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

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

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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