by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
I know I have written many times about the beginning of our town. I’m going to share it once more, but this time in the words of Mrs. Birdie (Potts) Davidson. Each Sunday for a year, prior to the 100th Anniversary of the Methodist Church (circa 1889), Birdie would share “Reflections of our Church.”
That first Sunday she told us about her big drawer where all of the old newspaper clippings and church related information was stored. She began with the following story of Pink Hill, Stony Point, the railroad, and finally Grain Valley.
Among my clippings I find the 13 charter members of the Pink Hill Methodist Church, the nuclei of Oak Grove, Oakland, and Grain Valley Methodist.
Because the hill about 3 miles Northeast of Grain Valley was covered with pink verbenas and wild roses the name Pink Hill was selected. The church was on the Main Street of the little village which also had 3 saloons, a store and a United States Post Office. Ground for the church was purchased from George and Anna Carlyle for $10 and in 1871 the church was built.
The lot was deeded to seven trustees and their successors. The seventh man named was Levi Potts (Birdie’s grandfather). The church sat on the south side of Pink Hill Road and faced west. The 36’ x 48’ structure was built by the community at a cost of $3,000. It had a second floor used as a Masonic Christian Lodge meeting place.
Around 1854, the citizens had built a school house one-half mile to the south. In later years the school was moved one-fourth mile west of the church. The story behind the move was that an elderly couple lived across the road from the school and they were disturbed by the noise of the children.
They told the officials that they would donate a lot on their property on Pink Hill Road if they would move the school. When the R-5 school district was consolidated and the students were sent to Grain Valley the school house was sold and became a residence. It later burned.
According to the 1877 Atlas there were 1,000 plus residents; 482 men and 884 women and the children living at Pink Hill.. There were also 595 horses, 178 mules, 1019 cattle, 674 sheep, and 3,647 hogs in Pink Hill.
The area had been surveyed by the Chicago & Alton Railroad in the early 1850s. The C & A had plans to extend the route from Mexico, Missouri , to Kansas City. The Civil War came, then the panic of 1873. During 1876, Sni-A-Bar Township began to rally.
Pink Hill had renewed hope that the railroad would go through their town, but alas, in 1878 it was built too far to the south. The residents were stunned and the little town began to die, except for the church. The Post Office closed in 1902.
The first structure to be built in Grain Valley was a sort of railroad station, a shack of hewn lumber which was replaced by the first railroad station. In 1912 Mr. Ben Armstrong bought the shack from the Chicago & Alton Railroad and moved it to his farm.
To be continued...