William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 13] [part 11] [Cutler's History]


It would be almost an impossibility to write in detail the early history of Kansas City, Kan., without treating the topics connected with the early times of the whole region, comprising the establishment of the Chouteaus at a point about three miles below Kansas City, and on the south side of the Kaw River, opposite Muncie, between 1821 and 1825, and the French settlement, or the Kawsmouth settlement, made after the flood of 1826, which washed away M. Chouteau's post-agency houses in the bottom opposite Randolph Bluffs. Again, it would be an impossibility to separate Kansas City, Kan., from Kansas City, Mo., in such an narrative, which partakes at best, much of the nature of fiction, and has been gathered from unreliable sources. Reference is made for the accounts of the Indian and French settlements to the general State history. The first white settler after the French traders to locate upon the present site of Kansas City, was James H. McGee, who made three entries of eighty acres each in Sections 5, 7 and 8, on November 14, 1828. The settlement of Rev. Isaac McCoy, four miles south of Kawsmouth in 1831; the establishment of a trading house at this point by his son, John, during the next year; the removal of the Indians, from 1832 to 1840; the platting of Westport in the meantime; the development of the great Santa Fe' trade, and the founding of Kansas City, as a convenient landing place for the goods of the Indian and Santa Fe traders, and the formation of the town company in 1838 are matters which cannot be separated from the history of Kansas City, Kan., nor yet, since the city is treated here as a separate corporate body, can full details be given. A settlement was begun in 1857, on the east side of the Kansas River in what is now Kansas City, Kan., or, more properly, a house was planted on ground where now flows the Missouri River, just east of the mouth of the Kaw. It was built by David E James, was a two-story frame, and stood there about ten years. This was United States land at that time, being claimed by Silas Armstrong under the treaty between the Wyandots and the United States, as his float. Certain leading Wyandots had been granted a section of land each, to be located in any spot they might choose; hence the term "float." Willis Wills and several others squatted upon different portions of this land, and claimed the right to pre-empt it. But in 1858, through D. E James, a compromise was effected by which Silas Armstrong released his claim to a portion of it, and the settlers released to him the balance. The log house occupied by Mr. McDowell in 1857 and several years after, may be seen to-day standing on the south side of Sixth street, just this side or west of the State line. This is the only building left of those on the Armstrong "float," in 1857-58. That float comprised what is now Kansas City, Kan., lying between the State line and the Missouri River. Many acres of it have been washed into the river. That year, the traveled road between Kansas City, Mo., and Wyandotte ran where now is the south side of the Missouri River, at its most southerly bend; hence at low water the whole of the river runs where then was a cornfield; but since the riprapping of 1867, it wears no more. Much might be written of the early history of the Armstrong "float," now known as Kansas City, Kan. Several families resided on the point from 1856 to 1860, who were regarded only as squatters. They obtained a living by various means. There was a family named Johnson here then, having a habitation where now the Missouri River runs, a few hundred yards northeast of the Anglo-American Packing House. This family was known to the early settlers as fishermen. The family of Edward Olivet, were recognized by Armstrong as having a squatter's interest in the land, and while the towns of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte were being built, Mr. Olivet was the agent of Armstrong for the sale of sand and wood to the people of either town. Mr. Henry Williams also resided out in land now claimed by the "Big Muddy." There was also a house full of colored people in that now imaginary place on the point. The house heretofore mentioned as the land office building, was a building of twelve rooms, and had its history. Settlers of early date now reside in Kansas City who remember this old house as having had the reputation of being haunted. It was said that the ghost of a Mr. Wills would on certain occasions appear in the house and make claims to the ground on which the house in which he once resided stood, as the property of his heirs. The claims of the Missouri River were pressed with such irresistible force that when the land became water, the occupation of the ghost departed. Business is now too lively in this neighborhood to permit the existence of ghosts, and that old idea is rapidly fading away. Near the State line on Sixth street, the widow of Edward Olivet - Mrs. Sophia Olivet - now lives, the only one of the original squatters on the Armstrong "float" now claiming a home on said track.

The Kansas City (Kan.) Town Company was formed in 1868, by Silas Armstrong, David E. James, Dr. George B. Wood, Luther H. Wood, William Weir, Thomas Ewing, Jr., T. H. Swope and N. McAlpine.

The town site was situated upon parts of fractional Sections Nos. 10, 11 and 14, Town 11 south, of Range 25 east, lying north of the old bed of Turkey Creek, east of the Kansas River, south of the Missouri River, and bounded on the east by the State line between Missouri and Kansas and comprised the following named tracts, viz.: Two tracts of land belonging to George B. Wood; two tracts of land belonging to D. E James; one tract belonging jointly to George B. Wood and N. McAlpine, and the piece of land lying between the hands of Thomas Ewing on the south and and of D. E. James on the north, between Armstrong street and Kansas River. The site was surveyed by John McGee, C. E., April 24, 1869, and recorded with the Register of Deeds of Wyandotte County, May 3, 1869.

The streets were named after the original proprietors of the town. Mr. James erected the first dwelling house of any prominence, in 1870, at the south end of James street, near the railroad tracks. Soon followed the establishment of the large packing houses and stock yards, whose business forms the bulk of the city's trade. In October, 1872, Kansas City, Kan., was incorporated. For details as to her city government and the enormous business transacted, the reader is referred to matter following:


The first city election was held October 22, 1872, by order of Judge Hiram Stevens of the Tenth Judicial District, and resulted in the election of the following city officers:

Mayor, James Boyle; Councilmen, S. W. Day, Charles H. Jones, John McKnight, George Forschler and James Lundell; Police Judge, James Kennedy; City Clerk, Cornelius Cushin; Treasurer, Samuel McConnell; City Attorney, H. L. Alden.

The mayors of the city since its organization have been: James Boyle, C. A. Eidemiller, A. S. Orbison, Eli Teed and Samuel McConnell. John Sheehan was appointed Marshal in 1875, by Mayor Eli Teed, and has held the office continuously up to date. He is also Chief of Police, having a force of five men.

In June, 1880, the Governor of Kansas proclaimed the city of Kansas City a city of the second class. The following are the present officers: Mayor, Samuel McConnell; Councilmen, Samuel W Day, Richard Edwards, Cornelius Butler, George Forschler, Theodore Kennedy and James Sullivan; Police Judge, B. M. Brake; City Attorney, W. S. Carroll; City Clerk, H. C. Stout.

The fire department of Kansas City, Mo., extends its protecting arm over Kansas City, Kan. A public building is now (in September, 1882,) being erected on James street, near Sixth, for the purpose of accommodating the fire and police departments, and also the city officers. The city is attached to Kansas City, Mo., for postal service, and receives its mail by the free delivery system of that office. For banking and postal exchange the five thousand people of this growing town are compelled to go to the stock yards in the extreme south part of the city, to Wyandotte, or to Kansas City, Mo.


The city limits are also the limits of the school district, which contains about 300 acres of land, 5,000 people, and nearly 500 school children; seven teachers are employed. The first building was built in 1871; in 1879, it was enlarged. The Board of Education is now composed of the following named gentlemen: President L E James; Treasurer, Samuel McConnell; Members, Dr. A. H. Vail, George Nelson, John Furguson, E S. Mattoon and J H. Spake. The principal and teacher of the sixth and seventh grades is H. S. Gibson. The colored school is conducted in a separate building has an average daily attendance of forty-five, out of over seventy enrolled in the district.

On the first floor of St. Bridget's Church, corner of Wood and Fourth streets, the Rev. F. M. Hayden, assisted by two sisters of charity conduct a parochial school of 120 pupils.

Methodist Episcopal Church. - The first organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Kan., was in the year 1872. The church was not sufficiently strong to build a church building until 1882. Early in the summer of that year, Rev. W. A. Crawford, of Illinois conference, was assigned to this charge, and in September a church edifice was erected on the southwest corner of First and Wood streets, at an expense of $4,000. A parsonage on south side of same lot was completed at an expense of $1,700. Although the church books now show a membership of only fifteen, one may readily understand by the amount of building done in 1882, that they are zealous workers.

Wood Street Baptist Church was chartered in the year 1878. In June, 1881, the church building located on the southwest corner of Wood and Sixth streets, was erected, and services have been held therein every Sabbath morning and evening since that date.

In the spring of 1882, the Rev. G. W Ford pastor, was removed by the hand of death, and the pulpit is temporarily supplied by Rev. J. W. Irwin. The number of members now enrolled on the church books are sixty, and the number of Sunday school scholars in attendance each Sabbath, 110. The church property is valued at $5,500.

Swedish Baptist Church. - This church was organized in Kansas City, Kan., in 1879, and the present church edifice completed in 1881. It is located on the southwest corner of Wood and Third streets, with a tasty parsonage conveniently in the rear. Services are held every Sabbath morning and evening by the Rev. C. A. Schrogren, pastor. The membership numbers forty. Valuation of church property, $3,500.

St. Bridget's Church (Catholic) was organized in December, 1880, and in May, 1881, the new church building on the corner of Fourth and Wood streets was completed and services held therein by Rev. F. M. Hayden. It is a two-story wooden structure, the first floor being used as a parochial school, and the second floor devoted to church purposes. The parish contains nearly 1,000 members. The church property is valued at $7,000.

The Congregational Society has a building known as Kawsmouth Chapel, on the east side of Wood street, between Fourth and Fifth, which is valued at about $4,000. It was erected in 180, and in addition to being used for church and Sabbath school purposes, is otherwise utilized as follows: The basement is a restaurant, and meals are sold at $3.25 per week; the first floor is a public reading room during the week, but devoted to services on Sunday, and the second floor for lodging rooms. The profits of the lodging and restaurant are used to support the religious services and to keep the reading room supplied with proper literary works and periodicals. Rev. J. t. Breese conducts the devotional exercises, and is the superintendent of the business interests of the chapel. The Swedish Lutheran society also hold services in this chapel every Sunday morning.

The Colored Baptists of this city have a strong and earnest organization. They are now in fall of 1882, renting a building on the southeast corner of Wood and Sixth streets, and hold regular services every Sabbath morning and evening. The church was organized in 1880, and the list of members contains forty-six names.


The Weekly Spy came into existence in the year 1880, and was the property of B. M. Brake. In September, 1882, Charles H. Van Fossen & Felix G. Head bought the material of the Weekly Spy, and commenced the publication of the Daily Evening Globe September 5. It is a sprightly evening journal with experienced men in charge, and will till the field now open for it creditably. Mr. Felix G. Head, the editor, was for several years connected with the St. Paul Pioneer Press; and Charles H. Van Fossen, the business manager, is an old resident of Kansas City, Kan., one of the early settlers of the Missouri Valley, a man of much newspaper experience and one who has made life and business a success.

The Knights of Labor, a social, political and beneficial secret order, have an assembly in this city, known as the Argo Assembly, No. 2,005. It was organized June 21,1882, and it now has a membership or over seventy. It is composed of wage-workers, producers and businessmen and women. The officers are: J. G. Cougher, M. W. Frank Donnelly, W. T.; Edwin Berg, Secretary; W. O. Henderson, Treasurer; O. T. Angell, Financial Secretary.

Danish Union Freija, of Kansas City and Wyandotte, was organized about 1877, and was incorporated under Missouri State laws, in 1881. Its present membership is forty-five. The present board of officers is made up as follows: L. Brotherman, President; H. Johnson, Vice President; J. H. Mailand, Secretary; J. Carr, Treasurer; L. Johnson, Cashier. This society is organized for benevolent purposes.

Equitable Aid Union. - In the month of May, 1881, Occidental Union, No. 317, E. A. U., was organized in Kansas City, Kan. No. 317 has about twenty members, of whom Jacob Addison is President, A. J. Orcutt, Secretary; W. T. Brown, Treasurer, and S. W. Day, Accountant. When the Occidental Union was only one year old, in May, 1882, the order suffered a loss in the death of the Rev. G. W. Ford, pastor of the Wood Street Baptist Church, a member of No. 317. His family was promptly paid the sum of $1,000.

Half-Acre Mission. - The exodus of so many houseless, homeless, uneducated colored people to Kansas in 1879, made some provision for their future care and education a necessity, and as a great many of these people had settled in Kansas City Kan., this point was fixed upon by Miss E. P. Newcom as a desirable one to establish a Mission, whose object should be the distribution of charity, and the civilization of the unfortunate colored women and children. Accordingly, the Half-Acre Mission building was erected. It is a two-story frame structure, situated on State Line street, in which is conducted a school for the education of colored women and children in needle-work, house-work, and the common English branches. The manager, Mrs. L. P. Fulton, also distributes clothing, received through various charitable channels, to the needy colored people of both sexes, of the noted Half-Acre District. One hundred pupils are now receiving instruction at the evening school, chiefly women and girls, while during the year several hundred are partially clothed and shod. There is also a branch of this work in Cherokee County.

The Colored Masons of Kansas City, Kan., became strong enough in 1882 to form a separate organization, and in September of that year a lodge called St. Andrew's Lodge, was organized and has since held its regular meetings in the hall on the corner of Wood and Sixth streets. The officers are: P. T. Toliner, W. M.; B. Smith, S. W.; L. Lably, J. W.; C. J. Bruce, Scribe.


To read the business history of this marvelous young town w ill cause readers to open their eyes with astonishment. One can scarcely comprehend that a town only ten years of age should be such a hive of business industry. Over a million of dollars per month change hands here in legitimate and healthy trade. It will be necessary, in order to give the reader a complete understanding of this immense business, to take some of the more important enterprises and describe them in detail.

Plankinton & Armour's Packing House. - In the fall of 1871, this firm moved their packing business from Kansas City, Mo., to its present site near the State line, and commenced the erection of buildings for their present mammoth establishment. They have continued to build each year, until now their buildings cover nearly ten acres of ground, some of them reaching five and six stories in height. During the summer of 1882 two large, four-story warehouses were completed and put in readiness for the fall slaughter. The rooms are illuminated by the Brush Electric light and the cooling rooms are filled with cool air, produced by four large refrigerating machines. The capacity of this house is so great that in busy times eight hundred hogs per hour are caught by the hind leg, raised on a track, passed before the sticker, on to the scalding vat, through it to the scraping machine, into the hands of the disembowelers and thence to the cooling rooms, where they remain twenty-four hours. They are again started toward the consumer, by way of the cutting department, where they are separated into their several specialties and pass on to the curing, salting, pickling and smoking rooms, and from thence into barrels, boxes, or canvas, ready for shipment. The entrails, blood and refuse go to the fertilizer room, where they are made into fertilizer, valued quite highly in Eastern markets. The tanking department for rendering the lard, is one of the largest branches of the business. There are thirty-one large tanks, each capable of trying out 10,000 or 12,000 pounds of lard. From the tanks the lard is run to the lard rooms and press rooms, where it is pressed, barrelled, purified and canned. Eight hundred cattle can also be disposed of each day by systematic machinery, constructed solely for the slaughter and packing of beeves. A few sheep are also slaughtered for the home market and for shipment by refrigerator car.

This establishment keeps on its pay-rolls a regiment of men, one thousand strong, and the weekly disbursement each Monday night, amounts to from $10,000 to $13,000.

The expenses of this house for the year ending June 30,1882, were over $10,000,000, and there were packed therein 450,000 hogs and 35,000 bead of cattle. They do everything in their own buildings except manufacture the barrels, although they keep a large force of coopers. The engines of this establishment, including the Brush light, refrigerator engines and motive-power for the various departments, amount to a 635-horse-power capacity.

This firm contemplates still further additions to their business facilities here. The bulk of the hogs killed here come from Kansas, while the products are shipped all over the civilized world.

The proprietors of this business are Plankinton & Armour. The resident officers are: S. B. Armour, General Manager; W. P. Alcutt, General Superintendent, and George and C. C. Alcutt, Assistant Superintendents.

The business of the coming year will be greater than that just recorded of last year, because of increased facilities for handling and the in more abundant hog crop of the State of Kansas, which is coming to Kansas City, Kan., through the stock yards.

The Stock Yards. - These yards are situated at the extreme southern limit of Kansas City, Kan., and are occupying every available foot of ground in that locality. This company was chartered in 1871, and commenced operations at once. It has been a Boston investment from the beginning, and the wonderful growth of the business, the readiness with which every railroad company running into Kansas City has availed itself of the opportunity to become a feeder to this business, demonstrates that Yankee pluck, when backed by good judgment and a thrifty foresight, is bound to win. These yards are now the largest in the Missouri valley, covering 130 acres, and having seventy-five acres of dry and comfortable pens. In the year 1871, the number of cattle received was 120,827 head; hogs, 41,036; sheep 4,527; horses, 809. In' 1881, the number of cattle had increased to 286,134; hogs, 1 015447; sheep, 79 848; horses, 12,604. If the present proportion of increase is maintained these yards will, in 1882, handle over half a million of cattle and more than one million and a half of hogs.

At the present time this company is under the management of Charles F. Adams, Jr., President; Charles Merriam, Secretary and Treasurer; Charles F. Morse, General Manager; H. P. Childs, Superintendent; E. E. Richardson, Assistant Secretary and Treasurer. Their full capacity is 10,000 head of cattle; 25,000 head of hogs; 2,000 head of sheep, and 500 head of horses and mules, daily. In 1876, the Stock Exchange building was built, at an expense of $35,000. It is a large four-story building, with a three-story wing on the west, fitted up with every modern convenience. There are thirty-four offices rented to banks, commission merchants and live-stock men, besides the rooms used by the officers of the company. The Bank of Kansas City, with a capital of $600,000 has a suite of rooms on the first floor; and the Merchants' National Bank, with a capital of $500,000, occupies apartments adjoining.

The Live-Stock Indicator, a weekly paper, wholly devoted to the live-stock interests, and the interests of Kansas City in live-stock, has an office in the building, and a corps of agile reporters among the cattle kings congregated here.

The growth of the stock business at this point is so very rapid, and gives such promise of still greater increase, that the company is already seriously considering the advisability of moving its whole business across the Kansas River to Armourdale, where it owns several hundred acres of land. The company has gone so far as to survey 220 acres of its tract, and lay it off in suitable alleys and pens for the business. Not many months will elapse ere this change will be made, and the present grounds laid out in building lots, which will be readily taken by business men, who are anxiously waiting for ground to enlarge their business and increase the number of their buildings.

The Soap Works. - In 1879, J. W. Bowen and G. J. Baer came from Leavenworth, Kan., located in Kansas City, built a large factory at 125 and 127 Armstrong street, near Riverview Bridge, and engaged in the manufacture of soaps. They have since made considerable addition to their building and business; have taken a third partner, Mr. C. R. Hallar, and are pushing business vigorously. In 1882, the value of wares they will manufacture here will exceed $100,000.

The Anglo-American Pork and Provision Company. - This immense packing establishment was located at this point in the fall of 1880. They had been operating a similar house or their own at Winthrop, Mo., but finding the hog market more convenient, and the shipping facilities greater they concluded to build on the peninsula, at the junction of the Kansas River with the Missouri. They therefore purchased the packing house of Mr. T. J. Bigger, and annexed sixteen acres of land on the point, and at once abandoned their works at Winthrop, Mo., and immediately commenced the erection of their system of buildings at Kansas City, Kan. In November, they were ready for business, and have steadily increased their facilities and extended their operations every month since. During the summer of 1812 they converted their ice houses on the bank of the Kansas River into a soap factory, and completed their glue works. To give the reader an idea of the immensity of this enterprise, and its value to a town, his attention is called to the following figures:

This house has a daily slaughtering and packing capacity of 3,000 hogs, 400 beeves, and 200 sheep. Everything required is made on the grounds. They consume $25,000 worth of coal per annum; their cooperage costs them $80,000 each year; boxes and other packing material, $60,000; salt and saltpeter, $60,000; sugars and syrups, $10,000. The item of tin alone foots up to about $30,000 per year, and the machinery for the manufacture of tin cans for their lard and canned beef, cost over $20,000. Their miscellaneous expenses are over $50,000 per annum.

They are not dependent upon the city water works, but have a system of their own, operated by separate engines, with hose connected with hydrants for every room in their many buildings. Their fire department is perfection itself, having a building for its exclusive use.

They no longer put up ice each winter, but have immense refrigerator machines for the production of cold air for their cooling rooms. A Brush Electric Light, with fifty burners in various parts of the buildings, was added in 1882.

Their present buildings in Kansas City, Kan., with the machinery therein, have cost the sum of $750,000.

Near St. Mary's this company has a flue stock farm of about 8,000 acres, on which they have expended $130,000 in improvements and blooded cattle.

The Anglo-American Pork & Provision Company is by no means a firm whose organization is of recent date. Five brothers named Fowler have been in the business for several years, and besides their institution at Winthrop, Mo., now idle, they also have establishments in Chicago, New York, and Liverpool. The manager of the company's affairs here is Mr. George Fowler, who resides in Wyandotte. The first year of their existence in Kansas City, Kan., their business aggregated over $7,000,000. Their second year, at present writing, is not complete, but the ratio already shows that it will be greatly increased.

One of the manufacturing establishments of no small pretensions is the barrel factory of Lain Bros., at 918 State Line street. It was located here in 1878, and is now making about $50,000 worth of barrels per annum, employing steadily over forty coopers.

The Kawsmouth Manufactory is also located in Kansas City, Kan. It is devoted to the exclusive manufacture of overalls. It is located in a deep two-story building, in which the hum of the sewing machines may be heard loud enough to attract attention for several blocks.

[TOC] [part 13] [part 11] [Cutler's History]