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Saturday, June 30, 2018

The McGees of Kansas City: A Pioneer Legacy

Allen B. H. McGee's home cir. 1901. Photo courtesy of the McGee family and colorization by Patty Allison

He was known to take a risk; he had proven that when he uprooted his wife and seven children from Shelby Co., Ky. and moved them over 500 miles away to the vast unclaimed lands of the state of Missouri. His wife’s brother had already chosen Clay Co. around Liberty to settle and wrote of the expansive acreage that gleamed with opportunity and a quick sale. Naturally, he and his wife decided to follow him to get in on the action.

Few had gambled on this new state. He was always enterprising; he never turned down a deal, especially when it came to land. He had an eye for things – a watchful spirit that had him keen to not call Liberty home for long.

One year is all it took. It was 1828. He had heard of a small settlement of the French along the banks of the Missouri River in two-year-old Jackson Co. Before opting for another new beginning, he traveled by horseback to the bluffs in Clay Co. and looked south to this new unsettled, remote land.

There was no Kansas City. There wasn’t even a Westport. There were just a few dozen French Catholic families organized to trade with the Native Americans. As James looked upon the bluffs, he noted the natural curve of the Mighty Mo and could sense, through his enterprising ways, that this wouldn’t stay vacant for long. So many were traveling west just as he did, and soon enough, pioneers would push even further out into the unknown. He could envision the change that would eventually coat the lands along the bluffs and well into the horizon.

James returned home, eager to share his prediction with his wife. Within the year, they would load up one final time in a wagon, cart their belongings across the river to the bluffs at the future Kansas City, unload, and bet on their future.

Missouri, as the history books tell us, became a slave state in 1820, opening millions of acres of vast, fertile land for all who were willing to clear it, built a cabin upon it, and cultivate what was then the wild frontier. And one man, James Hyatt McGee, was willing to roll the dice on an area where very few white settlers had called home.

Map showing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 that opened
settlement to the west.
Few of the two million-plus people that have chosen the Kansas City metropolitan area as their home today can claim to have had family here when it was just a vast wilderness, populated only by migrating tribes and a few French settlers from St. Louis.

But the McGee family of Kansas City proudly holds a legacy that has shone brightly in this area for just shy of 200 years. And as I’ve learned firsthand from my incredible friends, whom I refer to as “the McGee Boys,” Kansas City wouldn’t be KC without their descendants.

Let me introduce you to a few of the characters that make up their family tree.

James Hyatt McGee

James Hite (Hyatt) McGee (b. 1786), an ambitious Kentuckian, with his wife, Eleanor Fry and seven small children moved to the Liberty area in 1827. They were married in 1812 in Shelby Co., Ky. and shortly thereafter, James enlisted in the Kentucky Militia and fought in the War of 1812 for two years. For whatever the reason, in his early 40s, this man opted to shimmy a little bit further southwest from Liberty and landed in the Kansas City metropolitan area – then just populated by a few dozen French Canadian families.

When Missouri was granted its statehood, what would become Kansas City was no more than a steep bluff overlooking the convergence of the Missouri and Kaw Rivers. No white man dared to settle down at its steep incline, nor did anyone anticipate that this land would be host to what John C. McCoy coined “the embryo city.”

But James H. McGee could sense something.

The French Canadians had followed Francois Chouteau and his wife, Berenice to the area as they established a trading post around 1821. In the following years, Catholic families followed the Chouteaus to this new land. The Native Americans called it “Chouteau’s Town.” The small French Canadian settlement began to gain momentum, but it certainly wasn’t set up to blossom into a metropolis.

Did James Hyatt McGee hear of this successful trading post and gamble on the land? Quite possibly. But by 1828, he bought up 320 acres of land from the French squatters and eventually acquired just shy of 1000 acres in the heart of what would be the city. In 1829, he took a trip back to Kentucky and returned with two slaves- the first slaves brought to Jackson County, Mo.

A 1929 article in the Kansas City Star showcases the expanse of James H. McGee's estate
He initially built a log cabin along a fine stream of water named Turkey Creek (later referred to as McGees Creek and even later referred to as OK Creek) near 20th and Central on his expansive land holdings. The property included much of present-day downtown Kansas City, extending roughly from 9th St. to the north to 23rd St. to the south, Troost Ave. to the east and west to Summit St. He knew the importance of building near natural springs and water sources. And even more, he knew that $1.25 to $1.50 per acre was a steal. McGee had purchased the land from the Roy (Roi) brothers who had built a mill near OK Creek but had not opened it yet. McGee, always the entrepreneur, quickly put the sawmill to work in building some of the area’s first structures.

1839 John C. McCoy plat of the Town of Kansas
Still, Kansas City had not been founded and Westport was not a town. He was alone with his wife and children amidst the wilderness and miles from Chouteau’s trading post.

OK Creek originated near Vine St., and legend has it that this stream was used during the pre-Civil War days by runaway slaves. Because these fugitives, on a flight to freedom to the west, could hide within the bluffs and escape in the night, the creek was a perfect plan. It washed away the scent for dogs to follow and hid them as black as the night. Today, OK Creek is buried in sewers near Union Station and is the source of many of the flooding problems in that area.

James oldest son, Allen Burr Harrison McGee, was born in 1815 in Kentucky. He, along with his brothers, Fry (b. 1816), Mobillion (b. 1817), and Elijah Milton “Milt” (b. 1820), all not even teenagers yet, were raised in the area when your nearest neighbor was miles and miles away. James H. McGee, a well-known builder, was even called upon by the French Canadian settlement to construct the first Catholic church and school in 1835.

He even meddled in the original “Old Town” land. When Gabriel Prudhomme (cir. 1790) died in a barroom brawl with locals in 1831, his land was in limbo. His 257 acres would become the original Town of Kansas and the land, a vast wilderness, extended south from the Missouri River bluffs to current-day Independence Ave., east from Broadway to Holmes Rd. The guardian of the estate was none other than James Hyatt McGee- and his actions directly affected the future of the Town of Kansas. To read more of the founding of the original town site, click here!

The first brick house in all of Kansas City, built by James H. McGee and his sons in 1834-1835. Photo taken in 1888.
Courtesy of the McGee family
The first brick house in all of Kansas City is also credited to the McGee family. In 1834, McGee used bricks fired on his own property to construct his small residence north of Southwest Boulevard between Wyandotte and Baltimore Aves. It was a small house for such a large family (with only two rooms, 16x20 on each side of a large hall), but prominence wasn’t in the size of the home- the magic was what resided inside. The growth, ambition and acceleration of the future of Kansas City was formulated within the brains of the descendants of James McGee.

James H. McGee's headstone
I would go as far as to state that much of the future of Kansas City and how it even looks today is because of the children of James Hyatt McGee and his wife, Eleanor Fry.

As did many of the pioneers of Jackson County, James McGee set up a burial plot for his family along what is now 20th St. between Broadway and Wyandotte. He had lost two children in infancy in Kentucky, and he ensured that the McGee family had a proper graveyard in the heart of what is now known as the Freight House and Crossroads Arts District. As family members and slaves met their final fate, James Hyatt McGee had a resting place for them on his property.

James H. McGee’s life was cut short when he passed away in 1840 at the age of 54. He was survived by his wife, Eleanor and children Amelia, Allen B.H., Fry, Mobillion, Elijah Milton “Milt”, Catherine, Eleanor, Angeline, Francis and James, Jr.  In the "The McGees of Kansas City", author R. Richard Wohl explained, “[James] McGee, in his way, set a pattern for succession that was to continue unchanged, except in detail, thereafter in the history of the family.”

But the true heart of this family would come from James Hyatt McGee’s strong, passionate and renowned spouse, Eleanor “Nellie” Fry McGee. She, as with many women of the era, was the glue that held the family together when her husband moved them into unchartered territory.

Eleanor “Nellie” Fry McGee- “Mother McGee”

Eleanor Fry McGee original George Caleb Bingham
portrait cir. 1840s
It’s hard to piece together the life of a woman during these times. Women are oftentimes lost under the clout of their husbands. Rarely can one find a pretty detailed history on a woman from this era. One of the only exclusions to this that I have found in years of researching the history of the area is that of Eleanor “Mother” McGee.

Born in 1793, Eleanor Amelia Fry married James Hyatt McGee in 1812. Even her parents eventually followed her brother, Solomon Fry to the Clay Co. area as a fragment of her family resettled into the state of Missouri. She had lost two children as infants while living in Kentucky but had given birth to three girls and four boys before moving to Missouri.

To imagine a 34-year-old woman with seven children nodding her head in approval at the very idea of migrating over 500 miles into a land with nothing is hard enough. She was embraced by the early settlers of the area; while her husband was considered to be reserved and somewhat quiet in personal affairs, Nellie was renowned for her pleasant personality and grace. Records clearly indicate that Nellie was always consulted on business ventures, even when her husband was alive.

This is just straight-up unique.

From left to right: James Hyatt, Jr., Milt, Mobillion, Allen B.H., Eleanor Fry, Amelia, Katherine, Eleanor and
a sister of Mother McGee. Taken in front of the first brick house of Kansas City cir. 1871.
Now envisioning that Nellie became a widow only 12 years after settling in what would become Kansas City – with her youngest child only being three years old- is harrowing.

But this is just what women were expected to do. And she did it with gusto.

When her husband, James died in 1840, he had just shy of 1000 acres of land. Usually with a large estate such as this, the executor orders the land all be sold in one large chunk. When 1000 acres of land are sold in an area that had a sparse population, the land won’t hold value. As executrix along with her son, Fry, Nellie was careful to stall the final settlement of land for 10 years. This allowed her to keep her large landholdings as the Town of Kansas slowly emerged to the north and Westport grew to the south. She only sold off pieces of land for tax purposes.

Old painting of the James H. McGee homestead
Courtesy of the McGee family
She lived in that two-room house that was still unfinished when her husband passed away. Part of the probate ordered that the kitchen addition to the back of the home be finished- likely a request from Nellie herself when the probate made its way to the courts.

It was known by the neighbors, even as far stretched across the land that the were, including the McCoy's, Chick’s, and Wornall’s, that Mrs.McGee would tend to all that were ill. Her gardens near her home were filled with natural remedies that only she knew the origins of- and many owed their life to her care.

When cholera hit the Town of Kansas in 1849, Eleanor McGee and Berenice Chouteau both brought the sick into their homes and cared for them until they were well. It was this tender touch and willingness to advocate for more than just her own family that gave her the nickname amongst the earliest pioneers as “Mother McGee."

Mother McGee's original Bible (printed in 1816) resides in
Missouri Valley Special Collections and was
donated by the family.
Even as her own children encouraged the city to grow from the bluffs of the Missouri River and as the city infringed on her own landholdings, Mother McGee stayed put in her little brick house. Yes, she kept slaves in her employ- this is true- two to be exact. One slave was a middle-aged woman and the other an elderly lady who stayed with her for decades until the woman’s death sometime in her late 80s. 

Mother McGee continued to give advice, manage her estate and emotionally support her children until her death on November 22nd, 1880 at the age of 89. At the time, she was the oldest living pioneer resident of Kansas City and her land now was officially part of the growing city. She had given birth to fourteen children and only five survived her. Regardless, her legacy continued with her 50 grandchildren, 86 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

John C. McCoy, founder of Westport and member of the original Town Company was a pallbearer at her funeral and wrote words that were shared: “I knew and honored her true, generous, philanthropic spirit fifty years ago, in the unpretentious log house of the early pioneer, once standing in the limits of this great city; and through all the years that have come and gone since then, through all the changes, strifes, struggles, joys and sorrows, and the lights and shadows that have swept over us, the same generous, calm, dignified loving nature of our dear departed mother, through every trial, and every test like pure gold shone out with undiminished luster.”

Mother McGee was buried next to her husband in the McGee graveyard, her legacy being one of the purest visions of female pioneer spirit the area ever had seen.

Allen Burr Harrison McGee

Out of all of their children, Allen Burr Harrison McGee (A.B.H.) was the one who apprenticed under his father. Yes, all of the McGee sons greatly influenced the history of Kansas City. Fry built a structure on the riverfront and later influenced the pro-slavery ticket at 110-Mile Creek; Mobillion built a town within the wilderness and structured Kansas City’s first large boulevard- Grand Ave.; Milt ran away from home, came back rich from the California goldfields and became mayor of Kansas City (more on the rest of the McGees later!). A stark contrast from his brothers, Allen stayed level-headed, fair and enterprising within the confines of Westport and Kansas City. He was cautious yet adventurous. His legacy would show no bounds.

A.B.H. McGee 
When James H. McGee uprooted his family from Kentucky, Allen (b. 1815) was only 12 years old. The early life of neighbors close by, family around the corner and comfortable structures surrounding him was quickly gone and replaced with an unknown frontier. It wasn’t long before Allen’s devotion to his father’s dealings had him learning how to manage a large estate and multiple business ventures.

Early in his teen years, Allen assisted his father in the mill operations, started by the Roy brothers on OK Creek. The sawmill would help produce lumber for businesses and buildings in newly founded Westport, Mo. Not long after, the desirable distillery business was the next undertaking by both father and son. A distillery near Indian Territory and thirsty transplants was just what the doctor ordered. Allen claimed in an 1898 article in the Kansas City Journal, “I’ve made whisky there the best you ever drank. They don’t make it no more nowadays like it.”

Cheers, McGees!

According to historian R. Richard Wohl, “[Allen] profited by being a dutiful son, from the training he received in managing his father’s various enterprises.”

In 1837, 21 year-old Allen traveled back to Kentucky and married Malinda Fry. The last name sounds familiar, doesn’t it?! Well, Malinda was not just a cousin… she was a double cousin. Her mother was James McGee’s sister, and her father was Nellie’s brother.
John Sutter (1803-1880) portrait, 1866

This puts another spin on “kissing cousins.”

The future of the Westport business resided in outfitting those traveling on the trails to the west. In 1837, a small company arrived in Westport from New Mexico, and according to John C. McCoy, “Capt. John A. Sutter, a Swiss gentleman of prominence” was part of this group. He recalled, “Within a short time. . . he bought the storehouse of Lucas & Kavinaugh and also purchased a farm that would later become the home of Allen B.H. McGee.”

Within 18 months, Sutter was broke. He even threatened to take his own life. In order to give him hope, McCoy provided him with “a honey sorrel packhorse and other necessities for travel westward.” Allen B.H. McGee provided a horse for Sutter’s companion, Wetler (also noted as “Wetter”).

Thank goodness that McCoy and McGee felt it important to help a friend, because the events in 1848 would change the course of western expansion when Sutter struck gold in California.

The gold rush sure did help out John C. McCoy and Allen Mcgee in their businesses in Westport, Mo. 

1877 plat map highlighting in red the property of
Eleanor McGee and A.B.H.
Powerful people with a future in the history of the nation seemed to gravitate toward Allen. When John Fremont, a well-known explorer and future Republican candidate for President, opted to elope with powerful Senator Thomas Hart Benton’s beautiful Southern belle daughter, Jessie in 1841, the tides were quite dangerous. Sen. Benton was beside himself, and John Fremont was unapologetic. It was in Allen B.H. McGee’s own home where the two men met to hash it out. It is reported that Allen locked them in a room together and the men emerged amicable.

In November 1839, James H. McGee gifted $1200 toward the $2500 sum to purchase part of his land. In turn, Allen and his cousin- I mean, wife- moved to 160 acres of land just north of Westport, Mo. His new farm would border current-day Armour Blvd. to the north, 38th St. to the south, Valentine/Holly St. to the west and Broadway to the east.

One business venture wasn’t enough for young Allen. He began to “dabble” in the Indian trade and developed a reputation. He even worked with John C. McCoy surveying Indian lands. His power and prestige was enough for a group of Osage Indians to capture Allen and hold him until the government agreed to their demands. With the help of the government, Allen was released without any harm coming to him… even though Allen had thrown a young Osage Indian to the ground when the man had jumped on his horse.

After the death of his father, Allen continued to showcase his own talents in business. In 1846, he built a Sac and Fox Indian Agency in Westport. This was not an easy task in the day and took many connections and proposals. After three years of successful trading, he sold his interest in moved onto his next business venture.

John C. Fremont (1813-1890)
In that same year, his wife died, leaving him with three young girls to raise. In 1847, he didn’t stray too far from his roots and married his wife’s older sister, Christiana.

At this same period, he bought a mercantile store from McCoy in Westport and enlarged it. He had observed how the first hotel in the town, called Yoacham’s Tavern, was oftentimes full. Allen used this building as a new hotel at the corner of Penn and Westport Rd. in the town square. It was unofficially known as the “Catfish House” due to the chef’s specialty of fried catfish caught fresh out of the Kaw River. After a year, he sold his interest to John “Jack” Harris for a handsome profit. This was later known as the Harris House Hotel until 1922 when the building was razed.

By 1848, McGee turned his interest to the outfitting business. He could keenly sense the increase of supply and demand of those heading west to California thanks to his old friend, John Sutter. One of Allen’s biggest boasts in his older age was that his firm outfitted two of John Fremont’s expeditions. 

In 1850, Allen was 100% devoted to the outfitting business. The Mexican War had helped stimulate his business as trade on the Santa Fe Trail had boomed. It had also helped that he had a relationship with a well-known pioneer of St. Louis named Robert Campbell. As people seeking their millions to the west left St. Louis and headed toward Westport Landing, Campbell referred them to Allen McGee’s business.

Let’s keep in mind that Allen was just 35 years old by the time he had accomplished all of this!

The old stone barn built by A.B.H. McGee was at the site of current-day Uptown Theater and was torn down in 1898. An elderly Allen Burr Harrison McGee can be seen in the horse and buggy to the left.
Courtesy of the McGee family.
Allen B.H. McGee’s outfitting business flourished for over a decade until the outbreak of the Civil War. By 45, he was retired and living off his “investments.”  He was referred to by the honorary title, Colonel, showcasing his importance amongst the blossoming City of Kansas. 

Allen with grandchildren Annette, Susan and
George Nelson, Courtesy of the McGee family
He sided with the South, as he had at least five slaves, but his overall reputation was that of a fair gentleman with a kind, hospitable spirit.

On his property near the current-day Uptown Theater on Broadway, Col. McGee had built a stone barn decades earlier that was somewhat of a landmark. It was 80 feet long, 40 feet wide and had walls two feet thick. The door was even studded with spikes. To a passerby, it looked more like a fortress than a country barn. It was said he built it this way because the barn prior had been burned to the ground by someone “with a grudge against the colonel.”

During the Border Wars and Civil War, silverware and valuables were buried inside the barn. When the barn was being removed in 1898 and the stones were to be used as a foundation for his son, Allen B.H. Jr.’s house at 3726 Washington (the house still stands today), the contractors found dozens of bayonet points left from people who tried to penetrate the barn and rob the Colonel.

Although never used as a fort, ABH used to laugh that it was useful in “keeping out the Jayhawkers.”

Allen B.H. McGee in his bedroom cir. 1901 at his home at 37th and Broadway. Note the framed portrait hanging above his desk is none other than John C. McCoy. Courtesy of the McGee Family.
In 1867, his second wife died and their one child had passed away. Two years later, his third and final marriage to Susan Bruton Gill, daughter of Col. Marcus Gill, merged two of the most prominent pioneer families. She was nineteen. He was two months’ shy of his 54th birthday.

A closeup of the family on the front porch of the A.B.H. McGee Home at 37th and Broadway.
Photograph courtesy of the McGee family, colorization by Patty Allison
Two children, Nellie (b. 1871) and Allen B.H. McGee II (b. 1875) were born to the couple. In 1882, Col. McGee began to sell off pieces of his land to make room for the Kansas City Exposition Grounds. By 1884, he built a prestigious vault for his family at Union Cemetery and moved his immediate family from the McGee burial ground to this sacred space. 

The entryway of Allen's house.
Courtesy of the McGee family
In 1886, Allen replaced his frame house with a fine, three story brick mansion complete with a turret and large, stained glass windows at 37th and Broadway.

This home would be where Allen would host friends, tell stories to family and live out the rest of his life. His wife, Susan died in 1901, and Allen, ever the patriarch, continued to hold fort on his land and at his palatial house even after her death. His land had been partially sold and divided into what would become the Roanoke and Valentine neighborhoods in Midtown Kansas City.

In 1903, Col. McGee was struck with heart failure. In his final hours at his daughter, Nellie’s house, he talked of the pioneer days and the friends he had met along the way. He was proud, it was reported, of his record as a pioneer and he never tired of telling of the early times before the city had sprouted around him.

“My race is about run,” the 88 year-old Col. McGee said, “and I do not fear the end. Death is a debt we all have to pay to nature and I realize that the time to meet it has arrived.”

The McGee vault, built in 1886, by Allen B.H. McGee
at Union Cemetery
On October 8th, 1903, Allen Burr Harrison McGee closed his eyes one final time, thus ending his 75 years as the truest pioneer of Kansas City. He had outlived all his siblings and what remained was a living legacy in both his name and his enterprises.

His home at 37th and Broadway was out of the family's hands after Col. McGee's death and by 1917, it was home to the Rochambeau Hotel. A 75-room establishment remodeled for its purposes, the Rochembeau became a well-known residential hotel. In 1932, the old McGee house fell on harder times and while under another remodel, it mysteriously caught fire. 

Arson was suspected and the owners were charged with the crime.

The spot that once boasted his beautiful home was gone; the land later became a leased parking lot for use of the Uptown Theater.

The Men's Room inside Allen McGee's home featured plenty of chairs for visiting friends.
Courtesy of the McGee family

The Ladies Parlor inside Allen McGee's home at 37th and Broadway.
Courtesy of the McGee family
The McGee Burial Ground

1898 illustration of the condition of the
McGee Cemetery featured in the Kansas City Star
Even by 1898, the McGee graveyard was overgrown and overtaken by warehouses and freight depots. This is truly no surprise, because much of the land that was James H. McGee’s makes up the Freight House district even today.

When the McGees chose Jackson Co. as their home, there were no community cemeteries. Farms held the remains of those that passed on, and by the early 1830s, the McGee Graveyard was in full use. As Kansas City grew from a frontier settlement to a thriving metropolis, the family placed a large six-foot iron fence around it to mark its boundaries. Flowers, vines and beautiful shrubs delicately landscaped the grounds.

As time went on, McGees one-by-one were  moved to Elmwood Cemetery. Slowly, the fencing became bent and the flowers, vines and bushes overgrown. The few bodies that remained were being overtaken by more than just the city shadowing over it.

The McGee monument at Elmwood
Cemetery is surrounded by the
family's graves.
Mother McGee herself had predicted this need for vacating this burial ground, and before she died in 1880, she asked that the family be moved to a safer location away from the enlarging city when it was time. Allen B.H. McGee knew of this wish, and so he moved her to Elmwood Cemetery.

The only McGee not buried at Elmwood is A.B.H. McGee and his descendants.

Interestingly, one stone seemed to stick out from the rest of the more formal headstones of the day in that aged, venerable cemetery. Before the ground was completely erased, a stone that simply read “Old Carlo” jutted from the ground, hidden deeply in grass and weeds.

One can only guess that Old Carlo was an old slave of the McGee family.

Was he, too moved to Elmwood Cemetery?

A simple guess is no, which leads us to question what happened to the few interments that remained in the heart of the Freight House District.

The Legacy Today

No doubt that thousands of people throughout this country are descendants of James H. and Eleanor McGee. This inevitably happens in due time due to our limitless mobility; a myriad amount of them most likely don’t call Kansas City home anymore.

All of the McGee family gathered in front of the old homestead, cir. 1871. Note that directly behind Mother McGee
appears to be an African-American woman, most likely a servant that was considered family.
Courtesy of the McGee family
But one branch- one very, very strong and proud branch- of the McGee tree still remains deeply rooted and connected to Kansas City.

After I wrote my blog on Marcus Gill’s home near New Santa Fe, I was delighted when a descendant who grew up on the very farm contacted me. And those descendants are none other than James H. McGee’s great-great grandsons, Allen Burr Harrison McGee IV, known to friends and family as Burr, and John. Along with their brothers, Sandy and Pat, these four are still a part of Kansas City to the core.

So often I contact people and find out they know very little about their pioneer descendants. They shrug their shoulders and refer me to some distant cousin whose phone number may not even be correct since they haven't spoken in twenty years. I'm used to a disconnect because it happens so often in large families as they split in several directions.

L-R: Sandy, Burr, John and Pat McGee
But this branch of the tree is nothing like that. I am inspired by the McGee Boys- "my" McGee Boys that have sat down, laughed, and shared stories with me. They are aware of their history, embrace it and are genuinely connected to it. They have pieces of it displayed in their homes and albums packed full of photographs and mementos. 

This legacy is undoubtedly going to last a very long time. A.B.H. McGee's namesake lives on as every first-born male generation since has named a son after him. Today, Burr's son, A.B.H. McGee V (called Quint) has a son, A.B.H. McGee VI (called Harrison).

This isn't about a cool name passed down over through each generation- it's in a temperament. As I read article after article, book after book outlining the characteristics of  Allen B.H., it became all too clear that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The McGee Boys have a strong countenance in their features and their temperament that reminds me so much of what I read and saw in old sepia-toned photographs. They possess so many of the characteristics of their great-grandfather, born over 200 years ago. 

Kansas City certainly wouldn't look the same - or may not possibly even exist as it does- without the influence of James H. McGee and his children. It's more than just a street being named after their family; it's important to embrace what once was there before us and reflect on how far we have come from "the embryo city" that once emerged from a land sale on the bluffs of the Missouri River.

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