Lee’s Summit is a city in Cass and Jackson Counties in the U.S. state of Missouri. The population was estimated at 82,820 in 2008, making it the sixth-largest city in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area and the sixth-largest city in Missouri. In 2006 CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Lee’s Summit 44th on its list of the 100 Best Cities to Live in the United States.
Lee’s Sumit History
Lee’s Summit in the early 20th centuryIn 1912, R.A. Long, the owner of a lumber company, began building his estate, named Longview Farm, on the western edge of the city and into part of Kansas City. When complete, it had a mansion, five barns and 42 buildings in the 1,700 acres (6.9 km2). The farm also had a church, Longview Chapel Christian Church, which was completed in 1915. It soon became internationally known as a showplace farm. Today, one of the horse barns is home to Longview Farm Elementary, and the site of Longview Community College. The church and mansion are on the National Register of Historic Places. Other parts of the farm have been turned into Longview Lake, Longview Community College, and a development called New Longview.
In March 2006, a new City Hall was dedicated replacing one that was considered insufficient for the size of the city. The downtown city hall construction had closed portions of 2nd street, Main Street, and Green Street. Currently, the city is working on a streetscaping project for downtown called “Diggin It”.
Founded as the “Town of Strother”, by William B. Howard for his wife, Maria D. Strother (daughter of William D. Strother formally of Bardstown, Kentucky). Howard came to Jackson County in 1842 from Kentucky, married Maria in 1844, and by 1850 he and Maria had 833 acres (3.37 km2) and a homestead five miles (8 km) north of town. He was arrested for being a Confederate in October of 1862, near the beginning of the Civil War, and after being paroled he took his family back to Kentucky for the duration of the war. After the war ended he returned and, knowing that the Missouri Pacific Railroad was surveying a route in the area, platted the town with 70 acres in the fall of 1865.
In 1865 the town changed it’s name for early settler Dr. Pleasant John Graves Lea, who moved to Jackson County in 1849, from Bradley County, Tennessee. Lea was listed as the postmaster of Big Cedar in the 1855 United States Official Postal Guide. Dr. Lea was killed in August of 1862 by Kansas Jayhawkers (or Redlegs).
When the surveyors for the Missouri Pacific Railroad came through, the local people and the railroad wanted to name the town in Dr. Lea’s honor. He had a farm on the highest point and near the path of the tracks, and his murder had taken place near the site of the proposed depot. So they chose the name of “Lea’s Summit”, the “summit” portion to reflect its relatively highest elevation on the Missouri Pacific Railroad between St. Louis and Kansas City. But they misspelled the name “Lees Summit” (with two “e’s”; “Lee” instead of “Lea”; and leaving out the apostrophe) on a boxcar that was serving as a station and donated by the Missouri Pacific, then a sign next to the tracks, and finally in the printed time schedule for the railroad. Also the named was misspelled on the stone culvert near the station, on the side of the Missouri Pacific depot, but on the other side it was spelled correctly, accordingly the railroad used this spelling, as did travelers.
Others, those with Southern sympathies, claim that the town was named after famed Civil War General Robert E. Lee after Southerners began moving north into Missouri after the war. Attributed to a misquote in the Louisville Journal, January 3, 1866.
Since the name was already being circulated and published with two “e’s”, the town petitioned the state capitol and incorporated its name in 1868 as: “Town of Lee’s Summit”.