by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
As many of you may know, the City of Grain Valley is applying for a Missouri Main Street Grant. It would help bring new life and vitality to our downtown area. In preparation for the site visit new week, I have been putting together historical information on the evolution of our downtown business district.
I continue my search for Grain Valley News in the “Oak Grove Banner,” I find more and more interesting “stuff” which relates to the history of our downtown buildings. I have arrived at the conclusion that during the first half of the last century, the town was self-sufficient. One-hundred years ago, we had homes, four churches, a school, The Royal Playhouse, 2 banks, the freight depot, the post office, and a telephone and a telegraph office.
We had doctors, a dentist, a drug store and pharmacy. We also had a haberdashery, a millinery shop, general stores, a car dealership and a blacksmith, a lumber yard, a feed store, a barbershop, three hotels and restaurants. Yes, restaurants, plural!
I found this advertisement in several papers from 1918. I had not heard this name before, so I know have more research to do in an attempt to learn more about the Cummings’ Restaurant. Where was it located? How long was it around? Did someone named Cummings live in our town?
Just above the Cummings’ advertisement, in the same newspaper, I found this advertisement for Elliott & Company
I believe I may know a bit more about this advertisement. Walter Elliott was my great uncle by marriage. Around 1910 to 1912, my maternal great-grandfather, Jasper Newton Sanders and his wife Anna (Herrington) Sanders built The Royal Playhouse. The also built the three houses on the north side of Walnut Street between Gregg Street and Capelle Street. The houses were built for their three daughters and their husbands, Mittie and Elmer Rumbo, Lula and Walter Elliott, and Ruth and James I. Belford. My granddad Rumbo and his nephew, Shirley Caldwell already owned a feed store just south of the railroad tracks. But Grandpa Sanders wanted all three families to have a business. So, on the east end of the playhouse, facing Broadway (now Main Street) you entered the playhouse through the middle door. The door on the left went into The Haberdashery owned by Uncle Jib (J.I. Belford) and the door on the right led into Uncle Walter’s restaurant, also known as the chili parlor.
Two of the O’Connell brother also had a restaurant and a confectionery shop, but again I do not know the location. Meals were served at the hotels, but they may have been limited to hotel guest. I currently have no information. I continue to search the newspaper, but as stated previously, most of my information comes from the “society” news, not from any real newspaper stories.
As I peruse more issues of “The Oak Grove Banner,” perhaps I will find additional information. Hopefully, the papers from the late 1920s will reveal more about the businesses along U. S. 40 Highway (Eagles Parkway) and Sni-A-Bar Farms.