by Murrel Bland
There are several forgotten communities in Wyandotte County, particularly along what is now Leavenworth Road. That is the view of Bill Gregg who presented a program Sunday, March 23, at a quarterly meeting of the Wyandotte County Historical Society at the Wyandotte County Museum.
Leavenworth Road was developed to provide a road for soldiers from the levee in the city of Wyandot to Ft. Leavenworth, Gregg said. Ft. Leavenworth was established in 1827. He said the road was established in the years after that; various communities came about along that route.
One of the communities was McGrew’s Grove near what is Sixth Street and Quindaro Boulevard that was developed in 1857, he said. Another was Six-Mile House, which was a stopover for soldiers traveling from the city of Wyandot to Ft. Leavenworth. Later there was a tavern nearby that developed a notorious reputation that it was a hangout for murderers and thieves, Gregg said.
The Calorific plant was developed in 1878 in the Brenner Heights community north of Leavenworth Road near 60th Street. Gregg said as many as 15 carloads of clay were shipped from there to plants in Kansas City, Mo., that manufactured firebricks.
The Pleasant Grove community developed in the 1860s near what is now 62nd Street and Cernech Road. It was a stop on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. There was a school and church in this community, Greg said.
Gregg said the Fairdale community developed near what is now 67th Street and Leavenworth Road. Vance School was first located here; there was a large YWCA camp there.
The Bethel community first developed near what is now 82nd Street and Sewell Avenue in the 1880s. Gregg said there was a railroad station, a town hall and a terra cotta plant.
Pleasant Ridge was developed near what is now 99th Street and Cernech Avenue; it had a school and lodge building, Gregg said.
The Vance community was established in 1855 at what is now the north end of 67th Street. By 1861, according to Gregg, the community had a population of about 400. Vance had a general store and a landing area for steamships. The area moved to what is now 72nd Street because of flooding of the Missouri River.
The Historical Society presented its annual awards after Gregg’s presentation.
Dennis Hays, who recently retired as the Wyandotte County administrator, received the Garland M. Smith Award; he was recognized for his and his staff’s efforts in helping with “the preservation and enhancement of the Wyandotte County Museum.”
Donald Thomas Taylor was named the “Historian of the Year.” Taylor, a Kansas City, Kan., trial lawyer, was recognized for historical research and writings on members of the Wyandotte County Bar Association.
The Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce received the Margaret Landis Award for Regional Historic Preservation. The chamber donated many of its historical records to the museum. Cindy Cash, the immediate past-president of the chamber, and Pat Gaunce, a former chairwoman of the chamber board, assisted in gathering these historical materials; they received a Special President’s Award. Cash said others who assisted in organizing and transporting materials were George Turner, Terry Robinson, Jerome Simmons and Quinn Simmons.
Kurt Russell received the Volunteer of the Year Award. He assists the professional staff at the museum. The Strawberry Hill Museum was recognized with the V.J. Lane Award for its preservation of the rich history of Wyandotte County.
Don Wolf, a professional photographer, received the Ethnic History Award. Wolf has published a book entitled “Croatian Love Story” including stories and photos of Strawberry Hill.
Those receiving Meritorious Service Awards were Bill Gregg, Roger Miller and the late Jim Masson. Gregg and Miller also received Lifetime Service Awards.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is a board member of the Wyandotte County Historical Society.