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AUCTION 22

 

The First Kansas City Directory


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168.     [DIRECTORY]. SUTHERLAND, [James] & [Henry N.] McEvoy (compilers & publishers). Kansas City Directory, and Business Mirror, for 1859-60, Containing the Name and Residence of Every Male Citizen, a Business Mirror, and an Appendix of Much Useful Information. Published Annually. Price One Dollar. Saint Louis, Mo.: Sutherland & McEvoy, Publishers & Compilers, Office. cor. Second & Chestnut Sts. [title verso states printing and binding by Bingham and Doughty, Indianapolis, Indiana], [1859]. [i-ii] iii-xviii, 1-80, [2, “Street Directory”], 81-99 [1, blank] pp. (numerous ads, many with wood engravings), first and last leaves used as pastedowns, last two leaves on pale green paper. 8vo (22.5 x 15.2 cm), publishers’ original blind-embossed diced purple cloth (faded to brown), title gilt-lettered on upper cover (professionally re-backed, preserving original spine, corners renewed). Some shelf wear, three small spots on upper cover, scattered moderate to light foxing and staining, light chipping to blank margins of penultimate leaf, otherwise very good. Scattered old pencil notes recording updates to the directory (including one on p. 15 noting that Diveley was “killed by Indians June 14, 1867 out West”). Laid in is a newspaper clipping from the Star concerning a talk by Frank Titus about this directory and a later manuscript list entitled “Buildings on the Levee.” Very rare. The only copy we trace on the market is Mr. Streeter’s (which fetched $250 in 1967).

     First edition of the first Kansas City, Missouri, directory, documenting a pivotal transit point and entrepôt on the way West and back. Graff 4036. Howes S1148. Streeter Sale 1871 (calling for 97 pp.). The compilers declare in the preface: “In presenting the first issue of the Kansas City Directory, the publishers feel they have done something toward satisfying the wants and necessities of the public, and rendering the work a fit representative of the business and enterprise of the city.”

     Kansas City’s origins go back to 1833-1834, when John McCoy established West Port and Westport Landing very near the Missouri River on the Santa Fe Trail. The town of Kansas was incorporated in 1850, by which time Kansas, Westport, and Independence were vital points of westward expansion for three major trails, the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon. Walker D. Wyman comments in “Kansas City, Mo., a Famous Freighter Capital” (Kansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. VI, No. 1, February, 1937, pp. 3-15):

The overland trade to New Mexico was the most ancient and honorable of all ox-team freighting from Missouri river towns. Beginning in the eighteen twenties, it grew slowly until the Mexican War; then the necessity of supplying troops stationed in the area, as well as other Americans, created a new era in this traffic. Lower Missouri river towns outfitted this trade in its infancy. But when Kansas City came into existence in the forties it soon became the headquarters. Its fame lies in being the patron saint of the trade down the old Santa Fe trail. It enjoyed practically an unbroken monopoly on the private trade to New Mexico…. In 1845, Bent and St. Vrain shipped there the first load of goods. When this train of twenty-five wagons was unloaded the warehouse was full from top to bottom and 5,000 tons of buffalo hides covered with a tarpaulin were stored on the levee….

[In the 1850s] all the life was at the wharf, where the few inhabitants gathered to see the daily show of churning steamboats, men bustling about loading or unloading goods, and plodding oxen, drawing prairie schooners up the ravine, urged on by Missouri or Mexican profanity…. The warehouse, wharf, and stores bustled with activity. Hacks and drays rattled up and down the hilly streets. The prairie southwest of town was covered with the camps and corrals of the traders. In June [1858] “at least four thousand head of stock” grazed serenely on the prairie grass…. The Santa Fe trail and the Missouri river made Kansas City. The New Mexican and the mountain trade made it famous for more than a decade…. The inexorable forces of geography dictated that it should be the supply depot for the upper Arkansas and New Mexico.

     This directory offers an amazing assortment of material goods and services for the emigrant, trader, and resident. Over half of the directory consists of advertisements (many pictorial and with a dizzying array of typefaces). The goods and services offered would be of great utility to traders and overlanders going to and coming from the West; blacksmiths, boot dealers, freighters, guns dealers, powder purveyors, wholesale grocers, harness and saddle makers, steamboat agents, hotels, hide and leather buyers, commission agents, warehouses, and India rubber are all advertised for “the gentlemen destined for the Gold Regions.” As might be expected in a growing boom town, there are many attorneys, boarding houses, builders, painters, grocers, saloons, and doctors. Scarcer occupations are represented by one midwife (Mrs. S. Flaeger), photographers (Campbell’s Sky-Light Gallery and A.G. Garge), booksellers (two), bookbinders (one), broom manufacturers (one), and one hatter (Mrs. Fraley). Because the directory was published before the full expansion of the railroad system, only four railroad lines are listed in the directory proper, though there are two additional lines advertised for travelers heading east. As Wyman observes of the year 1859 (using this directory as a source): “The four commission and forwarding houses, three harness makers, two steamboat agents, six wholesale groceries, and twenty-two saloons surely had a profitable year in this great splurge before the shadow of secession hovered over Kansas City” (p. 10).

($2,500-3,500)

Sold. Hammer: $3,400.00; Price Realized: $4,080.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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