Immigrants and workers built their homes in the West Plaza neighborhood

Some of the older homes built around 1909 have since been replaced but other small homes on these West Plaza blocks have stood since there area developed more than 100 years ago. This house stood near the corner of 46th and Wyoming.

Some of the older homes built around 1909 have since been replaced but other small homes on this West Plaza block have stood since the area developed more than 100 years ago. This house stood near the corner of 46th and Wyoming.

Railroad workers, carpenters and clerks were among the working people living on this West Plaza neighborhood block in 1920. They were part of the new residents taking advantage of easy streetcar transportation and affordable lots in this section of Midtown just west of the Country Club Plaza.

As part of our Uncovering History Project, the Midtown KC Post is taking a look at the 1940 tax assessment photos of each block in Midtown, including a set of 1940 tax assessment photos which is available for many blocks. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).   

current-mapThis week, the focus is on the block between Wyoming and Fairmount Streets from 46th to 47th in the West Plaza neighborhood.

Westport pioneer Louis Vogel and his family originally owned the property, but by 1909 records show them selling off parts of their 40-plus acres. The farmland began to fill in with homes, including two at the corner of 46th and Wyoming. That’s where Benjamin Ogle was living with his son-in-law, M.D. Miller in 1910.

His is just one of the recorded stories about the block, told by a newspaper that year, remarkable because 78-year-old Ogle was building a home for his new 63-year-old bride.

“Now Benjamin Ogle, 78 years old, of 4601 Wyoming Street, having reached the age of discretion, has decided to build a bungalow and settle down. Last night he married Mrs. Melinda Eyman, whom he has known for forty-five years, at the home of Mrs. Eyman’s son, 1828 Askew. The bride is 63 years old.

“The couple became acquainted in 1865, near Belleville, Illinois. In 1878 Mr. Ogle moved to Bates County, Missouri, and bought a farm near Butler. With the exception of a few years spent in Canada, he lived there until five years ago when he bought a farm near Lenexa, Kansas. Mrs. Eyman moved to Butler, Mo. in 1878.

“Last year Mr. Ogle’s first wife died. Since then he has lived at the home of his son-in-law, M.D. Miller, 4601 Wyoming Street. The son-in-law and his children were fond of Mr. Ogle, but he became lonesome and longed for the neighbors in Bates County. Last February Mr. Ogle again met Mrs. Eyman, who was living with her son.

“It may have been that she, too, was lonesome. Anyhow Mr. Ogle informed his son-in-law shortly afterward that he intended to be married. A lot was purchased near the son-in-law’s home and work begun on a 4-room bungalow. Yesterday Mr. Ogle bought furniture, and this morning the couple will begin housekeeping in their new home.

–Kansas City Times April 5, 1910

(Ogle’s new home was just north of Miller’s house on the other side of 46th Street.)

11-428-25But we don’t know much about the other families who lived on the block over the years. The census records only give a hint of those who lived here as the block continued to grow and change.

By the 1920 census, more houses had been built. The residents of the block included Fred A. Ferherst, 61, a blacksmith for the railroad, his wife and two children. Also on their Fairmount block were the Albert Carlson, a Swedish immigrant and his Kansas-born wife, and Charley Olson, another Swedish immigrant who ran a planing mill who lived with his wife, son, and a border.

On Wyoming, German immigrant and widower Theodore Gropengiser, a railroad trackman,  lived with his three daughters and two sons. Neighbors on the street included a 25-year-old Phil Overton, a Star newspaper carrier and his sister Ester, a musician. Thomas Youngblood, a carpenter, his wife, four sons and a daughter rented a home on the block.

Working people continued to make the block home in 1940. On Wyoming they included a laundry salesman, a filling station attendant, a telephone operator, a grocery clerk, a traveling salesman, and a real estate appraiser. Wyoming neighbors worked as a secretary, the greens keeper at a golf club, a sales clerk at a retail department store, a waitress in a coffee shop, and a sand truck driver.

The slideshow below shows the rest of the houses on the block as they looked in 1940.

 Historic photos courtesy Kansas City Public Library/Missouri Valley Special Collections.

 Do you have memories or more details about this area of Midtown? Please share them with our readers.

 Would you like us to focus on your block next week? Send us an email.

 Our book, Kansas City’s Historic Midtown Neighborhoods, is available now. Let us know if you want us to come to your neighborhood association or organization’s meeting to share what we’ve learned about Midtown neighborhood history and tell your members how they can help preserve Midtown history. If you’d like to order the book, email Mary Jo Draper at 

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