Alexander Majors House

Alexander Majors house, Kansas City, 1856 [source]( https://www.flickr.com/photos/23711298@N07/18281558759/)

Alexander Majors house, Kansas City, 1856 source

Alexander Majors House is one of the few Antebellum period structures surviving in Kansas city and is on National register of historic buildings 1. The house and the grounds were trading centers for ‘Russell and Majors and Waddell’ freighting firm and its also the house of Alexander majors house. This house ran alongside a dirt path, which is a state line road - a boundary between Kansas and Missouri, from West Port landing to the original Santa Fe trail. 2

Location

**Alexander Majors house is on the east side of road near 85th street** [source](https://dnr.mo.gov/shpo/nps-nr/70000335.pdf)

Alexander Majors house is on the east side of road near 85th street source

The house is situated approximately 16 feet in front of the house which is Missouri and Kansas border , the then US border 3. The house sits looking westward which was strategically chosen from the businessman’s perspective as Kansas Territory were untaxed and he had huge corrals, grazing lands, oxen pens, barns, wagons and blacksmith shops in the property.4

Who was Alexander Majors?

Alexander Majors (1814-1900) was born in Kentucky and moved with his parents Laurania and Benjamin Majors in 1819 to Lafayette County, Missouri and later moved to Jackson county 5. In 1827, Majors father explored silver ore mine with no prominent value he returned to farming, his tales put great impression on Majors towards possibilities in Western Frontier and to travel on the developing Santa Fe Trail. At the age of 21, Majors was married to Katherine Stalcup and together they joined his fathers footstep into farming 6. His large family had mostly daughters and no son to help him in farming made him to look for other options 7.

Alexander Majors record breaking freight-hauler, creator of Pony Express [source](http://www.wornallmajors.org/welcome/the-alexander-majors-house/)

Alexander Majors record breaking freight-hauler, creator of Pony Express source

In August 1848 Majors started carrying freight from Independence to Santa Fe, New Mexico, an 800 mile distance 8. Majors became the first western Missouri traders to freight supplies to Santa Fe after the Mexican war, he started with 6 wagons and made a round trip in a record time 92 days. The war with the Mexico ended, military presence in the south west made the journey safer [^Godfrey1994B]. Majors had increase in opportunities and success due opening of Oregon Territory for settlement in 1848, California gold fields in 1849, expansion of military forts in the west through 1850ś 9.

Majors was particular in hiring trustworthy people and made them to pledge that they would treat animals with kindness, use no profanity, stay sober all the time, and behave like gentlemen while they were his employee. Majors had great work ethics, great experience and he rested his oxen and men on Saturday afternoon to Monday morning and held worship services on Sundays. In 1854, Majors earned a respectable reputation as a successful freighter on the Western Missouri frontier 10.

Freighting firm

Founders of Pony Express and Freighting firm on Santa Fe trail, William Hepburn Russell(1812-72), Alexander Majors(1814-1900), William Brandford Waddell(1807-72) [source](https://i.pinimg.com/originals/a6/cc/92/a6cc92ae0ef4549ffb8f016199cd9454.jpg)

Founders of Pony Express and Freighting firm on Santa Fe trail, William Hepburn Russell(1812-72), Alexander Majors(1814-1900), William Brandford Waddell(1807-72) source

In 1855 he joined partnership with William H. Russell and William B. Waddell and contracted with US Government to freight supplies to army posts along Oregon and Santa Fe Trails 11. They employed more than four thousand men and owned 3,500 wagons and nearly forty thousand oxen and 1000 mules 12. Usually shipments were sent in a set of 25 wagons, 12 oxen, a teamster and each of that set had additional oxen, mules and men in case of emergency and soon the firm made about $300,000 profits in 1855-56 13.

Majors ‘s House

Alexander Majors House & Barn located close to state line of Missouri and Kansas states [source](https://dnr.mo.gov/shpo/nps-nr/70000335.pdf)

Alexander Majors House & Barn located close to state line of Missouri and Kansas states source

The house is built in 1856 on 300 acre farmstead property on the state line purchased by Majors firm. This property served both as family home and headquarters for Majors freighting company 14. Two years later the contract system changed, Majors wife died and he remarried, he decided to move his family to Nebraska city in 1858 to oversee the shipments to Utah and gave away the state line property to his daughter Rebecca 15 16.

Pony Express

Map of Pony Express 1860, created by William Henry Jackson an American artist in c. 1935, obtained & rendered by Gwillhickers and restored by Crisco 1492 [source](http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/map_item.pl?data=/home/www/data/gmd/gmd405/g4051/g4051p/tr000221.jp2&itemLink=D?gmd:1:./temp/~ammem_Pj48::@@@mdb&title=Pony+express+route+April+3,+1860+-+October+24,+1861+/+W.H.+Jackson+;+issued+by+the+Union+Pacific+Railroad+Company+in+commemoration+of+the+Pony+Express+Centennial,+April+3,+1960+-+October+24,+1961.&style=gmd&legend=)

Map of Pony Express 1860, created by William Henry Jackson an American artist in c. 1935, obtained & rendered by Gwillhickers and restored by Crisco 1492 source

The Pony Express began in April 1860 and ran between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California, it was a colourful chapter in American History, which also benefited Majors freighting firm 17.

In early 1859, with the start of Leavenworth & Pikeś Peak Express by Majors, Waddell and Russell firm which later became Central Overland California & Pikeś Peak Express company which is otherwise known as “Pony Express”. This helped in filling the need for reduced postal service by government for budget reasons. This literally connected several dynamic western events with the commercial opportunities in the express business 18.

Pony express is not the first mail service, in 13th century China had post stations 25 miles apart and stations for foot carriers 3 miles apart, but a first time mail service attempted in America in large scale 19.

Pony Express, advertisement for its fast delivery and Job opening poster [source](hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/17841)

Pony Express, advertisement for its fast delivery and Job opening poster source

Pony Express first ride began on April 3rd, 1860, run from St. Joseph centers which reached 2 hours late, contained 49 letters, 5 private telegrams and few papers for San Francisco. Before it was delivered to the first rider whose identity was unknown, Majors addressed the crowd how the Pony express is a ancestor/father of transcontinental railroad 20.

Closing of Freighting firm and Change in Majors life

In 1862, Russell, Majors and Waddell firm closed as they were bankrupt and in scandal with U.S. Department of the Interior. Later Majors marriage and family fell apart, his second wife and child moved and changed their names due to shame and his first wife children grew up and were on their own. Majors left Nebraska and spent time in Salt Lake City and witnessed the completion of transcontinental railroad in 1869 while he was working in the support of Union Pacific Railroads drive west later he lived for a while in Denver 21.

Alexander Majors House still owned by his family, 1860 [source](https://books.google.com/books?id=1YZ2CQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Morton,+La+Lena+-+%27The+Waldo+story%27-The+home+of+friendly+merchants&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjK37TxxZvfAhVJzlQKHQrKAqAQ6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q&f=false - Chapter1-p13)

Alexander Majors House still owned by his family, 1860 source

His old friend Buffalo Bill Cody arranged in publishing a book “Majors ś seventy years on the frontier” in 1893 by Rand McNally, which was one of the great narratives about the frontier west. Alexander Majors died in January 1900 in Chicago and his body was buried in Union Cemetery next to his first wife in Kansas city 22.

Architectural style of the house

Alexander Majors House side view, additions to 'T' floor plan [source](Alexander Majors House - 70000335.pdf. (n.d.))

Alexander Majors House side view, additions to ‘T’ floor plan source

Architectural style of the building is Classical revival style, “T” shaped floor plan, 9 room two storied house in light wood frame construction. This house is one of the third oldest houses with light wood frame construction in Kansas facing towards west 23.

The outbuildings next to the house no longer survive. There is a barn is approximately 100’ to the southeast and smoke house around 40’ to the north to the house. Present day we can see a well, cistern to the south of the house, a shed 20’ north to the house and a cottage 60’ north of the house 24.

Alteration to the house

Alexander Majors House first floor plan, several modifications are made to stairway, central fireplace and fire places in kitchen, dining room & bedroom [source](Alexander Majors House - 70000335.pdf. (n.d.))

Alexander Majors House first floor plan, several modifications are made to stairway, central fireplace and fire places in kitchen, dining room & bedroom source

The house was sold to Mr. and Mrs. A. Louis Rhul in 1904 who later built additions to the house and owned it till 1924. The increase in residential growth, property was subdivided to development called Cresthills Acres 25. The Rhul family made several additions to the Majors house and few of them are enlarging dining room and master bedroom on second floor by the addition on southern extension of ‘T’ and terminates in a bay. The rooms sizes increased from 15 x 17 feet to 15 x 27 feet 26.

The house was turned into school and community meeting space for residential needs, partition walls between 3 chambers of the first floor were formed to make a single large space 27. Later the house was set to demolition to built a new school but due to its timber framing and iron nails the cost of demolition estimated more that they ended up abandoning the house and building the school elsewhere 28.

Majors house bought by his descendant

In 1930, Louisa P. Johnston, Majors’s great grand-daughter travelled to visit her ancestral home and found the abandoned state of the house. She brought the house and started working on it in 1932 and for forty years she put effort in turning the property into a memorial for her ancestor and for its history. In 1945, the then Senator Harry Truman initiated a bill that the house will be purchased and maintained but the bill never passed. After many efforts of Louisa to get that funded money but couldn’t succeed. Finally in 1970, National Historic Association aided by Rusell-Majors-Waddell the house got listed in register of National Historic sites 29.

In 1976, city of Kansas city adopted a plan to develop between Ward Parkway and State Line Road which gave 6 acre park surrounding the house but despite the plan it couldn’t proceed for nearly 10 years. In 1979, Louisa Johnston died leaving the house to Terry W. Chapman who worked as the restoration architect for the house. The structural work was finished in 1983 and was a show case project in Kansas city Symphony, which provided interior finishes 30.

Alexander Majors House - Todays’ Museum

Alexander Majors House second floor plan, several modifications are made to bathroom at the northern end, adding closets to western wall of master bedroom, moving the entrance of the door from north side to south [source](Alexander Majors House - 70000335.pdf. (n.d.))

Alexander Majors House second floor plan, several modifications are made to bathroom at the northern end, adding closets to western wall of master bedroom, moving the entrance of the door from north side to south source

In 1984, the Alexanders Majors House Museum is open to public for tours and events. In 2010, the house was joined with John Wornall house and museum and functioned together reinforcing the historic legacy of the area and house on the edge of the frontier 31. Wornall-Majors Museum has organized events and celebrations like weddings, event rentals, on site photography, school field trips, summer camps, field trips, Holiday candlelight tours, birthday parties and private and group tours 32.

Another interesting part of exploring Majors house is Ghost tours about the strange events and open to paranormal investigation groups to explore and experience the ghost haunting which are held between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. 33.

Visit the house

Alexander Majors Barn, 8201 State Line Rd (east side of road near 85th street), Kansas City, MO 64114

John Wornall House Museum

Wornall Majors House Museum

Frank S. Land Memorial

Thomas Farmhouse

Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige (1906-82)

Paige ś Marker

Battle of Big Blue

William H. Russell

William B. Waddell

William Henry Jackson

National Registration form for Alexander Majors House

Pony Express National Museum

Photographs of Majors Museum, inside & outside the house, giftshop

Interactive Santa Fe Trail Map

10 things to know about Pony Express

Bibliography

Billington, Ray Allen. Westward Expansion : A History of the American Frontier. New York [N.Y.] : Macmillan, ©1967.

Bixler, Ashley. “Historical Narrative: Westward Expansion.” WESTWARD MOVEMENT by Ashley Bixler. Accessed November 26, 2018.

Earngey, Bill. Missouri Roadsides: The Traveler’s Companion. University of Missouri Press, 1995.

Godfrey, Anthony. Historic Resource Study: Pony Express National Historic Trail, 1994.

Kirkman, Paul. The Battle of Westport: Missouri’s Great Confederate Raid. Arcadia Publishing, 2011.

LC Zoom Viewer - Pony Express Route April 3, 1860 - October 24, 1861 / W.H. Jackson ; Issued by the Union Pacific Railroad Company in Commemoration of the Pony Express Centennial, April 3, 1960 - October 24, 1961.” Accessed November 28, 2018.

Majors, Alexander, Prentiss Ingraham, and 1846-1917 Buffalo Bill. Seventy Years on the Frontier; Alexander Major’s Memoirs of a Lifetime on the Border; Chicago and New York, Rand, McNally & company, 1893.

“Majors House - The Alexander Majors House Museum” Wornall Majors House Museums (blog). Accessed November 12, 2018.

Missouri : The WPA Guide to the “Show Me” State. St. Louis : Missouri Historical Society Press ; [Columbia] : Distributed by University of Missouri Press, ©1998., 1998.

“National Register of Historic Places, Alexander Majors House, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, National Register No:70000335.” Accessed November 16, 2018.

Settle, Raymond W., and Mary Lund Settle. War Drums and Wagon Wheels : The Story of Russell, Majors, and Waddell. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [1966], 1966.

William Rusell, Alexander Majors, William Waddell.” Pinterest. Accessed November 28, 2018.

Wood, Toni, and Jilian Mincer. Wow!: Where Families Can Find Awe & Wonder in and Around Kansas City. Kansas City Star Books, 2000.

Alexander Majors & Family - Alexander Majors House. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from

John and Sigrid’s Adventures: Alexander Majors Home Museum Tour - 11/7/2013. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from

Leatherberry, E. (2015). Missouri, Kansas, Alexander Majors House Photo May 10, 2015. Photo.

Majors’ Efforts. (2015, September 21). Retrieved November 28, 2018.

Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing.

Santa Fe National Historic Trail: Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico: comprehensive management and use plan. (1990). [Washington, D.C.?]

  1. Missouri: The WPA Guide to the “Show Me” State. (1998). Missouri History Museum. P 

  2. Majors House – [The Alexander Majors House Museum] ( from http://www.wornallmajors.org/explore/majors-house/). (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2018. 

  3. NPS Form-1969, No:70000335, P2 

  4. Majors House – [The Alexander Majors House Museum] ( from http://www.wornallmajors.org/explore/majors-house/). (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2018. 

  5. Missouri: The WPA Guide to the “Show Me” State. (1998). Missouri History Museum. P 

  6. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  7. Godfrey, A. (1994). Historic Resource Study: Pony Express National Historic Trail

  8. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  9. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  10. Godfrey, A. (1994). Historic Resource Study: Pony Express National Historic Trail

  11. Wood, T., & Mincer, J. (2000). Wow! Where Families Can Find Awe & Wonder in and Around Kansas City. Kansas City Star Books. 

  12. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  13. Missouri: The WPA Guide to the “Show Me” State. (1998). Missouri History Museum. p 

  14. Missouri: The WPA Guide to the “Show Me” State. (1998). Missouri History Museum. p 

  15. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  16. In 1858 when the firm received a contract from government to freight supplies to General A. S. Johnston ś Army in Mormon War, Majors moved to Nebraska city leaving the state line property to his eldest daughter Mrs. Samuel Poteet, whose descendants owned it until 1910. - Missouri: The WPA Guide to the “Show Me” State. (1998). Missouri History Museum. p 

  17. Godfrey, A. (1994). Historic Resource Study: Pony Express National Historic Trail

  18. Godfrey, A. (1994). Historic Resource Study: Pony Express National Historic Trail

  19. Godfrey, A. (1994). Historic Resource Study: Pony Express National Historic Trail

  20. Godfrey, A. (1994). Historic Resource Study: Pony Express National Historic Trail

  21. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. 

  22. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  23. NPS Form-1969, No:70000335, P2 

  24. NPS Form-1969, No:70000335, P2 

  25. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  26. NPS Form-1969, No:70000335, P2 

  27. NPS Form-1969, No:70000335, P2 

  28. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  29. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  30. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  31. Morton, L. (2012). The Waldo Story: The Home of Friendly Merchants. Arcadia Publishing. p 

  32. Majors House – [The Alexander Majors House Museum] ( from http://www.wornallmajors.org/explore/majors-house/). (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2018. 

  33. Majors House – [The Alexander Majors House Museum] ( from http://www.wornallmajors.org/explore/majors-house/). (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2018.