|It’s Your Museum--Enjoy!
By Carolyn A. Larsen, Curator
The following is a sketch of one of many women
who came to this area in Weston’s early years.
Many times little is written about these women
and instead the focus is on the husband, father,
male citizen. From time to time I hope to write
about some of these women.
Sarah Grace Wilkinson was born in Wicklow,
Ireland, January 20, 1845, and raised in
England. She came with her family through
Ireland where they lived for twelve years before
sailing to the new world. Shortly after she and
her parents arrived in Weston her father opened
a small distillery in partnership with Capt.
Grace first met here and later married John
Adam Durkes who came to this country from
Germany. They were one of the first couples to
be married in the Episcopal church on
Washington and Thomas streets.
Adam and Grace first lived within the city but later
moved to a new house that Adam had built for
them on a farm one mile west of Weston. The
Durkes farm was something of a mecca for the
young people of the entire area. Grace had a
lovely English accent and loved to tell and read
stories, mostly Biblical in nature, to the many
guests who came. She also loved telling stories
about England and Ireland. She was a Episcopal
Sunday School teacher and an enthusiastic
leader in much of the work in her church.
While her husband was first a farmer, he started
a hobby of small fruit farming. The hobby
became a full time occupation and Grace loved
filling her cellar with jellies, preserves and other
products she made from the fruit. Proud of her
husband and his work in the orchards she also
encouraged his work with the Platte County
While little regular farming--crops, cattle, and
hogs--was not done anymore on the farm, Grace
continued to raise chickens for eggs and food. In
March of 1914 she had 256 baby chicks that
hatched and she was very busy keeping them
warm and alive. She also loved to garden and in
1927 proudly showed off a peony bush that had
been in her garden for sixty years.
Theirs was a loving and lively home with their
children and the children of friends in and out
constantly. They were allowed to pick fruit from
the orchards and many people came to the
Durkes home to purchase items from the
nursery that Adam had begun. Here too, Grace
was a helpmate in caring for the young plants
and watching over them while Adam, now a
noted horticulturist, was often gone on speaking
engagements to and for the horticultural
societies of Platte County and the State of
Adam died in June of 1917. Grace followed
twelve years later, at the age of 84, February
1929. The two are buried side by side in
Graceland Cemetery in Weston.
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Weston Historical Museum
|It’s Your Museum--Enjoy!
By Carolyn A. Larsen, Curator
Through its history, Weston was hit with two
major fires in its earlier years. The one I will talk
about today occurred in December 1896. It was
Friday, Dec. 4th, at 2:45 in the afternoon. The fire
originated on the second floor of the old furniture
factory on Main Street, owned by Railey & Bro.
Mayor Walruff, seeing that the entire town was in
danger, telephoned to Fort Leavenworth for
assistance. They refused to send over their
chemical engine but sent Lieutenant Howard
with thirty-five men over at 5:15 who offered his
Sparks from the flames flew all over, especially
toward the north part of town, all of which were
promptly put out by the citizens of Weston, with
the exception of the Baptist church and it, along
with the furniture factory were burned to the
ground. The two-story residence of R.H. Mundy,
next to the church, was badly damaged.
During the fire all the merchants moved their
goods into the streets. None of the stock was
damaged by fire but the damage to some is
heavy from breakage and from being lost in the
The origin of the fire was never ascertained with
any full degree of satisfaction, as the building
was unoccupied at the time. It was thought that
perhaps tramps or crap shooters dropped a
cigar or cigarette on the floor after they had
obtained entrance into the building.
Following is a list of buildings damaged and
destroyed and if insured or not:
Three-story warehouse,150 feet long, 50 feet
wide; owned by Railey Bros., total loss; $1000.00
First Baptist church, two story brick, total loss. No
Two story brick, formerly occupied by bank,
damaged in rear, insured.
Opera house, owned by R. Shenkner, damaged,
Brick building occupied by A.H. O’Dowd,
undertaker, slight damage, insured.
Brick building occupied by M.V. Schindler,
damage. Stock removed, insured.
Brick building occupied by J.W. Coburn,
damaged. Library removed, not insured.
Brick building occupied by W.A. Roelle, boot and
shoes, stock and building slightly damaged,
Brick building occupied by Thomas Barton,
wholesale liquor dealer, and owned by W.G.
Noble, slight damage.
Two brick buildings owned by William Linn, and
occupied by Paul Vogelman, bakery, and Sebus
& Haas, general merchandise, stock and
building slightly damaged.
In the months following the fire, Weston
Chronicle editor, B.J. Bless, Jr., heavily
editorialized about the need for good fire
equipment, plenty of it and the need for training
for the men using the equipment. In 1897 the city
fathers decided to purchase the needed
This all comes from the file of the Fire
Department in your museum. C’mon in and see
what great information we have here. We’d love
to see you.
As you know, school is now back in session for
another year and football season has also
started. The following is an article about a W.H.S.
vs. Platte City Possums football game. It came
from the “Jo Dill” souvenir edition of The Weston
Chronicle, in December of 1914. This spirited
game, between arch rivals took place ninety-
three years ago.
“For a half hour after the game was finished not
a Platte City lad was seen in Weston, and not
one has shown up since. But the saddest part of
the whole business was that the P.C. mascot
was not given a chance to exhibit itself to the
assembled multitude. This refers to the possum
that had been carefully prepared by the Platte
City rooters and labeled with sundry sentences
reflecting on Weston’s supposed slowness, and
which was to have been released on the ball
ground in view of the crowd if the Platte City team
had won the game. But they didn’t win, so his
possumship didn’t materialize, but faded away
into the eastern distance along with his owners.
The score, 10 to 6 in favor of Weston, was made
by a drop kick by Waters in the second quarter, a
touch down by Elmer Hall and a kick goal in the
third quarter. Touch down was made on a
forward pass. The game was regular old line
football with fine team work by the Weston boys.
The referee was Harrison of St. Joseph and the
umpire was Miller of Camden Point. The Weston
team is composed of Corwin Adkins, John Cain,
Paul Shouse, A. J. Lober, Wilburn Taulbee,
Charles Summerfield, John Dale, Sam Roberts,
Leo Evans, Tom Burns, Paul Waters, George
Marr, Elmer Hall, Frank Hollied and Brownie
At the time of this game, our mascot was an owl.
Wonder when Platte City went from being the
Possums to the Pirates?
The picture of the 1914 team is included but
identifications are not made. With the list of
names in this column, can anyone identify the
players in the photo?
There is much more on our football teams down
through the years. Interested? Come see us at
the museum, we’ll let you see all of it.
|Weston Historical Museum
601 Main Street - Weston, MO 64098
|Weekly columns written by a former curator
Carolyn Bless Larsen,
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