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 & The Phone

1940 Tax Assessor photo, kclibrary.org
1940 Tax Assessor photo, kclibrary.org

Westport was annexed by Kansas City, in 1898, after voters approved it. The town of Westport would cease; but the residents gained better police and fire departments, street lighting and actual streets, and more schools. With the new streets came water lines and electricity. The phone, along with utilities, like water and electricity expanded from 1879 to 1910.

Novice inventors had been playing around with electricity since the 17th Century, for amusement and other zany purposes. It wasn’t until 1820 that a classroom experiment demonstrated an electric current down a wire could move the dial of a compass creating a magnetic field. The brilliant collection of inventions in the 1870’s connected technologies and resulted in the birth of the phone and many other must-have, necessities for life.

Small entrepreneurs started up electric companies.  Electric companies popped up in every corner. However, only the businesses and wealthy residents, in the core of the city could afford the new technology. Power companies consolidated and as another natural monopoly was created, municipal ownership and State registered companies formed. The city was able to provide essential services like electricity to everyone. By 1920, public power had raised the standard of living and brought electric to the rural areas and even to the poorest of households.

Although the concept of the telephone had been on the inventors’ desks since 1853, the telephone didn’t make an impact until electricity became available. In America we give credit to Alexander Bell and his partner Watson for the telephone, and Thomas Edison for lights. Alexander Bell was the first to make it to the patent office to claim the phone. There were actually many working on various projects that together with trial and error became the most used technology.

The house I live in operated as a tavern or saloon and dance hall until 1904, when the streets started to be paved. The neighborhood started to take on a new life. Instead of dusty cowboys needing to quench their thirst, development brought fathers and housewives with children into the tastefully attractive new homes being built. The history of this old Westport trading post building reflects the changes of the community at the time.

The Vogel family owned the land in 1879, acquiring it a piece at a time, from each of the adult Patterson children. Rachael Patterson had won her inheritance claim to the land in 1873. She was an old woman at this time and living with her daughter-in law North of Kansas City. The public tax records of that year indicate that Mrs R Patterson, widow, received $10 for the sale of spirits and rent. This may also mean, that Mrs. Patterson rented the building to Vogel and had to pay a tax because liquor was sold on the property. Vogel was the owner of the saloon at that time.

The Vogel’s had the Patterson farm until 1904 when they sold it to the Charter Oak Lot Company. While crews cleared the land for the new subdivision, the saloon became a spot for a liquid lunch or beer thirty (a phrase for a beer, thirty minutes after work shift ends).

In the last years of the saloon days, a telephone was installed. For the few residents that patron the bar, the phone was a means of messaging to the outside world. A new generation of patrons came to the saloon, he was the street contractor, the crews of men installing the plumbing, electricity, phones, and the tree cutters.The atmosphere wouldn’t have been anything to write home about. The light would have been dim, and the air stale with the smell of liquor and cigar smoke. Items like pickled eggs from a jar and a glass of cold milk might have been the only food available for a working man who might be waiting at the tavern for a call from his family in Illinois.

By 1906, there were 217 homes built on the Vogel land, owned by the Bargain Realty Company. With new residents moving in, the tavern lost appeal. The Vogel family abandoned the saloon. The building was once again sold. This time it became a grocery store. A convenient place for the 217 new homeowners to pick up an item on their grocery list. A mother could send her youngster off to the store with a handwritten note of the items she needed and the store clerk would fill the order and deliver the items himself.

Several men worked at the grocery store. The building was quite large, one large room on the first floor with a double door  entrance under a porch roof. Inside the walls were bare and simple planks of wood lay directly on the dirt beneath. The hum of a motor for the cooler to the meat counter rattled whenever someone stood on just the right floor board. The building, having been moved some 50 years earlier, would have started to sag in places.

Upstairs was divided. The owner rented an apartment to one of the men who worked behind the butcher counter. The other side, leading down to the grocery store, contained the refuge of the years, old bottles and crates, tools and other artifacts; plus the overflow of merchandise from the grocery store. The gentlemen who worked here were cheerful and chatty, they provided delivery service of their goods.

By 1930, everyone  in the neighborhood could afford to have a phone in the house, the store no longer served the community as a place to quench your thirst. The store owner didn’t know your name or let you use his phone for personal use. Outside the building stands a man holding a cardboard, five feet long, with the phone number of the furniture store that occupied the corner of 46th and Bell.

The forgotten wall phone
The forgotten wall phone
Pioneer lunch pail and coffee thermos
 Victorian lunch pail and coffee thermos
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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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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, Story, Uncategorized

Notable Figure of the American Old West

Notable Figure of the American Old West

masterson

Bat Masterson, was a sheriff and notable figure of the American Old West, best known as a gambler, at the trading post I call home. William Barclay Masterson or “Bat”, was also a buffalo hunter and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph.

The Sheriff ‘Bat,’ is a legend, and I believe he made his way to this establishment, in his day. It is towns, like Westport (Kansas City), where gun-toting gamblers, like Bat, had a good time. The gentleman, that once worked here at the turn of the Century, told Bob his tales, I am passing on. Bat was indeed a gambler, and that is what was popular at the Saloon at the edge of town. The road in front of my house, the trading post, is a direct access route to Kansas, for a cowboy buffalo hunter, like Bat Masterson.

The old Westport tavern, I live in, was suspected of selling whiskey to the Indians and held many heated poker games. It may be his connection to the newspapers and law that “Bat” was able to gamble in a joint like this Old Westport Trading Post and Tavern. Bat lived between 1853 and 1921. He died in New York, however, he has been held a hero in these parts (in Kansas and the Missouri Town Westport).

History says that Bat Masterson survived a gun shot to his pelvis and that he walked with a cane. Wikipedia is quoted as saying the story that he had to carry a cane for the rest of his life as a result of this injury was highly perpetuated by the television series, called, “Bat Masterson,” (Gene Barry played Bat.) The fact is, Dodge City, Kansas Mayor  of 1885, presented Mr. Masterson a gold-headed cane, to honor his service to the city. Bat worked alongside Wyatt Earp, as deputy sheriff in Dodge City, capturing train robbers.

I wish I were a better writer so that I could better describe the look on Pearlean’s face, the employee (of fifteen years) at the Recorder of Deeds, every time we came across a document concerning my house that was tampered with or missing. The research on my house, dating back to 1850, has a few broken paper trails and paths uncovered. Men, who had a foot on both sides of the law, like Bat Masterson, may have helped conceal the activities of an old west saloon like my house.  A discussion with the library staff of the Missouri Valley Room, indicates that the Patterson widow may have left the Kansas City area during the years her land inheritance case was being considered by the court. During this time, the Patterson family allowed others to rent pieces of her land.

There were several buildings in the late 1800’s, which were sold and moved to other locations. Once source, leads me to believe, that my house was operated by an Indian man. He moved his wooden establishment, (a government-funded trading post). Which would fit the story of this place being moved, by mules, and repositioned to be closer to the road.  Another source of further investigation makes the assumption that the house may have actually been the Patterson’s original house. I will be sharing more, as I learn more about the structure, and the inhabitants.

The pioneer woman, like her husband, was not lacking in energy. “Young wives, mothers, and housekeepers, had come, with their husbands to carve out for themselves and their children a home in the unbroken forest and wide prairies of the west.” My house was once part of the Patterson farm, in Westport Missouri, a town formed in 1820. At my house, the trading  post, thousands of travelers have passed by, and stopped in to quench their thirst or talk about town gossip. Making conversation was part of the fun and adventure.

Once upon a time in a place called Westport, in the State of Missouri there lived a beautiful girl, named Liz. She had been orphaned at birth, when her mother passed away from a fever. Her father was a brave Frenchman and fur trapper who was too busy for her, as he often traveled with explorers into Indian Territory as an interpreter. Her mother, who had both Shoshone Indian and Hidatsa, also had French blood, traveled with her husband interpreting and making peace with the Indians. Her mother was a notable figure, her presence often kept war from breaking out between the early settlers and the wild savages. Her Indian mother died leaving, Liz and her brother, four years older.

After the death of her mother, in 1812, Liz and her brother had been adopted by one of the men that her father worked for. Mainly, because, the gentleman had grown fond of her brother and wished to educated him in St. Louis. However, the man, his name being, Mr. Clark, already had children of his own. The Clark’s lived on a large wealthy farm in St Louis with many slaves. That is where Liz, found someone to look after her, a slave mother. Mrs. Clark was not interested in looking after her own children much less the child of an Indian woman. Mrs. Clark had spent most of her time married to an absent husband. It was Mr. Clark’s job to map trails, establish trading posts, and inspire folks to purchase the new territories.

When Liz was 5, her Brother Jean, went to school in Europe, prior to that, when he could, he would play with Liz in the open fields of their St. Louis, Missouri home. However, tragedy came again, when Mrs. Clark passed away. Liz was lost in the crowd. She was not a member of the family, like her brother Jean. Her father, the fur trapper, while still alive and well, did not live in St. Louis, he continued to be an interpreter and hunter. Liz never thought about him, she never knew him; although she never thought of Mr. Clark as a father either, nor did she consider Mrs. Clark her mother.

Liz stood beside her husband to be, wearing a black dress with a small trim of lace around the collar. It had been brought to Westport from Europe by her brother, Jean. Jean had followed in his French father’s footsteps in being a traveler and interpreter. On his way to Ohio, he stopped off in Westport to attend the wedding of his sister. This would be the last time they would ever see each other.

In front of Mr. Andrew P. Patterson, elected Justice of the Peace, of Westport, Missouri, the couple stood taking the vows of marriage. Her husband, was a strapping, young man from the Wyandotte tribe, who worked for the Kansas Agency in Westport Missouri, a government-funded trading post. He had met Liz at the Patterson’s home.  Liz had lived with them since she was five years old. The year Mr. Clark introduced the distinguished men of St Louis to his exposition papers and convinced Mr. Patterson into investing in a tract of land in Westport.

Liz, at seventeen years old, was younger than the other married girls in town. In 1829, the average age for getting married was at the age of 20. Her husband to be, was 28 years old. She didn’t know what love was, but she wanted the opportunity to find out. Her childhood memories where that of servitude, as she became the scullery maid from the moment she moved into the Patterson’s St. Louis home. The fact that they moved her to Westport, with them, concerned her. She felt hopeless until this day, her wedding.

The man she would marry had just as much of a mixed up heritage as she did. He had been to Europe and done much traveling by the age of 28. He may have had a mix of free-black blood, Indian blood, and French. He was well-educated, and was successful because of his ability to communicate with the Indians. The Census of 1830, documented him as the only Indian Man in town. However, fine gentlemen, like Chouteau,  Vogel, and other Frenchman, in town, respected this man, as any other, white man. Mr. Patterson, and John McCoy, the older generation of Westport were no exception. He carried himself with dignity. He settled in Westport, because he was not fond of wilderness travel. And found the Indians of Missouri and Kansas, at the time, to be very easy to work with. He was a valuable interpreter. Running the trading post in town was about as much wilderness as he wanted. With his new wife, he would be able to build on to his business.

The American pioneer woman was treated like a fellow worker who often took second place to the men in the family. When the Patterson family came to the Westport area, husband and wife, brothers and sisters, all worked in an unfamiliar hostile environment where the trees needed to be removed, their two-story home would have to be built, and all the while the men would carry on with wars, disputes, and fights. Flash floods or fires were also a threat. It wasn’t until her wedding, as Liz saw Racheal Patterson in the corner of her eye, did she realize the women who taught her household duties of every sort and how to sew, was her friend.

The woman formed bonds of friendship that boast loyalty and companionship. The people from Westport and Independence were in constant contact with one another. Close relationships with families in the St. Louis community were common.  Many of these women started to organize official groups, and keep written records of their contributions. In 1870, a small group of women formed a philanthropic social group and purchased a building in downtown Kansas City, just to hold meetings, after their membership grew. Women had the right to own property, run businesses, and make leaps in the years following. The social clubs formed by women were prosperous over the years. These women formed orphanages, schools, brought art and literary opportunities to the community, and constantly improved with current events.

The Native Americans, were being pushed west into settlements between 1830 and 1890.  The Kickapoo Indian were moved from Wisconsin to Kansas in 1830, while the Iowa Indians were being pushed out of Illinois. The town of Westport Missouri started to grow even faster between 1854 and 1861 when the Kansas region was opened for white settlements. The country established the railroad in 1854 and a new chapter begins.

The Old Westport City Hall, looks similar in shape to my house.
The Old Westport City Hall. Andrew P. Patterson was elected Westport Justice of the Peace, and served from 1828-1830.
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