Alexander Majors & His Family
Alexander Majors was an entrepreneur who played a prominent role in the business of early Kansas City. He made his fortune in freighting and co-founded several business ventures, including the Pony Express.
Alexander Majors was born in Kentucky in 1814 and moved to Missouri with his parents when he was five-years-old. A few months after they arrived, his mother died from injuries suffered in a wagon fall enroute to Missouri. Majors was married twice and had about 14 children, depending which genealogy you study. In 1834, he married Katherine Stalcup of Jackson County. They had nine children—six of them daughters. At least three died before reaching adulthood. Katherine died in 1856, the same year the house was built, and is buried in Union Cemetery. Majors then married Susan Wetzel of Independence. They had at least three daughters and one son.
In 1858, Majors moved his business and family to Nebraska City. The house, as well as several slaves, were left to Majors oldest daughter, Rebecca, and her husband Samuel Poteet, who was also Major’s head wagon master. Alexander and Susan later separated and she died in California in 1915. Majors died in 1900 and is buried next to his first wife, Katherine, in Union Cemetery.
The house stayed in the Poteet family until 1904, when it was sold to the Ruhl family. The Ruhls added a two-story addition to the rear and a large bay window to the south side of the house. In 1924, the homestead was sold and divided up for a housing addition. The home was then converted to a schoolhouse for three years. As the population in the area grew, there were even plans to tear down the house, but it proved too sturdy. By the late 1920s the Majors house was vacant and deteriorating.
In 1930, Louisa Johnston, the great granddaughter of Alexander Majors, bought the ruin from the school district for $2,500. She began to slowly restore the house, replacing windows and patching the roof. Louisa lived in the house for nearly 40 years. Upon her death in 1979, she willed the house to long-time friend, architect Terry Chapman. As trustee of the Majors Historical Trust, Chapman undertook a major restoration of the house and opened it for tours in 1984. Terry Chapman and his wife Victoria managed the house for more than 25 years until his death in 2010. In 2011, the house merged with the John Wornall house museum and reopened for tours.