Archive for Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Five things you might not know about Basehor

An old photo of what is now 155th Street that hangs in the Basehor Historical Museum. The buildings depicted were burnt down in several Basehor fires that nearly wiped out the city's former business district.

An old photo of what is now 155th Street that hangs in the Basehor Historical Museum. The buildings depicted were burnt down in several Basehor fires that nearly wiped out the city's former business district.

February 18, 2014

Basehor is a town with more history than some may realize. Everyone knows it was established by the Basehor brothers, but do you know how much each of them was worth at the time of their deaths? Here is a collection of some fun facts, with help from the Carla Crawford at the Basehor Historical Museum, that even longtime residents may not know.

1. A place to stay

Three hotels have called Basehor home since 1910, the latest being the Commercial 40 Hotel, established in 1940. Prior to the Commercial 40, there was the Basehor Hotel, established in 1920, and the Hotel Mayfield, established in 1910.

All three hotels were located on what used to be Basehor's "Main Street," which is now 155th Street near the current Fairmount Township Fire Station.

2. A first for Leavenworth County

The first brick house in Leavenworth County, according to the Basehor Historical Museum.

The first brick house in Leavenworth County, according to the Basehor Historical Museum.

The founding brothers of Basehor, Ephraim and Reuben Basehor, built as their home the first brick house in Leavenworth county in 1879. The building stands now as a rental property at the northeast corner of 155th Terrace and Ripley Street.

3. Trial by fire

Basehor's former main business district, where the current Fairmount Fire Station and City Hall are located, has been rebuilt three times because of devastating fires.

A photo hanging in the Basehor Historical Museum shows what the main business district of Basehor looked like nearly a century ago.

A photo hanging in the Basehor Historical Museum shows what the main business district of Basehor looked like nearly a century ago.

The most active area in Basehor at that time would have been the current intersection of 155th Street and Hickory Street. The intersection was loaded with a lumber mill, banks and hotels, all of which had to either be rebuilt or were lost to the flames.

The last fire happened in January 1934 and completely decimated the area. The fire began on the roof of Frank White's general store on the west side of the street and destroyed five buildings.

The Basehor Historical Museum says there are no records of what caused the fires.

An information plaque at the museum states that the 1934 fire was so destructive that it made Basehor's business district "lay dormant" until the end of World War II.

4. Keeping up with the Basehors

Although Ephraim and Reuben Basehor are both credited with establishing the city of Basehor, the brothers ended their lives with very different estate worths.

Reuben Basehor, known as the scholar, educator and promoter of schools and libraries died, on Jan. 15, 1910, at the age of 77. According to the Basehor Historical Museum, the appraised value of his personal assets, cash in bank notes and mortgages at the time of his death totaled $17,137.

A monument in honor of Reuben and Ephraim Basehor sits on the
southwest corner of 158th and Parallel as electric crews in the
distance finish work to power the display lights. A dedication
ceremony will be this Sunday afternoon for the city founders.

A monument in honor of Reuben and Ephraim Basehor sits on the southwest corner of 158th and Parallel as electric crews in the distance finish work to power the display lights. A dedication ceremony will be this Sunday afternoon for the city founders.

The holdings of Reuben's brother Ephraim Basehor, meanwhile, had an appraised value of $164,594 when he died on March 28, 1922.

Ephraim's appraised worth was derived from the value of his bonds, secured and unsecured notes and all real estate. He was known as a businessman, owner of many properties and builder of much of the town.

5. War on alcohol

In 1900, about 20 years into Prohibition in Kansas, a Law and Order League sought to remove alcohol from the shelves of Basehor's only drug store, and more than 100 people fought to protect the local store.

A counter petition defending the drug store signed by 103 men attempted to ward off the league, which declared that all alcohol sales must be abolished and that Dr. H. H. Johnson, who owned Johnson Drug Co., was illegally selling alcohol as a medical remedy at his store.

"This is a war to the death," the Law and Order League wrote in their report (copies of which can be found at the Basehor Historical Museum). "Basehor must either go dry and remain dry, or the joint business will become an unbearable curse."

Johnson Drug Co. was located near the current intersection of 155th Street and Hickory Street. The drug store was eventually closed despite the response from Basehor citizens.

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