Independence, MO

Historic Lewis-Webb House in Missouri from the 1800s was home to early settlers who influenced a city's development

CJ Coombs
Lewis-Webb House, Independence, Missouri.Photo byLewis Webb House - Facebook page.

The Lewis-Webb House is located at 302 West Mill in Independence, Missouri. On February 6, 1986, this house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This is a two-story home made of brick. It's believed the house was built in three stages. The home was originally designed in the late Greek Revival style. Since a one-story wing to the south of the home is believed to have been constructed around 1845, the house was built before then. The house is located six blocks north of the public square in Independence. The house is linked to John Lewis and Susan Houx Lewis and William Larkin Webb and Mabelle Brown Webb. John and Susan Lewis were some of the earliest settlers in Jackson County in 1853.

William Larkin Webb and Mabel Brown Webb lived in the house in the early 1900s. The number of owners of the home was an example of middle-class businessmen making up the population in Independence in the 19th century.

Solomon Glover Flournoy

Solomon Glover Flournoy was the first owner of the property. Born before 1800 in Kentucky, he was one of five brothers who moved to Jackson County in the early 1820s. Flournoy was a hotel and saloon keeper in Independence with an inn at Maple and Main Streets.

There is not a lot of information about the Flournoy family. He and his brother, Jones Hoy Flournoy, had arrived in Jackson County together. Jones had sold a 63-acre parcel to representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1831. 

Solomon died in 1833. In that same year, he bought 80 acres of land. It’s believed that either he or his son, Matthew, built the rear section of the house around 1833 or 1849. Matthew sold 37 acres in 1849 to Nahum Roswell who lost the property due to non-payment of debts in 1852. This was when John Lewis and his wife, Susan Houx Lewis, purchased 30 acres for $100. The below list indicates some of the owners of the property or the home.

  • In April of 1855, John and Susan Lewis sold lots to Samul Mann.
  • In 1857, the home was acquired by Nathaniel Scruggs, who also was a Jackson County judge. He died in 1864.
  • In 1882, Dr. John T. Brown acquired the property. He made some additions and performed some interior work. Dr. Brown died in 1887 passing the property onto his heirs.
  • In 1902 Dr. Brown’s daughter, Mabelle Brown Webb, retained ownership of the home until she died in 1939. She passed the property on to her heir which was listed as the Brown-Ailing Corporation of Independence, Missouri. 
  • In 1944, Mr. and Mrs. Garret Hobart Trembly bought the property.
  • In 1978, it was acquired by the current owners (at the time the property was being nominated for the National Register).

The Lewis-Webb Home is an example of how architecture in a Midwestern residential area during the 19th century evolved. After the Civil War, if a person had the money as well as the time, additions to homes were made to modernize them.
Lewis-Webb House, Independence, Missouri.Photo byChenry64052, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

In April of 1855, when John and Susan Lewis sold their house, and other properties in the subdivision, his addition to the City of Independence was a common example of early planning and development in the history of the City of Independence. Property owners began to divide lots for residential as well as commercial purposes

It’s possible Lewis, like Flournoy, had arrived in Independence before it was even platted.

One reference places Lewis in Independence in 1825 as the proprietor of a saddlery. There is little doubt that the town site of Independence was already inhabited by settlers involved in the fur trade before its formal platting. John Lewis was typical of many early settlers. (Source.)

Lewis was part of a group of craftsmen who supplied fur trappers, explorers, and others with riding equipment for their journey west. 

At least one reference is made to his ownership of a saddlery at present day 214 West Lexington as early as 1825. (Source.)

The address listed above is a parking lot today. 

John and Susan Lewis were founding members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. 

Mabelle Brown Webb, who owned the property from 1902 to 1939, was a local author and poet, and:

  • She served as the poet laureate and historian for the Missouri organization of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
  • She also served as poet laureate of the Daughters of the War of 1812 and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
  • She was a member of the Kansas City Chapter of the League of American Pen Women.

Webb’s husband, William Larkin Webb, was a writer and active with the Independence Progress newspaper in the early 1900s. Some of his publications include the following:

  • Battles and Biographies of Missourians of the Civil War Period of our State (1900)
  • Champ Clark (a biography of Senator Champ Clark of Missouri; 1912)
  • City of Independence ( a centennial history of the City of Independence; 1927)

Webb also contributed to other publications such as the Jackson Examiner. His writing was steered toward local history.

Mabelle’s involvement with other interests resulted in naming Missouri’s state flower the Hawthorne.

The Lewis-Webb Home represents the expansion of settlers to the west and how their influence helped to develop communities. It also represents how architecture evolved. It’s amazing the house still stands.

Thanks for reading.

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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

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