Friday, October 8, 2010

Know Your Local History

200 Years on Troost Exhibit

The Kansas City Public Central Library sponsored the “200 Years On Troost” exhibit from August 14 – October 17, 2010.  This exhibit chronicled “the history of Kansas City’s Troost Avenue from its beginning as a 365-acre slave plantation to its emergence as a business hub in the early 1900 to the sense of community that exists there today.”

Sure these sorts of exhibits can often be scant in details, but if you read for the clues you can find a wealth of knowledge or at least questions, that once answered, may lead you a bit closer to your ancestor.

Deciphering This Exhibit
Native Americans Research?
  • Looking for Osage Nation ancestors?  Have you tried the records around Rich Hill, Missouri?
  • What was the migratory path of the Osage Nation? 
African American Research?
  • Why were your ancestors in Kansas City on the 1870 census? Be sure to check their addresses.  This could be the clue to a slave master.
Affluent Research?
  • Have you wondered how your ancestors owned KC’s prime real estate? The history of an area often reveals information of its affluent citizens.
Newspaper Research
  • What were the biases and opinions of the local newspaper editors?  This clue can lead you to the social history of an area.  I suggest researchers delve into the developers’ and editors’ ideas and backgrounds. These community leaders set the tone for a region. 
  • Did the research on your ancestor’s compared to the local social norm of the time, reveal them to be rebels, or operate contrary to the local prescribed standards?

Uprooting Clues
200 Years On Troost

Troost Ave
According to the 200 Years On Troost exhibit, Troost Ave was originally the hunting trail and path to the Missouri River used by the Osage Nation. The Osage Nation was misplaced from their ancestral village “Places of Many Swans” near Rich Hill, MO.

Between 1830 -1839 over 75 thousand eastern Native Americans were relocated to south west of the Mississippi River.   So from this exhibit, we know that for a short while, at least, the Osage Nation citizens were in the Kansas City area. Most would assume they migrated from the east directly to the other side of the Mississippi River. 

Prominent Citizen Benoit Troost
The extinguished Benoit Troost, a dutch doctor, purchased part of Gabriel Prudhomme’s estate in 1846.  The Troost estate stretched from present day Broadway to Troost Ave., and as far north as the Missouri River to Indiana Ave.  Although this seems irrelevant, narrowing land plots is very handy with genealogical research. Did your ancestor live on this plot?

The Dr. who also was significant in establishing Kansas City’s first newspaper, the Kansas City Public Ledger in 1850, also assisted in developing the Kansas Hannibal and St. Jo (Joseph) Railroad in 1855 that serviced Kansas City to Cameron, Missouri.  He and his wife had eight (8) slaves. 

What was the condition of the slaves? Did he breed them? Did they work on his railroad? Did Troost use his newspaper to further any local causes? Did his ideas affect your ancestors?

Kansas City Father Gabriel Prudhomme
As mentioned before, Benoit Troost purchased part of Gabriel Prudhomme’s estate.  The fact that Prudhomme was even mentione in this exhibit sparked interest to his importance. A bit of research, led me to more of KC’s history.

Kansas City, Mo emerged from the farmland of Gabriel Prudhomme.  This farmland was the original KC.  However, seven years after Prudhomme’s death in 1838, fourteen investors purchased his estate.  The Prudhomme farm was 257 acres, and also had a rock ledge from which he operated a ferry. In November of 1831, within a few months of owning this farm, Prudhomme was killed in a barroom fight.

Editor Notes: Father David Paisius Altschul began researching Troost Avenue more than 25 years ago and ultimately decided to document its history in the exhibit 200 Years on Troost. Know that one hour exhibits can lead to hours of research, and an abundance of knowledge.

Happy researching.
Accurate, Accessible Answers

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