by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Following the establishment of Grain Valley on September 5, 1878 people began to move into the town to be closer to the Chicago & Alton Railroad. By 1881 the business directory of the town included three doctors; G.U. Keener, James H. Daniels and J. W. Starnes.
Dr. George U. Keener and his wife Lucretia had 10 children, the youngest born in 1876 in Richmond, Missouri. So, I’m thinking that like many of the town’s early residents, he sought an opportunity for success near the railroad. Dr. Keener, was listed four times on the directory as follows: Physician, Minister, Drug Store, and Hotel. I learned that in 1872 he had been appointed as a bishop for the Methodist Episcopal Church for the Boonville District. The family did not remain in Grain Valley for a very long time. From research on Ancestry I learned he was gored by a bull and died in Allenton, St Louis County, Missouri on October 4, 1889.
Dr. James Daniels also owned a combination grocery and drug store. The 1880 U. S. Census stated that he was 44 years old and lived in a boarding house run by the Hawkenberrys. He doesn’t appear to have stuck around for very long.
Dr. John Starnes and his family were still living in the area in 1900, however when he died in 1909, they were living in Independence, MO. His son was a druggist so one would assume the doctors all dispensed their own medications.
Others on the directory included J. H. Cannon, Justice of the Peace, owner of a general store and Postmaster; J. A. Porter, Notary Public; John Graves, general store; Frank Gregg, general store; William Morrow, depot agent; J. A. Spindle, blacksmith; George Kreigel, shoe repair shop; H. A. Hamilton, painter; Joseph Wright, carpenter and Joseph Keshlear, livery stable.
One would assume that most of these businesses would have been in the original town although there is much evidence that James Cannon built the first store in Grain Valley on lot seven in what is called the Cannon 2nd addition. Most of the early homes and businesses were built on the north side of the railroad.
Therefore, the Graves and Ashcraft Addition was probably the next land to be platted and developed. This addition included the two blocks west of Main Street and north from the railroad to Walnut street.
It would appear that the town had a difficult time deciding on street names. The 1877 map identified the street west of the original town as Main Street. The 1904 Map called this street Broadway. The street running west off Broadway was temporarily called North Main Street.
The street on the south side of the railroad was called Main Street. Today Broadway is once again Main Street, North Main is Front Street, and Main Street is Harris Street. Are you totally confused?
Visit the Historical Society and view the maps on display including the 1924 Jackson County Map that still has a corner of Broadway and North Main!
Next week: Learn more about the John Graves, J. H., Mary and William Cannon, and William T. Ashcraft.