by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Four years after the Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804, the federal government established an Indian outpost at Fort Osage to protect and promote trade with the Indians. Early pioneers began to settle in this area. Missouri became the twenty-first state on August 10, 1821 and in 1825 Jackson County was bought from the Osage tribe and divided into 9 townships. In 1834 Sni-a-Bar township was organized.
In 1842 Robert St. Clair brought his wife and 6 children from Kentucky. He was one of the first to record ownership of land in the area. In fact, he built a 12-room house on a 1000-acre farm in the area which became Pink Hill in 1854. In addition to the farm, Robert and his sons, Hasten and Charles, ran one of three general stores at Pink Hill
In 1854 a post office was established in the store and Charles St. Clair carried the mail from Independence. That same year the first school house was built on the north end of Main Street.
Later the post office was moved to another general store owned by J.W. Mann. That post office existed until 1903 when it was destroyed by fire. After that time, Pink Hill residents, depending upon their exact location, got their mail from Grain Valley, Oak Grove or Levasy.
By 1854, when Pink Hill was chartered, several other families had come to the area, mostly from Virginia and Kentucky. As mentioned in the previous issue of Valley News, George Love and David Neer had the 10 acres surveyed when the town was established. Of course, R. G. Pinkard was there, along with Rosamah Sanders and Asa Booker and it is assumed that most were married men with families.
In addition, Squire William Wells had a woodworking store and brothers Lee and Michael Womacks were the blacksmiths. The Historical Atlas of Jackson County also included Phillip and Tobe Starns’ woodworking store, A. G. Knight’s drug store, and three salons, one owned by Pinkard.
Residential homes were owned by James Adams, Joseph E. W. Kabrick, Al and Lin Kent, Charley Phillips, George R. and Ann E. Carlyle, Mertie Blackburn, Jim Ed Mundy, Dr. J. D. Wood (later founder and president of the Bank of Independence) and Dr. O. C. Shelby
The Chicago and Alton Railroad surveyed Pink Hill land, but the railroad never came. The Civil War came instead. Most of the citizens came to the area from Kentucky or Virginia. They were southern sympathizes making Quantrill and his men feel at home in Sni-a-Bar Township. The region had so many bushwhackers that Union forces never ventured into the area. On August 25, 1863, Union General Thomas Ewing, Jr. issued Order No. 11 forcing the evacuation of rural areas in four counties in western Missouri. Northern soldiers marched through Pink Hill, taking livestock, grain and food; burning homes and forcing everyone to leave.
Virginia St. Clair Clarkson, one of those forced to leave, was quoted as saying “I stood on the front porch of the house and counted 13 chimneys, all that was left of 13 homes.” Residents moved to Lexington and other location to await the end of the war. Some returned to build tiny cabins to replace what had been plantation-like homes. Others never returned.
The town existed for 24 years, from 1854 to 1878, the year the Chicago & Alton Railroad complete tracks to Kansas City. Grain Valley was established in 1878.