|1500 North Liberty Street|
Location: Independence, Missouri, USA
Opened: 1871 as the Independence Female College
Very little information is readily available on the Kansas City Ladies' College.
However, we do have several names attached to the history of the Kansas City Ladies' College--and they all belong to men.
Civic leader William McCoy was one of these men. According to the Dictionary of Missouri Biography, McCoy "was one of the petitioners and board members for the Independence Female College, established in 1871 and subsequently known as as the Kansas City Ladies' College until its closing in 1905."
We're also told that William Chrisman, a successful Independence lawyer and banker, helped found the Kansas City Ladies' College and paid for the financing of the college’s principal buildings. However, no dates are given, though it is implied that this took place sometime between 1867 and 1875.
The Kansas City Public Library Missouri Valley Special Collections has a Catalog for the Kansas City Ladies' College for 1886-1887 and announcements for the 1888-1889 academic year. These documents are found in the rear of the Independence city directory for 1888-1889. Unfortunately, the contents are not available on-line.
Dr. James McDonald Chaney, an ordained Presbyterian minister, became president of the Kansas City Ladies' College in 1885. He left in 1891 when he assumed the presidency of Independence Academy of Missouri. According to his 1909 obituary in the Kansas City Journal, "Rev. Chaney, after severing his connection with the Kansas City Ladies' college, promoted an academy for young men at Independence, making a feature of higher mathematics." Implying I suppose, at least in the mind of Reverend Chaney, that higher mathematics wasn't an entirely suitable subject for young ladies.
The Boston Evening Transcript reports that a Reverend George Frederick Ayres served as president of the Kansas City Ladies' College for a time, but the dates are not provided. However, it appears that it was just for a brief time after Dr. Chaney left, as Reverend Ayres assumed the presidency of Lindenwood College (another lost womyn's space) in 1902, and for four years before that, he was a pastor in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Reverend Ayres died in 1913.
|Ad for Kansas City Ladies' College, Kansas City Journal, July 22, 1897|
In addition, it appears that George Porterfield Gates, the grandfather of Bess Wallace Truman (Harry's wife), had dealings with the Kansas City Ladies' College, as there is mention of the college in his financial affairs records. Those records can be found at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence.
In 1894, Colonel Harvey M. Vaile of Independence passed away and left his mansion (pictured above) to the Kansas City Ladies' College. The College promptly auctioned off the house's content to raise money. But it turned out that Colonel Vaile's gift turned out to be something of a Trojan horse. According to the Kansas City Journal (December 10, 1897),
The Vaile estate, which was bequeathed to the Kansas City Ladies' college, on condition that the institution be called Vaile Institute, is still in the hands of the administrator, and will likely continue to do so for some time to come. Since Colonel Vaile died, claims have been filed against the estate to such an amount that if the provisions of the will are carried out, Colonel Vaile's bequest will be his name without any financial aid. According to the terms of the will the institution was to assume the name of "Vaile Institute" within five years of the death of the testator. The time will expire within a year and unless the conditions are complied with the heirs may get a small percentage of the estate, which was once considered large. The estate is far from being settled up, and friends of the institution are of the opinion that after the administrator's fees and claims are paid nothing will be left for the college.
According to this site, the Vaile mansion, which was constructed in 1881, is "rumored to be haunted."
Few juicy details are provided--other than that Mrs. Harvey Vaile apparently committed suicide in the home in 1883. It is claimed that her ghost can still seen looking out the windows.