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October 31, 2016

Lee's Summit (Strother) MO Old Photographs, Postcards, History

History of Jackson County, Missouri
What James A. Shaw, Esq., says about Lee's Summit: "Lee's Summit, the largest town in Prairie township, derived its name from Dr. Lee, and from the fact of its location being the highest point between Kansas City and St. Louis en the Missouri Pacific Railroad. "Dr. Lee lived one-half mile north of the town. During the war he was taken from his house by unknown parties, to a place near where the depot now stands (then the open prairie), and shot to death. No cause is assigned for the act, as the doctor was highly respected by all. He was a non-combatant, taking no part in the war. " After the close of the war this place (Lee's Summit) was considered a hard rendezvous. This was the headquarters of some of the worst bandits in the State. A great many of the old citizens were honest, and wished to have the laws enfoirced, but were too weak to have it done. New comers arriving, and being so well pleased with the country determined to make it their homes, and feeling that their o«rn lives and the safety of their property was continually in danger, organized themselves into a vigilance committee, and many of the old citizens joined the organization. The result of it was the death of a few of the outlaws and the scattering of the rest, so that those who at that time ruled the country with the (to them) higher law, are now gone to that unknown country, or are serving their time in some state's prison. Now we have peace, and law is recognized." This is the largest grain shipping point in Jackson county outside of Kansas City. During the past twelve months the entire grain shipments may be estimated at $250,000, and the shipment of cattle and hogs proportionately large.

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Baptist Dinner, Lee's Summit, MO June 20, 1909

Longview Farm has an interesting history, dating back to its development near Kansas City, MO in the early 1900s by lumber baron and philanthropist Robert A. Long. Long spared no expense in fulfilling his dream, hiring over 2,000 workers and spending millions of dollars to build an innovative, self-sufficient and grandiose farm in 18 months. Nicknamed “The World’s Most Beautiful Farm,” Longview boasted over 50 structures on 1,700 acres, including greenhouses, a show horse arena, “dairy palace,” chapel, racetrack, schoolhouse, blacksmith, post office, and, of course, the 22,000-square-foot 48-room mansion. At its peak before World War II, the farm employed about 200 people and was renowned for its prize-winning horses and purebred Jersey cows that provided milk for the region. Robert Long’s daughter, award-winning horsewoman Loula Long Combs, lived at Longview with her husband until her death in 1971.

For decades after Loula’s death, dozens of structures sat abandoned and fell into disrepair; land was sold piecemeal to different investors until 1997, when public interest in preserving the historic buildings began to grow. Today, New Longview is a housing community and several buildings have been restored. Our tables are built from part of the 7 miles of cypress fence that surrounded the property, as well as 100-year-old pine wood from the 40,000-sq.-ft horse arena. Half of all profits from the Longview Farm tables sold at their show were donated to support the New Longview Foundation.
The following occurred in this county the first week in June, 1879  Cyclone/Tornado Hits Lee's Summit


The cyclone struck Jackson county about two miles south of Lee's Summit. For about a half hour it had been raining and hailing from the northwest when another cloud came up from the south bearing a deep, dark color. At once the wind changed and blew furiously from the south, and when the two clouds came together it formed a figure in appearance to that of an inverted funnel, the upper end of the funnel-shaped cloud reached far up in the heavens, while the lower or larger end rested on the ground, and as it advanced seemed to drive the other clouds right and left as a steamboat ploughs through the water. The cyclone was now organized and took a northeasterly course in the direction of Dr. Dun- nington's residence. At that time the family were in the basement at supper, the cyclone seized the house as with the grasp of a giant and scattered it, furniture, clothing, etc. , in fragments all over the surrounding fields,but none of the family were hurt. When it passed the Missouri Pacific Railroad, it twisted off the telegraph poles at the surface of the ground as if they had been pipe stems, and scattered them in fragments over the plain as it had done the house of Dr. Dunnington. Pro- ceeding on its way it mowed its course through crops, fences, hedges, etc. , on a line about half way between the residences of Mr. Goodman and Mr. Reeder, drawing the house of the latter off its foundation about ten feet, but leaving it whole and not injuring a single member of the family, of whom there were several, but seriously frightening them. Just opposite to Reeder's and a half mile away, it destroyed Mr. Goodman's barn, but doing no further damage. Its next pranks were concerned with Mr. Watson's nursery buildings which it damaged somewhat, moving one of the buildings twenty feet in its course without otherwise damaging it. Passing along three or four hundred yards further, it entered the orchard of Mr. John C. Howard, and ploughing its way through it at about two hundred yards in width, uprooted and tore off at the surface large numbers of trees, destroying at least two-thirds of the orchard; thence it proceeded carry- ing away fences, pulling posts out of the ground, transferring them and the rails and planks to various distances from one hundred yards to a half mile. When it reached the residence of Mr. Cushenbary on the farm of John R. Blackell, it did its work more completely even than before, whirHng the house around, tearing it literally to pieces, carrying most of it for several hundred yards. The family, con- sisting of Mr. Cushenbary, his wife and two children, were taken with the house into the air and borne along in the wind. When they fell to the ground they were more dead than alive, having been dropped down from the clouds head foremost, for their hair was all matted with mud and their clothing was torn in shreds. Mrs C. and one of the children were thought to be fatally injured, but Mr. C. and the other child were uninjured. It seemed a miracle that any being could live through such an experience. Everywhere were scattered pieces of lumber, fences, furni- ture and debris covering the ground. Here more damage was done to the crops than anywhere else on the route of the storm, even the young corn being torn to tatters. On it went reaching and unroofing the house of J. A. Scruggs and the family escaping unhurt except Mrs. Scruggs whose collar bone was broken, just how no one could tell. Next the residence of Mr. T. Constable was demolished and everything it contained, the family escaping with nothing left but their lives. Then the district school house yielded to the unceremonious visitor and was numbered with the things that are past. The fine two-story residence of Mr. John Hutchings was next swept away, hardly leaving a vestige to tell the tale of distraction, but all the family, part above and part on the ground floor, escaped un- hurt. It was by Divine intervention that their lives were preserved. The residence of Mr. Thaddeus Warden, built of large, heavy logs, was taken to pieces in an instant and scattered, the family of six or seven were hurt, but none fatally. Thence the destroyer tore Mr. Black's residence to pieces and proceeded on its way to Blue Springs. The little boy Frank Harris who was present and saw the terrible catastrophe says that the first Mr. Harris and family knew of the approach of the cyclone was when it reached the railroad about three hundred yards south of the house. Believing it was coming directly toward the house, Mr. Harris seized the babe and bade the others to follow and with his wife started west and went thirty or forty yards from the house, then saying to his wife "It is coming right here," they reversed their course and ran back to the house, and twenty-five yards east to the straw stable. Here they were overtaken by the cyclone at about its center, the western part sweeping away the house but not extending as far west as the parties had gone on their first attempt to escape. The boy who was a bright lit- tle fellow of nine years of course knew nothing of what occurred after the cyclone struck the family, but was himself thrown into the straw rick and covered over with straw and was there quite a while before he could get out. He was not seriously hurt only bruised or burned about the face. When Mr. Mallory Smith who was the first on the ground arrived, the boy had in his arms the babe which he had picked up from the ground where it had been thrown Hterally stripped of its clothing. The boy stated that when he got out of the stack and saw first his mother that she ran toward him, which with her wild and strange appearance frightened him and he ran from her, but she soon fell to the ground. When Mr. Smith reached the place she was still prone on the ground but conscious. She spoke to Mr. Smith telling him she was killed. Leaving her, Mr. Smith went in search of the others. He passed along the course of the cyclone and in about thirty or forty yards found the little eight-year-old girl dead, and going still farther at about three hundred yards in the corn field, he discovered Mr. Harris struggling to rise and when he reached him he found him unable to rise and though trying to talk was unable to do so by reason of the mud in his mouth. He assisted him as best he could and amongst the first things said by Mr. H. was that he was killed. His clothing was literally torn into tatters and rolled in the mud, his leg broken and his ribs and other parts of his body seemed to be crush- ed. Other help coming up the entire family dead and ahve were taken to Mr. Smith's, the wife dying on the way and Mr. H. dying about 12 o'clock that night. The tornado after leaving the Harris place kept on in the same general direction, but did no damage of consequence until it reached the residence of Mr. Underwood, half a mile away, which it also completely demolished. The family saw the storm coming and saved themselves by running out of the house lying flat on the ground and clinging to the shrubbery. The next place the storm struck was the residence of Martin Gore, one mile farther on. The gable ends of his dwel- ling were torn out leaving the sides standing and the roof on. After this the storm did no further damage of consequence and after pursuing its course for three miles further it seemed to scatter and was seen by ex-County Judge A. G. Williams to rise directly in front of his residence and disappear into the clouds with a loud noise like the roar of artillery. Mr. Williams and family were pre- paring to vacate their dwelling when the storm disappeared. All along the whole path of the tornado trees were uprooted and the leaves were scorched and blackened as if a fire had burned them. The general appearance of the storm was very much like that of the cyclone which passed over Richmond, Ray county one year before. As above stated this cloud from which the wind and rain seemed to come was in the shape of an immense inverted fun- nel of a dark bluish cast and seemed to be continually whirling and grinding within itself. The funnel seemed to float along with the bowl part close to the ground but frequently bounding up and almost disappearing in the air for a space of several seconds when it would again drop to the earth. The storm was accom- panied by a heavy storm of rain, and in the vicinity of Blue Springs the rainfall was accompanied by a large shower of black sulphureous mud. The storm was plainly visible at Independence, Buckner and other adjacent points, but no effects of it were felt. It was upon the whole the most terrific, as well as most disastrous storm that has ever visited Jackson county and one which will long be remembered and talked of. The damage to life and property was very great. Mr. Cushenbary was in bed sick and by his side lay a little babe. He was carried one hundred and fifty yards from the house and was found sitting in the corn field holding the babe in his arms. At the same time a dog was blown about same distance and found near Mr. C. in a hole scooped out apparently for him. On the line of the storm at one place a mule was caught and carried off". At intervals he would reach the earth and plant his feet in it, ploughing it up with the vain endeavor to hold his own — failing he would sail on with the storm, and then stop again in the same way, but there was no use Mr. Mule had to yield up his own preference and obey the exigencies of the master that had him. The same facts are predicted of the horses belonging to Mr. Scruggs, but only two of which were as unfortunate as the mule. A rock two and a half by six feet was pulled out of its bed, turned over and whirled about like a plaything. At Mr. Samuel Constable's house a bedstead was taken from under a bed on which two ladies were resting and carried a half mile, and the house scattered in all directions, the occupants of the bed being left intact on the bed on the ground beneath where the floor had been. Several persons report having seen a ball of fire, some say as large as a bushel measure, others like a barrel in size, moving in front of the storm, and leading it whithersoever it went. Mr. Harris's little son mentioned above was lifted up, deposited in a straw stack near by, and covered over entirely, thus escaping without much injury. Persons carried up compare their sensations to what would be felt in sinking into a snow bank, or in some yielding substance thicker than water. All speak of a sulphureous odor. The storm dispersed when it struck the elevation in the neighborhood of Judge Williams' farm, thus leading many to the conclusion that high localities protect against the cyclones.


Harry W. Younger, Daniel D. White, Samuel Caldwell, Richard Fisher, James R. Wood, Dr. P. J. G. Lee, Alfred Lee, Fountain F. Freeman, Samuel Parsons, William P. Cook, Jackson Cooper, James Cooper, David Talley, William Hagan, Samuel White and Judge Fristoe Most of the early settlers were from the States of Kentucky, Virginia and. Tennessee. In the year 1850 there were in the territory, now embraced in Prairie township, not over 100 inhabitants, but soon thereafter settlers flocked in, so that in 1853 every acre was taken up. The land on which the town of Lee's Summit now stands, including 160 acres, was bought for the sum of $140, that being the price of a Mexican war warrant, which called for that amount of land. There are two good towns for supply points to the farmers of the township and surrounding country: Lee's Summit, the larger, and Greenwood, a beautiful little town in three quarters of a mile of the Cass county line. These two towns are situated on the main line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and are supported by an agricultural district which surrounds them unsurpassed in the fertility of the soil. The central portion of the township was, in the pioneer days, a vast prairie, unbroken by tree or fence, but at the present time well-cultivated farms occupy the entire territory. It is elevated ground, and is thus described by an eloquent writer : " From an elevated point within the limits of Lee's Summit, Jackson county, Missouri, a broad expanse of gently rolling prairie impresses one with utter aban- donment with which natural beauty has lavished her grandest gifts, and in the language of Charles P. Johnson, it can truthfully be said that the fabled produc- tiveness of the Orient, or the divinely blessed promised lands, pales "before this sublime and broad expanse. "As far as the eye can reach a grand panorama of magnificent prairie, skirted with timber growing upon every rivulet and stream of water, enraptures the visi- tor. This point being recognized as the most favored locaHty from which, upon a clear day, the whole of Jackson county can be distinctly seen, has been very appropriately named Lee's Summit." lee's summit. This beautifully located town has, according to the United States census of 1880, a population of goo. It contains five church edifices, a large school build- ing, depot, hotel, bank, two restaurants, five physicians, two ministers and four lawyers. There are twenty-five business houses representing all kinds of mer- chandise found in towns of this size, their annual sales being from $150,000 to $200,000. This town is centrally located in Prairie township, fourteen miles south of Independence upon the Missouri Pacific Railroad, giving it a direct communica- tion with St. Louis upon the east and Kansas City upon the west. The town was laid out in October, 1865, by William B. Howard, Esq., one of the oldest, most highly respected and influential citizens of the township. The original plat contained 70 acres, the additions now embrace 150 acres within the town limits. There was an arrangement between Mr. Howard and the railroad company, by which 'the latter was to receive every alternate lot in four blocks, two on each side of the track, near the center of the town. The first sale of lots was on Octo- ber 29, 1865, and the first house put up on the present site of the town was by a man named Schmidt, who sold goods till he said "the town was grown too large for him and too many people had come," when he departed.. The next building was put up for a hotel by a man named Mounts. That the reader may form a better and more correct estimate of Lee's Sum- mit at the present time, we give below what was said by one who visited the place in October, 1869:


"We had the pleasure, a day or two since, of spending a few hours in the beautiful and growing young town of Lee's Summit. Although our stay was short, and we had but a limited opportunity of seeing the sights, our impressions of the town and surrounding country were of the most favorable character. This town is situated on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, about twelve miles south of Independence, and near the center of Jackson county, in a beautifully rolling prairie, abundantly supplied with water and convenient to timber. The location is delightful, and, we should judge, one of the most healthy and pleasant in the country. It was laid off into town lots only about three years ago. The signs of improvement are everywhere visible. New and substantial buildings are being constantly erected and speedily filled with the enterprising and industrious seek- ers of fortune in the west. The people are an energetic, moral and industrious class, and it requires no prophetic vision to foretell for Lee's Summit a bright and splendid future. INCORPORATION. Herewith is given the order of the County Court incorporating the town : " Commencing at a point 250 yards south of where sections five (5), six (6), seven (7) and eight (8), of Tp. 47, R. 31, corner; running thence east 80 rods, thence north 250 yards to section line; thence north 160 rods, thence west 160 rods, thence south 160 rods to section line, thence south 250 yards, thence east to the place of beginning. " Shall be a body politic and corporate, by the name and style of ' the inhabi- tants of the town of Lee's Summit,' and by that name they and their successors shall be known in law ; have perpetual succession unless dis-incorporated ; sue and be sued; plead and be impleaded; defend and be defended; and in all courts and in all actions, pleas and matters whatever, may grant, purchase, hold and receive property, real and personal, within such town and no other (burial grounds and cemeteries excepted), and may lease, sell and dispose of the same for the benefit of the town, and may have a common seal, and break and alter the same at pleasure." Below is given the proclamation of Mayor W. P. Anderson notifying the people that the town has been incorporated, also the division of the town into two wards : Whereas, ' By an ordinance passed by the Board of Trustees for the town of Lee's Summit, County of Jackson, and State of Missouri, on the sth day of November, 1877, submitting to the qualified votes of said town a proposition to become incorporated as a city of the fourth class, under and by virtue of an act passed by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, and approved April the 2ist, 1877 ; and Whereas, On the first day of December, 1877, said proposition was sub- mitted to the quahfied votes of said town, and from the returns thereof, said proposition was carried by a large majority of the qualified voters voting thereat. Now, Therefore, I, W. P. Anderson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, do hereby declare said town incorporated, under the act of the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, above recited, as a city of the fourth class. Given under my hand this 3d day of December, A. D. 1877. W. P. ANDERSON, Chairman. Be it ordained by the Board of Aldermen, of the City of Lee's Summit, as follows : The city of Lee's Summit shall be divided into two (2) wards, and shall be known and designated as the first and second wards, and divided as follows : Beginning at a point on Third street at the western limits of said city, and running in an easterly direction along' said Third street to the east line of said city, thus dividing the city into two wards, to wit : All that part of the city south of the center of Third street to be the first ward, and all that part north of same to be the second ward. 

Approved January 7th, 1878. 

W. P. ANDERSON, Mayor. 

W. H. C. Dryden, Clerk.

Aerial View, Unity Village, Lee's Summit, MO
Unity Village

Farmer's Bank, Lee's Summit, MO 1916

Mark Curp, Lee's Summit, MO

Mark Curp (born January 5, 1959 in Lee's Summit, Missouri) held the world record for the half marathon from 1985 until 1990. He continued holding the American record in the half marathon until a new record was set by Ryan Hall in 2007.

Curp attended the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1981 and a master's degree in 1982.

Curp broke the men's world record in the half marathon on September 15, 1985, clocking 1:00:55 at the Philadelphia Distance Run in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at an overall pace just under 4:39 per mile for the official 13.1094-mile distance. According to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, "in 1987 and 1988, Runner’s World magazine ranked him the number one road racer in the world." (Curp's best time in a marathon came at the 1987 Twin Cities Marathon, when he finished third with a time of 2:11:45.

Curp's world record in the half marathon stood for five years, until September 16, 1990, when Dionicio Ceron broke Curp's time by nine seconds on the same Philadelphia course.

Curp's time of 1:00:55 stood as the American record until January 14, 2007, when Ryan Hall broke the record at the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon in Houston, Texas.
Hood's Hatchery, Lee's Summit, MO

LuLu Long, Lee's Summit, MO

The Old Mill, Lee's Summit, MO

Todd George Home - Home of Todd George

Missouri Pacific Depot, Lee's Summit
Train Wreck Near Lee's Summit, MO 1872

Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot, Lee's Summit, MO
Third and Main Streets, Lee's Summit, Missouri

ESTABLISHMENT OF LEE'S SUMMIT Among the early Jackson County residents who returned to their land after the war was William Howard, one of the oldest and most influential citizens of the area. Howard, a native of Kentucky, first came to Jackson County in 1842 and purchased 220 acres of land. 
In 1844, he married Maria D. Strother. By 1850, they lived in a log house on 833 acres, about five miles to the north of Lee's Summit, at what is today the west corner of Highway 291 and Woods Chapel Road. They remained on the farm until October of 1862, when Howard was arrested as a Confederate sympathizer and taken to federal headquarters in Independence. Paroled, he took his family to Kentucky for the duration of the war." After the war, Howard returned and took advantage of the coming of the Missouri Pacific Railroad line into Jackson County and platted the town that became Lee's Summit. 
Howard's original plat contained seventy acres. The first sale of lots was on October 29, 1865. In an agreement with Howard, the railroad received title to every alternate lot within four blocks of the railroad tracks, as well as two lots on each side of the track near the center of the town. 18 Its access to the Missouri Pacific Railroad line gave the town direct links to national railroad freight and passenger hubs in St. Louis to the east and Kansas City to the west. The exact date and naming of the community is uncertain. Traditional accounts hold that for its first three years the town was named Strother, after Howard's wife's family. 

By 1868, the town bore the name of Lee's Summit in memory of Dr. Pleasant Lea. The account notes that the hilltop farm of Dr. Lea, which was north of the town site, was the location for much of the surveying for the railroad. 

To honor Lea, the railroad engineers involved in the survey named the railroad station after him. They erred in the spelling and punctuation, formally noting the station as "Lees Summit." The station's name became popular and the citizens of Strother petitioned the Jackson County Court on November 4, 1868 to change the name to "Lee's Summit" with an apostrophe, but with the same misspelling.

Another variation on the naming of the community maintains that the railroad donated a boxcar with "Lee's Summit" painted on it to serve as the first railroad station in the new town. This view holds that the railroad chose the name to honor Dr. Lea, who had been shot near the tracks during the Civil War. The spelling of his name was not corrected and, therefore, became "Lee." The "Summit" came from its topographical location as the highest summit on the line between St. Louis and Kansas City. The latter version of the town's naming came into question again in the early 1990s due to information found on a poster notice advertising the first sale of the town lots on October 30, 1865. Local historian, Donald R. Hale, purchased a trunk in 1993 that once belonged to William B. Howard, the town founder. The sale bill was among its contents. Howard's notice advertised the town land sale to be held at "Strother, formerly called Lee's Summit on the Pacific Rail Road in Jackson County, Missouri." Hale believes that it is possible that the town had been known as "Lee's Summit" for some time prior to becoming "Strother." Frank Graves, another local historian, agrees. Evidence supporting their argument can be found in a December 1865 St. Louis Democrat newspaper article that refers to a railroad stop in "Lee's Summit." Jackson County railroad historian Henry Marnett noted that railroads generally named division points along the line where engineers fueled their steam engines with coal or wood and water. Once the railroad chose a fuel stop and named it, hastily assembled commercial buildings usually sprang. The Missouri Pacific Railroad completed the track from Warrensburg to Kansas City (through Lee's Summit) between 1864 and 1865. It is plausible that during this period, the railroad crews may have pulled a railroad car into town to be used for a temporary depot and that it already had "Lee's Summit" written on it. Taking all of the existing documentation into consideration, it appears that the railroad designated the station as Lee's Summit prior to the filing of the official plat name of Strother and the 1868 petition to the county court officially changed the name to Lee's Summit.
Lee's Summit's most infamous citizen was Cole Younger, called "The Last of the Great Outlaws" by author Homer Croy. According to history, soldiers drove Younger to a life outside the law after his father's murder and subsequent robbery. While Union forces were enforcing Order #11, the command issued in 1862 ostensibly to burn homes belonging to those with Southern ties, Younger and his brothers were credited with saving some of the original homes within Lee's Summit, the most prominent of which belonged to William B. Howard. Order #11 helped to unify the transplanted southern population in Missouri and compelled Younger to join the Confederate guerrilla band known as Quantrill's Raiders. Cole Younger was arrested after an attempted bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota. Following 25 years of imprisonment for his crimes, Cole Younger was paroled in 1901. Three years later, Younger returned to Lee's Summit where he lived as a model citizen until his death in 1916. His grave is located in the Lee's Summit Historic Cemetery.

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Browning and his wife Margaret founded the Browning Family Show

February 19, 2010

Eugene Browning and his wife Margaret founded the Browning Family Show 

By Kathy Smith / Society

The stories of downtown Lee’s Summit are as numerous and varied as the stars in the sky. They are the mortar that holds our city together. One such story is the story of the Eugene Browning family. It is a love story and a story of family values. Born in 1921, Browning and his family moved to Lee’s Summit from Holliday, Kansas, when Eugene was in high school. His parents were the late Lacy and Mabel Browning. They had two other children, Bill and Elizabeth. His father, Lacy, was a farm manager, both in Holliday and in Lee’s Summit. This was a very important position in the farming community, because the managers kept the farms operating smoothly and made sure the farms were profitable. What Eugene learned on the farm helped him develop a good work ethic and taught him skills that he would eventually use in his business life. Browning’s grandfather Chelton was known for inventing a two-row cultivator. There is a famous historical photo with Chelton driving work horses hitched to his new invention in one of our local history books. 

It seems that innovation ran in the Browning family. Eugene, who was a drummer, founded the first swing band at Lee’s Summit High School. It was the music that brought Browning and his late wife Margaret Griffith together. Eugene told me that Margaret was the teacher’s pet because she was so musically talented. She was a very intelligent young lady and could play every instrument. Her mother, Addie, made sure that Margaret took piano lessons and dancing lessons. She was a member of his newly- found swing band. I guess you could say that they made beautiful music together. The group played at community dances and at school. Eugene told me that he drove a Model A. I can imagine how cute he looked behind the wheel of his car. 

There was a special gleam in Browning's eyes as he told me about his beloved Margaret. After high school, Margaret and Eugene went off to different colleges. The couple married in 1943. Margaret went to work at Pratt Whitney, which was geared up to support the WWII effort. Eugene told me that he sold live ducks to be used as decoys for hunters. In 1949, Browning purchased a lot at 321 South East Main. He paid $225. Browning had the idea of building a hamburger stand. He had worked for White Castle for a year and decided that he could do better. He bought a metal building for $125. It cost him $100 to move the metal building to the vacant lot. His new business was the White House Hamburger Shop. You could purchase a burger for 20 cents or 6 for a dollar. The White House had a steam table, L-shaped counter stools and a case to display homemade pies and candy. As the Browning children grew older, they would run the stand. 

Most of you probably don’t remember but there was a house next door at 323 SE Main. Browning purchased the house for his growing family. After a while, Eugene and his brother Bill built a block building, which is where he first started a hardware and tool business. The business evolved into a mercantile business which sold discount clothing and dry goods. Browning told me that the Browning Brothers Store, which was located on the corner of SW Main, was more expensive. By the way, the two Browning families are related. The back of Browning Mercantile held a shoe department and a shoe repair service.

The Browning children inherited their parents’ musical talents. There were a total of eight children: Carol Ann, Nancy, Mary Margaret, Linda, Patricia, Barbara, Gene Jr. and Robert. By the way, Robert played in Pat Metheny’s garage band. With all of this wonderful musical talent, it seemed natural that Browning would build a stage so his family could perform in his building. The Browning Kids show was born. The family performed regularly during the years of 1956 and 1957. This would have been a wonderful experience for sleepy little Lee’s Summit. The show eventually started touring. Browning purchased a bus to take his family to their shows, which were held at state fairs, county fairs and regional and national conventions. The Browning Family sang and danced their way into the hearts of all who attended their shows. The proceeds from these popular shows were used to fund the education of the Browning children. All eight of the Browning children received college degrees. 

During this time period, Browning developed a Browning family creed – a family philosophy with many sayings to go along with it. Family was everything - there were family meetings after church and Browning was truly interested in what his children were thinking. 

Eugene kept the store growing during the years the family toured the United States and Canada. The Browning family lived in Overland Park for several years. In 1985, the family moved back to Lee’s Summit. Even in their retirement, Eugene and Margaret entertained folks around the community. In 1998, Eugene and Margaret were inducted into the Lee’s Summit High School Hall of Fame. They were recognized for their contributions to the business community, civic involvement and for the fine example they demonstrated in their family life. Gene took care of his beautiful wife during a long illness but Margaret passed away in 2009. He still resides in the town he loves and is close to the childhood home of his beloved Margaret. It was my pleasure to visit with Browning and to listen to this wonderful man.

The Lee’s Summit Historical Society and the Browning family will present an exhibit of their musical artifacts on February 27 in the Vogue retail space at 315 SE Douglas. There will be an opening reception from 2 pm until 4pm that day. All are welcome to visit with the Browning family. For more information, contact Kathy Smith at or 525-9440

What James A. Shaw, Esq., says about Lee's Summit: " Lee's Summit, the largest town in Prairie township, derived its name from Dr. Lee, and from the fact of its location being the highest point between Kansas City and St. Louis en the Missouri Pacific Railroad. " Dr. Lee lived one-half mile north of the town. During the war he was taken from his house by unknown parties, to a place near where the depot now stands (then the open prairie), and shot to death. No cause is assigned for the act, as the doctor was highly respected by all. He was a non-combatant, taking no part in the war. " After the close of the war this place (Lee's Summit) was considered a hard rendezvous. This was the headquarters of some of the worst bandits in the State. A great many of the old citizens were honest, and wished to have the laws enfoirced, but were too weak to have it done. New comers arriving, and being so well pleased with the country determined to make it their homes, and feeling that their o«rn lives and the safety of their property was continually in danger, organized themselves into a vigilance committee, and many of the old citizens joined the organization. The result of it was the death of a few of the outlaws and the scat- tering of the rest, so that those who at that time ruled the country with the (to them) higher law, are now gone to that unknown country, or are serving their time in some state's prison. Now we have peace, and law is recognized." This is the largest grain shipping point in Jackson county outside of Kansas City. During the past twelve months the entire grain shipments may be estimated at $250,000, and the shipment of cattle and hogs proportionately large. CHURCHES. The first house of worship in the town of Lee's Summit was built by the Methodists, and the Baptists built the second house. The M. E. Church, South followed, then the Cumberland Presbyterians and Christians. The Episco- palians hold services in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and the Old School Presbyterians hold services in the M. E. Church, South. Since 1870 the church going people have increased in numbers, and at pres- ent there is a good feeling between the different denominations, and a healthy religious influence. There are five Sunday-schools in active operation, and meet in their respective places each Sabbath. A remarkably charitable and liberal Christian spirit exists among the members of the different churches, union meet- ings are held, and each one works with untiring zeal wherever the greatest good may be accomplished. BAPTIST CHURCH. The Baptist church at Lee's Summit was organized April 14, i860, and among the original members were: Roberts. Sanders, Adaline Sanders, William Jones, Jemima Jones, William Hagans, Elder David Miller. The church was originally called Big Cedar church but its name was changed to Lee's Summit church in August, 1869. The frame church building was erected in 1868, at a cost of $2,500. Some of the pastors names are Revs. Mitchell, Jeremiah Farmer, J W. Sparks, J. L. Blitah, I. M. Beason, S. W. Swift and the present pastor A. C. Rafferty. The present membership is 145. A good Sunday-school is main- tained, with J. C. F. Boler as superintendent. 346 HISTORY OF JACKSON COUNTY. M. E. CHURCH. The Methodist Episcopal church of Lee's Summit was organized in 1867 and the church was built the same summer. The church edifice is about 40x24 feet and cost about $1,000. It was dedicated in the fall of the same year. Five of the original members are still living here. The present membership is 120 and may be said to be in a flourishing condition. The Sunday-school meets every Lord's Day with an average of about eighty. G. B. Fenn is superintendent of the school, and Rev. S. R. Reese is pastor of the church. CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Lee's Summit was organized Jan. 12, 1873, with the following original members : W. T. Christmas, Minerva Christ- mas, Geo. W. Belcher, J. J. Moore, Maggie Moore, L. H. Berner, Aaron Botts, N. J. Botts, Stephen D. Hultz, Rebecca Hultz, Joseph H. Stinson, W. D. L. Warren, Lou E. Lewis, William C. Reed, M. E. Reed, Mollie Hylton, Jane Goshen, Nancy C. Burkley, Lillie Parkes, N. G. Hall, Sarah J. Harden, Mattie A. Thomas, Thomas F. Parker, Adelia Parker. The present frame church was built in the fall of 1872, at a cost of $1,700. It is about fifty feet long by thirty-six feet wide, containing a seating capacity of three hundred, an organ and other fixtures needful in a church. The church w^s dedicated by Rev. J. H. Houx, of Warresburg, assisted by Rev. Frank Russell. The pastors that have served the church are as follows : S. D. Givens, Frank Russell and Y. W. Whitsett. A Sabbath-school meets here every Sabbath with J. B. Campbell, superin- tendent, and Miss Emma Lytle, assistant. The average attendance is forty. A large revival was held in the church during the winter of 1873, conducted by Rev. S. D. Givens, assisted by Rev. Rush, when there were forty-two addi- tions to the church. There were many others who united with other churches in the town. The Lexington Presbytery was held with this church in the fall of 1874, when there were about 125 delegates and visitors in attendence. The ser- vices were held five days. There is a membership at present of 27, many hav- ing taken letters and removed elsewhere. lee's SUMMIT PUBLIC SCHOOL. The first graded school was taught in the winter of 1870-71, with • Rice as principal, and E. M. Hanlon first assistant, and two ladies also as assistants. In the spring prior to this there was a school taught in a frame building near the center of the village, with Mr. E. M. Hanlon as teacher. Before this, all the schools had been subscription schools. Among the teachers were Zachariah Davis, Rev. J. W. Wallace, Rev. Bright and others. The present brick build- ing was built in the year 1870 at a cost of about $10,000. There are four rooms, accommodating 225 pupils. The rooms are of the same size. There is a large bell which can be heard in any part of the village. The schools are in ses- sion at least seven months each year, and are well supported. The teachers are educated and well qualified for their positions. The present teachers are : J. H. Wilson, principal; E. M. Hanlon, Carrie Buxton, Elsie Adams, assistants. The post-office was established in 1865, with a Mr. Schmidt as postmaster. Then followed Josiah Collins and J. B. Campbell, the present postmaster. The Lee's Summit cametery was laid out soon after the war ; a portion of the land was given by W. B. Howard. It includes at the present time four acres and contains over two hundred graves. There are several fine monuments among them, I. W. Adams, W. T. Christmas, Thomas Powell, W. H. Colburn. There is a board fence around the grounds and soft maple trees set in profusion. HISTORY OF JACKSON COUNTY. 347 HISTORY OF THE MASONIC ORDER AT LEE S SUMMIT. Summit Lodge No. 263 was first organized under dispensation on the 17th of December, 1869, and thus continued until the 13th of October, 1870, when their charter was granted.