Missouri Arrow Rock Independence
Missouri: Arrow Rock & Independence

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Missouri: Arrow Rock & Independence

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Missouri: Arrow Rock & Independence

Friday July 30, 2004 Campus RV-Park Independence, Missouri: N39° 5.287': W94° 25.410' $16.00 for (overflow-parking) 30amps water & central dump.

Before leaving Arrow Rock we spent time in the Arrow Rock State Park Visitor's Center studying exhibits that covered early life around here and Boone's Lick. They even had a good exhibit about the early traders on what became known as the Santa Fe Trail.

While I was spending time in the Visitor's Center Joyce walked the 1-block to downtown Arrow Rock to browse through the shoppes in the old homes and businesses of historic Arrow Rock. When I tired of the Visitor's Center and went looking for Joyce she was with the proprietor of one of those quaint shoppes. They had been discussing our Journey following the Lewis & Clark Trail and Joyce had told him we were taking I-70 to Independence today. The nice fellow said that they were doing a lot of work on I-70 between Arrow Rock and Independence and suggested that we take another route. His route was good enough by me. I would rather travel roads through the countryside rather than Interstates anyway. We are glad that this gentleman recommended the alternate route. It took us through 100-miles of lush corn and soybean fields, I have never seen so much corn and soybeans, what are they going to do with all of it?

We made it into Independence just like clockwork, checked into the RV-Park and waited for dinnertime since we were meeting some of Joyce's relatives who live in the area. We all got together and had dinner at KC Masterpiece Barbecue & Grill located in the Plaza area of Kansas City, Missouri. After a wonderful dinner they walked us around the Plaza modeled after Kansas City's Sister City Seville, Spain. Many of the buildings are replicas of historic buildings in Seville, Spain. We enjoyed having the relatives act as tour guides.

Saturday July 31, 2004 Campus RV-Park Independence, Missouri: N39° 5.287': W94° 25.410' $16.00 for (overflow-parking) 30amps water & central dump.

Jim Bridger's 1804-1881 gravesite one of the premier Mountain Men -- Independence, Missouri




This morning we got together with some more of Joyce's kinfolks for breakfast and a visit to the cemetery where one of Joyce's older sisters is buried. In addition to visiting the burial plot of Joyce's sister we visited Jim Bridger's gravesite. We didn't know Jim Bridger was interred here a little more than 100-yards from the final resting place of Joyce's sister. For those of you that don't recognize the name Jim Bridger, 1804-1881) he is one of the premier "Mountain Men" that explored the west trapping beaver and scouting trails paving trail before the rush of settlers moved west. Jim Bridger is credited with being the founder of "South Pass" in 1827 that would become the-main pass across the Rocky Mountains used by wagon trains of settlers heading to the Gold Rush in California and along the Oregon Trail. In 1827 he also discovered the Great Salt Lake. Bridger opened an overland route by Bridger's Pass to the Great Salt Lake. Bridger also built Fort Bridger in 1843 a famous stop along at least one of the trails. In addition to all of these things Bridger was an army scout for several Army Exploration Expeditions. Note that Jim Bridger was born in 1804 when Lewis & Clark with the Corps of Discovery were making their way west. You will also recall that Pompey….. Sacagawa's son that accompanied Corps of Discovery was also born in 1804 and became one of the "Mountain Men" that along with Jim Bridger opened the west.

John Colter, a member of the Corps of Discovery, was the first and one of the most important of the "Mountain Men" and is remember for discovering Jackson's Hole and Yellowstone National Park when he left the Lewis and Clark Expedition at the Mandan and Hidatsa villages in August 1806 on the expedition's return trip. He joined some trappers heading back toward the Rocky Mountains. While John Colter was the first he was followed by James Beckwourth, Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, Jedidiah Smith and other men including Sacagawea's baby boy "Pompey". Remember Kit Carson from yesterday? He was the young boy that ran away to work the Santa Fe Trail and ended up running with the "Mountain Men" before turning to scouting for Government Expeditions. Kit Carson had a home in Taos New Mexico where his wife and children lived while he was away scouting for those Army Expeditions.

What a thing to stumble on while visiting a relative's gravesite.

Deer in the Cemetery in Independence, Missouri



We saw two-spotted fawn in the cemetery that allowed us to get very close to them. We saw an adult deer earlier in the park but these fawns did not appear to be in the company of an adult. When Joyce tried to feed them some crackers they bounded up the hill amongst the marker stones staying just far enough away to be out of danger.

Sunday August 1, 2004 Campus RV-Park Independence, Missouri: N39° 5.287': W94° 25.410' $16.00 for (overflow-parking) 30amps water & central dump.

It is HOT in Independence this weekend. Since we are in the campgrounds "overflow" we only have 30-amps thus only one air conditioner. We could run two but……..we do not want to chance running two while being gone for 5-hours and return to a motorhome where the 30-amp breaker popped and we have not had air conditioning for 3-hours. I don't think the motorhome would ever cool down. We just don't chance leaving two air conditioners running when we are gone for any length of time in this brutal heat.

The RV-Park is not supposed to have a 50-amp spot available until Thursday. The park is so centrally located to all the historical things in Independence that they have 10 or more RV's in overflow every night. When we arrived we knew we were going to be in overflow unless someone in the 50-amp sites left early. The point being; if you are planning a visit to Independence you will need to make reservations well in advance if you want one of the full hookup 50-amp sites in Campus Park.

We attended worship services at First Baptist of Independence. They have been a congregation since the mid-1800's, which is nothing unusual here in Independence where every church we pass has a historical marker outside proclaiming they have been a congregation since…… some date in the mid-1800's.

Episcopal Church where Harry and Bess Truman got married in Independence, Missouri




There is a little non descript Episcopal Church with a historical marker outside proclaiming they were organized in the mid-1800's and this is the church where Harry and Bess Truman got married. The historical marker outside the First Presbyterian Church stated they were organized in 1826 and did not "split" during the Civil War. The sign goes on to say Harry Truman met Bess Wallace in Sunday school at this church. The church has even preserved "the-room" naming it the Truman Room. Portraits donated by Mrs. Truman (Bess) are hanging in "the-room". The sanctuary of this church remains as it was in 1888 except for the reredos (front of church), which was remodeled in 1971.




Mormon Temple or "Community of Christ" World headquarters Independence, Missouri




Independence is proud of Harry Truman. His home is just blocks away from Independence Square. Across from Independence Square is Clinton's Drugs where Truman had his first job. Truman also served as a Judge in the Court House smack in the center of Independence Square before moving on to be Senator and President.

There are small churches of every denomination conceivable, well almost every denomination. The Mormon's have a huge Temple-Auditorium. The Temple has a "different" steeple in that it is an offset spiral of stainless steel and glass that reaches way into the sky. Locals tell us that the Mormons say Jesus is going to return to that very Church, then they add "he is going to come sliding down that spiral staircase". When I look at it I can't help but think that it would be a neat entry-------but rather suspect the Mormons, like me don't have a clue as to where Jesus will return. I guess the Bible gives us clues but those that have tried to interpret the clues have been proven wrong so far; so even with the clues contained in the Bible I am still going to proclaim myself clueless. I think that the Mormon Temple is the World Headquarters for the "Community of Christ" and since it is a Mormon Temple I suppose "Community of Christ" is interchangeable with "Mormon".

The other big thing in Independence is the Public Square. The Mormons refer to the Square as the "Public Square". Others refer to it as Independence Square. The Mormons may see the "Square" a bit differently because of being tarred and feathered on the square in 1833. Later in 1833 their leaders were jailed. The local militia disarmed the Mormons then using night raids and heightened violence, forced the Mormons to flee the county for their lives. They spent a few years in another Missouri county before being forced into flight again. This time the church (euphemism for all Mormons) was expelled from the state following the 1838 "Mormon War". This sounds like a pretty good reason to mock "Independence Square" and put the moniker "Public Square" on it.

Before our stay in Independence is over I will learn more about the Mormon presence here and in addition we will tour that magnificent Temple.

A docent was waxing eloquent about early history in Independence. Sensing that she knew her history I took the opportunity to question her about the Mormon presence in Independence. I specifically wanted her perspective on what happened. Here is the way she described events around these parts in the 1830's. "The county had been settled by Southerner's from Virginia and Kentucky then the Mormon's arrived. The Mormon's were different they boiled food while the "Southerner's" fried it. The Mormon's were "clannish" sticking together and helping one another. They were different. They wanted to buy every piece of land in the county. They wore different clothes, they smelled different…..on and on." "The "Southerners" (those that got here first) took to driving the Mormon's out." "During this time the Mormon leaders were tarred & feathered in the Square." Folks in an adjoining county north of Independence welcomed them thinking that they had been mistreated in Independence. Within a year or so that county also ran them out. The Mormon's moved north yet again before being completely expelled from Missouri. From Missouri the Mormon's migrated to Iowa." "This same scenario continued in Iowa until the Mormon's migrated to the area around present day Salt Lake City."

This knowledgeable docent explained that the "Mormon Temple" was actually "Community of Christ" World headquarters. Even though the building is referred to as the Mormon Temple they are the Church of Jesus Christ ….Latter Day Saints. This docent explained to me that the "Latter Day Saints" broke away from the Mormons over issues of polygamy and other things. In her vernacular the Latter Day Saints in the "Community of Christ" World Headquarters were "Protestant-Mormons".

Something tells me that I will not get this issue sorted out until I visit the "Temple" "World Headquarters" & "Mormon-Museum" which we intend to do one day this week.

This afternoon we visited and toured the Bingham-Waggoner Estate (Mansion). We learned a lot of Missouri history in this place.

Location is what makes the Bingham-Waggoner Estate unique in the annals of America's history. Platted in 1827, on the "highway" west known as the Santa Fe Trail, the Bingham Waggoner Estate played an important part in our history. While in the early years, beginning in 1821, the Santa Fe traders headed west from towns like Boone's Lick and Arrow Rock 100-miles east of Independence. Shortly the start for most of the Santa Fe Trail traders shifted west to Independence. The Santa Fe Trail was the first but in a few years trails like the Oregon Trail, California Trail and Mormon gave birth to the west as a stream of wagon trains of pioneers, fur traders, missionaries, mountain men, settlers, gold-seekers, soldiers and renegades passed by the Bingham-Waggoner Estate. Hundreds of thousands of these "passersby" were traveling west to seek their fortune, establish a new life, settle a new country, till the soil, convert Christians and fight wars. The Bingham-Waggoner Estate was there as all this happened.

Of the many colorful owners, characters and residents of this now famous home probably the most famous is the artist, painter and politician George Caleb Bingham. He purchased the estate and the adjoining properties in 1864. Bingham had some very strong feelings about the Civil War. Particularly the war as it played out along the western border of Missouri. He became an active protester of the military government and of the infamous "Order No. 11". The execution of this merciless act by government troops caused chaos, death, displaced citizens and left homeless many innocent residents of Independence and Jackson County. While residing at the Bingham-Waggoner Estate he painted one of his most famous works called "Order No. 11". He painted this in retaliation hoping to bring doom to the ruthless General and his Union troops "proving that injustice does not always pass unnoticed".

General Order No. 11 a part of Missouri History



The story depicted in Bingham's painting piqued my attention. The painting was of a Union Officer on horseback holding a pistol on the owner of an estate house being ransacked by Union Soldiers. Another home in the background was going up in flames. The Officer depicted in this painting was in command of Union Forces in Missouri. He issued "Order No. 11" that directed all houses in several counties bordering Kansas be burned.

In the mid-1860s the Civil War was causing agony and turmoil in many places but it was particularly bad in western Missouri. Bingham was profoundly affected by all the strife. Order Number Eleven, the infamous 1863 directive that drove thousands of border residents from their homes and farms was more than Bingham could abide. Bingham retaliated against this injustice by painting "Martial Law" popularly known as "Order Number Eleven". The painting caused violent controversy in postwar Missouri between Union and Confederate partisans about the merits and accuracy of Bingham's portrayal.

At the time of the order there was a lot of guerrilla warfare occurring against Union troops in the area and many in these parts were Confederate sympathizers. The Union Officer was trying to quell Confederate operations. Order No. 11 wasn't the only controversial order, on another of his orders he jailed all the women and children. So many were crowded into the Independence jail cells that it was standing room only. One group of women & children jailed on the second floor of a warehouse were killed when the building collapsed.

Anyway, back to the painting. After the war copies of this painting were distributed far & wide in an effort to "get-back" at that Union Officer. It seems that after the war that same Union Officer attempted several times to run for elected office. Each time that painting would be reproduced into poster size and prominently displayed on buildings and such around the community where he was running for office. This painting served to keep him from public office according to the docent's account.

Part of the remaining 19-acres Bingham-Waggoner estate included an old pasture. It just so happens that the pasture remains just that to this day even though it is within blocks of Independence Square. This old pasture is now a neatly mowed lawn on a hill. By this old pasture never being changed by construction you can now stand at the top of the hill and clearly see the wagon ruts remaining in the field from the columns of loaded wagons that began their trek on the Santa Fe Trail up this hill.

There was a spring between the Bingham-Waggoner estate and Independence Square about 8 blocks to the north. All wagons leaving on the Santa Fe Trail, California Trail and Oregon Trail camped around the spring prior to leaving town. They filled barrels with water for themselves and their livestock. When the wagon trains headed out they would head out across the Bingham-Waggoner estate property. Bingham complained bitterly about this and the City of Independence finally constructed two roads one on either side of Bingham's 19-acres for the wagons to leave the spring on so they would not trek over Bingham's property. The roads around Bingham's property were not constructed until the late 1850's or early 1860's.

Ruts from the famous and historic Santa Fe Trail preserved here in Independence, Missouri



The ruts we now see in the hillside were made prior to that time. There was still a LOT of activity after that time.

Look closel,. the old wagon tracks go from left to right. Three of them should be visible as they climb the hill from to spring to the Santa Fe Trail that ran along the rail fence you see at the top of the picture.

The volume of activity can be seen by how indented both roads are today. The narrow road beside the Bingham-Waggoner estate is now indented by approximately 6-feet. It is so easy to walk the road and marvel at how that indention happened over the years. Another interesting aspect of the old trail and the road that ran south along the eastern side of the Bingham-Waggoner estate was how the indentation curved at the south end of the property. Wagons were not able to make a right-angle turn like modern automobiles they had to make an arching turn. You can plainly see where the wagons indented the sweeping turn as the surrounding property is around 6' above the existing road through that arching turn. Even a city slicker like me can understand how it happened when a docent patiently explains it to them and points it out.

Joyce and 200-year old walnut tree at the Bingham-Waggoner Estate in Independance, Missouri



On the Bingham-Waggoner property between the house and old spring were several stately old walnut trees. Docents said they were over 200 years old. From their size I believe them. They dwarf Joyce.

The other interesting thing about the Bingham-Waggoner estate was the Waggoner connection. Waggoner purchased the property from Bingham in 1879. Waggoner was in the milling business. The Mill was located near the estate in the area around the spring where the wagon trains used to camp and fill up with water prior to leaving town. Waggoner was around in the late 1800s as the wagon trains were winding down and into the 1900's when the Rail Road was king and wagon trains were fading memories. Waggoner's mill produced "Queen of the Pantry" brand flour. President Truman's wife Bess had family ties to the mill. Her maternal grandfather, George Potterfield Gates, was a partner in the Waggoner-Gates Milling Company. Anyway, locals say that President Truman insisted that the White House cooks use only "Queen of the Pantry" brand flour. Now isn't than an interesting story?

Looking out the windows of the Bingham-Waggoner Estate you feel as if you are in a monument paying tribute to those hundreds of thousands of searching souls who passed by and laid their hands to the task of settling the land and building a nation. Many of them passed by this very spot. They were for the most part a spirited, honest, hard-working group. Some, not so sterling in character…. yet, they all made their own kind of contribution to the legacy that is an integral part of the continuing history of this great nation.

Mike & Joyce Hendrix

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Until next time remember how good life is.

Mike & Joyce Hendrix

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