French toast and French fries are not really French; however, you could probably say the Sni, Big Blue and Little Blue Rivers were named by the French, long before Jackson County was broken off from Lafayette County (which incidentally, was named for a very popular French general).
The Blue River and the Little Blue River both picked up that name from the blue haze that hovers over the hills and valleys across Jackson County. The French fur traders knew this area in earlier times as the “Blue Country.”
If Andrew Jackson had not been so dad-gum popular in the mid 1820s, we would probably live in Blue County, but we don’t. Jackson County was named after the popular American general, even before he was elected president.
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.
Most schools are generally named after educators; however, William Chrisman High School was named after a banker – of Chrisman-Sawyer Bank fame. After his death, the Chrisman family donated his estate for a new high school provided they name it in his honor.
Van Horn was named in honor of Robert Van Horn, an early newspaperman, promoter and politician in Kansas City. He was responsible for securing the first railroad bridge across the Missouri, which eventually made Kansas City the second largest railroad town in the country. Van Horn High School is on the corner where Van Horn lived. His beautiful rock estate was named “Honeywood” after his wife, whose name was Honey.
Truman High was named after the president, and his wife, who came down ill with diphtheria, causing him to miss much of the third grade at the Noland School, which was named for the same family as the road was named for.
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.
Twyman was Jackson County’s first physician. There is a road 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 actual fort was originally called Fort Point during construction but was changed to Fort Clark in honor of the man in charge of its construction – William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame. Eventually it was renamed in honor of the Great Osage.
Sibley is probably the oldest town in Jackson County; it grew up around Fort Osage, which dates back to 1808 – long before statehood. The town was named for George Sibley, who ran the store at the fort.
Lexington was named for Lexington, Kentucky, and reminds a person of an “old charm” Southern town – it is full of beautiful Antebellum and Victorian homes.
William Wallace Livesay donated the railroad right-of-way and the land for a town, which was named in his honor. The railroad, however, misspelled his name.
In 1870, John T. Cobb built a nearby crossroads store and promptly named the corner “Rome.” Five years later in 1875 – when the railroad came through – the name was changed from Rome to Buckner Hill, in honor of Tom Buckner, who lived on top of the hill known as “Buckner Hill.”
Southwest of Buckner was a series of fresh water springs on the edge of the prairie. A town grew up around them and was named Blue Springs. Not because the water was blue, but because of that same French term – “Blue Country.”
Reference: “Jackson County Pioneers,” by Pearl Wilcox.
To reach Ted W. Stillwell send e-mail to Ted@blueandgrey.com or call 816-896-3592.