Ever since the beginning of time everything has had a name, every hill and valley, river, lake and stream. Every town, city, and county across the state has a name. And all of those names have a history of some kind behind them.
Sometimes we wonder, with names like Peculiar and Tightwad, Missouri, just how they got those names. On the other hand, some are very self-explanatory. Many streets and roadways across the city were named after prominent people and some were named because of their destination point.
In Independence for example, Liberty Street, Lexington and Lee’s Summit Road were all named so because they were originally headed for that particular town. Liberty Street was the road to Liberty, eastbound Lexington Street was the old Rock Road to Lexington, and of course Lee’s Summit Road was the way to Lee’s Summit.
Kansas Avenue, however, was never headed to Kansas. In fact, the street was given that name long before there was a state of Kansas. That was still Indian Territory. It was named for the “Kaw”– the Konza Indian tribe. The Kaw lived on the plains of present day Kansas during the summer months, but wintered around the big springs and tall forest known today as the Independence town square.
Noland Road was named in honor of the Noland family, who were early settlers of the area, and Truman Road for none other than President Harry S. Truman, who came down ill with diphtheria causing him to miss much of the third grade. There was no medicine in those days for diphtheria, so Dr. Twyman prescribed ipecac and whiskey to
ease his misery. Dr. Twyman’s father was also a doctor, as was his father before him. The elder Twyman was Jackson County’s first physician. There is a road out east named Twyman, which went to the Twyman homestead just down the road from Fort Osage High School – which was naturally named after Fort Osage in Sibley. The old fort was originally called Fort Point during its construction but was changed to Fort Clark in honor of the man who was in charge of its construction – William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame.
Eventually it was renamed in honor of the Osage Indians who donated six square miles
of land for the fort – thus the six-mile district. Osage Street was also named for the Great Osage, and Spring Street ran from one spring on the south to another spring on the north end of town. There were 16 major freshwater springs in Independence back in the early days. Water was the staff of life on the frontier.
So, you might ask, what happened to them! It is my understanding that so many wells have been sunk across the Midwest over the years that the water table has actually been lowered. Thus, those springs no longer flow with fresh clear water. Some are still slightly active but they only produce what is known as surface runoff, and are very
polluted. Many years ago the city either capped them all or ran them off into culverts.
Eastern Jackson County has numerous streets named after the many native trees of the region, Ash, Willow, Walnut, Maple, White Oak and Elm for example. The city of Sugar Creek was named for the many sugar maples that grew along the banks of the small creek that ran through the middle of town.
McCoy Street, McCoy School and McCoy Park were all named in honor of the first mayor of Independence, William McCoy. Winner Road, Crysler, Waldo, and Proctor Place are also among the many streets named after prominent citizens of the past.
Ted W. Stillwell is available to speak before any club, church, civic, senior, or school groups. To reach Ted W. Stillwell send e-mail to Ted@blueandgrey.com or call him at 816-895-3592.