by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Back in August I wrote about what was going on in Grain Valley 50 years ago (August 19) and twenty-five years ago (August 26) years ago.. Both articles mentioned the high school moving to a new building, and one article mentioned bridge work and the expansion of city parks. All of those topics are timely today as renovation and expansion continues in the schools throughout the district. Buckner Tarsney Road is closed for bridge repair south of town, and our city parks and walking trails continue to be renovated and repaired!
So, let’s look back 75 years. Without a doubt, the most impactful event in Grain Valley in 1945 was the sale of Sni-A-Bar Farms, the William Rockhill Nelson Estate, to Mr. & Mrs. Ralph L. Smith of Kansas City. During all of 1946 it was the goal of the farm to further improve the herd in preparation for the Sni-A-Bar Shorthorn Dispersion in 1947. At the time it was considered one of the strongest collections of breeding cattle in the world. With every animal in the entire herd listed, the sale provided the greatest buying opportunity in the history of Shorthorns in America.
Here is a portion of the letter written by my grandfather just prior to the dispersal.
“During the years that I had the care of the Sni-A-Bar herd there has been much satisfaction in producing the great show herds that annually have been among the leading winners in the most prominent fairs and livestock expositions in the United States and Canada. Perhaps still greater pride and pleasure has been derived from the success of the many patrons of Sni-A-Bar with herd bulls and breeding matrons that were produced in the herd. The constructive breeding programs that I have been permitted to develop and to pursue and the favorable results of that program have been a source of pleasure and the utmost of compensation for the years of effort that I have devoted to this grand herd of Shorthorns.”
Manager, Sni-A-Bar Farms
Mr. Will Johnson was publisher of “The Shorthorn World,” a breed magazine and he had this to say about my grandfather…
“During the three or more decades of the existence of the Sni-A-Bar herd, it has been in the custody of James Napier, master cattleman and farmer. To him must go much of the credit for the development of this superb aggregation of Shorthorns. He was presented with a grand opportunity to build superbly and he took the fullest advantage of that opportunity. His name will appear in livestock history as one of the great builders of the breed.”
Are you curious about events from Grain Valley’s past? Drop by the Historical Society Museum any Wednesday (10:00am – 3:00pm). If we don’t have the answer, we will try and help you find out.