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Thomas Crittendon
Author: 
John McKerley

One of the defining aspects of “Boss” Thomas J. Pendergast’s “machine” politics was its approach to African American voters. During the early 20th century, at a time when black people were routinely excluded from the vote by Democratic regimes in most of the former slave South, Pendergast’s Democratic organization in Kansas City succeeded in part by attracting considerable black support. While such support was not unique to Kansas City—black Missourians never lost the vote in the same way or degree as their counterparts farther South—historians often point to the city as an example of early black political realignment toward a Northern Democratic Party based in urban, industrial centers and at increasing odds with its Southern wing over the issue of civil rights.

General Hospital No. 2 Exterior
Author: 
Jason Roe

"They did not try to build something ‘good enough for Negroes’ but something as good as money could buy." This is how Chester Arthur Franklin, the Republican founder of The Call newspaper and one of Kansas City’s most prominent black leaders, greeted the newly constructed eight-story building that housed General Hospital No. 2, serving the indigent African American population of Kansas City. When the new building opened on March 2, 1930, national public health experts joined the local black and white communities in considering the new facility to be the finest black public hospital in the nation, even rivaling some of the best white public hospitals with its state-of-the-art equipment and modern architecture.

Joseph Shannon
Author: 
Mary Frances Ivey

Joseph “Joe” Shannon presided over Kansas City’s Northside Democratic Party from the early 20 th century to 1930, after which he relocated to Washington, D.C., for a 14-year tenure as a U.S. Congressman. Shannon’s political career was marked by his Jeffersonian Democratic views and his tenuous relationships with brothers James and Tom Pendergast.

Mary McElroy
Author: 
Jason Roe

One of Kansas City's most sensational and ultimately tragic crimes began on May 27, 1933 with the kidnapping of Mary McElroy, the daughter of controversial city manager Henry F. McElroy, who had close ties to the political machine operated by “Boss” Tom Pendergast. She was released after 34 hours of captivity, following payment of a $30,000 ransom, but she never recovered from the emotional turmoil that ensued.

Union Station
Author: 
Jason Roe

On June 17, 1933, four law enforcement officers and their prisoner, Frank Nash, were fatally wounded in a botched rescue attempt outside Union Station. The story of the Union Station Massacre, as it became known, centered on Frank Nash, who had been convicted of three separate crimes of a serious nature: murder, armed burglary, and then assault.

Home of Jackson County Democratic Party boss, Thomas J. Pendergast, at 5650 Ward Parkway, built by the J. C. Nichols Company. This vantage point faces west on Ward Parkway, just north of 57th Street.

Indictment for Criminal Case No. 14458: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. In this indictment, the defendant is charged with income tax fraud for the calendar years 1935 and 1936. Pendergast reported $117,378.41 in gross income in 1936 while the true figure was $356,365.33. His reported gross income figured to only $25,481.11 in income tax due; his actual earnings required him to pay $195,682.15.

Date: 
April 7th 1939

Order for capias and bond in Criminal Case No. 14458: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. In this document, Judge Merrill E. Otis orders the arrest of Thomas J. Pendergast for income tax fraud. His bond for appearance is $10,000.

Date: 
April 7th 1939

Capias for Thomas J. Pendergast in Criminal Case No. 14458: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. This capias commands H. L. Dillingham, U.S. Marshal, to arrest Thomas J. Pendergast for income tax fraud. His bond for appearance is $10,000.

Date: 
May 9th 1939

Recognizance for appearance in court for Criminal Case No. 14458: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. In this document, Thomas J. Pendergast asserts that he will appear before court on May 7, 1936 to answer for charges of income tax fraud.

Date: 
April 7th 1939

Letter from Chief U.S. Probation Officer Lewis J. Grout to Judge Merrill E. Otis concerning Criminal Case No. 14458: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. In this letter, Grout affirms that despite newspaper reports, T. J. Pendergast has not participated in political activities since his release from prison. These actions would be a violation of Pendergast's parole. During this time, Pendergast was accused of directing Harry Truman's political campaign.

Date: 
July 17th 1940

Letter from Pardon Attorney Daniel M. Lyons to Judge Merrill E. Otis concerning Criminal Case No. 14458: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. In this letter, Lyons requests Judge Otis's view on the prospect of executive clemency for T. J. Pendergast's remaining parole.

Date: 
August 10th 1943

Letter from Judge Merrill E. Otis to Pardon Attorney Daniel M. Lyons concerning Criminal Case No. 14458: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. In this reply, Judge Otis denies Lyon's request for T. J. Pendergast's release from probation, despite letters of support by James M. Kemper, Howard Cook, J. C. Nichols, E. F. Swinney, Herbert M. Woolf, Chester C. Smith, Burris Jenkins, Thomas McGee, A. Sophian, Father Thomas B. McDonald, and B. C. Adams.

Date: 
August 13th 1943

Order for Criminal Case No. 14458: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. In this document, Judge Merrill E. Otis orders a copy of the letter from Daniel M. Lyons to Otis and Otis's reply to be filed with the aforementioned case.

Date: 
August 13th 1943

Considerations for the decision of sentence for Criminal Case No. 14459: United States vs. Robert Emmet O'Malley, Defendant. In this document, Judge Merrill E. Otis reviews the sentence that he imposed upon T. J. Pendergast in Criminal Case No. 14458, so that Otis may more accurately sentence Robert Emmet O'Malley in the present case.

Date: 
May 1939

Order detailing O'Malley's probation for Criminal Case No. 14459: United States vs. Robert Emmet O'Malley, Defendant. In this document, Judge Merrill E. Otis outlines the details of O'Malley's probation followed by a memorandum that clarifies custody and parole conditions of the defendant.

Date: 
February 16th 1940

Indictment for Criminal Case No. 14567: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. In this indictment, the defendant is charged with income tax fraud for the calendar years 1935 and 1936. Pendergast reported $117,378.41 in gross income in 1936 while the true figure was $441,115.33. His reported gross income figured to only $25,481.11 in income tax due; his actual earnings required him to pay $255,608.95.

Date: 
May 2nd 1939

Capias for Thomas J. Pendergast in Criminal Case No. 14567: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. This capias commands H. L. Dillingham, U.S. Marshal, to arrest Thomas J. Pendergast for income tax fraud. His bond for appearance is $10,000.

Date: 
May 9th 1939

Recognizance for appearance in court for Criminal Case No. 14567: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. In this document, Thomas J. Pendergast asserts that he will appear before court on May 7, 1936 to answer for charges of income tax fraud.

Date: 
May 2nd 1939

Judgment and commitment for Criminal Case No. 14567: United States vs. Thomas J. Pendergast, Defendant. After his plea of guilty, Pendergast is sentenced to a total of one year and three months in a federal penitentiary, followed by five years of probation. Pendergast is also fined $10,000.00. The document then lists the details of the defendant's probation.

Date: 
May 22nd 1939

Pages

KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.