I can’t think of another piece of landscape of similar size where so many things have happened that have been of significance in the story of America.
— David McCullough Pulitzer Prize winning historian and Harry S Truman biographer

From the JCHS Executive Director


Like many other historical organizations, the Jackson County Historical Society has begun the long process of digitizing our vast archival holdings.

Currently, staff and volunteers are working on scanning the large photograph collection that contains over 25,000 images.

Photographs are the number one requested item to view in our archive center which is one reason we chose to start there. 

JCHS Administrative Offices


JCHS Statement on Pioneer Spring Cabin

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. 
We are happy to share what we know in support of the efforts of others and intend to make some key information available online through our this link
Many successful preservation efforts in the City of Independence have been spearheaded by interested citizens and others who championed the cause and took on the project. That is how the 1859 Jail Museum, the Vaile Victorian Mansion, the Bingham-Waggoner Estate and the Chicago & Alton Depot were saved.
We do not want nor or able to take on ownership of any additional historic properties. We fully understand the challenges of preserving, maintaining and interpreting historic properties.
In 1959, JCHS saved the 1859 Jail Museum from potential demolition. The property, located at 217 N. Main, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the oldest historic property on the Independence Square. 
In 1964, JCHS purchased and subsequently restored the John B. Wornall House in Kansas City. In the 1990s JCHS transferred the property to a non-profit which has done a wonderful job with that property and also taking over the Alexander Majors House.
The 1859 Jail Museum will turn 160 years old in 2019 and JCHS has spent six decades owning and maintaining the historic property which is visited by over 8,000 people annually and used by the Independence School District for first-grade social studies programming. 
JCHS will be hiring a preservation firm this fall to thoroughly evaluate the building and provide guidance, develop a plan, and make short and long-term recommendation for work, projects and proper maintenance for the building. We anticipate a capital campaign to address building needs and update the historic interpretation based on information from the report. 
We wish the city and residents of Independence well with this project.

JCHS Acquires Major Regional Photographic Collection

In July, JCHS formally announced it had acquired a regional photographic collection from Chris Wilborn.

The photographs go back to the early 1900s and may include over 500,000, if not more, images.

“I kept everything,” Chris Wilborn said in a newspaper article about the acquisition. “My dad kept all the negatives he shot.”

JCHS plans to scan the photographic negatives and eventually make them available online.

“The end goal is all online through JCHS,” said Executive Director Steve Noll who helped arrange the acquisition.

Learn more about the Wilborn collection.

JCHS helps publish new book about Paul Henning the creator of The Beverly Hillbillies

The Jackson County Historical Society has been instrumental in the publication of a new memoir about Paul Henning - the Kansas City-area native who was the creator of the Beverly Hillbillies.


The 280-page page, The First Beverly Hillbilly: The Untold Story of the Creator of Rural TV Comedy is based on an unpublished manuscript by Henning's wife Ruth which was found in our archives.

The book shares Henning’s amazing life - working in early Kansas City radio, writing for celebrities and creating the widely popular television shows Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres.

"Hands-down the funniest book video and the sweetest homage to a local creative talent that you will ever see." SCROLL DOWN TO READ DETAILS "Half LA LA LAND and half CARPOOL KARAOKE-Kansas City Style."

 Books are available for purchase at the Jackson County Historical Society bookshop in the Truman Courthouse or online at a special website for this project.

The manuscript, completed in 1994 was never published, but later was found in the Jackson County Historical Society archives among the papers of local historian and journalist Sue Gentry and a friend of the Hennings.

The book is a cooperative publishing project between the Woodneath Press, an imprint of the Mid-Continent Public Library and the Jackson County Historical Society.

JCHS finds 1947 Santa Cali Gon video

The Jackson County Historical Society recently posted a 1947 home video made of the the second-ever Santa Cali Gon festival held.

The Independence community festival celebrates the community's role in outfitting those leaving for the West along the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails.

The video was featured in a story in The Examiner and there is more information on Santa Cali Gon our website including a copy of the 1940 program for the first festival.

The 17-minute video is being edited by local filmmaker Jefferson to promote this year's festival held over Labor Day.

Check out our Santa Cali Gon page.