Do you know the history of this Volker neighborhood/West 39th Street block?

The Jimmy’s Jigger building in 1940

The Jimmy’s Jigger building in 1940

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. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).

We’ve already featured the north side of West 39th Street between State Line and Bell, but a reader whose grandfather used to own some buildings there asked us what we knew about the south side of the block, where Jimmy’s Jigger sits today. bigger-jigger-#2-1959

Records are sketchy before the 1950s, but before it was Jimmy’s Jigger, the establishment was called Bigger Jigger 2. The Accurso family owned several “Bigger Jiggers” across the city. Anthony Accurso sold this one to O. Jimmy Bowers in 1962. In 1959, as the newspaper advertisement to the right shows, it featured music and dancing.

The earliest records we could find of the block come from 1913, when 1819 West 39th housed the A. Morrison Jr. Farm Company, a Midtown dairy business that supplied milk to nearby residents. In the 1920s,  newspaper accounts list 1819 West 39th as the Ever Ready Garage, where people who lived nearby stored their cars. It was damaged by fire in 1920. Later,  in the 1940s tax photos, this building was the home of the Superior Meat and Sausage Company. That company, founded by 1926, later changed its name to Fritz’s Meat and Superior Sausage and moved in 1969.

This fire insurance map from 1907 shows several buildings and addresses.

This fire insurance map from 1907 shows several buildings on the block.

At 1807 West 39th was a building that, at least for a while, served as a pool hall. On the corner of 30th and Bell in 1940, the photo is identified as J.A. Peterson, one of a chain of variety stores in Kansas City.

But there’s a lot more to learn. Do you remember this block? What special memories do you have of this section of West 39th Street or Volker? What questions do you have about it? Let us know and we’ll share your history and help to preserve it on our website.

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

Our new 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. Order the book  

Photos courtesy Kansas City Public Library, Missouri Valley Special Collections. 

J.A. Peterson Company, Bell and West 39th

J.A. Peterson Company, Bell and West 39th


The block in 1940.

The block in 1940.


  1. Tim Griggs says:

    I was the one who asked you about this corner. My Grandpa owned the whole square at one time. I really appreciate you doing this article. I have been working to get as much information about the history of the Jigger as I can. I have some more to add to this if you’re interested. Please feel free to email me anytime and I will give you my contact information.
    Thanks for your time,
    Tim Griggs.

  2. Charles F Long says:

    When did Jimmy Bowers arrive on the scene?

  3. Charles F Long says:

    I think the Rainbow market just east of the Jigger (between Bell and state line) was eventually called Grimes grocery…we used to go there early in the morning to buy lunch meat for sandwiches. Anyone remember this store, or the owners?

  4. Jim Williams says:

    My first job was at Grimes Grocery on Saturdays from November 1947 to July 1948. It was located on the south side of 39th Street, a little east of Bell and west of Genessee, The owner was Sherman Grimes. Mrs. Grimes also worked there. They lived just south of Valentine Road and a few blocks west of Summit.

    I do not know whether it was ever named Rainbow Market, a name I never heard.

  5. Marilyn Snelling says:

    I lived on the Missouri side of the Stateline right off 39th growing up, right down from the liquor store on the corner. Our homes are gone now because of the redevelopment. I know what was in a lot of those buildings from the time I knew it. I was born in 1951. I will tell you what I remember. I still love the whole area. It will take a couple of days but I want to get my ducks in a row. Back to you soon. Love this site.

  6. Liz Robison says:

    Love, love, love all the history! I stumbled across this article while doing a little research. I’ve held onto a super old neon beer sign that once hung at Jimmy Jiggers…..strong chance it had been there since early 1930’s. Still digging for more info. I’ve had it since mid 80’s and might be ready to find it a new home. The history is amazing in this article!

    • TIM BOWERS says:

      Liz my name is Tim Bowers, my Grandpa was Jimmy Bowers (owner of Jimmy’s Jigger for many years) I would love to have anything that came from the Jigger. Please email me at
      Thank you.

    • TIM BOWERS says:

      Hi Liz, my name is Tim Bowers and my Grandpa was Jimmy Bowers. He owned the Jigger for many years and I would love to have a neon from the Jigger. Please email me at
      Thank you very much.

    • TIM BOWERS says:

      Hi Liz, my name is Tim Bowers and Jimmy Bowers was my Grandpa. I would love to see the neon you mentioned, if you are interested in getting rid of it I’d love to have it. Please email me at thank you!

      • Kathy Kelly Reffitt says:

        Lived at 3909 Bell in early 1950s as a child. Remember Sherman Grimes and dry goods store named Hausers. Also there was a barber shop. There were apartments above Grimes grocery store. Get in touch with me. I may remember more.

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