by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
At some point, John T. O’Connell put away his barber sheers and started a business on US Highway 40. Also known as “the Main Street of America,” it was the first highway to stretch coast to coast across United States.
Often referred to by locals as “Old 40” (Eagles’ Parkway), it was completed in 1926. The route was built on top of several older highways, most notably the National Road and the Victory Highway. The Victory Highway was an auto trail across the United States between New York City and San Francisco, roughly equivalent to the present U.S. Route 40. It was created by the Victory Highway Association, which was organized in 1921 to locate and mark a transcontinental highway to be dedicated to American forces who died in World War I.
When Patricia (Davis) Parr gave this photo to the Historical Society, she related to me the success of her grandfather’s business.
Built about a half mile west of Buckner Tarsney Road (Main Street), it was the equivalent of our modern-day Casey’s convenience stores.
The prominence of Sni-A-Bar Farms, located just across the road, and the newly completed highway afforded the O’Connell family a good living and a big new house on Walnut Street.
O’Connell’s Place, circa 1928. Pictured left to right: John T. O’Connell, Patricia Davis, Danese O’Connell, Creola Warren O’Connell, Nadine O’Connell Davis, unknown man and woman. Photo credit: Grain Valley Historical Society
Pictured: Nadine O’Connell was 23 years old when this photo was taken beside a gas pump at the family business. The year was 1930. Photo credit: Grain Valley Historical Society
For more information on the Grain Valley Historical Society, visit www.grainvalleyhistory.com.