Independence, MO

Historic 'Kritser House' dating back to 1850 was linked to a man who was influential in Independence, Missouri.

CJ Coombs
Kritser House, Independence, Missouri.Photo byDmw002, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Kritser House is located at 115 East Walnut in Independence, Missouri. It dates back to 1850, over 170 years ago. In 1985, the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is associated with Martin U. Kritser.

It is one of the few middle class residential structures of the American Mid-Victorian frontier architecture period left in Independence. (Source.)

The Kritser House is a one-story and L-shaped brick dwelling. The house is two blocks south of Independence square. The front door which is slightly off-center of the main facade has a wooden lintel. 

A lintel is a common part of buildings. Whenever we want to create an opening like doors & windows in the building, we use lintels above windows, doors like openings as a simple solution to support the weight above the opening. (Source.)

There are chimneys on both ends of the house. The one to the west has a small fireplace for the main room. The one to the east was probably built for stove heat and chiefly served as a flue. The ceilings and floor have been replaced.

The Kritser Home is linked with the life and career of Martin L. Kritser. He was a man who was influential in the history of Independence. The home represents the architectural design of the American mid-Victorian frontier style (mid-19th century Victorian middle-class cottage). This house is one of the few left of a middle-class structure from this time period. 

The house is a good example of the residential homes in size and style that were built by merchants and traders of Independence who were part of the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California trails business. 

The primary interests of Martin Kritser and other merchants were to pursue commercial interests at that time to enhance the economic life of Independence. 

In 1845, promoter William Gilpin lobbied with Washington connections to establish a port of entry at the town of Independence for the Santa Fe trade. (Source.)

Martin L. Kritser

Kritser was an early settler in Jackson County. He came to Independence in 1838. He apparently did well as a merchant and grocer using his resources to purchase farm holdings in Raytown, Missouri which he acquired in 1847 from Harry W. and Bursheba Younger. (The Youngers were also the parents of the outlaw, Cole Younger.) In 1858, Kritser sold the property to a blacksmith named David Moore.

Kritser was born in Brooke, Virginia in 1806. He lived in Green County, Kentucky (1824), Cincinnati, Ohio (1827), and went to Mason County, Kentucky before arriving in Jackson County, Missouri in 1838.

He worked in the mercantile business and the Santa Fe trade for 17 years. He married Mary Wilson (a native of England) in the summer of 1832. Because most of their nine children were born in Kentucky, it’s believed they married in that state. 

The farm he purchased in the 1850s was shown as a 240-acre tract of land in 1881. Having served a term as a school director, it’s believed he was interested in education. It’s unknown when he moved to the farm, however, the 1860 census indicated he was a farmer, but his residence was listed as Independence. 

At age 54 he was listed as having $13,000 in taxable real and personal property. His household included his wife who was 48 and nine other persons ranging in age from 24 to seven. 

Sometime after 1860, Kritser moved to his farm where he lived at the time of the Old Settler’s Reunion in March of 1872. He died in 1887 at the age of 80–81. His farm bordered property held by Harry S. Truman's grandfather, Samuel Young.

From 1827 to 1867, Independence was the center of trade. The town quickly began to develop as an outfitting center for Santa Fe trade and fur trapping companies. In 1845, a port of customs was secured for the town of Independence and operated until about 1857. 

By the end of the Civil War, railroads came with the Pacific Railroad project being the first to arrive. 

[I]n 1875, a right-of-way for the Wyandotte, Kansas City, and Northwestern Railway Company was acquired from the owners of the Kritser Home at that time — Patrick and Margaret McCarthy. (Source.)

McCarthy, a saloonkeeper on the public square purchased the home from David Moore in 1859. Moore had purchased the home from Kritser in 1858. Railway right-of-way cut the original lot much smaller and created a pie-shaped configuration

In 1847, the emigrant traffic started going to other areas like St. Joseph, Westport, and Kansas Landing. Supposedly, in that year, about 200 families and 433 wagons left Independence to head west.

The Kritser house represents an association with a period of American history and the development of Independence. 

Thanks for reading.

Comments / 2

Published by

Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

More from CJ Coombs

Comments / 0