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

The Belles of Westport My House The Trading Post

IMG_2899In 1909, Mrs. Carrie Westlake Whitney, the librarian, wrote of her account of her first visit to Westport (1881), “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.”

My house the trading post, in Westport (Kansas City, Missouri), once catered to the families of sturdy, good people, whose life was that of the frontier. The rules and manners of the parties attended, were at the discretion of the host. A party at the old Westport saloon would have involved 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.

With the room lite with candles that “shone brightly upon the fair maidens with glossy water-falls, delaine tissue dresses, hoop skirts and family jewels.” 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 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.

Fashion in KC-Westlake

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 post merchants, saloon owners, and farmers. The Santa Fe trade made these families wealthy. Their parties were legendary and drew in all the prettiest girls.

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, pulled by one of the girl’s own personal riding horses.  The women sat on rush bottom chairs around a quilting frame while stitching in different areas. In the company of the other quilters, pioneer women, brought up with cortly manners and elegances, kept their words polite.

Belles

The Belles of Kansas City, Missouri in 2014, are beautiful, well-mannered ladies, with charisma and a flair for taking pictures. Among the popular activities in Kansas City for kids to do include, playing soccer, hanging out at the Plaza and Union Station, and joining a modeling class. Here are a few more photos:

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What Boys Like, my house the trading post

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Kansas City pecans are some of the tastiest nuts around. The nuts are sweet and oil rich compared to southern states. Missouri river towns, like Kansas City, offer fertile soil and sunny conditions for pecan trees. Many pecan trees were planted in the 1800s.

We have a friend who has a pecan tree; he gathers up a bag full that have fallen to the ground. The shucks starting to split open. It is easy to remove the shells. The price of pecans at the local grocery store is about $18 a pound. I wouldn’t pay that much. I enjoy my nuts fresh and free from the ground. Making pecan pie from scratch is often cheaper and tastier.

Since our friend dropped off a bag of pecans and our pet duck (Squeaky) has started laying eggs again, I needed to do something with these God given gifts. As a food ‘snob’ I prefer store bought chicken eggs for breakfast. However, anything with enough sugar in it, I’ll eat. My husband never objects to anything I serve.

I know what boys like. They like my pecan pie. So here’s my recipe for Pecan Pie. Enjoy!

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PECAN PIE
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Corn Syrup
2 tablespoon margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/4 cups pecans

Pie Crust
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup fake butter/ shortening
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
4 tablespoon cold water

Make the pie crust first (or use a prepared pie crust). 
In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt. 
Next, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until pieces are the size of a small pea. 
Combine the vinegar and water and slowly sprinkle into the flour. 
Gather the moistened  dough into a ball, refrigerate for ten minutes or more.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. 
Place all the pecans on a greased cookie sheet/baking sheet. 
Roast pecans for a few minutes, carefull not to burn. Cool.

Beat the 3 eggs in a medium bowl. 
Add brown sugar, corn syrup, melted margarine, vanilla, and nutmeg. 
Stir in pecans. 

Roll out pie crust and line a pie pan. 
Pour pecan mixture into pie crust. 
Bake 50 minutes. 
A knife inserted into the edge should come out clean.

Serve warm, cold, with ice-cream, or just on plate. 
Yummy!

SQ-qnd-Eddie
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1864, my house the trading post

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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.

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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.

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Streets Covered In Snow

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I think the Kansas City Mayor follows my blog. Several weeks ago I wrote a blog story about the three snow trucks in a row. The snowplows were barely skimming the pavement. It appeared that the Kansas City snowplows were traveling too fast and the shovel wasn’t engaged low enough to move any snow off the street. I also twittered their technique didn’t look right and that the ‘Kansas’ side was clear.

This morning the snow laid on the ground, all the neighborhood covered in white. The Kansas City snow plow trucks are out and working. They just did my neighborhood. I didn’t expect the street to be clear’d so soon. In fact, I had cancelled my doctor appointment because of the snow.

In Westport Missouri, an icy snow is several inches thick on the roads, and unlike the last time the snowplows are doing a much better job. I love the snow. I don’t like the cold.

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Water, My House The Trading Post

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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?

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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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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.

snow-dogsSnow-angel

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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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Poison History, My House The Trading Post

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.

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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.

antique_oldsantafetrailantiqueshop(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.

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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
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.

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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
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).

 

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

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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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