Independence, Missouri, is a true “American Original,” with a past full of significant historic events that would ultimately help shape the U.S. of today.
The community was created in March 1827 when legislators of the recently formed Jackson County decided on the site (then known as the Big Spring) for its county seat. Its location just three miles south of the Missouri River made Independence a natural hub of trade and commerce, and also proved to be a great starting-off point for various westward trails, including the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails. As a result, Independence became a
flourishing outfitting center, furnishing travelers with a range of supplies for the trying journey ahead.
The population and influence of Independence increased so rapidly in the 1830s and 1840s that it earned home-rule charter status from the Missouri General Assembly in March 1849. But the fledgling town soon experienced some set backs due to the establishment of West Port – a community located just west of Independence that took away the town’s claim as the “last stop on the western frontier” – as well as the border war over slavery and two ensuing Civil War battles. Working towards regaining its previous prosperity, Independence welcomed a number of building developments – mostly residential in nature – in the years following the war.
A group of Latter Day Saints missionaries, who originally arrived in Independence in 1830-31 and were driven out by 1833, returned to Independence after the war. After leader Joseph Smith, Jr.’s death, the church split into two factions, including one led by Joseph Smith, III, named the Reorganized Church of the Latter Day Saints (RLDS). Headquarters for the RLDS were established in Independence in the early 1900s. Today, the religious group is known as the Community of Christ, with international headquarters remaining in Independence.
The community is the hometown of several famous people, notably Ginger Rogers, who was born here in 1911, and 33rd President of the U.S. Harry S. Truman. Truman grew up here and held a position as the presiding judge of the county court beginning in 1922. He made his way up the ranks in government, ending in the presidential seat following President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death in 1945. Truman regularly returned to Independence during his presidency, and returned to the town at the end of his term. A number of Truman historic sites in Independence serve as a major draw for visitors traveling from all over the country.
In addition to the various Truman sites, guests enjoy many other historic attractions, along with museums and a long list of cultural, entertainment, shopping and dining opportunities.
For more information on Independence, MO,
contact the Independence Chamber of Commerce:
210 W. Truman Road, P.O. Box 1077
Independence, MO 64051
P: 816-252-4745 • F: 816-252-4917