A 1920s Block Filled with Streetcar Workers

Small homes like this one on Campbell just south of Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard were once filled with streetcar workers, their families, and boarders who worked for the streetcar company. The homes on the block from 47th to 48th between Charlotte and Campbell are mostly gone now, but when they were new, the car barn at 48th and Harrison made this block attractive to railway workers who both rented and owned their homes.

In the early 1900s, the residents of a rapidly-expanding Midtown worked at various jobs: they were salesmen, teachers, real estate developers, and packing house employees, bookkeepers, and business owners. However, on one block, 47th to 48th between Charlotte and Campbell, one type of work predominated –  local streetcar jobs.  “Street railway” workers made up the majority of household heads and boarders in this block in 1920, perhaps not surprising when you consider there was a car barn just a few blocks away at 48th and Harrison.

A 1907-1950 Sanborn map of the block showing the nearby car barn where many residents found work.

Streetcar jobs were an important source of income for the new families filling up Midtown in the early 1900s.  They allowed many to put down more permanent roots and purchase property. According the Monroe Dodd’s book “The Splendid Ride,” the Kansas City railways surveyed its workers in 1918 and found about a third of them were even able to buy homes.

Take 4816 Campbell for example. The Hardiman family, headed by packing house worker Earnest Hardiman, lived on the first floor of the home. They rented rooms to five men, four of which were streetcar workers. On the second floor, street railway motorman Charles E. Jeffrey lived with his wife and one-year-old son.

 As part of our Uncovering History Project, the Midtown KC Post is taking a look at 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).  Today, the block from 47th (now called Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard) to 48th between Charlotte and Campbell. 

The 1920 census shows how prevalent streetcar jobs were in this neighborhood among residents who both owned and rented their homes.

803 E. 47th: Daniel C. Warren, 41, a road company contractor; wife Sylvia, 37; rented.

807 E. 47th: George B. Simpson, 55, railroad company office; wife Miriam, 54; daughter Virginia, 26; rented.

811 E. 47th: William S. Woods, 63, banker; wife Mattie, 58; rented.

815 E. 47th: Frank Paxton, 32, lumberman; wife Marjory, 26; son Frank, 1; servant Hilda Midstion, 31; rented.

4816 Campbell: Earnest C. Hardiman, 33, packing house laborer; wife Ivy, 33; daughter Sarah, 8; son Henry, 3; daughter Jeane L., 4 months; roomer Clifford Brigham, 27, street railway motorman; roomer J.V. Cooper, 24, street railway conductor; roomer James L. Burker, 24, street railway motorman; brother Dwight Brady, 20, milling company laborer; roomer Chas. W. Golden, 28, street railway motorman; rented.

4816 Campbell, second floor: Chas. E. Jeffrey, 24, street railway motorman; wife Margaret, 16; son Roy, 1; rented.

4818 Campbell: John L. Bowen, 47, commission foreman; wife Kattie, 41; daughter Cecile, 18; owned.

4820 Campbell: Albert Deakins, 38, cement company worker; wife Sophia, 35; son Robert, 2; owned.

4822 Campbell: Willard Mudd, 48, grocery railroad mail clerk; wife Katherine, 43; daughter Priscilla Gard, 23, dental office worker; granddaughter Mary R. Whitemore, 3; brother Thomas L. Mudd, 36, grocery railroad mail clerk; owned.

4826 Campbell: Chas. M. Schidler, 36, private estate laborer; wife Eva, 36; daughter Roxy, 14; son Gerald, 22; daughter Eddie May, 3; rented.

Recent Google map photo, with the block highlighted in yellow. Most of the homes that once stood on the block are gone today. The Anita B. Gorman Conservation Center stands near were the trolley barn once stood.

4826 Campbell, second floor: Chas. Mooneyham, 41, private estate laborer; wife Wilma, 34; daughter Pearl, 17; son Harold, 12; son Leroy, 10; rented.

4828 Campbell, first floor rear: Glevin Weaver, 21, street railroad conductor; wife Elizabeth, 18; rented.

4828 Campbell, first floor front: Roscoe Bennett, 21, newspaper proof reader; wife Pearl, 21; rented.

4828 Campbell, second floor front: Roscoe B. McIntosh, 28, street railway dispatcher; wife Irene, 29; daughter Virginia, 3; rented.

4830 Campbell: James Bristow, 47, Ford company painter; wife Fannie, 42; son Charles. 26, laborer at engine works; son Harvey, 22, laborer not working; daughter Maud, 17; owned.

4834 Campbell: Jasper O. Weaver, 52, meat packing laborer; wife Nancy, 47; son Parker, 27, safety comm. for street railway company; son Marion, 25, motorman for street railway company; daughter Merle, 23, packing company bookkeeper; daughter Elvira, 18, printing company floor lady; daughter Marguerite, 15, street railway company office girl; son George, 4; owned.

4836 Campbell: Andy Stamp, 55, packing company laborer; wife Ellen, 33; son Francis, 10; daughter Cecelia, 7; son Lawrence, 24, adding machine mechanic; brother-in-law Paul Hansen, 28, packing company foreman; roomer Ethel Turner, 18, lumber company office; roomer Bert Bryan, 26, street railroad carman; roomer Ethel Bryan, 31, manufacturing company office worker; owned.

4819 Charlotte: Bartlet A. Hattan, 39, cigar company salesman; wife Florence, 40; roomer Charles Sondereger, 23, street railway conductor; owned.

4817 Charlotte: Henry C. Spencer, 66, street railway conductor; wife Mary, 55; daughter Stella, 35, contractor company stenographer; roomer William M. Head, 66; street railway company motorman; owned.

4811 Charlotte: Paul Ferguson, 26, implement company auditor; wife Emma, 30; sister Christine, 21; sister Agnes, 12; owned.

The slideshow below shows the homes 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 at local bookstores and on Amazon.com


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