Independence commemorates multi-faceted history

Independence News Release

Media Contact: Janeen Aggen, Independence, MO Tourism  - (913) 599-2080

National Park Service – National Trails System unveils five historic outdoor panels 

Independence, and in particular, the surrounding Square and 1859 Jail, was truly a hotbed of activity during the heyday of the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails, the Missouri-Kansas Border War and the Civil war. The following commemorative events which highlight those historic eras are scheduled for Saturday, August 11, the 150th Anniversary of the First Battle of Independence.

Beginning in McCoy Park (corner of Bess Wallace Truman Parkway and College) at 8:30 a.m., the National Park Service – National Trails System will unveil five historic outdoor panels which tell the story of Independence and its relationship to westward migration. The City of Independence and its Parks and Recreation and Tourism Departments, National Park Service – National Trails System, Oregon California Trails Association, Jackson County Historical Society and McCoy Neighborhood have jointly supported this project.

Cheryl Harness, local artist and author, illustrated the panels. Local Independence historians furnished information for each of the five panels, which highlight:

  • Animal-driven short haul railroad that moved freight and passengers from the Missouri River through the park to the Square
  • Hiram Young, formerly enslaved, who owned and operated a nationally known wagon factory in Independence
  • Independence’s importance as a supplier and starting port for commerce with Santa Fe and as an emigrant embarkation point to Oregon and California
  • International commerce of frontier Independence
  • Roads from the east through Independence to Santa Fe, California, and Oregon on the west and places in between
Organizers suggest that people walk to the park or take a free shuttle from the parking lot on the corner of Truman and Main Streets at 8:15 a.m.

Board one of the Truman trolleys, which operate from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., to learn more history. For this Saturday only, the trolleys will add a drive through and narration about the historic African-American “Neck” neighborhood and McCoy Park neighborhood. Step on and step off all day long for $1. One of two trolleys will depart from a stop across the street from the 1859 Jail, 217 N. Main Street about every half hour.

The trolley continues its regular route past other tourism attractions: the National Frontier Trails Museum, Chicago & Alton Depot, Bingham-Waggoner Estate, the Vaile Mansion, Mormon Visitors Center, Community of Christ Temple, Truman Library, and Truman Home. Scandinavia Place, 209 N. Main will be offering books about the “Neck” and McCoy neighborhoods all day long.

The next event is a Civil War living history re-enactment at the 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home and Museum, 217 N. Main, from 10:00 a.m. to noon. When the Jail event concludes, there will be a book signing at the 1859 Jail. Iowa author Tom Jewett will be on hand to sign Failed Ambition, the Civil War Journals & Letters of Cavalryman Homer Harris Jewett, compiled from his uncle Homer Jewett’s writings. Union Amy Private Jewett participated in and described the First Battle of Independence. Lockdown, a book about the 1859 Jail, will be autographed by its author, David Jackson. Local Historian, Nancy Ehrlich will have a booklet for sale titled August 11, 1862 – First Battle of Independence, Missouri an Urban Confrontation.

At 1:00 p.m., a Civil War Era Fashion Show will be presented at the Frontier Trails Museum, 318 W. Pacific. The models will demonstrate how people on August 11, 1862, would dress, shown from the inside out. Following the fashion show, Author Tom Jewett will share a Power Point lecture about the writing of his book. Failed Ambition, the Civil War Journals & Letters of Cavalryman Homer Harris Jewett. A short Round table discussion by local historians about the 1st Battle of Independence and William Quantrill will then be held, followed by questions and answers.

A combo ticket for the events at the Jail, National Frontier Trails Museum and Trolley can be purchased. The cost is $10 for adults and $6 for children. The tickets may be purchased at the 1859 Jail or on the Independence Tourism website www.visitindependence.com. If bought separately, tickets will reflect regular prices at each site, which are $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-17.

Covered wagon tours of the battlefield with live narration will be offered by Pioneer Trails Adventures. Tours will re-trace the route taken by troops during the battle. Riders will see houses still marked with bullet holes from the battle, drive by the McCoy House where fleeing soldiers sought refuge and visit the 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home and Museum, where the Union Provost Marshal was stationed during the battle. Tours begin at 9:00 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and will take about an hour.

The last tour of the day, which leaves at 4:45 p.m., is a chuck wagon tour. In addition to the battlefield visits and stop at the 1859 jail, this tour includes a barbecue meal provided by Elena’s Fine Catering and a concert of Civil War-era music by Pick & Hammer. Battlefield tours are $30/adult and $15/children and the chuck wagon tour costs $40/adult; $20/children. For details, or to secure your seat, go to www.pioneertrailsadventures.com or call (816) 254-2466.

For questions on any of the day’s events or more information about all tourism attractions and events, call Independence Tourism at (816) 325-7111 or 800-748-7323 or go to the tourism Web site, www.visitindependence.com.

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