by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
James H. Cannon, Notary Public, acted on behalf of James Lucas to establish the town of Grain Valley on September 5, 1878. The town was situated on land flanking the newly laid tracks of the Chicago and Alton Railroad. Mr. Cannon, an astute businessman, had recently built his new mercantile business on land adjacent to and south of the new town.
The land was purchased and platted in his wife’s name, Mary Elizabeth (Dyer) Cannon. The Cannon Addition 2 consisted of 13 lots and a small undefined triangle west of Main Street (or for a time, Broadway) and south of the railroad one block to Harris Street (known then as Main Street) Cannon Addition 1 was made up of 26 lots on block one and two between Harris Street and Broadway. Although there were 39 lots in total, only a few lots near the railroad and along the main north/south street were developed.
When U. S. 40 Highway was complete in 1926 businesses were built on the southern edge of her property. But the majority of the Cannon Addition was not completed until the 1970s housing addition from Main Street west about four blocks. The final phase to Kirby Road wasn’t completed until the late 1990s.
The Graves & Ashcraft Addition may have been the first property added to our town. It was made up of two blocks stretching 220 feet from Walnut Street on the North to Front Street (then North Main Street) on the South. Block one was 245 feet wide and had twenty-one lots of varying sizes. Block two was slightly wider art 270 feet, but had only 19 lots. Twelve of the lots were 50 X 125-feet.
John Graves was born in Howard County near Glasgow, Missouri, in 1852. According to the History of Jackson County Missouri, published in 1881, “In 1869-’70 he attended the State University at Columbia, Boone County, and in 1871 came to Kansas City, where he was employed ad clerk in a bank.
In the fall of 1874 he commenced the grocery business, and two years later traded this for a farm in Johnson County, Kansas, where he resided two years. Then commenced business at this place; in engaged in the lumber business and is express agent.” He married Ida Porter in April of 1872. When his wife died in 1891 he packed up his children and moved to Kansas City to be closer to family.
The 1880 U. S. Census names five different Ashcraft families living in Sni-A-Bar Township.
John and Susan Ashcraft were married in Virginia before settling in Cooper County, Missouri. The other families all came from Cooper County, near Columbia. Could the small Graves & Ashcraft Addition have been owned by John & Sarah? Maybe Peter Ashcraft owned the land briefly before his wife died and he moved his family to Montana. Did William Otto and his wife Betty (St. Clair) Ashcraft own the land? Or maybe it was one of John and Susan’s sons. Perhaps Otto and his wife Rebecca sold the land before moving to Kingsville, Mo.
The last possibility could be William T. Ashcraft and his wife Matilda. They had three daughters who remained in the area: Verdie Phillips, Rhodie Pearson, and Lilly Tesch.
Until COVID-19 is under control and I can do more research at the Jackson County Recorder of Deeds office, the owner of the land in the Graves & Ashcraft Addition will have to remain a mystery. In the meantime think of the Ashcrafts as a big family that chose Grain Valley for their home in the 1880s and beyond.