Greenwood of Yesteryear 1970

1870-1970 History of Greenwood


Its ups and downs throughout a Century

1870 - 1970
(transcribed by Arnold Diaz, 2019)

Greenwood of yesteryear was a small country village located in the Southwest corner of Jackson County, Missouri. It was bounded on the West by 10 E Highway, North by 50 Highway, East by 7 Highway and South by the Cass County line.

Greenwood was laid out, named and filed for court record June 25, 1867, by Alfred Hanscomb, R.W. Price, Frank Brooks and Rev. S.G. Clark. Why these men chose the name of Greenwood we are not sure but we would like to think it was because it was located among so many beautiful trees and acre upon acre of green grass pasture land. It has been lovingly nicknamed “Dogtown” due to the fact it has so many dogs. We know there are two classes of dogs, the valuable being the Watch-dog, the children’s pet, hunting dogs, race hounds and the seeing-eye dog. Then there is the cur dog, untrained, roaming the streets and just a plain nuisance and the one Greenwood excels in.

Since Greenwoods historical record did not begin until 1857, its pre-historical record lists the following achievements. The Cemetery was available for burial in 1866. In this burial slot lies the bodies of twenty five soldiers who fought in six different wars for our country and its safety. The first one being, Thomas Hinton, killed in the Civil war and the last burial being Cleautis Ethridge, who served in the Korean War, The Cemetery was laid out and established for court record in 1870 by Rev, Randall Ross and H.M. Jamison. Also in 1866, the Post Office was established on September 28; the first Postmaster being J.W. Price. Since that time there have been twelve Postmasters. The one of longest standing was Lila B. Davisson. Her appointment began in 1939 and retirement in 1969. The first rural route was established on April 15, 1901, and the second on November 1, 1901. In 1932 the two routes were combined. Elmer Miller and Leonard Antle were the carriers on the single routes followed by Earl Bowin who served thirty eight years.

In 1867 the first Church was built. It was a Congregational Church. The second was the Presbyterian known as the Old School Presbyterian built in 1858. The old building was razed and a new Church was built and dedicated October 30, 191?; the pastor, a Rev. Witherspoon. The Sunday School Superintendent was Mr. Kluxton, who was operating the old Flour and Grist Mill. Here let me say this building was three story and considered one of the finest in the state of Missouri. The first miller of which we have a record was J.W. Pingrey, after that, many followed. Many bushels of wheat and other grain were milled here since Greenwood was the hub of a rich industrial district. The mill burned in the early years of 1900. (Milling and Graining News (1913) - L.W. Barnes Mill, July 1st, 1913)

Another old building of yesteryear was the Greenwood Creamery. We do not have the record of when it was built. Here butter and all kinds of cheese were made and sold along with milk. On the Northwest corner of the building was a huge spring of water. The west small room of the building and the basement are still intact. J. W. Wiffin bought the land and the buildings and remodeled the house into a beautiful home. Mrs. Robert Collette now owns the property and resides there as well as sells antiques.

In 1870, Greenwood really began to take the form of a beautiful little village. Lincoln College was built ln 1870 on a five acre tract of ground donated by the town and opened by the Rev. Randoll Ross of Ohio. The cost of the building was five thousand dollars. Its curriculum was the same as all leading Eastern colleges. It was sponsored by the United Presbyterian Church. These brethren held services in the college until it was sold and torn down. Miss Rose McCullough was one of the five graduates of the first class. Mr. F. T. McCullough, her father, moved here in 1869 from Ohio. He served as postmaster for a number of years and was our first officer of the law “Justice of Peace” and was known to all the people as Squire Mccullough. “Miss Rose” was appointed by the Church as a Missionary to India in 1879 in which capacity she served for fifty five years. Our citizens of today certainly do thank God for this wonderful Christian woman. The College and grounds were bought by W. A. Smith who razed the College and built three small cottages on the west side with the lumber. On the East he built a beautiful new home which burned several years later. The United Presbyterian congregation united with the “old School Presbyterian” and it too is known as the United Presbyterian Church. From this Church went a very famous Missionary, Rev. Albert Dodd. He was sent to Formosa and when visiting old friends here in 1968, he said he had been there better than sixty years and was going to return at the close of his furlough. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. George T. Dodd. Mr. George Dodd, at one time, was the elected judge of the Eastern District of Jackson County court. They had another son who was the minister of this Church. A writer in 1926 said Greenwood residents never did allow their activities to crowd out religion. Truer words were never spoken than these and they can still be said today in a great area of truth.

In 1870 the first school was built. It consisted of three rooms in which to teach one hundred seventy five children. It was a frame building and cost twenty five hundred dollars. In 1910 a combination high school and grammar school was built. It was a two story brick building which remains in use today. It was enlarged in 1940 when Wiffin Hall was torn down and used for this purpose. Many graduates have emerged from this school and resulted in some twenty five teachers. Some have returned to teach in their own school and some to other parts of the country. Two of these teachers surely deserve honorable mention. Miss Delma Carpenter went on to get a college education and taught forty years before retiring in 1963. Orpha McPherson, who has her Doctors degree, taught many years among the Indians ln Arizona and was quite interested in the work. She has since retired.

Union Baptist Church was first organized in 1837 near Cross Roads* in Cass County (*possibly near 175th St and Cemetery Road near the Union Baptist Cemetery). It started in a log cabin which soon became too small. Then a frame house was built but again the membership outgrew the building and a brick building was erected. In 1872 the members decided to move farther West. It was agreed Greenwood would be its future home. So brick by brick the brethren took it down and rebuilt it in “Brooks Edition” in Greenwood. The first pastor here was Rev. A. C. Rafferty. He served in every capacity in which he was needed in the Church and took great interest in civic affairs. Brother Rafferty departed this life in February 1916. Hence another great man of God had run the race and won his Crown; “The Crown of Righteousness”. The building was dedicated in 1873. The building has been razed and a new building erected on 150 Highway West of town. At this time the new building is not complete but is in use with Rev. Paul Andrews officiating.

The Greenwood Christian Church was organized in 1877. Nine of its charter members banded together in 1875 and held services in the Boone School house two miles west of Greenwood. When Mrs. J. J. (Elizabeth) Willsey moved here from Pittsfield, Illinois, there was still no church in Greenwood, so two years later she proceeded to organize one. Others became interested in building in Greenwood and this loyal group of people came in and joined forces with them. The old building was remodeled several times and was replaced with a new one dedicated March 17, 1969. One of the great achievements of this Church was its great revival meetings, most of them being held under tents. Hundreds of people were led to Christ. Mrs. Wilsey lived to see her husband, son, daughter, daughter-in-law and five grandchildren, brought safely into the fold during her fifty five years of faithful service to the Church.

Whiffin Hall was a place where many happy events took place in Greenwood. It was built in the late 1890’s by J.W. Whiffin, a retired attorney from Kansas City, and dedicated to his deceased son and deeded to the town. It was a three story brick building. On the ground floor was a large auditorium and balcony seating, holding approximately five hundred people with a large stage. In this hall many interesting questions were debated in a great “literary society”. Many concerts by the musical union were held, led by W.H. McPherson. There were lectures and many interesting programs and plays. On the second floor was a huge dining hall and kitchen where all the dinners and banquets were held. In 1940 heirs of the Whiffin estate disposed of the building by giving all usable lumber and material to the school district, thus ending “Greenwood’s Great Playhouse”.

Greenwood was incorporated in the early 1890s. Mr. W. H. Mcpherson was the first Mayor. This incorporation was dissolved when highway (now 150) was macadamized as they would not rock the road through an incorporated town.

The first store was opened by William Wise in 1870. Throughout the century we have had grocery stores in five different locations, owned and operated by several merchants. The ones in business the longest period time were lvan Long; D.T. Woods, Alvah Browning, W. S. Wild, Raymond Lee VanScoy, O.L. Warner and Bob Gamet. Wild also owned a poultry house.

There have been three drug stores operated by licensed pharmacists, J. F. Withrow, Ed Vanhoy and S. T. Sears.

To go along with the stores, Greenwood has had fourteen resident doctors. The one with the longest abode was Dr. Carl Conrad having chosen for his wife a Greenwood girl, Miss Ethel Gambrel.

Other mention-able businesses have been two hardware stores owned and operated by ten different men or companies. One mercantile store, two dry goods and clothing stores, three barber shops, two blacksmith and woodwork shop and a lumber yard operated by J..M. Leach and son. The first and only hotel was built in 1870 by Thomas Hinton, It was bought and razed by the State in 1939 and 1940 when Main Street was widened and the viaduct built. The Greenwood Bank was established in the early 1900’s and was dissolved and removed in 1939.

In 1904 the first telephone system, the Bell Telephone Co., was put in operation. There had been several privately owned phones, with long distance pay stations, prior to that time. The switchboard was placed in the home of Effie McCullick who served as operator for ten years furnishing twenty four hour service to its many patrons. lt was later moved to an office on Main Street. It too has been moved.

Greenwoods’ first Marshall was James G. Willsey who also owned the first barber shop. In the early years, the town had three factories. There was a brick, monkey wrench and later a broom factory. In the late 1890s Mrs. M. Carlson operated a millinery (women’s hat) store in her home on Ranson. Also about this time a large ice house was in operation serving the community with large cakes of ice. In this day it was a great service since there were no refrigerators or freezers.

The Greenwood Band was organized around 1900 and first conducted by James Branahan and later by W. H. McPherson until its final tune was played. To the best of our knowledge Claude Long of Lee’s Summit is the only living member.

In 1915 John Klaus opened a greenhouse on "Hillcrest”, a small picturesque farm belonging to P. R. Toll. After his death this greenhouse with one located at Belton, Missouri is owned and operated by his sons John Jr and Barnard. This has become one of the finest floral greenhouses in the state of Missouri. Besides the beautiful flowers there are a number of Greenwood people employed there. At one time this beautiful tract of land covered with bluegrass and shaded with many forest trees, was known to all as our “City Park”. Here many picnics were held, the greatest of all being the Fourth of July celebration. At the foot of the hill was a mineral sulfur spring with a pump and spring house. The seats built around it furnished a place to sit and visit old friends while enjoying this fine mineral water. Just southeast of this spring was a large lake and it too holds many pleasant memories for people as it was used by all three Churches for baptizing many converts. In later years the spring had to be filled because the lake water defiled the spring water. Mr. Toll had a beautiful home just south of the greenhouse which was later sold to Clark Edminister, our only accountant, and it was later destroyed by fire. South of the highway way as a cider mill owned by S.T. Sears but now at the turn of the century it has been replaced by the Greenwood Laundry which is a very welcome addition to the Greenwood ladies.

The first Livery Stable was erected by Capt J. J. Willsey just south of the hotel, and dug the town well where it still remains today. Much hay and grain was sold here. Also many horses among which was a very fine Percheron stallion owned by Mr. Willsey. Many wagons, buggies and last but not least, a sleigh which the “Halloween Boys” loved to sneak out and put on top of Willsey’s barber shop. It was later moved around the corner on Third Street and operated by several people the last one being Robert Kissel who sold it in 1928.

There have been three garages on Main Street and some very efficient mechanics. Also there were three very fine restaurants on Main Street and a pool hall run for many seasons by Charles Craig. There was a real estate office owned by David Sample and an Army Store by C. S. Gray who at the time was president of the “Greenwood Community Club” and with the aid of other men planned much of Greenwoods future development.

There were four active lodges and Fraternal Societies. The M.W.A, R.N.A., the Odd Fellows and the Rebekas.

In 1909 C.W. Curtis edited and published our only newspaper “The Greenwood Elk”. Its life was of a short duration and our news media today is through Mrs. Irvin Belcher who began as correspondent to the Lee’s Summit Journal nearly half a century ago. Many Greenwood people subscribe to this paper as well as the Pleasant Hill Times which publishes the news reported by Mrs. Mattie Jennings.

Greenwood had two Railroads. The Missouri Pacific depot was built in the early 1890s. Just to the east were the large stock pens from where many carloads of sheep, cattle and hogs were shipped. At the north end of this stock yard was a natural salt water well. The well supplied the town’s people with perfect water for cooking navy beans for many years. Just east of town, W.A. Forsyth owned hundreds of acres of rich pasture land and was a breeder of Shorthorn cattle. He also had a sales barn in Greenwood and served as the president of the Greenwood Bank. Just south of the Greenwood Cemetery was a huge apple orchard with an apple house for their storage. Thousands of barrels of apples were shipped from this orchard in the 1890s. The Bayles Orchard contained 35,000 apple trees of which 22,000 were the Ben Davis variety. The later yielded 13,000 barrels of apples this season (foot note 1) The Rock Island Railroad and its station also shared in this shipping program. The track and depot was built between 1903 and I9O4. Both of these depots were lost in the progress of a new paved road and the viaduct that spans both railroad tracks and Big Creek.

Greenwood was incorporated as a village May 27, 1957. A five man board was appointed by the Jackson County Court to serve until election on April 1, 1958. Robert Copeland was named as chairman of this board to serve as acting Mayor. Others on the board of trustees- were Cliff Stucker, John Hatfield, Everett Carlson, who later served as State representative and Aaron Preston. Aaron C.

Preston was the first Mayor elect by popular vote and served in that capacity until his death in September 1967. (Mr. Preston resided at 300 6thAve) Edward I. Totten filled out his un-expired term and was elected in April 1968 for a two year term and in April 1970 was re-elected for another term. “Buck” as Greenwood knows him' is a native born citizen of our small city, it begin reclassified as a fourth class city in recent years. On November 17, 1958, forty street lights were lighted and dedicated. Since that time more have been added and larger bulbs have been placed in needed areas. The water was piped into Greenwood in September 1953. Most of the installation was done by Ed Smith our only plumber at the time. Prairie Township Fire Department was moved here in February 1955. It consists of a three man board and a Fire Chief with the men in town serving as volunteers. Greenwood has had a total of ten resident Negroes.

In August, 1915 the Ladies Social club was organized. Its first President was Mrs. Frank Thompson, in its course of fifty five years it has had over one hundred members and now has a membership of fifteen. It recessed in 1917 and 1918 to assist the Red Cross in making bandages for the Army. It then resumed meetings that are held monthly in the homes of members. As an interest in flowers developed, the club-was renamed the Greenwood Ladles Social and Flower Club. Many happy hours been spent in these club meetings.

Just west of town on what is now 71 By-pass, was the Cole Younger home. One of our citizens can remember hearing his mother say, when she thought trouble was coming “run Massy Cole, run”. -The farm was bought a few years later by Thomas B. Miller. It has been remodeled but still stands in the same place and is owned by a son Duncan Miller. It contains a museum and is open to the public at this time. The oldest citizen in Greenwood is Ben Muse, having lived here ninety one years of the past century.

The remaining town buildings have been remodeled and given bright new faces and to these have been added six new ones. O.L. Warner built the first one that now is owned by Richard Quick and houses the beauty salon “Mr. Richards". We have the Nazworthy building that is offices. Our city Hall is located here** and our only attorney, Milton A. Edmonson. Larry Englebreak constructed a building that contains "Larry’s Barber Shop”, the Bennett T.V. Repair Shop, and Water Districts 12 and 14. Two more new buildings are the Wagmon Plumbing and Supply Co. and another building owned by Larry Englebreak housing a Plastic Flower Shop. We have a new factory producing "specialty products”. All of these buildings are beautiful and have added so much to the growth of our town. We know that we will continue to grow in the future.

Now to the saints of yesteryear this tribute I wish to pay, a century ago it was a journey well begun. A race with great patience you have run. And your victorious crown in Heaven you have won. Thanks be to God to the victory and to the citizens of Greenwood of today and yea even on the morrow. Perhaps another century, I don’t know bit I will still say you were the dearest spot on earth to me, the Town and City of my birth, Greenwood, Jackson county, Missouri. My home sweet home through almost a century. Submitted to the “Greenwood Ladies Social and Flower Club”, April 21, 1970 by Effie Ervin, born September 15, 1886.



Foot note 1 – source: Indianapolis Journal, January 03, 1897


Thomas Hinton – 19 APR 1823 – 10 OCT 1863 interred Greenwood Cemetery

Cleautis J. Ethridge – 24 SEP 1925 – 08 FEB 1970 interred Greenwood Cemetery

Lilia B. Davisson – 1899 – 1991 interred Greenwood Cemetery

Elmer Miller – 1885 – 1918 interred Greenwood Cemetery

Leonard D. Antle 30 OCT 1899 – 05 OCT 1936 interred Greenwood Cemetery

Delma Carpenter 1898-1986 interred Greenwood Cemetery

Dr. Orpha McPherson 1890-1988 interred Greenwood Cemetery

A.C Rafferty 19 SEP 1836 – 27 FEB 1916 interred Greenwood Cemetery

Elizabeth Willsey 14 DEC 1833 – 10 NOV 1924 interred Greenwood Cemetery

James Warren Whiffin 17 Mar 1844 – 17 Sep 1927 (aged 83), Elmwood cemetery, Kansas City

W.H. McPherson (Walter Henry) 18 Mar 1860 -003 OCT 1947 (aged 87) Greenwood Cemetery

lvan Long 15 FEB 1873 -20 MAR 1933 (age 60) Greenwood Cemetery

D.T. Woods 1850-1926 Greenwood Cemetery

W.S. Wild (William Sherman ) 06 MAR 1866 – 13 DEC 1947 interred Greenwood Cemetery

Thomas Hinton 19 APR 1823 – 10 OCT 1863 interred Greenwood Cemetery

Effie G. McCullick Ervin 15 SEP 1886 – 28 FEB 1973 (age 86) Greenwood Cemetery

Claude Wilkin Long 22 DEC 1898 – 18 JUN 1971 (aged 72) interred Floral Hills Memorial Gardens Lees, Summit

Claude married Alice Ruth Johnson in Greenwood on Sept 14, 1918

Robert A. and Robert Allison Kissel (father and son) are interred in Greenwood cemetery

David Sample – 1843-21 Aug 1918, interred Greenwood Cemetery

Cornelius Gray 10 OCT 1858 – 23 JUL 1926 (aged 67) Greenwood Cemetery

William A. Forsyth 02May 1861 - 02 June 1937 (aged 76) interred in Pleasant Hill

Robert Copeland – 06 FEB 1928 -15 JAN 2008 (aged 79) Greenwood cemetery

John Hatfield – research needed father-son interred in Greenwood

Aaron C. Preston – 16 JUN 1913 – 10 SEP 1967 interred in Lee’s Summit

Thomas B. Miller – 19 MAY 1853 – 05 SEP 1950 interred in Greenwood cemetery

Thomas Duncan Miller --- son of Thomas B. Miller? Interred in Greenwood cemetery, d1991

Benjamin F. Muse 25 FEB 1878 – 15 APR 1972

Effie G. McCullick Ervin – 15 Sep 1886 – 28 Feb 1973 interred Greenwood cemetery

      City of Greenwood | 709 W. Main Greenwood, MO 64034  |  Phone: 816-537-6969  |  Fax: 816-537-7461
      Contact Us  |  Site Map  
      E-notify RSS Feeds Twitter Facebook