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 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.

Cover of the new book. Click image to order a copy of the book

Cover of the new book. Click image to order a copy of the book

The 280-page page, The First Beverly Hillbilly: The Untold Story of the Creator of Rural TV Comedy is based on an unpublished manuscript by Henning's wife Ruth which was found in our archives.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

Learn more about Henning's life and career

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.

October "Haunted" Ghost Tours

Members of JCHS can purchase early bird tickets beginning September 1st. 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! Purchase tickets here. <<<<<<<<<<

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. 

October Ghost Tours benefit the Jackson County Historical Society. 

Sponsors: Dusk 2 Dawn Paranormal and Pioneer Trails Adventures

Friday the 13th- Historical Hauntings at the 1859 Jail 

 We have a special event planned for Friday, October 13th- Historical Hauntings at the 1859 Jail. JCHS members will have early bird access to tickets beginning September 1st. Tickets go on sale for the general public September 5th at 10AM. Purchase your tickets here. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<

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.

The Bandit Rides Again- Trial Re-Enactment

The Jackson County Historical Society will reenact the retrial of Bill "Whiskeyhead" Ryan and his involvement in the 1881 robbery of an Alton & Chicago train about five miles east of Independence at the Glendale Station. It is equally a story about the end of the Jesse James gang.

This event is based on extensive research by local historian Ralph Monaco and will feature many members of the Jackson County legal community and other historic reenactors.

The public performance will take place in the actual courtroom where the case was first heard in September 1881.
Space is limited for the performance in the historic Brady Courtroom in the Truman Courthouse on the Independence Square. Tickets are $10. Purchase tickets here


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
The Bandit Rides Again: Jesse James, Whiskeyhead Ryan, and the Glendale Train Robbery

Local historian and attorney Ralph Monaco II continues his story about the Jesse James and his gang in his new book The Bandit Rides Again: Jesse James, Whiskeyhead Ryan, and the Glendale Train Robbery.

The book has just been published and coincides with an upcoming reenactment of the trial on Sat., Oct. 14th in the Brady Courtroom in the Truman Courthouse. The event begins at 1 pm. Tickets are $10.

After the Civil War through 1876, almost every criminal escapade committed in the Midwest was laid at the feet of the James-Younger Gang.

Their banditry suffered an inglorious end in September 1876, at the failed First National Bank robbery in Northfield, MN. Frank and Jesse remained on the lamb for the next three years, living in seclusion and under aliases until Jesse was compelled in 1879 to ride again.

Historians to discuss Hare & Hare landscape firm

The State Historical Society’s Center for Missouri Studies at Kansas City will host a program Sept. 14th exploring the history and significance of the nationally renowned Hare and Hare landscape architecture firm.

The program will be at 6:30 pm at the American Institute of Architects - Kansas City, 1801 McGee St., Suite 100. There is a reception at 5:30 pm. Registration is appreciated but not required.

The program will feature a conversation between landscape historian Carol Grove and architectural historian and preservation consultant Cydney Millstein. Joan Stack, SHSMO’s curator of art collections, will moderate.

The father-and-son team of Sidney J. Hare (1860-1938) and S. Herbert Hare (1888-1960) founded the Kansas City-based architectural landscape firm of Hare and Hare in 1910. Sidney Hare worked as an assistant to George Kessler, one of the pioneers of landscape architecture and urban planning, when Kessler was designing Kansas City’s parks and boulevard system.

Cattle, Cowboys, and Culture: Kansas City and Amarillo, Building an Urban West

The Kansas City Public Library is excited to host the upcoming exhibit Cattle, Cowboys, and Culture: Kansas City and Amarillo, Building an American West.

The exhibit is created by the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and West Texas A & M University.

Contact the Kansas City Library for more details about the exhibit and a special preview on Sept. 22nd.

The exhibit’s co-curators, Amy Von Lintel and Michael R. Grauer, are native Kansas Citians who now are historians in the Amarillo area. The exhibit runs from Sept. 23 to March 18, 2018.

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.


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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