JCHS gives Independence Pioneer Spring Cabin Funds

Tuesday, October 1st, JCHS executive director, Caitlin Eckard, gave the city of Independence money raised from the November 2018 Pioneer Spring Cabin fundraiser. The event raised $930. Jim Allen, chair of the Independence Tourism Commission accepted the check and ensured that it would be used to rehabilitate the cabin at it’s new location between the Chicago and Alton Depot and the National Frontier Trails Museum.


Council recommends relocating and restoring pioneer cabin

Council recommends relocating and restoring pioneer cabin

The Independence City Council is recommending locating a Pioneer Spring Log Cabin to the National Frontier Trails Museum.

JCHS provided significant information about the history of the structure from documents in its own archives and a report by Erika Prado, an UMKC history major who prepared an extensive documentation on the structure as part of an internship.

Pardo’s report stated:

“The Spring Pioneer Cabin is likely to remain an ongoing investigation project until some more concise evidence appears. The available primary and secondary source material consulted allow researchers to find accurate information on the parcel of land where the cabin was supposedly built, but do not stipulate any specific information about the cabin itself. Miscellaneous information found at different locations helped highlight aspects of the cabin’s possible history, but once again, it proved to be insufficient.”

The report suggests the log cabin likely was constructed between 1835-1857 based on land records and property valuations.

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JCHS partners to get another history book published

JCHS partners to get another history book published

Jackson County Historical Society is partnering to publish another regional history book published through Mid-Continent Public Library’s Woodneath Press.

The next history book project is Frontlines to Headlines: The World War I Overseas Dispatches of Otto P. Higgins by local historian by James J. Heiman. Publication of the book was recently announced the book will be released in April 2019.

The book is a narrative review of the complete collection of 218 overseas World War I dispatches, which includes a sampling of dispatches and 42 field photographs by Kansas City Star journalist Otto P. Higgins and published between May 1918 and July 1919.

Both the dispatches and the photographs were created by embedded divisional correspondent Otto P. Higgins and published in The Kansas City Star between May 1918 and July 1919.

Descriptions of the dispatches are presented in narrative form in the book and organized sequentially in monthly installments by date of composition, followed by a representative sampling of photographs and intact articles.

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Life of former slave to be recognized

Life of former slave to be recognized

Stopping Stones arts initiative is partnering with The Westport Historical Society to recognize and celebrate a formerly enslaved African-American woman, Harriet “Hattie” Drisdom Kearney.

Hattie was 9-years-old when auctioned and purchased by Col. Charles E. Kearney for $1,300. Hattie lived the rest of her life, long after emancipation, with the Kearney family in Kansas City and is buried in the family plot at Union Cemetery. 

Surrounding the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) annual conference in KC, Stopping Stones will install a hand-stamped, brass plaque honoring Hattie on Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 5:30 PM.

Hattie’s Stopping Stone will be placed in the front walkway of the Harris-Kearney House, 4000 Baltimore Avenue, Kansas City, Mo. During the installation ceremony participants will honor Hattie’s sacrifices, tell her story, note the historical context of her time, and catalyze the audience to take action within the local community. 

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Oregon Trail Suite Played on Hawaii Public Radio

Oregon Trail Suite Played on Hawaii Public Radio

Selections from Dana Mengel's Oregon Trail Suite - which Jackson County Historical Society premiered in May - were aired on Hawaii Public Radio in a show featuring music by American composers and places.

The pieces were highlighted by Julie Anderson on her show Evening Concert. Anderson was in the audience at the National Frontier Trails Museum when seven selections for Mengel's original composition were performed.

Mengel has composed several pieces based on the history of the region including several pieces inspired by the paintings of Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham and his yet unperformed 21-movement Oregon Trail Suite.

This video is the first public performance of seven selections from the suite where Anderson learned about Mengel's new musical work.

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JCHS Issues Statement on Pioneer Spring Cabin Project

JCHS Issues Statement on Pioneer Spring Cabin Project

The Jackson County Historical Society supports the wide-ranging efforts of individuals, groups and others who are interested in sharing the rich history of Jackson County.

To that end, JCHS maintains an extensive archive of historic papers, property records, court files and images that it readily shares with others.

Among JCHS holdings is an extensive scrapbook that contains information, newspaper clippings and other materials related to the “Pioneer Cabin” which is the subject of extensive community discussion.

The discussion has brought much deserved attention to the challenges of the overlooked and neglected city-owned historic property.

While JCHS has an interest in sharing the history of the region, it is not interested in assuming responsibility for the future use, preservation or other alternatives being discussed for the log cabin structure. 

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National Frontier Trails Center receives local history award

National Frontier Trails Center receives local history award

The National Frontier Trails Museum (NFTM)will receive the 2018 R. Crosby Kemper III Award for Achievement in Historic Preservation.

The award, affectionately known as The Crosby, recognizes the continued accomplishments of the National Frontier Trails Museum for promoting the cultural and natural heritage resources and historic preservation, especially those which add benefit to the public and the states of Kansas and Missouri. 

The award will be presented on Sat., Aug. 11 at 2 pm at the NFTM located in Independence, Mo. The public is invited to attend. The museum is owned and operated by the City of Independence.

The award is given by the Westport Historical Society and R. Crosby Kemper III who is the director of the Kansas City Public Library.

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Chouteau Society marker saved

Chouteau Society marker saved

The Jackson County Historical Society has saved a Chouteau Society historic markers located in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Mo.

The historic marker was in the way of the building project and JCHS assisted in getting the sign removed and put it into storage until a new location in the West Bottoms can be found.

The saved historic marker was located at 1600 Genessee and tells the story of the old "French Bottoms" occupied by French fur traders in a settlement that eventually became early Kansas City.

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New biography of James A. Reed is published

New biography of James A. Reed is published

A new biography of James A. Reed recounts his extraordinary life - Kansas City trial attorney, politician, US Senator and Democratic candidate for president in 1928 and 1932.

The biography - James A. Reed: Legendary Attorney; Marplot in the United States Senate was written by J. Michael Cronan, a retired Kansas City attorney. This is his first book.

Reed was a major legal figure in the Kansas City community and involved in several high-profile cases including the sone of Jesse James, the Swope murder and the Myrtle Bennett trial - several of which had been living history trials put on by Jackson County Historical Society.

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JCHS seeks RFP for Historic Structures Report

JCHS seeks RFP for Historic Structures Report

Request for Proposals

Historic Structure Report

Jackson County Historical Society

Date: June 1, 2018

Primary Contact: Caitlin Eckard, Executive Director, Jackson County Historical Society (816) 461-1897 ceckard@jchs.org

Services: Historic Structure Report

Project: 1859 Jail Museum, 217 N. Main, Independence, Mo.

Closing date: Monday, July 16th, 2018 5PM



The Jackson County Historical Society (JCHS) seeks final proposals from qualified architecture firms to develop a Historic Structure Report (HSR) for the 1859 Jail Museum, in conformance with the provisions of the US Department of the Interior Preservation Brief 43 guidelines, specifically the treatment and work recommendations section.

 JCHS has owned the building since 1959 and used the space for museum exhibits, school tours, offices, collections storage, and event space. JCHS seeks to gain knowledge and insight into the historic nature of the building as well as to guide short- and long-term preservation efforts through the creation of the HSR.

This project will be financed with internal JCHS funds.

Proposal Contact

If you have questions about this RFP, please submit them to Caitlin Eckard via email at ceckard@jchs.org by July 10th, 2018.

Tours of 1859 Jail Museum

Prospective bidders are highly encouraged to visit the 1859 Jail prior to bidding. Please contact Caitlin Eckard, at ceckard@jchs.org to set up a tour of the building.

Submission of Proposal

Prospective firms shall submit one (1) electronic copy, sent via email, of their proposal and fee schedule no later than 5pm on Monday, July 16th, 2018 to ceckard@jchs.org

All submissions must be received by the RFP closing date and time. Incomplete submissions and submissions received after the closing date will not be accepted.

Background Information

1859 Jail

The brick, Federal style house and adjoining limestone jail was designed by Asa Beebe Cross, "the pioneer architect" based out of Kansas City. The original construction cost was $11,844.20 in 1859 (the equivalent of $325,893 in 2013).

In between the jail's construction in 1859 and the final decommissioning in 1933 a lot happened in the limestone cells. Guerilla raider, William Quantrill, met an angry mob upon his release from the facility. Scores of women and children were detained behind bars during Order Number 11. The infamous Frank James roamed the halls of the jail and read many a classic book in his cell. In the 1900s, inmates were chained together and put to work building new roads for a rapidly developing county.

After the last jailer hung up his keys, the county found a use for the jail and home when it housed several offices, work training programs, and government bureaus during the Great Depression. In 1958, a used building materials dealer nearly got permission to demolish the buildings and the right to claim the salvaged stone, brick and timber as the price for his work.

Luckily, the abandoned buildings were given a new lease on life when a group of civic minded citizens realized that there was yet another historic role for the unassuming two-story house at the corner of Main Street and Truman Road.

Ever since that brush with the wrecking ball, the Jackson County Historical Society has owned and operated the 1859 Jail Museum. The brick and limestone buildings hold an intense history that starts with the Missouri-Kansas Border War through the Great Depression.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Copies can be downloaded at http://jchs.org/1859-old-jail). The history of the building is also told in the JCHS book Lock Down which includes information about the people held in the cells, the jailors who inhabited the home and the changes in decor over the years.

Scope of Services

JCHS seeks to hire a firm with a strong background in developing Historic Structure Reports. The chosen firm will work closely with the Project Director, project team staff, and other stakeholders to develop an effective and useful HSR and resulting actions and policies.

The intent of the HSR is to influence the short- and long-range planning of JCHS in regards to the 1859 Jail use as a museum and guide plans for improvements to the building.

The firm selected will have experience working with historic facilities, be knowledgeable about the unique needs of a museum, and have a proven track record of budget considerations.

In preparing a response to the RFP, the firm shall propose and describe the detailed Scope of Services for this specific project based on the information above, and in accordance with the list below:

1. General: This project will follow Preservation Brief 43, The Preparation and Use of Historic Structure Reports (HSR).

a. The HSR must be complete and comprehensive addressing all aspects of the property including site, interior, and exterior features.

b. The HSR must provide an evaluation of significance, discuss the historic preservation objectives, and select one treatment (preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, or reconstruction).

c. This project will be carried out by project personnel who meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards (as published in the Federal Register of September 29, 1983).

2. Existing condition survey: A completed survey to document the physical spaces and elements and to assess the current condition of building materials and systems. The survey is expected to address:

a. The building exterior and interior materials

b. Features and finishes

c. Structural systems

d. Interior spaces

e. Mechanical (HVAC), electrical and plumbing systems

f. Fire detection, safety and security

g. Additional field testing as required: non-intrusive/intrusive investigation, sample removal, laboratory testing and analysis of materials.

3. Measured Drawings and Record Photography: A review to collect historic documents/photographs as well as preparation of measured drawings and photographic documentation to portray the current condition of the property. The measured drawings and record photography to follow The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and guidelines or Architectural and Engineering Documentation.

4. Suggest Treatment Approach (Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration or Reconstruction): Based upon the intended uses of the property recommend a treatment and recommended techniques for exterior and interior work consistent with the option.

5. Development of Work Recommendations: Based on the research and study develop and prioritize a set of work recommendations and estimated work budget remaining consistent with the above-suggested treatment approach. It would be expected that the work recommendations take into account applicable laws, regulations, codes and functional requirements with specific attention to life safety, fire protection, energy conservations, and abatement of hazardous materials and accessibility for persons with disabilities.

6. Report Preparations: Prior to drafting the final report it is expected the principal investigator would meet with the JCHS Project Team to discuss an outline of the report for consideration and review. JCHS may ask to meet with the contractor at any time to review project process and status.

7. Final Report: The final report will be presented in the form of a printed, illustrated manuscript as well as electronic format. JCHS will receive a minimum of three copies of the printed document.

The report is to include:

a. A narrative that documents the evolution of the building, its physical description, existing conditions and an evaluation of significance; and

b. A discussion of historic preservation objectives, together with recommendations for a treatment approach and for specific work. This information will be used to seek financial support for funders, foundations and a possible capital campaign.

Proposals will be evaluated within approximately two weeks of the bid closing, and bidders will be notified of their status as soon as possible thereafter.


This Request for Proposal does not obligate JCHS to award any specific project. JCHS reserves the right to cancel this solicitation or to change its scope if doing so would be in the best interest of JCHS. JCHS also reserves the right to waive irregularities in proposal content or to request supplemental information from a prospective bidder.

All documents in this package do not constitute a legal offer. A legally binding contract will not be formed until all parties have fully executed a written contract that incorporates all mutually agreed-upon instructions, specifications, conditions, and fees.

Minimum Proposal Contents

1. Project understanding and description of proposed work;

2. Project timetable and work plan;

3. Company profile and identification of Bidder personnel and any subcontractors who will supervise and/or conduct the work of the project, including details of their training and experience, and where Bidder personnel and subcontractors are located; and

4. Detailed cost proposal for services.

Proposal Evaluation

Jackson County Historical Society will evaluate proposals on the basis of the following criteria:

1. Bidder qualification, technical expertise, knowledge, and experience;

2. Overall cost of proposal; and

3. Any other factor(s) that might aid in selecting the best candidate.

The selection of the successful bidder is not based solely on low bid, but on the candidate that will best accomplish the objectives of the project.

Because our budget is limited, our particular interest in the report in understanding building structural issues and preservation treatment and approach.

Delivery Schedule

The production schedule will be determined at the project startup, on a schedule mutually agreed to by the successful Bidder and JCHS.


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Archives and Education Director Position

Jackson Co. Historical Society Archives and Education Director

Position Reports To: Executive Director

Location: Independence, Missouri

Primary Function: To preserve, catalogue, and make accessible archival records and to create and implement educational programming


·         Bachelor’s Degree in history or related field or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

·         Minimum preferred 3-5 years’ experience working in archives/ museums.

·         Experience with cataloguing and providing reference services, preferably in a research or museum library.

·         Knowledge of current archival arrangement and description standards.

·         Knowledge of computer standards and applications in archives and libraries.

·         Ability to work independently and manage highly sensitive material in a confidential and secure manner.

·         Strong written and verbal communication skills, organizational skills, attention to detail, excellent problem solving and interpersonal skills.

Job Specific Competencies:

·         Manage arrangement, description, and creation of access tools for archival records, including correspondence, photographs, financial records, administrative files, and publications.

·         Determine data entry and cataloging standards for the archival collections.

·         Manage and maintain archival databases, finding aids, and inventories.

·         Provide reference and research services to patrons.

·         Establish policies and procedures for the Archives and Research Library.

·         Serve as an ex-officio member of the Publications Committee, and execute the plans for periodic or singular publications as approved by that committee.

·         Use sound judgment in establishing priorities and implementing an effective work schedule.

·         Communicate effectively, orally and in writing.

Physical Requirements:

·         Mobility required to conduct business in other locations.

·         Ability to reach and lift boxes of books or papers weighing approximately 50 pounds.

·         Ability to hear and talk effectively and positively with Society employees, volunteers, patrons, and members of area organizations and government agencies.

·         Ability to coordinate multiple projects and deadlines simultaneously with minimal supervision.

Visual Requirements: Extensive computer use, reading of typewritten, handwritten, and digital documents.

Working Conditions: Position works closely with material that may cause allergic reactions, particularly to dust, and in areas with little ventilation.

Technology Proficiency: Microsoft Office, PastPerfect Museum Software, scanning, copying.

Compensation: Salary $32,000-$35,000

This is a full time position with ten paid vacation days, five paid sick days, and no health care benefits.

Please send a cover letter, resume, and three references to ceckard@jchs.org with ‘Archives and Education Director' in the subject line.

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Stephenson Restaurant sign finds a new home

Stephenson Restaurant sign finds a new home

The iconic Stephenson Restaurant sign - saved by the Jackson County Historical Society - has found a new home with the prospect that it will be someday be restored and put on public display.

JCHS has transferred the sign to a The Lumi Neon Museum, a Kansas City-area non-profit which rescues, restores and illuminates vintage Kansas City neon. The museum currently has over 14 neon Kansas City neon signs.

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City of Independence recognizes Steve Noll

City of Independence recognizes Steve Noll

Steve Noll, the retiring executive director of the Jackson County Historical Society was recognized by the Independence City Council with a proclamation at its Jan. 16 meeting.

The proclamation recognized Noll for "his insatiable love for local history and his contributions to our broader understanding of our own unfolding story."

JCHS has its archives in the historic Truman Courthouse and manages the 1859 Old Jail and Museum, both located on the on the historic Independence Square.

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JCHS signs up for community solar

JCHS signs up for community solar

The Jackson County Historical Society, in addition to preserving history, wants to do its part to help preserve the environment.

To that end, JCHS has agreed to purchase community solar for the 1859 Old Jail and Museum located on the Independence Square and served by Independence Power and Light.

Current community solar customers pay slightly more for their power and can subscribe up to 40% of their monthly usage, but they also lock-in electrical rates for a 25-year period.

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