Trainmen present for cornerstone dedication

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

The laying of the Cornerstone of Mercy Hospital at 1710 Independence Boulevard in October of 1916 was a ceremony full of pomp and circumstance, drawing powerful and influential dignitaries from across the city. However, one piece of history that has gone unmentioned is that a dozen or so Streetcar Motormen from the Northeast Line were invited to participate in the ceremony. As profiled in the Railwayan Magazine, the monthly newsletter for the Kansas City Public Service Company in November of 1916 and re-visited in November of 1946 as part of a retrospective, the column notes which Motormen had the honor of being invited and the longest serving Motorman who was asked to give a brief address on how the late Dr. Alice Graham would board the #30 streetcar at St. John and Clinton Place and ride to the City Market with an empty basket under her arm, then return via the streetcar to the hospital with the basket full of provisions. The invited Motormen were G.K. Means, S. R. Scott, James Thomas, and Smith Ford along with Conducters James Jones, T. B. Sullivan, C. F. Davidson and Charles Dunaway, all working out of the 9th and Brighton Trolley Barn and invited personally by Mercy Hospital co-founder Dr. Katherine Richardson, to be present at the laying of the cornerstone.

The passage from the October 3rd, 1916 Kansas City Star reads: “Concerning the laying of the cornerstone of Mercy Hospital, a trainman demonstrates that true eloquence is sometimes found on the platform of a trolley car. Looking back over 20 years, patrons of the Northeast line remember a little gray-haired woman who, morning and evening rode that line, going down to the market of a morning, an empty basket under her arm, and returning at evening with the basket filled. She was Dr. Alice Graham.”

C. F. Davidson, the oldest Motorman on the line remembers those days, and in a 10-minute talk he described the work of the little gray-haired woman down through the years until her death. The other Trainmen all stood around the platform with their heads bared as he spoke.

So impressed was hospital Trustee and Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jedudah, Harry Mayer, with Davidson’s address he noted to fellow Trustee and Attorney Reginald Brewster that Davidson’s talk sounded much like Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg. Brewster heartily agreed and when it was his time to speak, recognized Robinson as an excellent orator and the attending crowd burst into applause.

The above noted passage is not mentioned in any of the history previously written for the hospital and only occupies about six column inches in the November 1946 Railwayan Magazine. Over twenty years of Railwayans were rescued from the landfill by The Northeast News in 2008. Had we not intervened, this small but important piece of Trainmen and Hospital history would be lost forever.

Comments are closed.

  • Circus grounds and beer

    11 hours ago

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News The new $750,000 M.K. Goetz Brewery wasn’t built in Kansas City until 1936, but its long, […]

    The Legend Of Old “Wide-Awake”

    January 17th, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Vaughn’s Diamond was a prominent building constructed in the late 1860’s by early Kansas City real […]

    Montgomery Ward building displayed design achievement

    January 3rd, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Upon its completion in 1914, the Montgomery Ward Distribution Center in Historic Northeast Kansas City was […]

    Out with the old…

    December 27th, 2017

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News “Kissing the Rod” “O heart of mine we shouldn’t worry so, What we’ve missed of calm […]

    Holiday wishes from the king of rock

    December 20th, 2017

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This week we take a break from historic cards and offer up a jewel for the […]

  • Legion fountain and Van Brunt icon

    December 13th, 2017

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Originally designed as an ornate drinking fountain by noted Kansas City Sculptor Robert Merril Gage, the […]

    Iconic igloo inspires museum memories

    December 6th, 2017

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News If you’ve forgotten what the third floor of the Kansas City Museum looked like when your […]

    The House That Beef Built

    November 29th, 2017

      Michael Bushnell Northeast News When Kirkland B. Armour began construction of his palatial mansion on the boulevard that bears […]

    Much to be thankful for — in 1621 and today

    November 22nd, 2017

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News The holiday we celebrate as Thanksgiving had very humble beginnings in a tiny settlement bordering the […]

    Highest point in KC housed corruption cleanser

    November 15th, 2017

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News   This advertising postcard from The Westmoreland Company shows a residence at 74th and Mercier streets. […]

  • What’s Happening

    City Hall Round-up: Week of 1/15-1/19

    Paul Thompson Northeast News If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The Kansas City, Missouri City Council’s second […]

    Paseo Gateway Project continues as Chouteau Courts vacated

    Paul Thompson Northeast News The final tenants at the Chouteau Courts housing project officially moved out of the development on […]

    retorts illustrated by bryan stalder

  • Local Weather