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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