In 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.
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.
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:
Work is like this old fable, The Wolf and the Crane.
“A Wolf who had a bone stuck in his throat hired a crane, for a large sum, to put her head into his mouth and draw out the bone. When the Crane had extracted the bone and demanded the promised payment, the Wolf, grinning and grinding his teeth, exclaimed: “Why, you have surely already had a sufficient recompense, in having been permitted to draw out your head in safety from the mouth and jaws of a wolf.”
Westport Missouri, from the time it was formed until present day, has been a working class neighborhood. Wars have taken place, the burning of Mormons, the Mexican War, Civil-War, Women’s Rights and other notable history. Business continued despite these events.
I write my blog from my house the trading post. The past owners of this property were young and old people. This building holds the ghosts of the pioneers, Indians, and business owners. Its greatest contribution to history is the fact that it just exists. It has to be noted that it is a wood structure. It is remarkable that the building has existed this long, despite the number of wars, battles, and fires that took place, and the capitalist nature of the city to knock it down and rebuild. And it survived Missouri weather.
The history of Kansas City, too often discuss the same characters, like; McCoy, McGhee, Yoacham, Boone, Ewing, Vogel, Harris, Wornall, Hickman, Thomas Hart Benten, Samuel C Roby, Henry Clay Pate. Here is a short list of who had a trading post or tavern in Westport in the 1800s. It is important to note that this is not a complete census. The town was already, very big by the time the pre-civil war saloon, I live in, was built in 1853.
The goal or lifestyle of the Westport Missouri residents would have been work. They were young working class men and women. Many of the first settlers would have been in their twenties. As the town grew successful and Kansas City dug away the dirt and flattened the cliffs along the Missouri river, these pioneer families grew wealthy and moved into new homes and buildings creating downtown Kansas City. The growth in downtown Kansas City established new public-houses and buildings; built in a wise manner, with a more expressive display of dignity, even though some of the establishments were for the distribution of spirituous liquors.
This was the nature of the city, and has been ever since. Kansas City tends to invest in a new construction project, often centered on building another shopping and entertainment area, and then new construction for residential housing communities. Problem is, we haven’t run out of land. Kansas City has about 116 square miles of real estate. In Kansas City we don’t build up, we build out. Creating older communities that struggle for business. New city projects always bring in the newest technology, however, the consumer only needs the basic comforts from life.
To maintain a reasonable life-style I must work forty plus hours a week. The hours each day reserved for work are not my favorite. The work day begins at 5:30 am when the alarm goes off. I have to work at waking up. It is my habit to push the snooze until six or six thirty. I could stretch it to seven but then I wouldn’t get breakfast or have time to pack a lunch. I plan my lunch the night before. I usually have it set aside, in one area of the refrigerator. The extra time allows me to make last-minute changes as I fill my lunch bag in the morning.
I have to follow a routine to get through the hurried work morning. I shower, dry hair, moisturize, and dress. My wardrobe picked out the night before, it doesn’t have to be dressy. I choose between a blue or black, or pink uniform, and if they are dirty, I wear jeans. I prefer to wear the hospital uniform because I work in a laboratory. I perform medical testing, and I splash a lot of serum. If I’m in my scrubs when I get home, I remember I am still contaminated, but when I’m in my jeans I get comfortable, and forget I may have blood splashes on my cloths. Ack!!
By 7:30 am I am on the highway. I start the first mile or so at normal speed. By 7:37, traffic is 20 mph. I have never figured out why each day traffic slows to a crawl for several miles. Then a few minutes later I’m traveling the speed limit again and there is my exit. I manage to get into the parking lot at 7:57, my shift starts at eight. On Saturday’s shift, I get to work fifteen minutes earlier, because there isn’t any traffic.
My work days, at the laboratory, vary between Monday through Friday, or Tuesday through Saturday. By 9:00 am, I am homesick. But I don’t let on. I blow my nose, and keep looking for specimens. The morning is slow. Not many doctor offices have sent in any specimens, we are just working on orders that were added on, overnight. This is the hard part, the blood specimens have been put into a numbered order in the walk-in refrigerator. Some associates love the cooler, I hate it. But I’m responsible for the chemistry testing and must find seven specimens, in seven different boxed compartment, in the cold. My white lab coat provides some warmth. Burr!
The first weekend of every month I coach/teach a girls modeling class. A very long weekend. I feel kind-a catatonic. Zombie-ish. I try to incorporate some of that positive thinking I teach the girls, but I get tired, tired, tired. Then I don’t care, and find conversing to be a chore. Believe it or not, I like my jobs…but when striving to make another person a buck, I wonder about a lot of things. Like, why am I here?
Then it is ten in the morning, and I smile, because it is break time. I leave my white jacket on the chair, and I go to the little room that contains the only clean sink and food worthy refrigerator. I have fifteen minutes. In my pocket, I set my phone timer. During this time I wash my hands, blow my nose, wash my hands, go to the toilette, wash my hands. I nibble on fruit, salami, and cookies, while I guzzle a coke-cola. My stomach gurgles, and I give a small belch. A silly little tone vibrates from my pocket, it is time to go back. Later, I’ll take a thirty minute lunch and if time allows another fifteen minute break in the afternoon-right before I go home for the day.
With my lab coat on, I pray the hours will go by quickly. Number, after number, specimen after specimen; slowly I turn, checking name, identification number, and test order against the computer screen. Two computer screens, 1500 specimens, and a chemistry analyzer that has a mind of its own. I run several monstrous size equipment that divides the entire room. These analyzer perform the testing that once upon a time a scientist performed in test tubes with titration biurets and apparatuses. At four o’clock, I set the timer for 4:30. I try to bring the beast down, but the specimens keep coming in, I saw on the pending list that we only had 38 specimens left to complete, now there are 128. This happens every night. Doctors add more tests, after they have received the testing results. Thanks to modern computers, what the doctor sends in that day, the doctor can get results for. But, I’m contracted to stay till 4:30. We are technically, open until 5:00pm. I feel this is so similar to the fast food service industry. “May I help you?”
A few of those specimens will not get done tonight. The laboratory manager will be tense and I do not want to tell the doctors whose test results will be delayed. The lab will open at four in the morning and start the whole process all over again.
The work day may bring the blues, but the treasures within this house can almost always brighten my mood. In my bed cloths I move from room to room in this huge saloon from long ago. I carry a load of laundry through the house. I put the load of dirty cloths in the washer. I drop a quarter into the juke box. A 1954 Wurlitzer plays my selection, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” With no one in sight, I dance and sing along. At work I have my I-phone tunes, but at home I have the treasures the wolf left behind.
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!
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Corn Syrup
2 tablespoon margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/4 cups pecans
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.
Something new is coming. My blog, My House The Trading Post, is slowly gaining followers. Wow!
The type of stories that I enjoy sharing are about the Belles of Westport, stories about Westport fashions then and now, stories of the Civil War, and Love Stories then and now. The posts that were least viewed were the stories of music and art that we make here at the house.
What I have learned about blogging is shorter posts are often viewed more than longer posts. Inspirational messages are also favored by more views. I have also learned that one post a day is preferred over multiple posts a day.
A strong rivalry existed between Kansas City and Leavenworth before the Civil War. Leavenworth, Kansas is situated some twenty-five miles up the river from Kansas City. Both cities had begun railroads to Cameron, Missouri before the war. After the civil war both railroad companies sought financial backing to revive them. The railroad to Cameron secured Kansas City’s future.
The city of Leavenworth evolved from Fort Leavenworth and enjoyed a large and prosperous trade during the war. Both Kansas City and Leavenworth undertook to secure aid and connect with the Hannibal and the St. Joseph Railroad. As a consequence each city had to show claims and merits to determine which road would be funded, Kansas City won with C.E. Kearney organizing the venture. The final decision to build the road to Kansas City was made by James Joy of the Chicago, Burlington Railroads. He visited Leavenworth and Kansas City and decided that Kansas City had the best point to also build a bridge and make the road of value.
Cameron, Missouri is the home of the Cameron Dragons. Go Dragons! There is a Train Depot Museum in Cameron that is worth visiting.
On Christmas morning the girls have a bottle of cologne for mommy. Hanna the maid has popovers and sausages for the girls to eat. Mommy comes into the scene with news of a woman with a new-born and six kids huddled in one room for heat. “They have nothing.”
The girls take their lovely breakfast to the family down the road. And when the wealthy old man next door learned of this unselfish act, the neighbor boy’s Grandfather sends over a great feast for the girls and a piano.
The Welfare system in America is very young. In the days before State and Federal programs the poor had little hope. Many small shacks lined the landscape of Kansas City during 1868. These tiny houses were often made of orange crates, wooden shipping crates.
It is said that the wealth trickles down to cover the poor. In modern times I question if the wealthy are providing for the poor. Down the road from me lives a family with cracked windows. The door loose off the hinges. A wide blanket over the doorway and electric heaters on high. The mother and her child huddle in a single room trying to keep warm.
In the kitchen, little if any, food to eat. Especially when the snow falls four inches deep. I pray for the little ones we cannot see and they don’t know any one cares.
My favorite story, Little Women, is a novel by Louisa May Alcott. She lived between 1832 and 1888. In 1868 she published her book. The black and white movie version, made in 1949, was on T.V. the other night.
Inside the 1860s general store, preserves, sewing material, and winter coats are for sale. The matriarch of the family, working at the store, comforts an elderly customer. The audience is introduced to her four daughters. Jo, Beth, Margarete, and Megan. The girls are getting ready for Christmas.
Jo reads to an elder woman, Aunt Marge. In the background a dog and a parrot. Their father is off at war. Jo shows her disobedience as she tries to slip away when her aunt dozes off to sleep. Suddenly, the Aunt grabs Jo’s arm, and as she scolds, gives Jo a few dollars to spend for x-mas gifts then criticizes her for not cleaning the dusty bannister.
Another sister, Megan stands with a naughty sign in a classroom as school lets out. Ashamed and crying for drawing sketches during her English lesson. The tears convince the school master to dismiss the incident without telling her mother. As she leaves school she taunts her peers.
Hanna the maid, sets the table as the school girls are arriving home. As the girls cross their yard, they notice the young man living next door in the old man’s grand house. Once in their own house Beth greets them. Jo shares the money Aunt Marge has given them. Each distants themselves as the discuss what they will buy. The sisters want to buy according to their talents and likes.
Jo is a tom boy and almost a lady. Jo aspires to be a famous author. Her sister, Amy is a girl. Jo directs a play in the family parlor. She instructs her sister Amy to swoon. The girls giggle.
Mother arrives home. “”Mommy!” They greet her with kisses. She reads a letter from Father. He tells them he is proud of them. Each girl is encouraged; they want dearly, to be better, to please father in his absent. Mother leaves to fix tea and dinner. The girls make plans to best use the money from Aunt Marge, to buy mommy a gift.
After dinner mother and girls fold cloths near the fire. Later, Beth, afraid of people, is a gifted musician, plays the piano as the others sing a hymn like song. Mother then sends them off to bed.
In the morning, it is Christmas. Hanna the maid has breakfast ready. The girls have put together their money and bought a large bottle of cologne for mommy. Popovers and sausage delight the girls. The war has caused them poverty and such food was indeed a treat. However, Hanna remembers a time when the family was wealthier and food plentiful. She apologizes for not having more.
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.
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.
Colonel A. G. Boone, a relative of Daniel Boone, was a great entertainer, and as was the custom of the times kept an open house where many visitors stayed weeks at a time. The Bernard brothers kept a general store in Old Westport (1855). The goods ranged from a variety of sewing supplies to hunting knives and articles which represented the domestic lifestyle of the women and the valor of the men of Old Westport.
Mr. Bernard and the Colonel were good friends. As a young man, he and the Colonel went on a social call in Westport. They started out on a Sunday afternoon strolling up the hill passing where the Preschool now stands.
The men dressed in white linen suites were on their way to visit the charming Miss Munday. Both friends, infatuated with the lady, had their heads in the clouds when the Colonel missed his footing and fell into a tanning vat. His misfortune made it necessary he return home, while Mr. Bernard made the visit alone.