Who Is James A. Reed?
May 07, 2012
James A. Reed Road is near the Blue Ridge Branch. My husband and I like going to the James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area so my husband can take photographs. As we roamed around the area the other day, I started to wonder, "Who is James A. Reed?"
As it turns out, James A. Reed was born in Ohio in 1861 and moved to Kansas City in 1887 where he made a name for himself as a lawyer and local politician. After finding out more about him, I can understand why his name is on so many things around town.
Reed served on the Kansas City, Missouri City Council from 1897 to 1898, then as Jackson County prosecutor from 1898 to 1900, and as Kansas City Mayor from 1900 to 1904. He later served in the United States Senate from 1910 to 1929. He made a Democratic bid to run for the presidency in 1928, but he lost out to FDR. After he retired from the Senate, he returned to Missouri where he continued to practice law.
During his years as a Senator, Reed was responsible for making Missouri the only state with two Federal Reserve Banks: one in Kansas City and the other in St. Louis.
As a lawyer, one of his most famous local cases was the prosecution of Dr. Bennett Clark Hyde in the Swope murder trial in 1910. However, his defense of Myrtle Bennett for the murder of her husband after a bridge game is the subject of a book in the MCPL catalog titled The Devil’s Tickets: A Night of Bridge, a Fatal Hand, and a New American Age by Gary M. Pomerantz.
In 1887, Reed married Lura Olmstead. In the autumn of 1932, Lura Olmstead Reed died. In December 1933, Reed married Nell Quinlan Donnelly, whose kidnappers he prosecuted the previous year. In 1952, Nell Reed donated 731 acres of land to the Missouri Department of Conservation in memory of her husband for the Wildlife Area. Later, they purchased additional land. Now, the area encompasses 3,084 acres.
Blue Ridge Branch