Hello readers and welcome back to Pale Horse Revelations where we explore the historical elements of my debut novel "Behold a Pale Horse: The Legend of the Pale Rider Part I." In this week's edition we'll explore the history of one of the novel's key locations, Independence Missouri. (SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't finished the novel proceed with caution). This is the location that our protagonist escorts the Swanson's to after their unfortunate encounter with Missouri ruffians. His good deed leaves Garrison with a sense of satisfaction and he decides to spend a little extra time in the town. Unfortunately, this leads to a confrontation with the sheriff that wipes away that sense of accomplishment.
I chose this location for my novel based primarily on its geographical location. But the town has a long and storied history that I hope you will find interesting. The area that eventually became Independence, Missouri was originally occupied by the Missouri and Osage Native Americans. It was later occupied by the Spanish and the French. The territory was included in the Lousanna Purchase in 1803. The Lewis and Clark expedition passed through the area in 1804. It was also a stopping point for the ill-fated donner party as it made its way along the California Trail.
The town was founded on March 29, 1827 and got its name from the Declaration of Independence. It was the furthest point westward along the Missouri River that steam boats and cargo vessels could travel to. This lead to the site quickly becoming a jumping off point for the booming fur trade. Over the years it also became the departure point for the California, Oregon, and Santa Fe trails, earning it the title of "Queen City of the Trails."
During the American Civil War two important battles took place around Independence. The first was a Confederate victory that took place August 11, 1862 when Confederate forces captured the city. The second battle took place in October of 1864 and resulted in a Union victory. Unfortunately, the war exacted a heavy price upon Independence. Despite a flurry of construction soon after the war, the city was unable to attain its previous level of prosperity.
Independence also happens to be the boyhood home of former U.S. President Harry Truman. He was elected judge of the county court of Jackson County in 1922, 1926, and 1930 before going on to serve two terms in the office of President of the United States. While serving as judge of the county court he played an instrumental role in several public works projects that included an extensive series of roads, a new County Court building, and a series of 12 monuments dedicated to pioneering women across the country. Both he and his wife, also born and raised in Independence, are buried in the city.
Today, Independence is the fifth largest city in Missouri. It is also the county seat of Jackson County. It is technically a satellite city of Kansa City, Missouri and is the largest suburb on the Missouri side of the Kansas City Metropolitain area. According to 2020 census data its population is just over 123,000.
Once again, we come to the end of another edition of Pale Horse Revelations. As usual, I have tried to provide some interesting background information that may enhance your reading experience while trying not to bog the casual reader down with too much detail. I encourage anyone interested in learning more to dig in and do a little research of their own.
As a reminder, I would love to hear from you, my readers, about topics related to the Old West that you would like to know more about. All you need to do is fill out the Contact form found near the bottom of my home page (www.bmiltonhyde.com) and indicate your suggested topic in the message box at the bottom of the form. I look forward to hearing from you all.
Please be sure to check back next week for the next installment of Pale Horse Revelations and thank you for your continued interest and support.