August, 2014 Edition

Candidates for Jackson County Legislature Debate

   The South Kansas City Alliance hosted a debate between the candidates running for  Jackson County Legislature in the 1st District At Large, which represents the Inter-City area, on July 14.

   Sherwood Smith, veteran Fire Captain, Vice President and President Emeritus of the Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters, and Frank White, broadcaster, T-Bones first base coach, and former second baseman for the Kansas City Royals, answered questions ranging from public transportation to Tax Increment Financing.

   Smith highlighted his experience in working with lawmakers on public safety and issues affecting first responders and their families, while White spoke of his leadership on the ball field and his work with local charitable organizations.  Read what they’ll do for the Inter-City area if elected on page 5.

Sugar Creek Asks Voters to Raise Taxes for $1.5 Million Wellness Center

   Will the residents of Sugar Creek vote to raise their property taxes by $60 a year for every $100,000 of assessed value in order to transform the old post office into a $1.5 million Wellness Center?  That’s what city officials are hoping will happen on August 5th, when Sugar Creek residents go to the polls. 

   The Wellness Center would feature exercise equipment, a group exercise room, a kitchen, child care for people working out, and restrooms with showers.  $1.5 million will only cover the cost of building the Wellness Center, but not the cost of staffing, running or maintaining it.  Those costs would be covered by membership or usage fees; the Wellness Center would not be free for Sugar Creek residents to use. 

   Citizens we spoke to were skeptical about the cost, need, and location of the proposed Wellness Center, pointing out that the city already offers free fitness classes at the gymnasium.

   Several residents we spoke to said they would gladly vote to raise taxes if Sugar Creek would bring back the municipal swimming pool, but the proposed Wellness Center does not offer swimming facilities.

   One resident, who asked not to be named, said, “Why should we give them a million and a half dollars for this, when all that land along 24 Highway is growing weeds? This was supposed to be part of the 24 Highway development we’ve already paid millions of dollars for. They tore down all those homes and businesses for a shopping center that never happened.  Now they want to raise taxes for this? Where’s the shopping center?”

Inter-City Fire Protection District

Blue Summit is the unincorporated area of Jackson County sandwiched between Independence and Kansas City.   The Inter City Fire Protection District is a small District, established in 1936, that covers that area with fire and E.M.S. coverage.    
    Chief Jeff Jewell has been the fire chief for the past eleven years and has seen his department grow and improve to and I.S.O. (Insurance Services Office ) rating of a 4.  (4 out of 10 rating)   The District covers a one square mile that overlooks Kansas City and Independence.  The Fire District built a new fire station located at 1702 Blue Ridge Blvd. in 2007, and added two ambulances in 2013. The district also started paying the Paramedics and E.M.T.s. 

   "The District has shrunk in size over the years with the expansion of Kansas City and Independence," said Jewell "but we are still providing for our area.  Inter City had a fire station in the Fairmount area for years but moved to (Dog patch) Blue Summit back in the day.  I would love to have some of the old pictures of the Fire Station and its firefighters to hang in our new station as a reminder of how things have changed."  If you have any items or pictures you would like to donate to the Inter City Fire Protection District contact Chief Jeff Jewell 816-461-9090.

Wash House Laundry - 21st Century Laundromat

  What makes Wash House Laundry, located at 11525 E 24 Highway, different from the rest?

    "Fresh Clothes Need Clean Air," it says on the door.  Unlike other area laundromats, there is no smoking allowed at the Wash House Laundry, and that’s only one of the benefits that owners Ed and Gina Reese will tell you that set the Wash House apart.

   "Our washers and driers are brand new, state-of-the-art, stainless steel Dexter Laundry machines, made in the USA by an employee owned company that’s been around for more than 100 years." Dexter washers and dryers are energy efficient – the spin cycle at 200 g-force removes more water, cutting the drying time in half.  "It’s as green as it gets," says Ed, as he point out that many area laundries are using washers and dryers that are more than 10 and 20 years old.  "The older machines use more water, more energy, they’re not as gentle on the fabrics, and they’re just not as efficient as the Dexters.  You save money, you save time, and you protect the environment."

   The Reeses completely remodeled their 24 Highway location, which was at one time a Quick-Stop gas station and had sat vacant for years. 
   Everything is brand new, with big screen HD televisions and free Wi-Fi.

  Wash House offers drop-off laundry service for 90 cents per pound. They have double and triple load machines, and 6-load large capacity machines for washing comforters and other large items.  The high efficiency Dexter commercial dryers cost 25 cents for 10 minutes, "and your clothes will dry twice as fast, saving you time and money," says Gina.

   The Reeses explain their business model to be "the Quik-Trip of Laundromats – nice, clean, and economical."  And fast.  "Come in once and you’ll be convinced!"

   Wash House Laundry is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.  They also have a 24-hour location in Buckner, Missouri.  TheyCre offering a free wash and dry for Veterans on Veterans’s Day.

OLD SCHOOLS WITH NEW PURPOSES

Mt. Washington Senior Apartments
The Mount Washington Elementary School building, opened in 1903 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, has been rehabilitated and transformed into beautiful, spacious apartments for seniors 55 and older.  There is a library, recreation areas, a theater, laundry facilities, and many more amenities.  Call (816) 888-1414 for more information.



 Della Lamb Charter School
414 Wallace Ave, Kansas City
The old Benjamin Harrison Elementary School on Wallace Avenue, built in 1913, is under renovation and will become the home to the Della Lamb Charter School.  Middle school classes are already underway, and K-8 education will be added shortly.  Della Lamb Community Services has been working since 1897 in Kansas City to provide low income families with a variety of educational and social services.

WILLARD E. WINNER - Father of the Inter-City


   Winner Road is named after the man who brought Independence and Kansas City together, creating the "Inter-City" district, Willard E. Winner.  His Winner Investment Co. bought thousands of acres of land around the Blue River in unincorporated areas of Jackson County, and began work connecting the two cities by streetcar.
   "Winner’s Road," which was also known as Washington Park Avenue, was a wide dirt road with a streetcar track for Winner’s Kansas City, Independence, and Park Railway, which started at 15th St. and Askew and headed east to "Washington Park," an amusement park also built by the Winner Investment Co. (now Mt. Washington Cemetery). From there the "dummy line" went on along Winner’s road into the Independence Square, following the same path that Winner Road runs today.  It was called a dummy line because the trolley, consisting of two passenger cars, was powered by a steam locomotive that was covered up with a wooden box so as not to frighten the horses in traffic.

   Along Winner’s dummy line tracks grew the areas of Maywood and Englewood.

   The Winner Investment Co. didn’t just focus on the area east of the Blue River – they bought and sold land all around it, creating the areas of Centropolis, Manchester, and Sheffield.  Willard Winner was the Kansas City pioneer of selling homes on the installment plan, and Winner’s neighborhoods sprang up all over the Blue Valley area during the real estate boom of the 1880s.  He sold tracts of land to industrial developers at "bed rock prices" (at cost) "for the benefit of Kansas City."

   In 1887 Winner persuaded an investor named James Sternberg from Reading, PA to build the "KC Bolt & Nut Co." in Sheffield.  Later it would become Sheffield Steel and, after that, Armco Steel.

   Willard Winner set his sights on the Northland, and Winner Investment Co.’s North Side Syndicate acquired thousands of acres of land in Clay and Platte Counties, trying to entice capitalists from the East to build new factories there.

  In 1891 the Winner Bridge Company was building the piers for the bridge that would span Missouri River, the Winner Depot Company was building a train station, and the Winner Building Company was laying the foundation for a 9 story office building at 7th and Delaware in Kansas City when the real estate bubble burst, and the Winner Investment Co. went broke.  Winner’s many projects would be sold and completed by other companies.  The bridge he started building in 1890 would become the ASB Bridge, opening in 1911.

   Willard E. Winner was born in Fairfield, Iowa, on May 4, 1849.  His family moved to Wyandotte in 1858 when Kansas City was in its infancy. From the age of 11 Willard worked as a clerk at the McHenry, Downs & Co. store.  His family moved to Kansas City during the Civil War. He later spent 11 years working in the post office, becoming assistant postmaster.  He left that job to go into the insurance business, and soon began to build his real estate empire.  He was married in 1872 to Myra Baker, daughter of   Dr. Peter Baker.  They are believed to have had four children.  Willard Winner died while on vacation in Texas in 1929 at the age of 80. Mrs. Winner passed away the next year.

The Blue River from 15th Street -- Then and Now



Washington Park in 1894

 From the book “Kansas City’s Fairmount Park” by John M. Olinskey

   The seventh season of Washington Park (now Mt. Washington Cemetery) was the first one with a lot of money spent on improvements. Until then, it was like a 400 acre zoo with a lake, but in 1894 things changed.

   The cars going to Fairmount Park drew more patrons.  The Fairmount and Washington Parks competitive wars began in earnest in ’94, fueled by money from the Holmes family, Washington Park’s new owners. A bathing beach and bath house were built at Washington Park, costing $10,000, and a restaurant was also added.  A wild beast show appeared in June.  Sir Charles Wombell of London brought his performing leopards, and Miss Mili Nana and her hypnotic lions thrilled the people as she entered the cage blindfolded.

   A parachute leap was also on the agenda, where a lady, in full evening attire, jumped 5,000 feet from a helium balloon.  Washington Park also emulated Fairmount Park in that the water from the spring in Washington Park was sold as Bethsaida Spring Water.  It was delivered in a 400 gallon horse-drawn wagon and sold door to door.  "For a free sample call 2536."

In addition, the park also featured Shetland ponies, boats, swings, a bowling alley and a shooting gallery.  It was 15 cents round trip from Kansas City to Washington Park on the Dummy Line.
To be continued…

Growing Up in Fairmount

By W. Fred Hendrix

   I consider myself lucky to have grown up in Fairmount during   the 1950's. It   was a great time and a great place to be a kid.  We use to take long hikes in the woods and along the Mo. River.  The hills over looking the river had such things as "Look Out Point", “Dead Mans Trail" and the “Jessie James Cave.”  

    One of the great joys was the Byam Theater in Fairmount and the Saturday afternoon shows. The Shows were all black and white then and were for the most part old 30’s and 40’s reruns but   we had never seen them before.  Tarzan movies, and Westerns along with Flash Gordon and the Three Stooges. 

   There would also be a serial where each week a chapter would be shown, leaving the hero or his girl in the face of death to be continued the next week.

     Admission was 10 cents.  My mom would give me 35 cents, so that left 25 cents to spend. With popcorn at 5 cents as well as pop and candy for 25 cents it was enough to treat myself and also buy for my "girl friend.” It was great for the parents since they had a place to drop off the kids on a Saturday to keep them busy and out of the way and it was great for the kids to see the movies and to spend time with their friends outside of school.

   Once a month or so the Byam would have a talent contest on Saturday afternoon.  The girls would have little dance skits, boys would play drums or do a reading or comedy skit.  The prizes were a box of popcorn or a Coke and first prize was a free ticket to next week's show.  I entered and got second place with a much practiced and moving rendition of "Home on the Range."

   The Byam closed in the mid 50's but by that time we were going to the Maywood and then later the Englewood, and going a night.

    It was a great time, little crime, no drugs, and cheap oil.  I remember the gas wars when a gallon of gas was 8 cents a gallon.  What a great time.

Buy This House, Please!


  This is not an advertisement; it’s a public service announcement.  We’ve been told that this blighted, abandoned house (and the lot next to it) on commercially-zoned 24 Highway, less than a mile east of I-435, will be up for auction by Jackson County on August 18 for unpaid back taxes. 

   If you’re interested in getting in on the ground floor of the revitalization of the “Road to Harry’s Library,” owning this piece of land could be a wise investment, and you could become a pioneer of the inevitable Independence Avenue Corridor Renaissance.  For information about Tax Sales in Jackson County, visit http://tinyurl.com/taxsale.

Summer in the Inter-City

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver participated at the 4th of July Parade in Sugar Creek, giving candy to Azelle Guajardo, age 3, and Zoe Reiber, age 10, of Sugar Creek.




This summer’s Third Friday Art Walks will overlap with Englewood’s Gypsy Caravan antiques, crafts, and flea market, going on every Third Friday and Third Saturday through September in the Englewood Arts District.


ELECTION SPECIAL: CAMPAIGN PROMISES

The Inter-City News would like to thank the candidates who took the time to reply to our question. We hope that our readers will not only show up at the polls and be counted on Election Day, but that they will encourage their friends and relatives to vote as well. If you find a candidate that you feel will help the Inter-City, please support that candidate with your time and/or contributions, and by spreading the word!
THE INTER-CITY NEWS ASKED CANDIDATES:"If you are elected, what can and will you do for the Inter-City area with respect to economic development, public safety, and social services?"
Jackson County Legislature, 1st District At Large
Sherwood Smith
“I'm a 36 year member of the Kansas City Fire Department and a 23 year Captain, very familiar with the Inter-City area. If I am elected no area will feel as if they are forgotten. I will make it my mission to bring economic development to the area. You are probably saying…sure you will!! Let me tell you why I think this can be done. First, the unincorporated land area is under our jurisdiction and should be a priority. Second, Inter-City is an inner ring suburb, vital to the heartbeat of the region. I will see that Blue Summit has adequate police protection by the Sheriff’s Department and also assist the Fire Department you now have, and I would insist that all codes in the area are adhered to and work to add a County micro lending program to assist small business owners in the area."

Frank White, Jr.
"Too often the 1,000 or so folks (including many hard-working families and retirees) who call that area and its neighborhoods home feel they receive second class service from their local governments. I will support and try to increase efforts by the county’s public works department and our Sheriff’s office to identify and remove abandoned houses, along with making sure property owners maintain vacant lots keeping them mowed and free from trash and debris. I also hope to be involved in the legislature’s Land Use Committee and to look for ways to encourage clean, productive businesses to locate or expand in the area."

State Legislature, 22nd District
Brandon Ellington
"I will continue to work on incentives that promote small business growth as well as incentives for redevelopment of abandoned infrastructure. Example: I filed bills dealing with both issues:
1.The Economic Grant Program (HB1400)
2.Small business tax credit (HB 1403).
There are multiple factors we have to take into account when dealing with public safety, such as poverty, social status, mental health issues, community awareness, & blighted infrastructure.
So here are a few bills I've filed to deal with the above: Increase in minimum wage, 1 cent sales tax on guns dedicated to mental health services, certification and bonding of working inmates.
By providing a living wage you start to combat poverty, providing increased funding for mental health services you start to address issues that definitely effect public safety, certify and bonding inmates give them the ability to gain employment upon release which reduces the necessity to commit crime.
I will continue to fight for the perseverance of social programs however I feel that some of the policies have to change."

United States Congress, Fifth District
Bill Lindsay (R)
"I am prepared to lead and ready to provide the leadership needed in the Fifth district. I am a veteran of the Kansas Army National Guard and an urban teacher and debate coach who brings academic excellence into my teaching and success through my debate program. I am married and have three grown children. My education includes AA, BA and MA degrees.
I plan to introduce legislation that will bring manufacturing back to the Fifth district which will further lead to money being circulated, which will help support the infrastructure of our struggling communities. For public safety I will present legislation that will provide education on gun safety and proper usage. I will introduce legislation that will make mental health services readily available for those who can be considered threats to our communities as well as give local law enforcement training in identifying mental health risks and providing better enforcement of the threats from those who suffer from mental disorders."

Eric Holmes (D)
"No matter who promises what, the pork will run out soon. A professional politician will promise the federal government will come to the rescue. In reality the solution best passed for the Inter-City will be the solution to turn the whole economy around. Congress can lower the federal minimum wage so more people can work. Congress can eliminate barriers to investments and entrepreneurship. Congress can fund more enforcement of drug trafficking laws. Congress can stop the Justice Department from suing banks, which is drying up investment dollars. I had a chance to witness first hand the most dangerous place on earth becoming the safest place in Iraq. The solution was finding concerned citizens who stand up and make an impact. Local leaders who do volunteer to lead need to be heard and listened to. They will be the source of any lasting impact. I will work with anyone on any idea who comes forward and wants to make an impact in his home. The US cannot solve another nation’s problems; we can only assist local leaders. This is the lesson learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. The same holds true in Missouri. Washington cannot solve local problems. Washington can only assist."

Bob Gough (D)
"Inter-City is an ideal community for Democratic candidates. The goal of every Democratic politician is to create a dependent, needy voter base, block economic development, and get reelected. Congressman Cleaver and all the Democratic state representatives don’t have to spend a dime campaigning in Inter-City area. The dependent voters of Inter-City give the Democratic politicians nearly every vote every election. The area is ignored by politicians because it would be politically dangerous to Democrats if the area became prosperous.
Prosperous communities like Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs have great economic development, public safety and social services. But they have Republican state representatives and Congressman Cleaver will have difficulty getting votes from these prosperous areas, but the solid Democratic votes from inter-City will more than make up for Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs votes.
The question on August fifth is: Which Democratic candidate should I vote for? Since I live in Lee’s Summit, I know what make[s] a prosperous community. Vote for Bob Gough on August fifth."

In Memory: David John Olinskey

     David John Olinskey, son of the late Raymond and Mary Ann (Delich) Olinskey, was laid to rest at Mound Grove Cemetery on Thursday, July 17, following a Mass at St. Cyril’s Catholic Church.   He passed away on July 14 at his home.

  David was born on April 11, 1959 in Independence, Missouri.  He grew up in Sugar Creek and was a member of the Van Horn Class of 1977.  David had lived in Warrensburg, Missouri for 20 years.  He was preceded in death by his father.

   David is survived by his mother, his brothers Raymond J. and Paul M. Olinskey, his niece Renee Johnson, and his great-nephew Colton Hercules, along with many friends and relatives who will never forget him.

   In his memory, the family encourages contributions to the St. Cyril Parish and the Sugar Creek CCRC.

Send tributes to editor at inter-citynews.com

 
  

Dr. Howard McFarland: Professional Biblical Counseling

   Dr. McFarland has been in private practice as a licensed recovery psychologist for 2 years and is endorsed through the UACII.  He has been involved in ministry for many years in one aspect or another.  He is using that experience now to help others through Biblical based counseling.  He understands real life and the difficulties it can bring, while helping sort through these trials, based on Biblical principals.

   While it is not necessary for you to be a Christian to receive counseling, Dr. McFarland will show you what the Bible teaches regarding you and your life.  You are free to accept or reject this information just as you would be with any other non-Biblical based counseling.

   Dr. McFarland has dedicated his life to serving others and helping them.   He volunteers in homeless shelters, hospitals, prisons, food pantries, and church ministries.  He also is involved in community projects.  He knows and sees real life and trials, as well as his own personal experiences.  If you want someone to talk to that's not judgmental, but will give it to you straight, then give Dr. McFarland a call.  He will be happy  and willing to help you learn to help yourself.

   His office is located at 201 W Lexington, #301A, in Independence.  His phone number is (816) 437-4022.  He offers day, evening, and Saturday sessions.



Are you a local entrepreneur, artist, or hobbiest that would like to share your story with the Inter-City News?  Please call (816) 388-0628 or email us at editor at inter-citynews.com

Inter-City News Makes History!

Who was Winner Road named after?  How did Van Horn High School get its name?

   Welcome to the first edition of the Inter-City News, published by historians and other citizens who know that a newspaper not only brings you events of the day, but also serves as an historical record of what life was like when the paper was printed.

   The goals of the Inter-City News are to inform readers and create a record of events happening now, to celebrate the history of the area, and to give residents and businesses a voice in their community.

   Every mid-month we will highlight area businesses, entrepreneurs, artists, and everyone else helping to grow the economy of this community and working to make it a better place.

   We want to connect you with the local politicians who represent you, along with services that can help you in times of need.  We will highlight community organizations and volunteer opportunities, and introduce you to people working to improve this area and protect its history.

  We invite you to share your news, events, stories, tributes, photos, history, and anything you’d like to see in your new neighborhood newspaper.  We encourage you to contact us by phone at (816) 388-0628, visit our website, inter-citynews.com, and our Facebook page.  We look forward to keeping the First Amendment alive in the Inter-City!

Acclaimed Chef Ray Kattan Opens “Grampa’s Cafe” on 24 Highway

   Renowned chef Ray Kattan, now known as “Grampa” has come out of retirement to open his new restaurant, also known as "Grampa’s Café" at 9517 US 24 Highway .  That’s the place older generations will remember for Theresa’s Italian steak sandwiches and Jim’s Tamales.
        
    Now Grampa is there, bringing with him the same Italian and Mediterranean dishes and sandwiches that have been winning him acclaim from coast to coast for decades

   "Nothing comes out of a can, nothing comes out of a microwave,” he tells us about his kitchen, and his menu.  “All of our food is fresh and prepared from scratch.  100% homemade."

  Kattan started in the restaurant business in the 1980s, selling Fruit Smoothies and Health Food at a spot in San Diego, California.  He went on to become a chef at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City, after which he brought his culinary talents to Kansas City, opening the famed Papagallos restaurant on Broadway during the 1990s. 

   Now he’s back at a classic Inter-City eating location, giving customers the convenience of grabbing a quick sandwich or sitting down to a full gourmet meal, ranging from a 10 oz KC Strip to his famous Italian and Mediterranean specialties.     "Feeding people is doing the Lord’s work," he said, explaining his desire to come out of retirement.

   Grampa’s menu features classic Italian foods like Spaghetti with Meatballs, Lasagna, Chicken Angelo, and his famous Fettuccini Alfredo, which was loved by the late Walt Bodine.  His Mediterranean specialties include Gyros made with a choice of fresh ground lamb, fish, chicken, or beef, Falafel Momtaz, Hummus Delight, Salmon Kabobs, along with his soups, salads, and unique appetizers.  Sandwiches include the Italian Steak, thick ¼ pound burgers, and the Eggplant Sandwich.  Grampa’s 3-Egg Omelets are served all day.



   And more than 30 years after opening his first Smoothie shop, Grampa Ray Kattan still takes pride in his fresh, all natural Smoothies.

   Grampa’s Café is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and is closed on Sundays.  The café is also closed on Fridays between 12:30 and 2 p.m.

Double Take

Sugar Creek recording artist Rob Pinter has teamed up with vocalist Kristian Boeth to form a new musical act, calling themselves Double Take.  They’ve been performing around the area with an eclectic sound that ranges from modern rock to pop and classic rock. Double Take will be performing June 26 at the Indigo, next to the Midland Theatre in Kansas City. 

Mayor Weir Spoke to Inter-City News

  
Last Spring the publishers of the Inter-City News sent the following question to the candidates who were running for Mayor of Independence:

"With all the development and improvements along the 39th Street and I-70 corridor, citizens in the northwest area of Independence (Fairmount, Mt. Washington, Maywood, and Englewood) tend to feel left out and neglected.  If you are elected mayor, what is your vision for improving the "Inter-City" district with respect to economic development, public safety, social services, and historic preservation?"

   The only candidate who took the time to reply was then City Councilwoman, now Mayor Eileen Weir.   This is what she wrote:


   "As a citizen of Independence I have volunteered with organizations including the NorthWest CDC, Englewood Business Association, Maywood Merchants Association, and Truman Gateway to support appropriate residential and commercial growth. I have participated in fundraising, publicity, strategic planning, and public policy. I was very involved in the school district boundary change, allowing the annexation of Kansas City schools into Independence, working directly with Sen. Callahan on this initiative.

   "For more than a decade, I have been personally involved in supporting the neighborhoods and commercial districts of northwestern Independence. This has been an important crusade for me because I have a strong desire to preserve the unique, authentic character of western Independence, and I believe this area of town provides great opportunities for the type of ‘new urbanism’ that I envision.
   “This vision, which has been fostered through my years of involvement with residents and business owners, includes neighborhoods that are diverse in use and population, designed for pedestrian and transit as well as cars, and aesthetically defined as a place that celebrates local history through architecture and landscaping.

   "To recapture the vibrancy that once existed in the city’s northwest, balanced development of jobs and housing must be planned. This plan should include a supply of affordable housing, increase in home ownership, historic preservation, safe streets, and the redevelopment of brownfield land.
  
"As Mayor, I will continue the work I have begun in northwestern Independence, engage the community in clearly defining the vision and goals, and execute strategies to meet these goals. I will also utilize the knowledge and experience I have gained through my volunteer efforts in the northwest to encourage investment in the other areas of the city that are also worthy of preservation and redevelopment."

ROBERT VAN HORN: Father of Kansas City

The place where Van Horn High School sits today was at one time a large home called “Honeywood,” built by Col. Robert Van Horn for his wife, Adela, at a place that was then called Evanston Station.

   If there any one man who could be called “The Father of Kansas City,” that man’s name would be Col. Robert Van Horn.

   In the early days of Kansas City history, no man or woman did more to build Kansas City into the major metropolis it would become than Mayor, Colonel, Congressman, and newspaper publisher Robert T. Van Horn. 

   As Mayor during the Civil War he brought troops from Leavenworth to secure Kansas City and protect the town from Quantrill’s Raiders and Confederate troops.

   He commanded a regiment of Volunteers and attained the military rank of Lieutenant Colonel serving in the Twenty-Fifth Missouri Volunteer Infantry.

   While serving as United States Congressman, he brought the first railroad and the first bridge to span the Missouri River to Kansas City, ending the hopes that St. Joseph and Leavenworth had of being the great railroad hub and metropolis that Kansas City would become. 

   Besides serving in uniform and in Congress, he served the city as postmaster, alderman, and state senator.

   From the time he arrived in Kansas City in 1855, his ambition was to build the river outpost on the bluffs into one of the most important cities in America.  He bought the local newspaper, “The Enterprise,” and changed the name to the Western Journal of Commerce.  As an editor he used his optimism and printing press to convince the world of the greatness of the City of Kansas.  He spread the newspaper boosting Kansas City far and wide, with subscribers in states all around the country. Van Horn’s newspaper would eventually be called, “The Kansas City Journal,” and would be Kansas City’s most trusted newspaper for more than the next half-century. 

   Robert Thompson Van Horn was born in East Mahonig, Pennsylvania, on May 19, 1834, and was only able to attend school when the weather did not permit farm work. At the age of 15 he became an apprentice at the Indiana County (PA) Register. After wandering around New York, Indiana, and Ohio as a “travelling typesetter” for a dozen years, he settled down in Meigs County, Ohio, where he studied law and married Miss Adela Honeywood Cooley in 1848.  He was 31 years old when he brought his wife and children to Kansas City.

   The Van Horn family had four sons, Caleb, Charles, Robert, and Dick.  Dick Van Horn was their only child not to precede them in death.

   Adela Van Horn passed away at Honeywood on July 24, 1910.  Robert Van Horn continued to live to the age of 91, passing away on January 3, 1915.

 Learn more about the life of Col. Robert Van Horn in our book “Vintage Kansas City Stories,” available at Amazon.com.