Primary sources only, Jane Mallinson often preached.

Primary sources only, Jane Mallinson often preached.

Family members and friends say that Jane firmly believed in firsthand information – and the information often needed more than one source to ensure its accuracy for Jane.

“If she wrote something down, you could bet it was accurate,” says John Mallinson Jr., Jane’s husband of 65 years. “She always had her references where she got the information and generally had more than one plot because she did not like to be wrong.”

In her efforts to preserve history in Eastern Jackson County – particularly in Independence and in Sugar Creek – Jane made history herself. Jane, a lifelong Eastern Jackson County resident who was born in Independence and moved to Sugar Creek after marrying John, died May 22 at age 87.

Jane’s love of history developed early in life as her father took the family to visit historic sites in Jackson County. She enjoyed visiting Fort Osage before it was reconstructed and included just a low rock wall and foundation stones.

According to Jane’s son Matt, a pharmacist and member of the Independence school board, Jane was childhood friends with Margaret Truman, the only child of President Harry Truman and his wife, Bess. John, who lived with Jane on a family farm in Sugar Creek, says Jane’s ancestry was an interesting one, including two U.S. presidents – though he could not recall which two.

“I’ve listened to so much history over the years that sometimes I don’t catalog as well as she does,” John says, referencing his wife’s ability to remember history.

Jane served as chairwoman of the Wayne City Landing Site Committee in 1983. Wayne City Landing, an early settlement in what is now Sugar Creek, served as a site where early pioneers settling in the West received supplies. Because of Jane’s efforts, a commemorative marker was built at the landing.

Jane and John’s educational video, “Petticoat Pioneers,” received several awards and was often used in classrooms. Jane was an active member of the Independence Pioneers chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and served as regent from 1984-86.   

“Jane really became my mentor and led me through the steps of being regent,” says Independence resident Frances Mason, who served as regent of the Independence Pioneers DAR chapter from 2002-04. “Without her help, I don’t think I would have ever made it. She just had this uncanny way to help people go above and beyond to accomplish the tasks at hand, and she taught me to be the best I could be.”

Earlier this year, Jane won an award through DAR for her World War II memoir essay, “The Kissing Brigade,” the story of how she and her female friends cheered their school classmates who vowed to enlist in the military on Dec. 8, 1941, the day following the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Twenty-five years ago, Jane started the trails essay contest for fourth-grade students in the Independence School District. Mason now serves as chairwoman of the annual essay contest.

“I feel like it’s kind of a legacy that she’s left me that I’m able to continue the work that she started 25 years ago,” Mason says.

Eleanor Shafer, another Independence Pioneers DAR member, talked on the telephone with Jane almost daily. Preserving history, Shafer says, was Jane’s motivating force in life, calling her “a fountain of information.” Jane used her numerous community connections in developing her ideas for historic preservation, Shafer says.

“She was able to convince the unconvinced in these things,” Shafer says. “She is very deserving of everything nice you could say about a person.”

Jane served as the Jackson County Genealogy Society’s first president in 1979. Coincidentally, May is celebrated as National Preservation Month through the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“She was so deeply committed to her interests in the community, particularly her work in history,” says state Sen. Victor Callahan, D-Independence, who knew Jane for 30 years. “It was a dedication of love on her part. She was always a consummate professional and truly a joy to talk to. You just wish you had people like Jane Mallinson around any project.”

In 1991, Jane organized the Missouri River Outfitters, the local chapter of the National Santa Fe Trail Association. She also served as the first president of the Friends of the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence and helped create the museum in the late 1980s with city officials and community members.

“She was really diligent on everything she worked on,” says former Independence mayor Barbara Potts. “At that time, the city didn’t really have the funds to acquire the building, but we wanted to be able to interpret that important piece of Independence history that wasn’t being interpreted. She was very helpful in getting state support for that, and we can be very indebted to her. She was a very, very dedicated public servant and represented this area wonderfully.”