Kansas City’s first historian was Father Bernard Donnelly. He was a pastor in the Town of Kanza, later to become Kansas City. His first parish encompassed the area from Independence, Missouri to the Indian Territory, now the state of Kansas.
After the Civil War, the Town of Kanza expanded south. Father Donnelly, also a civil engineer, opened a brickyard and stone quarry on land owned by the Catholic Church in Quality Hill. He advertised for laborers in newspapers and magazines popular among Irish immigrants, bringing hundreds of Irish laborers to help pave streets and build many of the area’s earliest buildings.
Father Donnelly was also instrumental in establishing some of Kansas City’s earliest schools and orphanages. To learn more about Father Bernard Donnelly, please visit The Kansas City Public Library.
Do you have Kansas City Irish ancestry?