Independence,_Missouri

Independence, Missouri

Independence is a city in Jackson County in the U.S. state of Missouri, and the fourth largest city in the state. It is part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. As of 2007, the city had a total population of 110,704. Independence is one of two county seats of Jackson County, and is known as the "Queen City of the Trails on account of having been the point of departure of the Santa Fe, California and Oregon Trails. The city also played a pivital role in the early history of the Latter Day Saint movement, and is home to the denominational headquarters of several Latter Day Saint groups, most notably the Community of Christ, whose Temple is located there.

History

Independence was originally inhabited by Missouri and Osage Indians, followed by the Spanish and a brief French tenure. It became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Lewis and Clark recorded in their journals that they stopped in 1804 to pick plums, raspberries, and wild apples at a site that would later form part of the city.

Independence was founded on March 29, 1827 and quickly became an important frontier town. Independence was the farthest point westward on the Missouri River where steamboats or other cargo vessels could travel, due to the convergence of the Kansas River with the Missouri River approximately six miles west of town, near the current Kansas-Missouri border. Independence immediately became a jumping-off point for the emerging fur trade, accommodating merchants and adventurers beginning the long trek westward on the Santa Fe Trail.

In 1831, members of the Latter Day Saint movement began moving to the Jackson County, Missouri area. Shortly thereafter, Joseph Smith, Jr., their prophet, declared a spot just west of Courthouse Square to be the place for his prophesied temple of the New Jerusalem, in expectation of the Second Coming of Christ. Tension grew with local Missourians until finally the Latter-Day Saints were driven from the area. Several branches of this movement would gradually return to the city, with many making their headquarters there. These included the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), the Restoration Branches and the Church of Christ (Temple Lot).

Independence saw great prosperity from the late 1830s through the mid-1840s, while the business of outfitting pioneers boomed. Between 1848 and 1868, it was a hub of the Central Route to California. On March 8, 1849, the Missouri General Assembly granted a home-rule charter to the town and on July 18, 1849, William McCoy was elected as its first mayor. In the mid-1800s an Act of the United States Congress defined Independence as the start of the Oregon Trail.

Independence saw two important battles during the Civil War: the first on August 11, 1862 when Confederate soldiers took control of the town, and the second in October 1864, which also resulted in a Southern victory. The war took its toll on Independence and the town was never able to regain its previous prosperity, although a flurry of building activity took place soon after the war. The rise of nearby Kansas City also contributed to the town's relegation to a place of secondary prominence in Jackson County, though Independence has retained its position as county seat until the present day.

President Harry S. Truman grew up in Independence, and in 1922 was elected judge of the County Court of Jackson County, Missouri (an administrative, not judicial, post). Although he was defeated for reelection in 1924, he won back the office in 1926 and was reelected in 1930. Truman performed his duties diligently, and won personal acclaim for several popular public works projects, including an extensive series of fine roads for the growing use of automobiles, the building of a new County Court building in Independence, and a series of twelve Madonna of the Trail monuments to pioneer women dedicated across the country in 1928 and 1929. He would later return to the city after two terms as President. His wife, First Lady Bess Truman, was born and raised in Independence, and both are buried there. The Truman home and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum are both located in Independence, as is one of Truman's boyhood residences.

Independence continues to be of great importance to the Latter Day Saint movement and is the headquarters of the Community of Christ. This denomination, the second-largest in the Latter Day Saint movement, has built a striking temple in Independence, and also maintains a large auditorium and other buildings nearby. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Mormons") operates a sizable visitors' center adjacent to the Community of Christ Temple, which is located directly across the street from the original Temple Lot designated by Joseph Smith in 1830. The Lot itself is occupied by a small white-frame church building that serves as the headquarters and local meeting house for the Church of Christ (Temple Lot).

Geography

Independence is located at (39.079805, -94.406551). It lies on the south bank of the Missouri River, near the western edge of the state.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 78.4 square miles (203.2 km²), of which, 78.3 square miles (202.9 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.17%) is water.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 113,288 people, 47,390 households, and 30,566 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,446.3 people per square mile (558.4/km²). There were 50,213 housing units at an average density of 641.1/sq mi (247.5/km²). Independence has a population of 111,806 in 1980 and 112,301 in 1990. The racial makeup of the city was 91.87% White, 2.59% African American, 0.70% Asian, 0.64% Native American, 0.46% Pacific Islander, 1.43% from other races, and 2.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.69% of the population.

There were 47,390 households out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.9% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.5% were non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,012, and the median income for a family was $45,876. Males had a median income of $34,138 versus $25,948 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,384. About 6.4% of families and 8.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.8% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.

Education

Schools

Four school districts have areas within the city: Independence, Blue Springs, Fort Osage Schools, and Raytown. Three public high schools are located within the city limits: Truman High School, William Chrisman High School, and Van Horn High School, all in the Independence School District.

Prior to Fall 2008, parts of western Independence in the Van Horn feeder pattern resided in the Kansas City, Missouri School District, but all of these students are now part of the Independence school district.

Colleges and universities

Libraries

Festivals

"Santa-Cali-Gon Days" is an annual Labor Day festival held in Independence intermittently since 1940 and continuously since 1973, celebrating the city's heritage as the starting point of three major frontier trails: the Santa Fe, California and Oregon. The Santa-Cali-Gon celebration has changed throughout the years: During the 1940's, men grew their beards from one Sant-Cali-Gon to the next in beard growing contests, while the 1950's saw exhibitions of horses and covered wagons, together with numerous other items that might have been purchased in Independence before heading West. In more recent decades the festival, while retaining some of its old customs, has shifted to a carnival atmosphere, with numerous rides, booths and other venues offering a variety of food, beverages, crafts, entertainment (including Country and Gospel Music singers), and similar attractions.

Historic town square

Located in the historic center of town, the Independence town square features numerous family-owned shops surrounding the old main courthouse, which was modeled after Philadelphia's Independence Hall. This courthouse houses Harry S. Truman's former courtroom, and his home is a short walk away. Both are available for tours. Also located on the square are the remains of the old county jail, now turned into a museum, which housed Frank James, among others. A farmers' market is held on the northeast side of the square on Saturdays, mid-May through Mid-September. The Santa-Cali-Con festival is also held on the square and nearby streets.

Museums

Civil War sites

First Battle of Independence

  • Union Headquarters Guard Building
  • Company Headquarters (McCoy Bank)
  • 1859 Jail & Marshall's Home
  • Union Encampment

Battle of Little Blue River and Second Battle of Independence

  • Covered Bridge
  • Lawson Moore Home
  • Jackman's Artillery Charge
  • Shelby's Second Charge
  • Jennison's Battle Line
  • Cabell's Defense Line
  • Bingham-Waggoner Estate
  • Price's Camp at Rock Creek

Sister city

Transportation

Famous residents

References

External links

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