Relatively little is known about the life of Saturnino Alvarado, but through his legal fight to ensure that his two children and another, Marcos de Leon, would be admitted into Argentine High School in the fall of 1926, his impact on the lives of Hispanic Americans in the Kansas City area was profound and enduring. Alvarado was born November 29, 1883, in Michoacan, Mexico, to Justo and Juanita Chavez Alvarado. He was a shoe cobbler and established a shoe repair shop in the Argentine District of Kansas City, Kansas, after his family immigrated to the United States. When his first wife Concepcion Franco died, he remarried Guadalupe Araujo.
For a half a century starting in 1895, Rev. Samuel W. Bacote was the pastor of Second Baptist Church, one of the oldest and largest black churches in Kansas City. The son of former slaves, Bacote was also a scholar, a writer, and a nationally prominent figure in the Baptist church.
H. Roe Bartle was an expansive man. Everything about him was unrestrained: his booming voice, his adherence to the Boy Scout code of conduct, and the enthusiasm with which he served as mayor. Bartle's service with the Boy Scouts took him and his family to Wyoming, St. Joseph, and finally here as the Executive of the Kansas City Area Council in 1929. His accomplishments included establishing the elite Tribe of Mic-O-Say in 1925 and acquiring the Ozark acreage for Camp Osceola (now named the Roe Bartle Reservation) in 1929. Under Bartle, nicknamed "Chief," Boy Scouting in the area flourished and earned nationwide recognition.
In the rich and celebrated musical history of Kansas City, few individuals are more closely associated with hard-swinging, riff-based Kansas City jazz style than Count Basie. The Count Basie Orchestra became both the best known and the longest-lived big band to emerge from this region, and Basie made Kansas City jazz nationally and internationally renowned.
Albert I. Beach served as mayor of Kansas City from 1924 to 1930. Under his administration, a new city charter was voted in that established a city manager form of government for Kansas City.
Born in Quebec, Alfred Benjamin and his family moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he began working as a clerk at the Abernathy Furniture Company. In 1880, the company opened a branch store in Kansas City and the family moved here, where Benjamin soon became first vice-president of the company. It was rumored that he gave as much as 50 percent of his annual income to charities, a reputation that inspired a namesake medical organization named the Alfred Benjamin Dispensary.
Thomas Hart Benton, one of the leaders of the Regionalist movement in American art, was a prolific painter, muralist, draughtsman, and sculptor from childhood until the end of his life in 1975. Today he is best known for his realist depictions of American life, which, in his own time, were perceived as directly opposed to modernist movements cultivated in Europe. His paintings, largely vignettes of daily life and ordinary rural characters, were simultaneously praised for their frankness and criticized for their gritty representations of American culture and history.
Tom Baird was associated for many years, and in many capacities, with the Kansas City Monarchs—as a booking agent, officer, co-owner and, finally, as sole owner of one of the most successful and innovative teams in the history of the Negro Baseball Leagues . His alliance with J. L. Wilkinson, the team’s founder, lasted almost the entire span of the Negro leagues, from the formation of the first viable league of all-black teams until the demise of black baseball following the integration of the major leagues.
Tom Bass is credited as a founder of the American Royal Horse Show, where for years he was the only African American allowed to exhibit. During a career that spanned half a century, he won competitions at every horse show in the country, earned more than 2,000 blue ribbons, and won championships at two world's fairs.
Charles Binaggio was a gangster who fought his way to the top of the underworld heap more through politics than crime. A trim, well-dressed "man of lethal calm," as he was once described, Binaggio was a lieutenant in the political machine of Tom Pendergast and had close ties to crime boss Johnny Lazia. When Pendergast fell from power in 1939 and his organization started to unravel, Binaggio emerged as the new leader of the city’s underworld and ran much of Kansas City in the 1940s.
For 30 years, Annie Ridenbaugh Bird enjoyed the conventionally genteel life of a prominent merchant’s wife. The last 17 years before she died in 1937 were far less traditional. She served as president of the city’s largest commercial establishment, the Emery, Bird, Thayer & Co. and is believed to be the first Kansas City woman to hold such a position.
From 1918, John B. Bisceglia was a pastor, social worker, teacher, scholar, and civic leader in charge of the Italian Mission of the Central Presbyterian Church. The energetic, young pastor immediately swung into action, starting programs and ministering to his flock. A kindergarten came first, then a free nursery school for working mothers. Sports teams and organizations like Boy Scouts and Campfire Girls followed. A free clinic was established, as well as adult education programs and mothers clubs. He instituted a Sunday evening service in Italian.
In October 1894 in the midst of a nationwide depression, Edwin Brigham, a 20-year old printer from Kirksville, Missouri, stepped off a train in Kansas City hoping to find work. Little did he know that this would mark the beginning of a 52-year career in social service helping thousands of homeless men and women in Kansas City. From 1898 to 1950, “Terry” as his close friends knew him, was superintendent of the Helping Hand Institute. Housed in a former saloon at 4th and Main, the institute provided food, lodging, and work for homeless and destitute men on the city’s North End.
Girard Bryant was a highly respected teacher and school administrator in Kansas City for 45 years. As a community leader, he took an active part in major social issues of the day, particularly education, race relations, health care and law enforcement. Bryant came to Kansas City in 1926 to teach at Western Baptist Seminary and later at the Kansas Vocational School in Topeka. He became a teacher in the Kansas City School District in 1930 and remained with the district until 1964. During his long tenure he filled many positions, including teacher and vice-principal at Lincoln High School, and dean of Lincoln Junior College.
On March 24, 1935, Annie Chambers, a former prostitute and Kansas City brothel owner, passed away at the age of 92. By the time of her death, Chambers's own life had roughly paralleled Kansas City's untamed years of the late 19th century, which were followed by extensive modernization and reform efforts in the early 20th century.
A physician and author who sometimes blurred the line between rake and raconteur, Logan M. Clendening became a folk hero in February 1939, when after repeated diplomatic attempts to silence a jackhammer in use on a construction project near his home at 56 th and State Line, he donned a suit, Homburg hat, kid gloves, and button-hole carnation, strolled calmly out to the machine, and attempted to destroy it with an axe. He was arrested and served several hours behind bars. Jackhammers like the one he attacked had been in frequent use on unpopular sewer projects sanctioned by political machine boss Tom Pendergast, and many Kansas Citians cheered the doctor’s symbolic blows against a corrupt City Hall.
Richard T. Coles was a Kansas City teacher and principal who not only taught his pupils, but introduced new methods to educate students. Coles initiated the idea in Kansas City of teaching African American grade school children lifetime job skills. His concept conceived a program of industrial training that began providing instructions in skilled fields for children in the fifth grade that continued through high school.
According to her father, R. A. Long, Loula Long Combs’ first sentence was, "Please buy me a pony." Breeding and training horses became Loula's life-long passion. She entered her first horse show in 1896 at a fair in Kansas City’s Fairmount Park. For almost 65 years, her horses won blue ribbons in shows throughout this country, Canada, and England. She won the most ribbons at Kansas City’s American Royal, where she made a yearly appearance well into her 80s. To audiences’ delight, Loula always wore a spectacular hat as she drove her carriage around the show ring.
Over the duration of 40 years at historically black Lincoln High School , Hugh Oliver (H.O.) Cook shaped the school’s culture and curriculum, both as a mathematics and psychology instructor and later as principal of the institution from 1921-1944. A Washington, D.C., native and a graduate of Cornell (with a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Secondary School Administration), Cook’s vision for Lincoln High to serve and connect to the Kansas City region’s black community continued a legacy set by the school’s earlier principals.
For most of his 23-year baseball career, Newt Allen was an integral component of the Kansas City Monarchs , one of the most storied teams in the history of Negro league baseball . A solid hitter and stellar defensive player, Allen was arguably the best second baseman in black baseball during the 1920s and early 1930s.