Kansas City…the city that lured us in with our family heritage and quickly grew on us like a dear, old uncle. We had less than a day to catch a glimpse of her true colors…yet it was enough to reveal that we will return, and for a much longer duration.
Logistically it was a pitstop on our route north, to see family. The plan: to see the headstones of Chris’ grandparents and to snag a peak at the city where both of his parents grew up.
In reality, it became an interactive family experience that fostered the spirit of genealogy in our crew of five. Up until this point, my fourteen year old, Lexi, was really the only one, inducing the discovery of our family lineage.
This is my short tale of our sweet pitstop in Kansas City, Missouri.
Leaving Branson, we headed north and scored a campsite at the first campground we pulled up to. Though it was pre-season and the sites were abundant, this was a good indicator of how our evening would transpire. We were given a beautiful pull-through campsite near the woods and it was extremely comfortable, for a quick county park. We set up the house, freshened up and loaded into the truck. Our first stop was Floral Hills Cemetery.
We pulled up to the vast expanse of green lawn, speckled with flowers and took a deep breath. Secretly, I think we all fantasized about a tiny, old cemetery from the days gone by, where you stroll among a couple dozen headstones, looking for a particular last name. Well, no. We were all a little surprised to find this massive, and quite modernized, cemetery…now a resting place for hundreds of thousands of names, I suppose. Thankfully we arrived shortly before the office closed. We went inside and found a delightfully sweet woman who called and had a staff member look up our grandfather. With the plot assignment in hand, we hopped back in the truck and and drove through the cemetery.
Locating our curb number, we pulled over and walked the rows.
Within moments, the kids had located the plot of Chris’ grandfather…his mom’s father. This was exciting! It was like we had found a puzzle piece.
Chris had never met Grandpa Bowden, but this encounter…with a name etched in stone…it seemed to spark curiosity in all of us. Sadly, my mother-in-law had lost her father around the same age that Chris was, when he had lost his father.
We hopped in the truck and headed for our next stop, Mount Moriah Cemetery, where Chris’ Great-Grandparents, on his father’s side, were buried. To our dismay, we arrived after the office had closed and this was also, a ginormous cemetery…so we were not going to locate our plots without some help. We decided to return in the morning.
Only ten minutes away, we found the home where Chris’ mom had lived as a child. How sweet that he now has an image of this home, to put with the stories he has heard, about her youth. I would love to see an old photo and compare what has changed.
We then ventured downtown.
Fortunately for us, we do have a dear, old Uncle…Uncle Derrell, a Kansas City native. He is so sweet. Prior to our arrival he provided me with an all-star sight-seeing list for the city. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to see or do most of it…but I now have my bucket-list for our next trip! Thanks Uncle D.
We were able to find the Lewis & Clark Sculpture on Clark’s Point (in Case Park), at Uncle Derrell’s suggestion. What a beautiful spot! It’s the perfect place to survey the Missouri River Valley and brush up on your Lewis & Clark history. You can find information on it HERE.
It is also a beautiful backdrop for a photo shoot…
We then walked through a super cute area downtown that was totally rockin’ the hipster-foodie scene and filled our bellies.
I love this photo here, where Chris is calling Uncle Derrell to share our Kansas City moment with him (those two have a way of making each other laugh)…
As it was getting late and the rain was increasing, we called it a night, but not before a stop at Trader Joe’s! Yes, these kids from Cali still love our Trader Joe…and there happened to be one in Kansas City. This was only our second visit since the New Year…and I was going crazy without my favorite staples.
We also drove past some of the cities gorgeous fountains. I would love to plan a fountain tour when we return and hopefully have a bit less rain.
The next morning we were up and out of the campground nice and early, with our little home in tow. And this is my favorite part of story….
We pulled into Mount Moriah Cemetery in Kansas City and asked for the plot location of Chris’ great-grandparents. After several attempts…even checking the “old hard-copy records” in the basement…we were told that there was no record of Leonard Sylvanus (Syl) & Carrie Barry at this location. What?!?! We were so disappointed…how could this be? Almost ready to give up, I wasn’t sure what to do…Chris went to the car….we were all so bummed.
Then, I decided to hop on Facebook and check the Barry Family genealogy group, which some of the Missouri relatives had created for Chris’ side of the family. Thankfully, I had posted that we were in route to Missouri, the week prior. Some sweet ladies in the group happen to reply with a suggestion, that we should look for the burial site of the daughter and son-in-law…and that the parents would be near by. I mentioned this to the lovely lady in the office, who found it hard to believe that these names could be missing from the cemetery records. I, was not deterred. This was just the motivation that I needed!
I gathered the plot information for Great-Grandpa Syl’s daughter and son-in-law and we took the truck (yes, pulling the fifth wheel) through the cemetery on our scavenger hunt.
Once again, we located the curb number and then eagerly all dashed out of the car on a hunt. Within moments we located Nora and Ward Daniels…and then, we all fanned out. And guess what! Chris’ great-grandparents were indeed buried here. It was so exciting…you would of thought that we were treasure hunters or something!
How awesome, right? What started as my teenager’s hobby was now excitement for all of us! We all began to ask questions and the fire was fueled. Who are our ancestors? How ironic that before our side of the Barry family moved to California, the family was settled in the town of California, Missouri. These Barry’s must love their California’s. And what about my side of the family?…I think that we will have to work-in some more heritage explorations into our travel. Don’t you agree?
We realized a bit too late, that Chris’ uncle and grandparents were at yet another cemetery in Kansas City, however we had to move on…as we were headed to see family in Nebraska and our time had run out.
We learned so much….there is no question that we will return again. A few thoughts from this road trip:
When visiting a cemetery for family genealogy: I will now call ahead of time to see if I can possibly get the plot information emailed to me. This would give us flexibility in our arrival time. Otherwise, we should allow an extra hour for researching the plot information in the office.
We were so blessed at both cemetery locations, as the staff was kind and incredibly helpful.
And here is our Kansas City Bucket List for future travels:
- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
- National World War I Museum & Memorial
- Union Station
- Country Club Plaza
- KC Fountain tour
What an adventure this was! I wonder if my kids will remember this genealogy hunt, years down the road…and have this image in their minds as they tell the story to their own children: