“History is not over,” proclaimed Brian Snyder as he presented the Jane Fifield Flynn Lifetime Achievement Award to the family of the late Greg Hawley.


“Pioneers are not over,” said Snyder, chronicling the courageous risk the Hawley family undertook when it excavated the Steamboat Arabia from a heartland corn field and turned their findings into one of the nation’s most acclaimed museums.

“History is not over,” proclaimed Brian Snyder as he presented the Jane Fifield Flynn Lifetime Achievement Award to the family of the late Greg Hawley.

“Pioneers are not over,” said Snyder, chronicling the courageous risk the Hawley family undertook when it excavated the Steamboat Arabia from a heartland corn field and turned their findings into one of the nation’s most acclaimed museums.

Indeed, the 51st annual meeting, dinner and awards program of the Jackson County Historical Society verified that history is not something of the past but a vital part of the present and future.

Hosted by the JCHS Board of Directors, the Jan. 21 event drew rave reviews from the nearly 150 guests who gathered to honor significant contributions to local and regional history. Held at the Kansas City Arts Incubator in the epicenter of the Crossroads Arts District, patrons were dazzled by the eclectic loft that affords a spectacular view of downtown Kansas City. 

JCHS Board President, George Lopez, served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, skillfully articulating the mission of the historical society and giving a comprehensive report on the Society’s achievements of the past 12 months and its goals for the coming year. Of particular note is the Society’s plan to augment and enhance visitors’ experiences at the 1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home museum on Independence Square. Plans include refreshed exhibits that more completely tell the story of Jackson County history and improved interpretive displays and materials. 

With the business of the evening quickly dispensed, focus turned to the presentation of the JCHS annual awards for outstanding achievement in local history. Lopez remained at the podium to bestow the Society’s historic preservation award to County Executive Mike Sanders and the Jackson County Legislature for the restoration of the Jackson County Truman Courthouse.

Accepting on behalf of the Legislature, Sanders gave due credit to the elected officials and private citizens who caused the project to be completed in record time and significantly under budget. Planning continues for the adaptive reuse of Independence’s stately historic icon which will require further collaboration from private and public partners.

JCHS Executive Director Steve Noll was honored to recognize J.D. and Barbara Warnex and Les Simmons as the Society’s 2009 volunteers of the year. The backbone of JCHS’s operation of the 1859 Jail and the Archives, volunteers provide vital services and allow the Society to keep its historic sites and research library open to members, tourists and historical scholars.

David Jackson, Director of Education and Archives, spoke eloquently of his two-year search for the remembrances of Mattie Lykins Bingham entitled “Reminiscences of Old Kansas City.” The intensive quest lead Jackson to Bingham’s sole descendant, Robert Owen, who was effectively persuaded to donate the manuscript to JCHS. Traveling from his home in New York to receive the award Owens gave kudos to Jackson’s persistence and professionalism in acquiring the document and returning it to its rightful home in Jackson County.

Jackson became one of the celebrated star of the evening as Giles Fowler, recipient of the Historic Book of the Year award for his riveting account Deaths on Pleasant Street: The Ghastly Enigma of Colonel Swope and Doctor Hyde, credited the Society’s archivists as the true hero of the literary endeavor by providing research support, photographs and source materials. Chronicling the mysterious events that took place in and around the Swope mansion 100 years ago, the book delves into the deaths of members of the prestigious family and the ensuing trials of Dr. Hyde. The Historical Society will present a reenactment of the famous trial in conjunction with the UMKC School of Law in the spring of this year.

A quarter century of passion and determination fueled Jane Mallinson to create appropriate recognition and interpretation of Wayne City Landing on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. One of the country’s foremost experts on the pioneer trails, Mallinson drew on her extensive knowledge and her community connections to spearhead the interpretive overlook that now welcomes visitors.
Proving that public/private partnerships are often necessary for historic preservation, the Sugar Creek Business and Civic Club and Lafarge North America shared in the honor as recipients of the award for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation and Education.

The Jackson County Historical Society is a non-profit organization dependent on the support of gifts, donations and bequests to operate and maintain its historic sites, archives and educational programming. Information about membership, services and ways to support local history are available by visiting www.jchs.org or calling 816-461-1897.