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The Centennial History of Independence, Mo. by W. L. Webb
   

Chapter 10:
Names of Streets

 
The names of our streets are historic records.  Like all American cities, Independence has a Main street, but unlike Main streets generally, our Main street is not a misnomer; it is a popular business and residential thoroughfare.  The first of our streets were public roads leading to neighboring towns.

     Liberty street was named in honor of the town of Liberty, county seat of Clay County, a compliment of one county seat to another.  Lexington street was so named because it was the road leading out to Lexington, Missouri, another county seat courtesy.  Lexington had some claim on our regard.  Jackson county, while in its swaddling clothes, was attached to Lafayette County; Lexington then was our county seat.  In this one sense Independence was the successor to Lexington.  And of course we have a Lexington street.

     A street named Kansas is an anomaly in Independence unless one knows all the facts.  Our Kansas street was named in 1849, before there was any territory of Kansas, and therefore was not named in honor of Missouri's neighbor, Kansas, but for a road leading from Independence to a straggling little village ten miles to the west of the county seat.  Kansas City has had three names.  The first name was Kansas.  The second name was City of Kansas.  In 1889 the city received its third name and became Kansas City.  The territory of Kansas was not created until fourteen years after the village of Kansas was founded.  And when the new territory was erected, it took the name of the promising little village in Missouri.  Our Kansas street in Independence was named for the first name borne by Kansas City.  Hence and therefore the earliest recognition of the potential greatness of Kansas City is revealed here in Independence.  We are very pleased with our handsome street named Kansas.  The first mention made of this street in the proceedings of the first city council spells it "Kanzas."  There have been employed 120 different spellings of this name according to Kansas historians.

     We have Mill street that crosses Mill Creek.  Both the street and creek were doubtless named for a pioneer grist mill, located at the corner of Mill street and Spring street.  The mill was not on the creek, as it was not run by water power.  It was operated by a tread wheel, on which  horses or oxen were used.  It is almost certain that only corn was ground at this mill.  We regret that the name of the owner has been lost.

     We have Osage street, named for the Osage Indians, to whom the site of Independence once belonged.

     Dodgion street commemorates the name of a pioneer hat-maker here in Independence.  The late Reverend Alexander Proctor, whom we all loved, used to relate this instance.  A Western man, who was a stranger, applied for a hat at the Dodgion place of business and left an order for a very fine hat, which was accordingly made for him.  He asked that the price of the hat be charged to his account.  One morning a friend who knew of the transaction rushed into Mr. Dodgion's office and reported that the man with the new hat was decamping on a steamboat bound for St. Louis.  Mr. Dodgion hastened to the river and went aboard the boat.  Recognizing the new hat, he made up to the man and said, "I'm Dodgion, the hatter."  The man replied, "I'm also dodging the hatter."  It is understood that the man satisfied Mr. Dodgion with a promise of payment, a promise that he kept.

     Maple avenue was originally Rock street, probably from the rock quarry on the east side.  The name was changed to Maple avenue probably from the belief that the latter was more aristocratic.  Independence has always been proud, and Maple avenue still has its pride -- so has the whole town.

     Sea avenue was named in honor of the late L. M. Sea, a very early settler here and the father of Judge John A. Sea.

     There seems to be neither tradition nor recognition as to why Delaware was so named.

     Frontier settlers always had an eye single to wood and water.  Both of these were rich gifts of nature on the site of Independence.  There were many springs gurgling from the hillsides and  the whole region was covered with heavy timber.  These essentials appear in the nomenclature of our streets.  Spring street has two noble springs, one toward the north side and one on the south.

     The city has retained the names of many of  its trees in the names of streets.  We have Maple, Walnut, and White Oak.

 

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