Who is Dr. David Waldo?
December 26, 2012
Waldo is a neighborhood in Kansas City that spans from Gregory Boulevard to 89th Street and from Holmes to State Line Road. It is named after a man who originally owned a great chunk of the land to raise mules for his business of shipping products on the Santa Fe Trail.
David Waldo came to Missouri in the 1820s. He originally settled in Gasconade County. While living there, he went to Kentucky to attend lectures on medicine in Transylvania County. Upon returning to Gasconade, besides practicing medicine, he also was the County Assessor, County Treasurer, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Justice of the Peace, and Postmaster. Local residents called him the "Governor of Gasconade." He was invited to come live in Independence, Missouri by a man named Samuel C. Owens. Owens was making a fortune in the Santa Fe trade. Waldo took up Owens' invitation and moved to Independence. He became involved in shipping merchandise between Missouri and New Mexico. He bought several tracts of land in both states. One piece of property he used to raise mules for his wagon trains. He also planted a grove of walnut trees. That piece of property became the area in Kansas City that still bears his name, and that grove of walnut trees, which was located at what, is now 63rd and Walnut, stood as a historic landmark until the 1920s. He also started a bank in Independence.
Waldo was an adventurous gentleman. He led many of the wagon trains for his company along the Santa Fe Trail. He often had to fight Indians. Waldo became a citizen of New Mexico (as well as Missouri), so he became involved in the war with Mexico in 1846.
Shortly after the War with Mexico, Waldo settled down in Independence, Missouri and left the actual trading to others; although he still owned the business. At the age of 47, Dr. David Waldo married Elizabeth Norris, who was 20 years his junior. The couple had five children. They lived at 1018 West Waldo Avenue in Independence, MO. The First Christian Church now occupies that site.
During the Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, Dr. Waldo became fearful for the funds housed in his bank in Independence. He dressed up like a woman and took bags of money under his skirt to his various properties in Jackson County, including the farm that is now considered to be the Waldo area. When the war was over, he transported the money back to the bank, thereby saving it for all of his depositors.
Dr. Waldo died at the age of 78 in 1878.
In 1860, a rail line was set up from Westport, MO to Dodson, MO (which is now around 85th and Prospect). A main stop was located in Waldo. When the rail line was converted to street cars in 1907, a brick station was built at the Waldo location. It was called the Grand Central Station of Waldo. It was located at 74th and Wornall until 1950, when it was torn down to put in a parking lot. Waldo was annexed by Kansas City in 1909. Business grew around the station. As it grew, Waldo became a hub of South Kansas City.
Blue Ridge Branch