Kauffman Garden’s Smallest Critters

It is a glorious season at Kauffman Gardens.  The fall flowers are in full bloom or blooming.  The air is cool.


It is a busy time of year in the garden.  Not only are visitors spread throughout the garden, the insects are everywhere. they seem to thrive in the cooler weather.  In their ways, the insects are as fascinating as the garden that attracts them.

Monarch butterflies are in abundance, with their brilliant orange and black wings and spotted bodies.


While incredibly destructive in large numbers, this grasshopper was all alone, enjoying the banquet that surrounded him.


This wings of this moth were so pale in color they seem to have disappeared from the page.  However, the photograph reflects, its yellow body matched the flowers that surrounded it.


Not as vibrant as its neighbors, this moth is a sharp contrast to the colors of the vibrant pink and green.


The bees everywhere were busy as they darted from flower to flower.  None of the insects paid the slightest attention to each other or the human visitors.  All of them worked hard as though their own survival–and the beauty of the garden–depend on their work.  Probably they do.


Hope you find a bit of nature to enjoy and explore.  Happy weekend.


View From My Window

Oh, how I envy Meg’s California vistas.  The ocean, the rocks and the shore.  I haven’t even mentioned the vineyards.

But late last week I was reminded that Kansas City also has some great views.  When my co-worker encouraged me to look out my office window I was surprised and delighted with the simple beauty of the late afternoon skyline.  Hope you like these photographs “from my window”.

These pictures are taken facing West from the Jackson County Courthouse.  They were taken at about 5:00 p.m. as the sun was setting.  The combination of the rich color of the sky, combined with the lights from the city structures are a simple reminder of the loveliness of city life.


Even within the course of a few minutes, the colors of the sky changed dramatically.


Enjoy, and have a great weekend.

In Search Of The Harris Family Burial Grounds

The late 1850’s was a period of unrest and pending rebellion in mid-Missouri.  Family members were pitted against each other as they divided between Union and Confederate sympathies.  It divided the nation.  It divided my family, with brother literally fighting against brother.  Private Moses Harris, died in 1862 fighting with Union forces (1st NE Cavalry Regiment Missouri Home Guard). Jonathan M. Harris, died in 1910, years after serving for the Confederate army under General Price. Stephen Wheeler Harris, fought with Union troops and died in 1926.  All of the brothers are united with other family members buried in the Harris Cemetery.  But my grandmother, Minerva Harris Wright is not there.  She left in about 1855, never to return.

I have vague memories of a photograph of my great-grandfather, Samuel X Wright,[1] taken in the late 1940’s on the front porch of my grandparents’ home in Independence. Until about 2008, I knew nothing about Samuel or his family.  Eventually, I learned that shortly before the Civil War, Samuel’s parents, Samuel Wright and Minerva Harris, moved from Minerva’s family home in Saline County, Mo., to Atchison, Mo. and eventually settled in Atchison, Ks.

It was a shock when I learned that Minerva ran off with Samuel, the husband of Minerva’s older sister, Ruth Ann (“Ruthy”).[2]  Ultimately Samuel left Minerva and moved West. I do not know the rest of the story.  But I am reminded by civil war historians that the disruption in families caused by the pending conflict left wounds that divided families forever.

But I knew none of that.  It was only piece by piece that I began to uncover the basic facts about my Harris ancestors.  My research did reveal that Minerva’s parents were Timothy Harris (1803-1877) and Mary Teeters (1800-1850).  Saline County records confirm that Timothy and Mary are buried in the Harris Family Burial Ground/Cemetery, adjacent to the original Harris farm.   Timothy’s father, Jonathan Harris, who served in the War of 1812, and died after 1830, is probably is buried there as well. When I discovered that the family cemetery was adjacent to the Harris lands, it became important to me to discover it’s location.

My search for the location of Harris Family Cemetery was a challenging process. It was easier to trace my Harris ancestors back to Albemarle Virginia, where Timothy’s parents, Jonathan Harris and his wife, Ann Heard, were raised as neighbors, than to find a cemetery less than 150 miles from Kansas City.

I received help from the librarian in the Genealogy department of the Marshall Mo. public library.  But it wasn’t until my third trip along Highway O, just North of Slater, Mo. that I found it.  Even when I found the right road, the deteriorated condition of the cemetery made it difficult to see from the road. (Country Road 108).  Having finally found it, I struggled with the tall, dense weeds and grass covering the cemetery, as well as my fear of snakes.  I left the cemetery with few pictures and much frustration.

More than a year after my discovery of the cemetery, Terry and I made a return trip on January 26, 2013. We packed sandwiches, our dog, my camera and directions to the exact location and headed out on Saturday morning.


For anyone who cares, the directions to the cemetery are:

From Kansas City, drive on Highway 70 to the Marshall, Mo. exit.  Take the turnoff to Highway 65.  Drive to Marshall.  Exit at the Slater exit, Highway 240.  When you arrive at Slater, you will see a Casey’s General Store.  Highway 240 intersects with Broadway at Casey’s General Store.  Follow IMG_2253Broadway a couple of block until it turns into Highway O [3] Follow Highway O North until you reach 357th Street. (Country Road 108 was renamed last year.)

IMG_2254If you reach Highway F, you have gone too far. [4]  F begins at 357th Street.

Turn left at 357th Street.  About 1 1/2 miles down this road there is a simple bridge at the bottom of a hill.  The house at the top of the next hill has an address that reads 30643. IMG_2244Directly across from the house, on the South Side of 357th, is the cemetery.  It is identifiable (if at all) by the wood fence on the North and West sides of the cemetery.  The total distance from Casey’s to the cemetery is a total of only 7.9 miles.  It seems much further!

The cemetery is in a serious state of neglect.  I was only able to identify the names on 4 stones. None of them are stones of my direct ancestors, though I recognize the names of their children and other relatives from my research.   Because of the heavy grass and weeds underfoot, it is apparent that stones hidden under the grass will be almost impossible to find unless, and until, the grass is mowed, macheted or burned.  I will include photographs of the stones we located so that you can get a sense of the site.

S.W. Harris, a Civil War veteran, is Minerva’s brother.


I have not identified the relationship of Rachel Harris, who died August 22, 1929.  She may be Rachel Ferrel, wife of John H. Harris, who records reflect is buried in the cemetery.


J.W. Gauldin may be the husband of Patsy Harris Gauldin.


Try as I might, this stone was illegible.


Willie Wycoff is unknown to me.  Obviously, additional research is required!


This stone is for another member of the Gauldin family.


My own great-great-grandparents are not buried here.  After moving away from Saline County, my research suggests that they never returned and had no further contact with Minerva’s family.  My quest for my family roots continues.


[1]  Our family oral history is that Samuel Wright’s family traveled west with Daniel Boone.  There is also some evidence that the Harris family traveled west with members of the Boone family.  The Harris’s and Heard’s, Timothy’s parents families, lived together in Albemarle, Virginia in the 1700’s before moving through Kentucky and into Saline, County, Mo. in about 1819.  Timothy’s mother, Ann Heard, died in Kentucky.  Timothy’s father, Jonathan, may be buried in the Harris Cemetery.

[2]   Ruthy and Samuel were married in Saline, Mo. on Nov. 28, 1847.  They had three children, Tobias, Robert and Martha.  I have never found a marriage license for Minerva and Samuel nor any evidence that Ruthy and Samuel were officially divorced.

[3] Broadway mergers with Highway O.  If you turn left onto O you will head back toward Marshall.  Do not turn left.

[4]  For anyone who has seen directions to the cemetery on the internet, the sign for Country Road 108 is gone.  It is now 357. Highway O turns into Highway F at 357th.  Do not continue on Highway F.

Sunday mornings with Terry–In the shade of Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Terry and I are pretty independent souls.  Our work lives keep us busy during the day and our clubs, committees and boards take much of our spare time.  But Fridays after work and Sunday mornings are our time.  Virtually every Sunday morning you will find us in the car with our dog, Casey, with a destination in mind, preferably pet friendly.  We combine breakfast with a drive through an area of the Kansas City metropolitan area that remains unexplored or, in this case, under-explored. This morning was no exception.

It is hot here.  But Casey would not understand if we don’t include him in the morning explorations. That significantly limits the restaurants where we can eat to those that are dog friendly.   He knows, really knows, the rhythm of our lives and which day of the week is for the three of us.  Today Terry selected a restaurant on the North edge of the Crossroads District of Kansas City.  I walked just a block to photograph this  view of Kauffman, Webster House and the Bartle Hall pylons. Y & J’s Snack Shop is eclectic to say the least.  Obviously a haunt for both young city dwellers and middle age professionals , I had never noticed it until this morning.  But it was inexpensive, the food was good, and Casey was content.  The staff even provided water for pets. The aesthetics of the so-called “snack bar” were minimalist at best.  Tiny, with a kitchen smaller than my own, the cook served such standards as bacon and egg sandwiches, coffee and a variety of breads.  The decor was not even shabby-chic, it was just shabby.  The door was covered with stickers of various sorts.  The tables and chairs were plastic and metal.  Nothing really matched.  But the environment was casual and accepting.  Obviously, many patrons were regulars and felt right at home.  Even for first timers it was a happy place to spend some time.  We wandered the block or so surrounding Y & J’S, and were surprised by the variety of retail stores, coffee shops, businesses and an urban garden, all sharing adjoining spaces.  I can’t even tell you the address, because street signs were few and far between.  But one business had prominently displaced its address as 1818 something.  It was a true urban experience made more satisfying because we know it is part of the rebirth of our central city.

Send me dead flowers

In their 1971 album, Sticky Fingers, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones encouraged their audience to “Send me dead flowers”.  Other artists also have written about dead flowers.  There are even bands named Dead Flowers–Joe Getty & The Dead Flowers, David Yellen Band & The Dead Flowers and a fun rock band simply named “Dead Flowers”.

They obviously weren’t talking about this particular flower.  But they could have been!

So dead head your flowers if its time, but don’t forget to stop and appreciate the beauty of a dead flower.

“Making Water Fluid” From Snapshots to Great Shots

Anyone who follows our blog knows that I am struggling to master my camera.  I bought Rob Sylvan’s Nikon D5100 From Snapshots to Great Shots, and am making baby steps toward improving my technique.  Chapter 7 on Landscape Photography explains how to get shots with silky or “smooth-flowing” water.  Among the recommendations is to set the ISO at 200 or lower and the shutter speed at 1/15th of a second or slower.

I followed the directions, sort of, and ended up with water that is silky to frozen. The shot was taken at Kauffman Garden, in Kansas City, Mo.  Too me it looks much like glass.

I hope you like it.  If you do like it, give credit to Mr. Sylvan, if you don’t, I guarantee, the fault is all mine.

Everything’s up to date in Kansas City–For the 2012 All Star Game

July 10, 2012: the American and National Leagues’ best players compete in the 83rd All Star Game, right here in Kansas City.  If you live here, you just can’t avoid the excitement.  Cowtown has always been in love with sport–and celebrations of all sorts. We also love to show off our city.  The best of all worlds for us.

Kansas City is all spiffed up to look its best for the athletes, their wives, the fans and the tourists who have blessed our fair city with their presence, and their dollars.  And everything is blue.  Bright blue.  Fountains on the Country Club Plaza, Barney Allis Plaza and at Crown Center spew out vivid blue water.

The last All Star game in Kansas City was in 1973.  The National League won.  39 years later, we are ready to again host this spectacular event.  In fact 3 days of special events are being scheduled throughout the Kansas City to Plaza corridor, all of the places that most symbolize our home town spirit.  Well, and Kauffman Stadium, of course!

Hotels in and around Kansas City are full.  Streets on the Plaza began to close by late afternoon Sunday in preparation for Tuesday’s parade. This giant baseball sits on Wornall Road, adjacent to Michael Kors, on the Plaza.  It is directly on the route of the All star parade scheduled Tuesday afternoon.

Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers and Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants face each other as starting pitchers.  Kansas City’s only home town player is Billy Butler.  But every Royals fan will be rooting for him.  Kauffman Stadium is all dressed up and ready to take center stage.   There is so much energy in the air.

Kansas City takes great pride in showing off our wonderful city during the festivities.  Not only are key intersections labeled with All Star regalia, even fire hydrants have been painted for the occasion, blue of course.

There are decorations on store windows, intersections and even a bit of whimsy on the lamp poles.  As the day ends Monday, it is quiet on the Plaza.  The entertainment tonight is at Kauffman Stadium.The game culminates tomorrow’s events.

Even the elegant Intercontinental Hotel has succumbed to baseball fever, and shares the frenzy for royal blue.

Take us out to the ballgame!