Police and Museum Buildings
The downtown police building is by comparison to most in the USA a humble and underfunded place. I liked the underground garage though, which probably was used when police vehicles didn't have radios and Bonny and Clyde were on the loose. There is a museum and the renovated but humble city hall next door, both of which were closed at the time of my visit.
Nice little town on the plains
Harrisonville is the county seat of Cass County. In the photo is a nice old courthouse built in 1897 and still at the center of the town. It is surrounded by typical small town businesses with maybe a predominance of antique shops. Harrisonville is only about 35 miles from the heart of Kansas City and in the future will likely end up being a bedroom community for the city. We only went there because our daughter and her family recently moved there. While it is not a spectacular place it proves once again that there are interesting stories and histories just about anywhere you go.
The town was establlished in 1837 and I found it interesting in reading their history that in the process lots in the town were sold for $10 or $20 depending on whether the lot fronted on the town square. Guess it has always been that real estate in the center of the city is always the more expensive.
The struggles with the issue of slavery in the US in the 19th century certainly had an impact on Missouri. Seeking to maintain a balance of free and slave states, the famous Missouri Compromise allowed Maine into the union as a free state and Missouri as a slave state. The bill actually outlawed slavery north of a line in the Louisiana Purchase that would have prohibited slavery in Missouri but an exception was made for that state. However, loyalties were very divided during the Civil War with both union and rebel forces having many Missourians enlisted.
Harrisonville and its county, Cass, were the center of activity for William Quantrill, a renegade Confederate sympathizer who led his band in bloody raids in Missouri and Kansas. After a particularly brutal and bloody assault on Lawrence, Kansas in 1863, many people around Harrisonville were forced to vacate their homes and Union troops confiscated food, grain and hay and burned the homes and barns to the ground.
An interesting note about the town relates to the 1954 US Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in public schools. Many communities strongly resisted and did not desegregate until the late 1950's or 1960's. The Harrisonville school board, however, voted unanimously to desgretate in July 1954.
Some notable figures related to Harrisonville and Cass County include:
Dale Carnegie of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" fame.
Cary Nation of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and noted smasher of rum barrels
Cole Younger, first mayor of the town and later one of Quantrill's Raiders and member of the outlaw gang led by Frank and Jesse James.
A checkered, but interesting past to be sure.