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Sunny Slope Subdivision Was Once Westport Pastureland PDF  | Print |

By Fred Lee for Historic Westport, Westport Magazine, August 1980.

1904 pictures of Gillham Road area before Gillham Road was built. Courtesy of the Parks, Recreation and Boulevards Department of Kansas City, Missouri.

At the time of Westport’s annexation to Kansas City in December 1897, its boundaries were 37th Street on the north, 47th Street on the south, Troost on the east and State Line on the west. Most of its inhabitants either lived in homes near the center of town or on adjoining tracts of land. One of these tracts later became known as the Sunny Slope subdivision of Old Westport.

Sunny Slope as an addition dates back to shortly after the turn of the century. It was bounded on the north by 40th Street, on the south by 45th Street, on the east by Troost and on the west by Holmes in what is now known as the Hyde Park neighborhood.

Gillham Road 1904 #7

South from near 40th Street

It consisted of 40 acres of lush, green land, the northern portion of which was on a hill sloping to the south toward Brush Creek. It was acquired from the United States government in March, 1834, by Michael Farnes, an early Jackson County resident. An abstract for the property officially describes it as being in “the N.E. 1/4 of the N.E. 1/4 of Section 29, Township 49, Range 33 in Old Westport.”

On October 20, 1845, Farnes and his wife, Nancy, sold the property to the Mockbee family. The Mockbees—Thomas, his wife, Eliza L., and his brother, Rueben—paid $1,300 for it and another piece of land nearby. The Mockbees owned the Sunny Slope Subdivision until March, 1837 when they sold it to James Stalcup and his wife, Rebecca, in October, 1836.

As a matter of historical note, the Stalcup’s 14-year-old daughter, Katherine, or Catherine, had two years earlier, in 1834, married Alexander Majors, the well known overland freighter and Pony Express founder. Majors was only in his twenty-first year at the time of his marriage and had yet to make his name in history.

The Stalcups sold their land to John Majors in April, 1852. They eventually moved out of the area into a house near State Line in what was known as “Mellier Place” in Westport. Here James Stalcup died in 1855 of hydrophobia or, as it was more commonly called, “the bite of a mad dog.” His wife preceded him to death in either 1852 or 1853.

John Majors sold the Stalcup property to Tilghman West in September, 1870, West lived with his family on the property for several years.

Gillham Road

Southeast from 44th & Holmes

Sarah Davenport, a neighbor of the Wests for many years, picks up the Sunny Slope story at this point: “It was generally understood in the community that Mr. West and his wife placed a mortgage on the ground and that the parties had to foreclose on the mortgage and that because of this, the land fell into the hands and ownership of James J. Squire.” Mrs. Davenport’s thoughts on the matter of ownership of Sunny Slope were voiced in 1902 and were fairly well substantiated by available public records.

That Tilghman West owned the 40 acres in question and mortgaged and lost it is also confirmed by William Bernard, Westport merchant and real estate developer who owned land immediately south of the West property.

Squire purchased the property on May 7, 1883 from Thomas J. Emery, who was handing the sale of the property, he [Squire] was vice president of the Citizens’ National Bank of Kansas City. He later became president and manager of the bank. His [Squire’s] death occurred on August 27, 1900, at which time his widow, Mary, and her daughter, Cora S. Jones, became owners of the property and of other extensive J. J. Squire real estate holdings in Jackson.

For a time the land was fenced. Just when it was first enclosed is open to question. Stephen C. Ragan, who in 1902 had resided in and around Kansas City for nearly 65 years and whose father’s farm lay half a mile north of Sunny Slope recalled that it probably was first fenced when Tilghman West owned the property. When the Wests owned and lived on it, Ragan recalled it had been“ in green grass, pasture and otherwise cultivated.”

When Mary Squire was in the process of selling the property left to her by her husband the land was already “enclosed by fences and (had) been for many years in cultivation . . . and was used as pasture for stock.”

In April, 1870 a “new public road” was proposed that would run through the area. It was to be located a quarter of a mile west of Troost and was to run parallel to Troost for three miles. The road is now Holmes Street. It was to be 60 feet in width.

William H. Glaskin, “a single and unmarried gentleman,” bought the property from the Squire heirs on September 23, 1902 and proceeded with plans to develop it into Sunny Slope. His application for the proposed development was approved by what was then known as the Common Council of Kansas City, Missouri. Sunny Slope was created by Ordinance No. 20934 duly passed and approved by Mayor James Alexander Reed on September 30, 1902.

Gillham Road 1904 #9

Southeast from 42nd & Cherry