Commerce Trust Company

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Rufus Crosby, Sr. and James Madison Kemper, Sr.

Rufus Crosby Kemper, who went by R. Crosby or Crosby, was born in 1892 in Valley Falls, Kansas. The family moved to Kansas City in 1893 and lived in homes in the 2600 block of Troost Avenue and at 1000 Westover Road. James Madison Kemper was born in 1894. The Kemper sons attended Kansas City public schools and the University of Missouri, where they played on the football team. Both men also fought in World War I.

William T. Kemper

William Thornton Kemper moved to Kansas City in 1893 and established himself as a grain merchant, working out of the Kansas City Board of Trade. Over the next decade, he reaped profits from several organizations of his own creation: Kemper Mill and Elevator Company, Kemper Mercantile Company, and Kemper Investment Company. An avid Democrat, Kemper had a lifelong taste for politics. He ran for mayor of Kansas City in 1904, losing in a year when the Democratic vote was split by a factional rift. He made another run for mayor in 1906 on an “anti-bossism” platform, but his party's nomination went to the Democratic machine-backed candidate. In the same year, he headed an affiliate of the National Bank of Commerce, and over the next two decades, the bank headed by Kemper evolved into the Commerce Trust Company. Kemper remained interested in politics and served as Missouri's Democratic National Committeeman from 1924-36. 

William T. Kemper, Jr. Biography

Clipping from the Kansas City American on January 10, 1929 featuring a biography of William T. Kemper, Jr. on the occasion of his promotion to president of the First National Bank of Independence.

W. T. Kemper, Sr. at his Annual Picnic

Photograph of W. T. Kemper, Sr. standing near the crowd at his annual picnic and barbecue for employees of Commerce Trust Company and associated banks.

W. T. Kemper Barbecue for Commerce Family Ticket

Entrance ticket to W. T. Kemper, Sr.'s barbecue for employees of Commerce Trust Company and associated banks. It was held on Saturday, June 8, 1935 at 2:30 o'clock at Red Fox Farm, 152nd Street & Holmes Road. Directions indicate to "Follow American Flags West from 152nd."

W. T. Kemper Barbecue for Commerce Family Invitation

Invitation to W. T. Kemper, Sr.'s barbecue for employees of Commerce Trust Company and associated banks. Events include a "Bathing Beauty Contest", "Hog Calling Contest", "Fat Man's Race", "Pipe Smokers race", and others.

W. T. Kemper Annual Picnic for Commerce Family Ticket

Entrance ticket to "W. T. Kemper's Annual Picnic" for employees of Commerce Trust Company and associated banks. It was held on Saturday, June 20, 1936 at 2:00 o'clock at Red Fox Farm, 152nd Street & Holmes Road. Directions indicate to "Follow American Flags West from 152nd."

W. T. Kemper Annual Picnic for Commerce Family Invitation

Invitation to W. T. Kemper, Sr.'s annual picnic and barbecue for employees of Commerce Trust Company and associated banks. Events include a "Ladies Bathing Beauty Contest - eight to eighty (Men Judges)", "Hog Calling Contest", "Fat Man's Race", "Pipe Smokers race", and others.

Soda Pop Stand at W. T. Kemper Annual Picnic

Photograph of the soda pop stand from Setzler's Soda Water Company at W. T. Kemper, Sr.'s annual picnic and barbecue for employees of Commerce Trust Company and associated banks.

Section of Business District, Kansas City, Mo.

Postcard showing a section of the business district in Kansas City, Missouri. This elevated vantage point faces east-northeast and shows the Bell Telephone Building at 11th and Oak (background right), the Federal Reserve Bank and R.A. Long Building at 10th and Grand (background center), and the Commerce Building at 10th and Walnut (foreground left). The back of the postcard includes a short letter to J. Allan Fisher of Independence, Missouri from Kate T. Kittell.

Scenes from W. T. Kemper Annual Picnic

Clipping entitled "Scenes at William T. Kemper's Annual Picnic at Red Fox Farm" from the Kansas City Post on June 21, 1936 showing photographs from W. T. Kemper, Sr.'s annual picnic for employees of Commerce Trust Company and associated banks. Those pictured include W. T. Kemper, Sr., Billy Purdy, W. T. Kemper, Jr., Helen Finch, Diana Sheffield, and Jimmy Lawrence.

Red Fox Farm Lake During W. T. Kemper Annual Picnic

Photograph of Red Fox Farm Lake during W. T. Kemper, Sr.'s annual picnic and barbecue for employees of Commerce Trust Company and associated banks.