Tom Sims, Committee Chair
The original site of the Town of Kansas, once called the West Port, and later to become Kansas City, Missouri, is to be restored and recognized. The Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas City initiated the project by determining the exact location of the original landing. The marker was placed and dedicated in 2010.
The following is a summary description from the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, located on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, in Kansas City, Missouri:
Gabriel Prudhomme, a French-Canadian fur trapper and trader, patented 271 acres of land on the south bank of the Missouri River in Jackson County, Missouri for $340. It originally had been part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and contained a rocky ledge at river’s edge felt to offer a natural steamboat landing site. This would later be called “the levee”. Riverboat unloading activities would begin by 1836.
The Prudhomme land would ultimately be auctioned off in 1838 as part of his estate and would be purchased by a group of men led by William Sublett for $4220. The intended use of the land and surroundings was for a business settlement and warehouses. There were 14 members in this group, the Kansas Town Company. The initial order of business was to name the site the “Town of Kansas” after the local tribe of Indians and its proximity to the Kansas River. By early 1839, the site was surveyed, platted, and the first parcel of land was offered for sale. There were complications in filing the deed to the land but by 1846, the issue was settled and a second offering was made. Over the next four years, the remaining lots were sold and in February 1850 the Jackson County Courts incorporated the town as the “Town of Kansas”. This incorporation was declared void and later in 1850 was re-incorporated as the “City of Kansas”. Three years later, with a population in the thousands, the town was again incorporated, this time under the title, the “City of Kansas”.
The Archives of Native Sons and Daughters of Greater Kansas City are housed at the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, located on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, in Kansas City, Missouri. This archival collection of the Native Sons includes the original papers of the Kansas Town Company. The items document the inception of the sale of the original property of the estate of Prudhomme through the land advertisement and sale, the plats, and abstracts of that property. The collection arose from a significant amount of work by the Native Sons and the History of Kansas City Project whose principal was Mildred C. Cox. The collection also includes various papers from 1831 to 1957.