Valentine block was home of school board president

In the 1930s in Valentine, most households were made up of single families headed by a working father, but it was not uncommon for homes to be owned by widows or for families to rent out rooms to one or several boarders.

Midtown households in the 1930s were predominately made up of typical nuclear families: a working father, stay-at-home mother and several children. But a glimpse at the 1930 makeup of the Valentine neighborhood block from Pennsylvania to Jefferson between 37th and Valentine shows other trends: a proportionally large number of households headed by widows; families that had taken in boarders; and a dwindling number of live-in servants.

A 1909-1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance map oft he block.

The earliest record of life on this block came around 1911. In its first decade the block was home to several bankers and other industry executives. Charles L. Roos, general manager of the Kansas City Milling and Export Company, lived at 3665 Jefferson with his family, next door to the family of George Davis of the Board of Trade at 3669. Other early residents included Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth Catron at 3675 Jefferson, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Gordon, pioneer settlers of St. Joseph, Mo.

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).  This week, we focus on the Valentine neighborhood block from Valentine Road to 37th Street between Pennsylvania and Jefferson.

 The Pennsylvania homes on the block faced lots that had once been owned by Kansas City pioneer A.B.H. McGee, and later by his daughter Nellie G. Nelson.

Highly-regarded board of education president lived at 3614 Pennsylvania

A large red brick home on Pennsylvania was the home of a well-known Kansas City civic figure, Edwin Merservey.  A member of a prominent law firm, Merservey served as city counselor, on the board of police commissioners, and as public commissioner before being appointed to the school board to replace Hale Cook.

Edwin Merservey

Many of the new schools being built in the early 1900s were named after school board members, and the district honored Merservey in naming a building at 4210 E. 45th St.  after him in 1923.

Merservey ignored calls to run for mayor in 1910, but did agree to chair the city charter board. When he died in 1935, law partner Charles Blackmar had this to say:

“To me Edwin Merservey typified in his personal attitude the old American stock from which he sprang. His watchwords were integrity, industry and self-reliance. He practiced these virtues as a rugged individualist, in both public and private affairs. He was one of the best lawyers I ever met and I never knew one who had a higher sense of professional duty.”

1930 census shows changing trends in households

By 1930, many of the families on the block were still headed by so-call industrialists, including oil producers and a steel company executive. There was also a farmer, and a cattle buyer who worked at the stockyards.  Some families still had black servants living in their homes. Several other families were headed up by widows, and an increasing number of families were taking in boarders. Here’s what the 1930 census shows about the block:

  • 619 Valentine: Oil producer Harry Ponder owned this home, which he shared with his wife Cora, daughter Lottie, and a black servant named Lucy Rogers.
  • 3606 Pennsylvania: Edwin T. Letson, a cattle buyer at the stock yards, lived here with his wife Maud.
  • 3610 Pennsylvania: Harry B. Smith, age 40, no employment listed, lived here with his wife Florence, and sons David, Andrew and Harry.
  • 3614 Pennsylvania: Edwin C. Meservey, an attorney, lived here with his wife Bessie and a black servant named Ethel Harris.
  • 3618 Pennsylvania: This was the home of Nathlia M. Hohan, 47, whose occupation was not listed. He shared the home with his four daughters and two sons as well as brother, Karl Kahmann, and a nephew.
  • 3622 Pennsylvania: Oil company producer Charles H. Schoenfield lived here with his wife Annie.
  • 3628 Pennsylvania: Louis Greenman, a building decorator, shared this home with his wife Claire and two daughters.
  • 3632 Pennsylvania: Louis G. Galamba, the vice president of a steel company, lived here with his wife Sylvia, two sons and a black servant named Florence Smith.
  • 3640 Pennsylvania: Farmer William Fulk and his wife Katheryn owned this home, which they shared with roomers L. Batman, a bookkeeper and Blanche Hogan, a dry goods store clerk.
  • 3644 Pennsylvania: Newspaper carrier Curtis Webb rented this home with his wife Millie, two sons, a daughter and a daughter-in-law, as well as four roomers: Helen Slack, a stenographer; Eva Bartles, an electric company cashier; Lulu Blackburn, a public school teacher; and E. Claud Shaffer, an auditor.
  • 3689 Jefferson: George C. Carroll, a stock and bond broker, rented this home with his wife Frances and a roomer named Mary Rosenthal.
  • 3685 Jefferson: Packing company manager Fred W. Taylor lived here with his wife Alice.
  • 3683 Jefferson: Widow Mary Ware had three roomers: Lola B. McCabe, Elizabeth Marshall and Herbert Batchelder.
  • 3677 Jefferson: Another widow, Evelyn B. Ashley, shared her home with her stenographer daughter Evelyn, and three boarders: William and Maudell Mcurain and Betty Ellis.
  • 3675 Jefferson: Single public school teacher, 58-year-old Fannie Vining, shared this home with her sisters Dora, age 72, a Christian Science practitioner and Edith, age 52.
  • 3669 Jefferson: Yet another widow, Sarah Coyne, lived here with her daughter, dental assistant Lulu Law and her son Coyne Law and granddaughter Sarah Law. They had one roomer, Katherine Weis, a gas company stenographer
  • 3665 Jefferson: Steel construction time keeper Dennis Erwin rented this home with his wife Honora and daughters Mary and Margaret.
  • 3663 Jefferson: This home was owned by Post Office Clerk Oran Sumption and his wife Addie.
  • 3661 Jefferson: Cora Love, 46, listed as married but also as head of the household, lived here with her daughter Clarice, a dental assistant.
  • 3659 Jefferson: Twenty-four-year-old Charles Wheatley, no employment listed, owned this home with 24-year-old wife Cora.
  • 3655 Jefferson: Widow Julia Scannell owned this home, shared with son and plumber William and daughter-in-law May.

The slideshow below shows some of the rest of the homes on the block as they looked in 1940. Several photos from this set are missing.

 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 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. 


  1. Rose Eilts says:

    Crazy names

Leave a Comment