• Jim Evans still learning about his home town

  • Although Jim Evans has lived in Independence for all but two of his 74 years, he continues to learn new tidbits about his hometown and its county.

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  • Although Jim Evans has lived in Independence for all but two of his 74 years, he continues to learn new tidbits about his hometown and its county.
    Every Thursday morning, for three hours, Evans volunteers at the Jackson County Historical Society, sorting newspaper clippings from The Examiner and The Kansas City Star and filing them in appropriate folders.
    He began helping out about three years ago, and earlier this month, the Jackson County Historical Society recognized Evans for his work to help preserve and catalogue newspaper clippings for quick and easy access.
    “I think I’ve said it before – we’re so grateful for our volunteers,” said David W. Jackson, the historical society’s archives and education director. “We couldn’t do half of what we do without them.”
    HOW IT STARTED: Evans sings in the choir at Noland Baptist Church with Gary Kimball, who has volunteered in photo data inventory at the Jackson County Historical Society since 1996.
    Kimball convinced Evans to take up volunteering at the historical society, and the two men, along with Jackson, sat inside a tiny office at the Commerce Bank building off of the Square Thursday morning, each completing his own respective task. The Historical Society temporarily relocated to the building last March since its former home, the Truman Courthouse, is being restored.
    HOW IT WORKS: The newspaper clippings date from the early 20th century all the way to today. Many clippings are donated to the historical society from private collections, and staff members also clip articles pertaining to Jackson County news. Those clippings are then filed in appropriate folders, which can be referenced on detailed keyword log sheets.
    The “everyday news” like fires and murders aren’t clipped, but recent stories like the closing of McCune Residential Center and the animal shelter issue find their way into folders.
    “It’s things that we think people in years to come might come in, wanting a fast answer about,” Jackson said. “It’s not that ordinary, daily stuff.”
    People who want more information about a subject but don’t want to sift through microfilm can ask the historical society to pull folders for research purposes, such as county officials have done recently with the Jackson County Courthouse.
    LEARNING ABOUT HIS HOMETOWN: Evans grew up in the Fairmount area and was part of the first graduating class at Van Horn High School in 1956.
    “Having grown up here in Independence, a lot of things written are about people I have a connection with,” Evans said.
    But, he also learns new facts along the way, including the Horne’s Zoological Arena Co., which was a fixture in Jackson County from 1912 through 1932. According to a 1988 article in the “zoo” files, Horne purchased 15 acres east of Independence. Sturdy buildings and fences were constructed to accommodate the animals.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I never had any idea,” Evans said. “I’ve driven on Truman Road out that way for years and I never realized that there was anything like that here at any time.”
    OTHERS CAN HELP, TOO: The Jackson County Historical Society is seeking volunteers who can donate a minimum of three hours each week. Volunteers are needed for archival work, as well as at the 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home & Museum. Call 816-461-1897 for more information about how to volunteer.
    “I just really enjoy it,” Evans said, who also is interested in genealogical research. “It’s easy for things to get lost, and I think things need to put down for historical purposes.”
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