by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
From my Sunday afternoon drives and the Jackson County Plat Maps from 1889, 1904 and 1911, I have concluded that the early roads around Grain Valley were named for destinations. For Example, Buckner Tarsney Road, Lone Jack Lee’s Summit Road, Stony Point Road and Pink Hill Road.
In the early years, when folks traveled on horseback or in a wagon, I think roads and road names may not have been terribly important. Most people followed a creek bed, a fence row or the straightest line between two points. If they were visiting a neighbor they took the path that led to, for example, the Russell place. I believe the Rural Free Delivery Act of 1893 was probably responsible for many paths becoming roads and those roads being named. Although it took about 10 years for the concept to spread through the United States, it was probably at this times that roads around Grain Valley were “officially” named. Again, it was logical to give them the name of the family living on the road.
In addition to Hardsaw Road and Nebgen Road (Valley News, September 1, 2022), some of the roads two miles south and east of Grain Valley include Jenkins, Campbell, Russell, Spencer and Corn. From the 1900 U. S. Census, I learned that these were some of the “neighbors” living on the farms in the area. Most listed their address as Tarsney Lakes, Missouri. Their children attended Oak Hill School or Pueblo School. And when those children grew up, several married a neighbor.
Mark Jenkins (Jenkins Road) lived there with his three sons, Mark, Jr., Albert and Robert. They appear on the 1930 U. S. Census. His wife, Irene, died in 1928, so I cannot determine if she ever lived in Grain Valley. His middle son, Albert was married Rhoda Tesch in 1937. She was the daughter of Lillie (Ashcroft) and Glover Tesch. The marriage ended in divorce during World War II. Rhoda remained in Hawaii. Robert Jenkins, the youngest son was killed in the Philippines during WW II and was buried at sea.
While there were many Campbell families living north of Grain Valley, I have not determined any Campbells on the south. This will require further research if I am to determine the origin of this road name.
You can turn west off of Corn Road onto Russell Road. It winds around only a short distance before you turn east back onto Corn Road. I can well imagine that “back in the day” only members of the Russell Family lived on this road. After all, John Chastain Russell (1809-1879) and his wife Charlotte (1812-1893) are buried in Koger Cemetery along with a number of their 10 children and their descendants. A granddaughter, Goldie Russell Montgomery was the subject of one of my articles. (Valley News, February 3, 2022)
Spencer Road was most likely named for Robert Spencer (1861-1942) who was born in Cannington, Ontario, Canada and arrived in Jackson County in 1888. Their four children grew up in the area and the eldest son, Robert F. Spencer and his wife are also buried in Koger Cemetery. One additional grave, David J. Spencer is also in the family plot. The only information I’ve learned about David is that at age 5 he was living in an orphanage in St. Joseph, Missouri.
The Corn family is quite large and it is difficult to determine exactly which branch of the family resided on Corn Road. Perhaps the Corn Road history is the story for another week!