The “KC 1900 Series” Begins

KC Backstories Changes Its Approach

To Loyal Readers, and friends Old and New

KCBackstories has been pretty much idle since COVID hit. I think the pandemic gave us all pause on a lot of things in our lives – and for me it was my writing. Ready for something different than what I had focused on in my books, I revived an idea I’d started and stopped several times. But this time, I started and didn’t stop until I was done – two years later.

First, the venue had to change. KCB left its woefully lacking home on Facebook (Goodbye, Zucker!) and resides now in its own site, KCBackstories.com, with all of its archival posts. No loss of content.

The new posts start here, and the next 18-20 posts will be under the banner of what I’m calling the KC 1900 Series, a collection of essays about Kansas City in the pivotal year of 1900, but all related to the story of the catastrophic Kansas City Convention Hall fire. What makes that moment worth exploring can be easily explained right here up front, and yet will take nothing away from the larger story. It is the moment that the city’s brand new Convention Hall burns to the ground one early April afternoon, in the space of about 30 minutes, exactly 90 days before Kansas City was to play host to the Democratic National Convention that would nominate William Jennings Bryan as its presidential candidate.

But I’m most excited about these new stories. But they all explore aspects of that singular moment in Kansas City’s history. The series is filled with the tales of spectacle and tragedy one might expect from such a disaster. The conflagration, along with its aftermath, stands on its own as a story worth telling, and one could stop there if one is only interested in how a fire consumes a building and its surrounds. But the hall was years in the planning, and had been burdened with the future of the whole city riding on its success. So many of the city’s famous names of the period played a role in the story – Arthur Stilwell, James A. Reed, the Pendergast brothers, William Rockhill Nelson, Robert Van Horn, Bernard Corrigan, Kersey Coates and even a young Harry Truman. Other familiar stories like the development of the West Bottoms and the Hannibal Bridge provide the backdrop for the times. And then there the tales not yet explored, like the myth that this was the event that started the slogan, “The Kansas City Spirit.”

Except for this introduction accompanying the first post, the stories will be posted about once a week. Each of the 1900 Series posts will be numbered, and are always available in the archive. The blog archives posts from newest to latest, so the numbering system helps makes sense of the order.

Thanks for your continuing interest. As we make this transition, please bear with us as over the next two weeks duplication of emails will be necessary with overlapping close out and start up dates overlap.

If you would are not already, please consider being a follower – just use the invitation forms throughout the site, or the direct email info on the Contact page.

If you are no longer interested in receiving KCBackstories updates, likewise use any of the contact info on this site and we’ll happily remove you.

Thank you.

LaDene Morton

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