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. 

Jackson County Historical Society welcomes Caitlin Eckard to our staff filling a full-time position as operations manager and responsible for overseeing the JCHS Archives. 

Caitlin will join the JCHS staff on Sept. 1.

Eckard has an extensive background with regional historical organizations and has an undergraduate degree in history and masters in public history from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

She has worked with the Johnson County (KS) County Museum and most recently worked for the American Truck Historical Society.

Her experiences include arranging exhibits, educational programming, digitization, historical sites and working in archives.

JCHS Administrative Offices


October "Haunted" Ghost Tours

Tickets go on sale to the General Public on September 5th at 10AM. We will post a link here. Tickets must be purchased in advance, online. We will not be selling tickets in person- you must buy online. Last year tickets sold out within a week, so get yours early! 

JCHS members will have early bird access to tickets beginning on September 1st. You will receive an email with instructions on how to purchase early bird tickets the last week of August. To become a member and support local history, go to www.jchs.org/membership

Tour times are 7PM, 8PM, and 9PM. No refunds. No exchanges. All sales are final. 

Visitors will tour the 1859 Jail and Marshal's Home to learn about the history of the building and some of the ghosts that still "haunt" it. Then you will be whisked away on a covered wagon ride around the Historic Independence Square, where you will hear more stories about the Square. The tour takes approximately two hours. 

Friday the 13th

 We have a special event planned for Friday, October 13th- Historical Hauntings at the 1859 Jail. 

This tour will follow the same format as the Haunted Ghost Tours, but guests will have the opportunity to "meet" some of our spirits. The tour will be approximately 2 hours- visitors will spend 1 hour in the 1859 Jail and Marshal's Home, then spend 1 hour on a covered wagon meeting other "spirits." Tours begin at 7, 8, and 9PM. 

This event is recommended for ages 13 and above. The cost for Historical Hauntings is $25. No refunds or exchanges. 

The Haunted Ghost Tours benefit the Jackson County Historical Society. 

Sponsors: Dusk 2 Dawn Paranormal and Pioneer Trails Adventures.

JCHS Acquires Major 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.

News items
New history of Children's Mercy Hospital published

A new history of Children's Mercy Hospital is a detailed rich, photograph-filled account of the first 120 years of the Kansas City children's hospital.

The new book For All Children Everywhere takes a comprehensive approach to the history of the hospital founded by two sisters Alice Berry Graham (a dentist) and Katharine Berry Richardson (a surgeon) in 1897.

"It's time someone took a greater interest in helping children like this," Alice told her sister upon encountering a crippled girl in the Kansas City streets. "And Katherine, I think you and I are the ones to do it."

The two established “The Hospital of the Little People” which eventually became Children’s Mercy.

1859 Old Jail becomes Blue Star Museum

The historic 1859 Old Jail and Museum on the Independence Square is now a Blue Star Museum - a program that provides free admission to active members of the military between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The national program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation's cultural heritage and learn more about their community.

Over 2,000 museums nationwide participate.


New book shares WWI letters home to mother

Well-known writer and local historian Pat O'Neill has a new book out sharing wonderful letters from WWI soldier Sgt. George Wiegert home to his mother.

The book "Dearest Mother: Letters from a Lonesome Sammy 1915-1919" shares some of the 223 letters the young man wrote home to his mother from the front lines in Europe.

The young man, who grew up in rural Nebraska before moving to Lincoln, shares the dreams and fears of an intrepid youth who volunteered to be a "Sammy" - an American soldier who participated in the war to end all wars.

Missing Joelouis Mattox

Joelouis Mattox was an engaging, kind, interesting local historian who always endeavored to share stories about the community, particularly the African-American experience.

He share our deep condolences on his recent death and the outpouring of tributes to him.

Most recently, Mattox shared stories of African-American soldiers who served during World War I.


New JCHS Journal Available Online

The Summer 2016 JCHS Journal is now available online.

We share this in support of our educational mission and hope you will consider supporting our organization.

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.

JCHS recognizes award winners at  annual dinner

The Jackson County Historical Society recognized several individuals and organizations for their contributions to local history at its upcoming annual dinner.

The 2014 award winners are:

  • Historic Preservation Award: Historic Kansas City Foundation for 40 Years of Advocacy for our Built Environment
  • Bringing History to Life Award: R. Crosby Kemper III and Henry Fortunato for their roles in the Kansas City Library’s “Meet the Past” interview series
  • Local Group Making a Difference Award: The Midwest Afro-American Genealogical Interest Coalition (MAGIC)
  • Local History Book of the Year Award: Bruce Mathews for Windows of Kansas City
  • Collaboration in History Award: Ed Matheny Jr. for publication of Cowtown: Cattle Trails and West Bottom Tales in partnership with Mid-Continent Public Library
  • Volunteers of the Year Award: Paul White, Archives and Research Library and Timothy Truman, 1859 Jail Museum.

See a list of prior award winners.

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