Brother’s Saloon where, on Christmas and Thanksgiving Day, a free turkey dinner was served,”

The fact that he writes about the Woolfe Brother’s Saloon has never been related to my house, a Westport Saloon, but it should. The owner of my house in 1917, had a nephew staying here who was friends with Hemingway. The two of them got drunk frequently, it was his secret hide away from the adults and associates of the Kansas City Star. Westport has always been the part of town that would have attracted a young man who wanted to hang out with creative individuals, drink, and party.

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It is interesting to consider which characters that may have passed through the doors of this Westport saloon, or inhabited an apartment upstairs.  I truly believe that Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, and Daniel Boone have been here.

I am also convinced that Ernst Hemingway had a friend who lived here (The boy shown in the B&W picture of the tavern in 1909). The boy in the picture continued to live in this neighborhood until the age of 98. I share many of his stories in this blog.  I do not remember the fellow’s name and I am not aware of his exact death (sometime in late 1990’s). If the man says he was friends with Ernst Hemingway, I see no reason why he should lie. There were lots of authors that have lived in Kansas City, he only mentioned being friends with Ernst. It is that old man’s recollection of frontiersman like Doc Holliday, Boone, and Hemingway that I write about.

Kansas City is mentioned in many of Hemingway’s writings. He continued to visit Kansas City over his life. He even had several children born in the hospital in Kansas City. Most likely Truman Medical Center, he describes it in his writings as the hospital on the hill down from Union Station.

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Ghosts, My House the Trading Post

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On my way to the Kansas City library.

On my way to the Kansas City library.

There are a number of haunted houses in Kansas City. There is even a private tour company that will take you and a group of friends to each known site. (It is something I’ve been wanting to do for some time.) In my teen’s I was adventurous and investigated a few old abandoned homes in the rural country and graveyards after dark, but I have never seen proof of ghosts or supernatural. I have played Ouija board, and helped the triangle move to spell correct answers. Frightening for little girls at sleep overs. As young girls we have levitated a girl, by holding her with one finger. Games I hope are no longer popular. My sister and I can amaze and amuse our friends with Tarot cards. Some friends follow detailed systems of astrology. I have no proof of spirits, it is nothing more than a game.

They say, Fat Matt’s Vortex Bar on 6th street, in Kansas City’s Croatian Strawberry Hill historic district, is haunted with ghosts. The building was originally a funeral home and the crematorium is still visible in the basement. I once worked at a laboratory that was once a funeral home, it had an abandoned casket in the basement where we stored an old chemistry analyzer.

The Indian Cemetery, in Kansas City, Kansas is haunted. There is a haunted a high school; I’m not sure what happened there to make it haunted. However, there are many vacant, abandoned old school buildings in the Kansas City area. Some recent developers are renovating these old schools into doctor offices, and others have been turned into residential apartments. Among the list of haunted businesses are a church, Memorial Hall, fire station, and a theater.

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abandoned property

abandoned property

Some folks have captured images on their cameras at haunted Kaw Point. The historic events that occurred there would include a Mormon massacre, Indian massacre, Civil War violence, and gun fights over stolen gold. The Kansas City area has many haunted locations due to the horrific history the spirits of those killed from raids, gambling quarrels, fight for gold, disputes on religion and race, are still letting us know they are still around.

Kaw Villages

Kaw Villages

I once worked for a pathologist, assisting during autopsies. I was spooked by one-body; when the autopsy started the clock hanging on the wall above the table, stopped working. The hands on the big dial read 8:00. It was morning, when the body was brought in by an ambulance driver. He had experienced some strange occurence after picking up the dead body. On his was to the hospital, the driver had trouble keeping control of the vehicle. The dead women’s neck was broken as a result. Not her cause of death. It did make it difficult to keep her head from moving around during the autopsy, typically rigor mortis  stiffens the body and there is no movement. Six hours later, the procedure was completed. I finished cleaning the room down; I noticed that the clock was working again. Out of habit, I glanced at the clock again before I turned out the lights, and the clock had returned to the correct time, 4:20. The pathologist said, the clock must be broken, and bought a new one the next day.

The most haunted place associated with my house, the trading post during the Santa Fe trail days, is not accessible to people; it is the Sauer Castle. The Sauer Castle is located in Kansas City. It was the residence of a New York man who moved here in 1858. He began building the mansion in 1868 after marrying a young widow with two daughters. By 1872 the mansion was completely furnished with the finest. The building sits on the Shawnee Indian trail that was part of the old Santa Fe Trail. The same road the wagons passed by my house the trading post.

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The owner Anton Sauer died in the second floor master bedroom in 1879. His wife Mary continued to live in the house with her daughters. Mary died in the home in 1919 after a short illness. One of her daughters continued to live in the house and married and raised a family. Her husband, John Perkins, killed himself with a handgun. He had been suffering from a serious illness and was 72 years old when he committed suicide.  During the Perkins marriage, their daughter drowned in the family swimming pool. Over five generations of Sauer family have lived in the house.

Ghost stories have been circulating since the 1930’s; rambunctious teens and trespassers are constantly trying to get into the house. In the 1930’s the owner had a dog that would fight off trespassers and vandals. In 1987, a great-grandson of Anthony Sauer took ownership and tried for years to resurrect the place with minor repairs like fixing the banisters and balconies. He installed a large fence around the property that keeps everyone out.

In the late 1990, the caretaker was arrested for stealing thirty thousand dollars worth of artifacts from the house. The family believes, false stories about the ghosts is the reason for the vandalism and constant attempts of trespassing.

1960 Antique Store
Bell Street, 1960 Antique Store

Do we have ghosts?

I am asked that a lot.

Maybe.

The ghost, if there is one, it thrives on negativity or creating it. A poltergeist might explain why one or more folks feel as though they have been pushed or tripped. I have gotten use to the light bulbs popping when ever someone raises their voice in anger, rather than just burn out. I am not surprised to see a new water heater explode gallons of water, like Niagara Falls in the den.

I get a little spoked when flames shoot out of the electrical box and we only lose power on one side of the house. I get a little jumpy when the door bell starts ringing and no one is there. That has been happening a lot, since I started writing this blog. I assume it is the cold causing some wires to constrict or conduct within the doorbell button. However, the timing occurs as I write my history blog. Is this a coincidence? It makes me wonder if we do have a ghost.

Old Santa Fe Trail. 45th street facing west toward, Bell Street.
1870 Santa Fe Trail. 45th street facing west toward, Bell Street.

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Last Spring, Bob was sick in the hospital. All the power to his guitars and amps were turned off. Or I thought they were turned off. I was awakened by the freakish sound of Bob’s electric guitar playing by itself. I was so scared, I called the hospital and made the nurse go into Bob’s room to check on him. He was well, the nurse said. However, I couldn’t figure out how to shut the guitar up. After recovering from the fear that prevented me from going near the guitar. I slowing inched my way up to the speaker, or amp, (I am not a musician and have been given strict instructions to never touch Bob’s instruments-not even to dust). So I had no clue which switch to turn the humming guitar off. A switch was on, it did cut the power to the guitar. But to this day I do not know how or why that happened.

The vibe at my house attracts musicians and artist. They come seeking Lawyer Simons, they leave friends. Our friend, Tiffany, retained Bob as her attorney. She is a very pretty lady. She has movie star flair. Her blonde hair shined brightly in the room light.

She told us how her job at the jewelry store was going. Christmas is a good time of the year for jewelry sales. She also plays piano at Piropos Piano Bar. She talked about her career playing piano in Vegas and jamming with Max Groove.

We showed her our house. I was embarrassed that our poltergeist kept pushing her. She stumbled into each room. The ghost catching her foot on a rug, or stair, or elevation. She was sober. I know she wasn’t impaired. We may have a girl ghost, who gets jealous. Those things use to happen to me when I first moved in.

She couldn’t resist going over to the keyboard. She played us a few random tunes. They were very good. Bob and Tiffany played a duet.

I would like you to vote if you beleive in ghost or not…….

I do beleive in angels. Spiritual entities who exists to perform the will of our Lord. I don’t have a picture of an angel for proof. But I have seen an Angel with my own eyes. Some religions tell us that these angels testify on our behalf before the Heavenly Courts. Something to reflect upon.

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The Belles of Westport My House The Trading Post

Fashions in Kansas City
Fashions in Kansas City

The room lite with candles “shone brightly upon the fair maidens with glossy water-falls, delaine or tissue dresses, hoop skirts and family jewels.” Young men and women, alternated standing in a circle. They moved left, holding a partner’s hand, in a game called, “Marching down to old Quebec.” In 1850, dancing in Kansas City, was forbidden by the churches. The young folks were allowed to have large parties, accompanied by some older persons, but the kids refused to call them “chaperons.” For fun, packs of older teens, would take a passage on one of the Missouri River Boats, and dance on deck to the fiddler music. A jolly captain, with a crew that supplied the teens with good southern cooking, made this excursion highly enjoyable.

Dancing became fashionable among the married sect of society women and their husbands, (the business men of Independence, Westport, and Kansas City). The two favorite events were the Pallas Ball and the Charity Ball. These events were given by the young ladies, who were teachers at the local schools and day nursery.

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My house the trading post, in Westport, was refered to as a dance hall. It catered to the other type of family. The families of sturdy, good people, whose life was that of the frontier. From which they endured many hardships moving westward. The rules and manners of the parties attended, were at the discretion of the host. A party at the old Westport saloon would involve dancing and a “kissing” game. This would be followed by a “supper” that included pumpkin pie, peach pie, and buttermilk. Afterwards, the fun would continue with a run through the backwoods with candles.

The most desired and eligible young men were from Westport. The prettiest and wealthiest girls were from Kansas City or Independence. The finest parties were hosted by the sons and daughters of the first trading posts and saloon owners. The Santa Fe trade made these families wealthy. They built fine mansions within Jackson County. Their parties were legendary and drew in all the prettiest girls.

McCoy’s notes document that the Johnson Homestead, was near the long canon river bluffs, and had been occupied by Judge Bales who turned it over to Doctor Smart. John Johnson, had six children and a wife. The Johnson’s family were Methodist. They held family events south of Westport on the Indian Mission. The purpose was to honor the Indians. It should be noted that the Johnson family was adopted by the Shawnee Mission Indian’s Chief, in 1850, because of their great kindness to the tribe. The Johnson family and Shawnee Indian’s relationship is well documented. My daughter Megan has married into a Johnson family and given us, Eddie Johnson.

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Before bridge parties and book clubs were popular, quilting parties were the social occasion for the mothers and daughters.  Some girls would travel ten miles to arrive as early a nine o’clock in the morning, to quilt. The ladies arrived by carriage (with an old black man as a driver), pulled by one of the girl’s own personal riding horses. In the company of the other quilters, pioneer women, brought up with cortly manners and elegances, kept their words polite.  The women sat on rush bottom chairs around a quilting frame while stitching in different areas.

In the olden days they said that Independence was a town with good breeding, and that Westport was a town of “good fellowship,” and that Kansas City had both, good breeding and fellowship. The belles of Independence went to some of the best schools of the west. The Wyandotte Indian girls traveled to Independence to attend the fine colleges for young women. One historic book described the daughter of a Westport man, who complained her father made fun of her eloquent educated speech; that she often spoke one way, while at home, and another when away at school.

Westport was a natural trading post for the people everywhere, going everywhere, each one carrying with them a story. Men were charming and the women strived for refinement. Many of the girls that made the society pages were called eligible belles. The daughters of the founding families, of the three cities, were described as popular and beautiful. Stories of romances and first tragedies fill the pages of history books. Kansas City, being proud of their citizens, kept many scandals out of the records.

white-hatHATIMG_0003

In the summer of 1850, the local trading posts and general stores received shipments of French and English, joconets, French challies, lace manellas, parasols, fans, kid and filet gloves, cotton and silk hosiery. Special signs called attention to Ladies’ Bonnets and the Millinery department for the latest Paris styles. Most orders from France arrived within thirty days. The fourth of July, brought out all the daughters to town for new purchases.  Everyone was getting ready to attend the celebrations of band music or the various balls hosted by the local hotels and taverns.

_dressFridge_Terrie-Outfit_dress-and-dog

Today, the most common women’s fashion in Westport or Kansas City, Missouri is the skinny jean and the knee-high boots, ankle boot, or cowboy boot.  This is a good look on most ladies, especially if paired with an extra long top or mini-dress. Television shows like, any of the “housewives reality shows” provide a gist of which fashions are popular. However, in little Ol’Westport, we have specialty dress stores, where one of a kind outfits can be found. Everyone else shops at Walmart (or Target). What they end up with, is every other girl, wearing the same thing.

Even as far back as 1909, Mrs. Westlake, a high society lady of Kansas City, noted that the women’s wear was not very stylish. Mrs. Carrie Westlake Whitney was appointed the librarian in March, 1881. In her account of her first visit to Westport, she writes,”there was incessant hammering and banging from a dozen blacksmith’s sheds, where the heavy wagons were being repaired, and the horses and oxen shod. The streets were thronged with men, horses, and mules. While I was in town, a train of emigrant wagons from Illinois passed through to join the camp on the prairie. A multitude of healthy children’s faces were peeping out from under the covers of the wagons. Here and there a buxom damsel was seated on horseback, holding over her sunburnt face an umbrella or a parasol, once gaudy enough, but now miserably faded.”

Boots-3rd-A

Kansas City women have been forming new clubs since the pioneer times. The women gathered to provide stimulus of association, the desire to engage in analytical thought and sustained discussions. They realized that as an organization they could broaden and deepen their intellectual work and accomplish more. In that same spirit I have established an organization, called the Professional Business Women’s Club of Kansas City, http://pbwckc.webs.com

The first ladies, who started organizations and clubs in the pioneer day sent letters out to the women they knew and messages delivered by their driver. I am sending out an invitation by blog; to any individual, female or male, that enjoys the History of Kansas City, the town of Westport, or believes children can become brave, creative, leaders from playing group sports, like soccer, to join my club, PBWCKC. http://pbwckc.webs.com/apps/members/

Wishing you many warm moments to share this Christmas. Thank you.

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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, music, Story, Uncategorized

My House The Trading Post Pioneer Days

Chapter 1

Early Settlers In Pioneer Days

1900's
1900’s

Kansas City was one of the stopping places for early settlers in pioneer days. At one time people traveled through Kansas City by boat, horseback, and stage-coach. Missouri offered all a man could desire, rivers, valleys, hills, and plains. Yet, people were on the move West. The reasons for travel varied from fur trapping, hunting, adventurers or quest for gold.

A small group of men organized to form the town of Westport in the 1820’s. These early settlers liked the wilderness area west of Independence Missouri and North of Saint Louis. Lewis and Clark, years earlier, had noted the territory was perfect for resting the horses with its sheltering woodlands and clear running springs.

Gillis house

The first structures were log cabins. Boards were applied to the esteriors later. The general shape of these oldest buildings like my house, had small panes of glass, and an outside chimney. One of the popular establishments that developed in those early days was that of the Trading Post. Trading practices with the Indians flourished because traders had a great influence with the Indians and the government relied on this relationship. The Indians were extended credit and the traders were soon able to replace the log cabins with two-story Taverns and Dance Halls.

Westport became a rough and rowdy frontier town. The town was overrun with gun-toting renegades, drunken Indians, and Mexican War soldiers. A man named, Vogel, ran a tavern in Westport.  Taverns in those days were used for community business, socializing, weddings, and funerals, which took place in the large main room, often fitted with a bar and some shelves. My house is that tavern.

In the winter of 1829, a resident of Westport, a Mrs. Rachel Patterson was widowed when her husband had a heart attack. Mrs. Patterson survived with 6 children, I think mostly boys. Sadly, Mrs. Patterson was denied the right to have title to her land where Mr. Patterson had built their homestead. Her land was situated on the far west quadrant of Westport, along the Kansas State Line. Kansas at the time was Indian Territory.

Most mothers snatched their children from the paths of the madmen and travelers in Westport. However, the Patterson children played with the Indian children from the Kansas reservation and grew up friends with the Indians and had a way with making friends with folks around town. This was a lucky thing for Widow Patterson, because, as she took her “land ownership” case to court, she would need a few secret admirers to help her succeed.

Mrs. Patterson vs. the State of Missouri, Jackson County, Westport Kansas City, was a case that is documented to have started in 1830 and wasn’t settled until 1877. Widow Patterson did win her case. But by then, women’s rights had begun, slavery had ended, and the Indians even moved on. The fascinating part of the story, is how Mrs. Patterson survived all those years and how my present day house may have provided income for the Patterson’s family.

breadwagon

My research has discovered that Mrs. Patterson may have sold whiskey. While, flour mills were in operation in Independence the whiskey business was popular in Westport. By the 1830’s there were two-million people in all the Missouri Territories. The earliest census of Westport stated that there were 12 businesses, including one Indian owned trading post. Nine of those businesses were taverns or trading posts.  Men like John McCoy, had a combination general store, tavern, home, and post office. The women of the time ran businesses, too. These businesses were often, boarding houses, or the women sold fresh bread.

A priest traveling in 1840, to the frontier town of Westport noted that during his travel in the Missouri wilderness, he encountered an abandoned cabin where a poor Indian woman had died a few days earlier. Imagine Westport, where Indians with shaggy ponies tied up by the dozens to poles along the houses and fences of Westport Road. Indians, with shaved heads and painted faces, other Indians with long flowing locks and a few wrapped in blankets, all strolling down the streets and lounging about the shops. Also note, it was illegal to sell whiskey to the Indians.

It is my belief that Mrs. Patterson or her sons ran a tavern on the west of end of town, and sold Whiskey to the Indians. Pieces of history indicate that this building I call home, was once that structure of an old Westport original tavern.  After Kelly’s Tavern burn to the ground as a result of a kitchen fire, men started to remove the old wooden buldings. One owner sold his old wooden tavern building for as little as $5.00.  Several stories indicate that two-story buildings were rolled along Westport road on huge tree logs, pulled my mules. Logs are still under my house, to this day.

Mr. Kelly, a prominent tavern owner, lost his first wooden tavern, at the corner of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Ave., to a fire. Irishmen brought with them a great skill for brick and stone. He hired many talented Irishmen to build a brick tavern on the corner; where it is still in operation today. Kelly’s Tavern in Westport is the oldest surviving tavern in Kansas City. I loved drinking and dancing there in my 20’s (in the 1980’s). Every college kid, from far and near has partied at Kelly’s Tavern.

Other shop owners were jealous that Mr. Kelly had such a fine brick establishment, that many replaced their taverns with brick also. Although, the paper trail ended regarding the purchase of the building and moving it down the street, I believe that a man like, Mr. Harris gave or sold the building to Mrs. Patterson or one of her sons or to someone who rented land. Because the building sits on the plot of land once owned by Mr. Patterson, at the corner of Mr. Harris plat. Later Mr. Vogel purchased all of the Patterson’s land.

My house is about 200 yards from the Kansas Indian Missionary and Schoolhouse. The Indian School is now a museum and tourist site. It isn’t possible to walk to the missionary school from my house today, because tall, modern, cement, stone and brick buildings line the roads and form multiple blocks that create a barrier where the wilderness once allowed a path. The local newspaper of Old Westport, reported that a “particular tavern not more than 200 yards from the Indian Mission was suspected of selling spirits of alcohol to the Indians and contributing to the derelict behavior of the savages.”

westsign

I live in one of the oldest wood trading posts, remaining, since the days of the pioneers. It was the last place to stop for provisions on the way west, and the first chance to buy a beer after a two months cattle drive on a dusty Santa Fe trail. (1822-1880)

1909 Grocery store.
1909 Grocery store.

A boy, as tall as the gentlemen he poses with, stands in front of the grocery store in a picture, from the year 1909.  That young man was 98 years old, when he shared his accounts of the property. He lived up the street from us. He gave Bob, that picture of our house. The man had worked there, at the time of the turn of the century.  As he tells it, his family owned and operated the grocery store.  When the property was first built, the Santa Fe trail and cattle drive came through Westport.  This property, was the last post to buy something for settlers leaving town and the first place the cowboys saw, coming in.

Originally, the two-story building was fifty-yards up the hill. There was a pond at the current spot of the residence. Once the pond drained down to bed rock the house was set squarely by the road. The house was set along the far side of the pond, by engineering logs under the building, and dragging it down the hill with mules. The dirt foundation was replaced with cement, sometime in the 1980’s. In order to pour the foundation, the house had to been raised, exposing the huge logs for the first time since the logs were used to move the structure in 1855.

Pioneer lunch pail and coffee thermos
Pioneer lunch pail and coffee thermos

During the renovations that began in the late 1970’s,  a portion of an old dirt road and cobblestone curb was discovered in the backyard while Bob was landscaping, along with old medicine bottles and whisky jars. The Five layers of roofing and petrified wood on the house, provided an architectural manual of the different carpentry techniques used, as each layer exposed the years dating back to 1860.

1960 Antique Store
1960 Antique Store

In 1860, the place was a  tavern, by 1909 it was a general store. Shortly, thereafter if fell into the hands of a contractor. By the mid-20th century the property had seen its best days gone. In the 1950’s, it was owned by a junk dealer who had the place packed to the ceiling with antiques and had two rental apartments upstairs. It was in that condition that our good friend, Drake, acquired the property and started those late 1970 renovations. He needed a commercial building for, Drake Design, a company that made fiberglass molds for the auto industry.

2008 Law Office
2008 Law Office

My husband Bob, bought the property from Drake. After 12 years of solo labor, Bob, was able to convert the house into its present condition and design. Bob has lived here for over 30 years, practiced law, worked on his art, and rehearsed a band or two. I have lived here for five years and absolutely love the place.

1867
1867

The original building was a rectangular, 2 story building with a large main room on the first floor.  In the late 1800’s an American Indian man, who owned the trading post/tavern, enlarged the building on the north side, doubling the size of the  building to 5000 square feet, utilizing a slant in the roof for a lodge pole, the technique matched the traditional structures built by his tribe.

Old Santa Fe Trail. 45th street facing west toward, Bell Street.
Old Santa Fe Trail. 45th street facing west toward, Bell Street.

During the spring and summers of 1852- 1855, over 90,000 head of cattle traveled the by-way each year. The Stockyards operated in Kansas City’s west bottoms from 1871-1991. Once the railroad was installed it became the main means of transportation after 1870. These events had a significant impact on my house, the trading post, and its history.

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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, Story, Uncategorized

My House the Trading Post Welcomes Strangers

The Kitchen.  Bar stools from early days.

The Kitchen. Bar stools from early days.

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.

Nephew, Kyle

Nephew, Kyle

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