This Volker block was home to hard-working laborers

A couple sits on a front porch at 4012 Holly Street in 1940. The neighborhood had been home to railroad and stockyard workers as well as others during the previous three decades.

Laborers, most of them immigrants or the children of immigrants, were the first residents to occupy the block of the Volker neighborhood between Holly and Mercier from W. 40th to W. 41st. Some worked at the stockyards, but most were employed in Kansas City’s thriving railroad industry.

A 1909-1950 Sanborn fire insurance map of the block. The large building in the next block is the Loretto Academy.

Reader Andrew Findlay, who lives on the block, asked what history could be found. Newspaper records don’t tell much about the first three decades of the 1900s, but census records show families moving in and out of the block, always replaced by a new wave of working-class mothers, fathers and children.

In the earliest years following the 1910 census a handful of families still had a live-in servant, but by 1920 that practice had ended. As was common across midtown, extended families lived together in these homes, and it was not unusual for a household to include several boarders.

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 bounded by Holly and Mercier between 40th and 41st Streets.

As the map shows, the block is near the Loretto, which was a boarding and day school for girls.

Records from the 1910-1930 censuses show a more complete picture of life on this block. Only some of the homes were listed in the first year, implying others were built later,

4008 Holly:

  • This home is not listed in the 1910 or 1920 census. In 1930, it was owned by Irish immigrant Cornelius Lyndon, a pumping station steam fitter, his wife Margaret, and two sons.

4012 Holly:

  • In 1910, paint company salesman Jess Henry lived here with wife Edith and two step-daughters.
  • Cornelius Flaherty, 53 years old, was a foreman at the stockyards and a naturalized citizen who had come from Ireland. He lived here with his wife, Mary, in 1920.
  • In 1930, Cornelius Flaherty still lived in the home with Mary and his brother-in-law, Patrick. None of them were working that year.

4014 Holly:

  • In 1920, George Bailey, a 39-year-old railroad switchman, lived here with his wife Caroline.
  • Widow Ida Mitchell lived here alone in 1930.

4016 Holly:

  • Census takers recorded Way Mitchell, a railroad office clerk, as owner of this home in 1910. He lived with wife Ida and two boarders, Charles Hazel and Edward Jackson, both also railroad office clerks. Also listed at this address were Newton Davis, a mail carrier, and wife Florence.
  • In 1920, this was the home of butcher George Schroeger, 26, who rented the home with his wife Ethel,two sons and a daughter.
  • By 1930, the Schroegers were gone, and the Elmer Wingren family had moved into the rental. Elmer, a steam railroad locomotive engineer born in Kansas to Swedish parents, lived with his wife Myrtle and a son.

4024 Holly:

  • In 1910, census takers recorded James Quisenbury, a Christian Club minister, as owner of this home, along with wife Laura, a son, and a daughter.
  • By 1920, George Allos, a railroad engine inspector, shared this home with his wife Nancy. At the same address, Greek immigrant James Kotzias, a restaurant owner, lived with his wife Matilda.
  • Restaurant cashier James Kotzias was listed as head of household in 1930, living with his wife Matilda, mother-and-father-in-law John and Rebecca McKuerley, and daughter Helen.

4026 Holly:

  • In 1910, landscaper gardener James Wade, age 72, lived here with his wife Mattie.
  • Ten years later, the house was owned by Joseph H. Allison, a 38-year-old railroad brakeman and his wife Alma.
  • In 1930, barber George Sawyer and his wife Anna were renting this home.

1201 W. 40th:

  • In the 1910 census, horse and mule trader Joseph Murphy lived here with his wife Maude and son.
  • In 1920, Irish-born saloon worker James Meaney, age 54, lived here with his Irish-born wife Margaret. They had five daughters and a son, all born in Missouri.
  • The 1930 census found wholesale drug shipping clerk William Hellman owning the house, shared with a daughter, three sons, and a daughter-in-law.

1205 W. 40th:

  • Elroy Parker, who gave his occupation as an income transfer manager, headed this household in 1910. He lived with his wife and mother-in-law.
  • Widow and bank teller Kathryn Buckley, 28, rented this home, shared with her mother May Edinger, daughter Marjorie, and a boarder named James Martin.
  • Ten years later, another widow, German born Anna Kim, owned this house, shared with a son who worked as a flour mill laborer, another son who worked as a stone mason, and a daughter who was a teacher.

1209 W. 40th:

  • In 1910, widowed Mary McNerney, the daughter of Irish parents who was born in Illinois, owned this home. The household also included two daughters and two sons.
  • Swedish-born Atel Erickson, a grain salesman, lived here with his Kansas-born wife Harriett, a son and a daughter in 1920.
  • The Fredrick Michaels family had purchased the home in 1930. Michaels was a produce salesman and lived with wife Josephine and daughter Marie.

1211 W. 40th:

  • In 1910, the census lists as owner Orland Bone, a cattle buyer, who lived with wife Clara, a son, and a white servant named Claudia Bowman.
  • Railroad conductor George Kirk, 56, lived here with his wife Lillie and a boarder named David Wysong in 1920.
  • In 1930, the home was owned by Bryon Wingert, and shared with wife Margaret and two daughters.

1215 W. 40th:

  • In 1920, Edward Doran, 54, was a police sergeant, born in New York to Irish parents. Other household members included wife Annie, two daughters and a boarder Mary Moran, who was a railroad seamstress.
  • The Dorans still lived here in 1930. Edward was a state patrolman. He still lived with his wife, daughter and Mary Moran was still a lodger.

1217 W. 40th:

  • The first recorded owner, in the 1910 census, was packing house buyer Edward Heins. His father was German as were both of his wife Elvina’s parents. They had two daughters and a white servant named Carolyn Wold, also of German parents.
  • In 1920, life insurance manager Royal Burris lived here with his wife Bertha, a son, and a daughter.
  • The home in 1930 belonged to Mose Runyon, his wife Rose, and mother-in-law Jane Emmack.

1219 W. 40th:

  • In 1920, Alice Peaker, a 55-year-old widow, lived here with her sister Margaret Haines and two boarders.
  • By 1930, William Douglas, the chief clerk of a steam railroad, was renting this home with his wife Irene and a daughter.

1221 W. 40th:

  • In 1920, this home was owned by commercial traveler Otis Calvin, 47, his wife Anna, and a daughter.
  • The Otis family was still here in 1930, although Otis was now a commercial salesman selling dairy products.

1223 W. 40th:

  • In the 1910 census, lumber yard laborer Phillip Defries owned this home. He was the son of German parents and shared the home with wife Caraline and a 33-year-old son named Andrew, who worked in a railroad office.
  • In 1920, lawyer Harold J. Olson, 45, lived here with wife Anna and two daughters. Harold and Anna both had Swedish parents but were born in the United States.

1225 W. 40th:

  • In both 1910 and 1920, wholesale plumbing creditman William Lade, 47, owned this home, shared with wife Evelyn, daughter Kathleen and, by 1920, sister-in-law Ethel Tweedale. The Lades were all Canadian immigrants.
  • In 1930, bag factory cutter William Douglas owned the home, shared with wife Kate, two sons, and three daughters.

1227 W. 40th:

  • On this corner in 1920, retired 70-year-old Charles Hemphill lived with wife Emma and two daughters who worked as a bookkeeper and a stenographer. At the same address, John Robinson, a printing company worker, lived with his wife Mary, a cafeteria waitress.

4011 Mercier:

  • Charles Ward, a newspaper reporter, lived here in 1910, with his brother Earl, a grocery clerk, and sister Minnie.
  • In 1920, sales manager William Hart, 45, lived here with his wife Mattie and a daughter. Bingham Goodrich, 43, a railroad conductor, also lived here with his wife Gracia and a son.
  • Ten years later, wholesale implement collector Clarence Wilson was renting the home with his wife Dorotha and a daughter.

4017 Mercier:

  • In 1920, grain man Charles Smith, 48, was renting this home, shared with his wife Maud, a son and a daughter.
  • In 1930, the census recorded wholesale canned milk salesman Edward Mitchell living here with his wife Daisy, two daughters, and a son.

4019 Mercier:

  • In 1920, this home was owned by minister William Mayfield, his wife Jennie, and a son.
  • A flour mill laborer and son of Irish parents named Fred Faley, his wife and three daughters lived here in 1930.

1226 W. 41st:

  • In 1930, YMCA secretary Frank McGregor rented this home with his wife Maud and two sons.

1224 W. 41st:

  • Another minister, Harry Findlay, 37, rented this home with his wife Katherine and a daughter in 1920.
  • In 1930, the home was owned by Wayne Lindsey and his wife Lucy.

1222 W. 41st:

  • The census in 1930 shows James Farmer, a steel plant watchman, as owner of this home, shared with wife Bridget, a daughter, and a son.

1220 W. 41st:

  • The first owner shown, in the 1910 census, was Western Union telegraph operator Samuel McConnell, who lived with his wife Nellie and two sons.
  • In 1920,widow Mary Ries owned the home, shared with a son, daughter, and a granddaughter.
  • Ownership in 1930 had changed to John Daniel, an oil manufacturer assistant superintendent, and his wife Ruth Lee.

1218 W. 41st:

  • According to the 1920 census, George L. Thomas, 50, a commercial traveler for an implement company, owned this home along with wife Mary and a daughter.
  • In 1930, sisters Mary and Emma Schoster, daughters of German parents, shared this home.

1216 W. 41st:

  • The 1910 census lists this home as owned by George Thomas, a traveling salesman, whose parents were French and German. He lived with wife Mary and father John Thomas.
  • In 1930, Thomas still owned the home, now shared with his daughter and her husband.

1214 W. 41st:

  • IN 1920, this was the rented home of packing company shipping clerk Edward Ade, 43, his wife Elizabeth, a son, and his father-in-law John Griffin. Edward was the son of German parents and his father-in-law was Irish.
  • A decade later, Irish immigrant and water department laborer John Murphy had purchased the home, where he lived with his wife Anna, two sons and a daughter.

1210 W. 41st:

  • Swedish-born Janitor Manda Anderson, 50, owned this home, shared with wife Mary and two daughters in 1920.
  • 1930 founded water department filter operator James Gillen and wife Mary living here.

1208 W. 41st:

  • Switz-born Christian Minsch, age 66, who worked in a confectionary, lived here in 1910 with his Pennsylvania-born wife Margaret, two daughters, and a son-in-law.
  • In 1920, this home was owned by bank bookkeeper George Golding, his wife Ellen, and three daughters.
  • The census for 1930 lists office porter and Swedish immigrant Mandus Anderson owning this home, shared with his wife Mary, two daughters and a son.

The photos below show the houses on the block as they looked in 1940.

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


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