by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
The founders of Grain Valley wanted to locate it west of the present site but Britton Capelle, who owned the land, didn’t want a town on his place. Mr. Graves and Mr. Ashcroft asked for the town to be further east and here it was located.
In 1888, Dr. Kinger and Dr. Storms seemed to be among the first to build houses in the village.* Adams Spindal was a mechanic, blacksmith, cabinet maker and casket maker. He made a small casket and placed it atop his roof to advertise his caskets. Mrs. Arnoff build a hotel and served travelers from far and wide.
I feel I should include Stony Point, as it was a town much earlier, a few years before the Civil War. It was 2 ½ miles south of Grain Valley. Rocks and stones were everywhere, therefore the name of Stony Point. A board school house was constructed on the peak of a hill to be the center of education for boys and girls of the neighborhood. The interior was simple and bare. The crude seats were huge logs split in half and supported by blocks and placed on each side of the room.
There were no desks, their few treasured books were kept on the floor. They could not afford to pay the teacher much, so it was a short term in mid-winter, for then there was no work for the older boys to do at home.
A store or trading post was established by Mr. Jake Gregg. He was also the Postmaster, having a crude Post Office in the corner of his store.
Broad minded citizens felt the need for a place to worship. Soon a building was erected in the Valley about 2 miles west of the store. It was called Pleasant Valley Church. It was Methodist.
On August 25, 1863 General Thomas Ewing issued Order No. 11. Everyone (not pledging their allegiance to the Union) moved out of Jackson County. They returned in 1866 to find a lot of destruction.
The church was badly in need of repair. The members decided to build in a new location on the old Gore farm near the Perdee Chapel Cemetery. Levi and Sinia Emily (Dillingham) Potts (Birdie’s grandparents) and family were members there.
The store had been destroyed during the war. Mr. Marshall Crawford built a new store on his 32-acre farm ½ mile west of the old store site and he too served as postmaster receiving no salary except 60% of the sales of stamps.
The mail was carried once a week from Independence by Mr. Booth. In 1873, Mr. Crawford sold his land and store to Mr. James H. Cannon for $40 an acre ($1,280). In addition to running the store, Mr. Cannon served as Justice of the Peace and performed several marriage ceremonies in the little village. Nearby there was a grist mill operated by Mr. Enoch Russell. Not far away he also ran a sawmill.
In 1878, the railroad was built 2 miles north of Cannon’s store. In a short time he selected a new location just south of the railroad crossing and here erected a store and moved his merchandise to Grain Valley. Purdee Chapel was sold and much of the lumber was used to build the Methodist Church in Grain Valley in 1889.
The economy was very poor. We could earn very little, if any money. A penny for Sunday School, a nickel for Church, but we gave what we could. We joined the church and promised to support it with our presence, our prayers, and our money. We were happier and our ailments and problems of the week seemed fewer when we could attend church on Sunday.
There were many homes in Grain Valley prior to 1888. (She may have meant 1878.)
Birdie Potts Davidson (1901-1999) was a life-long resident of Grain Valley. She is a 1921 graduate of Grain Valley High School. She joined the Methodist Church in 1915 and was a lifelong member. She wrote this history for the church centennial in 1988 and 89.