by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
The Voice, circa 2017, is an on-line newsletter I have been producing to promote the Grain Valley Historical Society. Like these articles for Valley News, I sometimes struggle to come up with a “feature” for each edition.
For January, 2021, I wanted to write about a New Year’s Eve from the past. I remembered some old photographs and newspaper articles sent to me several years ago by a cousin in Oklahoma. I remembered that one of the articles mentioned a New Year’s Eve Watch Party that had been attended by my parents.
What I did not remember was that the article appeared in a newspaper entitled The Free Press, and just below the title, the words “GRAIN VALLEY, MO. THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 1932”.
Needless to say, I became curious about this paper. Since it is Volume 1, was this the first edition? My research has revealed very little about the paper. I have only learned that this paper was “a weekly newspaper, published every Thursday by the Free Press Publishers.” J. C. Simpson was the editor and manager and R. K. Jones was the advertising and circulation manager. The paper provided the following information: For insertion of late news items phone Victor 2518, Kansas City, Mo. KANSAS CITY OFFICE 734 Cherry Street.
Further investigation revealed that as early as 1925, the Pruitt Publishing Co. was operating from the same location on Cherry Street in Kansas City and they were placing advertisements in Popular Mechanics Magazine and another publication called American Fox and Fur Farmer. Yes, one hundred years ago there really was a magazine by that name.
Since becoming a town in 1878, Grain Valley has been served by a number of newspapers. The Kansas City Evening Star, co-founded September 18, 1880, by William Rockhill Nelson and Samuel E. Morss has provided us with national and world news. However, it is from the small, local papers from the Oak Grove Banner established in 1890, or the Sni-A-Bar Voice established in 1901, through the Jackson County Democrat, established in 1952, The Pointe, established in 1998 and finally our current Valley News that citizens of our town have received the local news. Over the next few weeks, I hope to give you a history of all of the papers and a glimpse at the “big stories.”