Harlem, MO Flood, May 1903

The water from the Missouri river is running through the streets of Harlem like a mill race. Every house in the town is flooded. All of the 600 inhabitants are practically homeless. The woman and children were removed in boats during the night and to-day, and the men, such of them as could spare the time from their work, remained to protect their property. Removing the furniture is out of the question, as the only access to the houses is by skiff.

Viewed from the bluffs on the south side of the river, or from the Clay county end of the Hannibal bridge the Missouri river presents a spectacle that has not been witnessed in Kansas City for twenty-two years. The "great bend" is like an inland sea. It extends practically from bluff to bluff. Over the Clay county bottom lands there is a broad sheet of water frescoed with tree tops and half submerged houses.

Crowds of spectators lined the south bank of the Missouri and many crossed the bridge to Harlem, where they watched the owners of submerged stables swimming their horses and cattle to places of safety, and the removal of women and children from the houses in skiffs.

Kansas City Star, Kansas City, MO 30 May 1903


Harlem corner store

I lived in Harlem and remember quite a bit

There is no cemetery in

There is no cemetery in Harlem and no one knows of any that ever existed in the community. The water table in Harlem is about 6 feet and the community flooded yearly.

harlem graveyard

You say the graveyard is still there.can you say where it is located. I grew. Up there and it was a beautiful place.....at one time.we lived across the church and never missed a Sunday...I remember the gas station next to the church and the trailer court. Me and my sisters were there last summer, just to see it and it was a shock. My how things change. There was a big house that was on a corner lot that an elderly woman lived there.I remember she always wore black. She was always nice to me but I never knew her name.the house burned down after the lady passed away. If you know anymore please share. Thanks

Harlem mo.

My family lived in Harlem for many years. Before I go on, I'd like to know if you received This - your last comment was in 2012. I'd love to talk. Mike

June and Orville King

If Orville King was your great-grandfather, you had quite a character for a great-grandfather. Of course he was a great gentleman also.

He gave me my first job when I was about 10 years old. I worked at King's Grocery store after school for a couple of years. If my memory is correct, he also sold gasoline for a short time.

Much of the social activity, other than that at the two churches in Harlem, centered around King's Grocery store. All the kids hung out there and when we wanted to see friends we met at the store.

It was not a hugh store, but Orville provided most of the food stuffs we needed. I remember the meat counter, potato bends, etc. And of course, the candy coounter. In a small room on the east side of the store, Orville installed two pin ball machines. He got quite upset when we kids would lift the front of the machines and put them on our toes to keep the balls from rolling down too fast.

Orville was a tall man; slim but muscular and he was a gentle person. His wife June was also a rather tall women. She worked in the store with Orville and took money at the cash register. She had a magnificent smile with which she greeted every customer.

Most people in Harlem were poor, but honest and Orville would give most people credit to buy the things they needed until their payday, when most would come in a pay what the owed. I remember well, my Dad had a credit account at the store.

While Orville would never admit it, I think he and my Dad made a deal, for me to work at the store, and my Dad would pay Orville to pay my 10 cent per hour salary.
I think my Dad thought if I had a job, it would keep me out of trouble.

Some years later, I confronted Orville with the story and asked him if the story was true. He would only smile at me, but never answered the question.

Orville and June King were wonderful people. They were honest, worked hard and treated everyone fairly. They, along with so many people in Harlem, where what one might call, "salt-of-the earth people."

If my memory is correct, Orville and June had two, if not three daughters. Janet was the oldest, I think. Janet was a couple of years behind me in school. The other girl, or girls were younger.

That was probably 65 years ago, and after so long a time, one forgets many details, but I remember well those wonderful years.

Would be glad to answer any further questions.

Harlem Missouri

I lived in Harlem for the first twenty years of my life. In fact I lived above Orville King's grocery at 307 N. Walnut. I went by Charlie and was a good fiend of Donna, Orville's daughter. We both attended church in Harlem at the Baptist Church and went to elementary school together. My dad was the Station Master at the Municipal airport. They called him Smitty. I probably visited in your grandmother's house. Did she go by Sis Donaldson? I remember Orville closing me up in his shed because my friend J.C. Gipson and I had been jumping off the roof of it. He warned us that he would lock us up if we didn't stop it. We didn't and he did, and then went and told our parents. Back then they were thankful he took matters into his own hands. We had a lot of respect for him. Let me know if you want more information about Harlem in the 1950's and early 60's.

Chuck Smith
1406 Greenbriar Drive
Norman, OK

Orville King

Orville ran the store in Harlem when I was a kid. The old driveway was covered in gravel and cinders from the Corn Product Co. I have a scar on my knee from being tripped by my dog as I was running to meet my mother as she returned from work at Wm Volkers.

That was the day of penny candy and bubble gum which he had on display in the store. Floyd Moore operated the store after Orville got out of the business.

James Family

I also lived in Halem in the 40's & 50's. Charlie Broomfield has a lot of information on the James and Harlem.

the cemetery is still in

the cemetery is still in Harlem.

Harlem, Missouri

I am researching a person who was buried at Harlem in 1877. Would you know what the name of the cemetery there? I understand
that a flood in 1803 destroyed Harlem and a cousin said the cemetery is no longer there. Do you know of any historical newspapers
that may have been in existence in 1877?
Thank you for your time and help. It is greatly appreciated.