Lewis Jones’ House

The Lewis Jones House was home to one of the most significant businessmen of Independence, Missouri in the 1840s. In particular, Lewis Jones made his name by trading along the Santa Fe Trail.

Routes of trade and migration in the 1800s, including the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail. Note Independence's geographic importance for these overland highways. [source](https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1MSIM_enUS530US530&biw=1920&bih=969&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=jVQDXOxAquCPBNeZvtAF&q=santa+fe+trail+1840+independence+missouri&oq=santa+fe+trail+1840+independence+missouri&gs_l=img.3...18051.25075..25385...2.0..0.139.2090.22j2......1....1..gws-wiz-img.8QzhBGUWfqc#imgrc=0g6KaGBWrzuWCM:)
Routes of trade and migration in the 1800s, including the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail. Note Independence’s geographic importance for these overland highways. source

In nineteenth-century Missouri, it was very difficult to make a living. This large and comfortable house symbolizes Jones’ wealth and status in Independence and demonstrates just how lucrative the Santa Fe Trail could be.

Who Was Lewis Jones?

Lewis Jones was, first and foremost, a successful entrepreneur. He was a wagonmaker, trader, and merchant that also backed other traders on the Santa Fe trail; he also owned the Nebraska House Hotel (also in Independence).1 Jones did more than just conduct business. He was appointed a Justice of the County Court in 1831; he also founded the West Fork Baptist Church in December of 1842.2

Lewis Jones married Elizabeth Jones on January 6, 1820.3 The couple had six children: Mary Jane Todd, Greenup C. Jones, Nancy C. Moore and Sally McClanahan, Melinda Caroline Spratt, and Clorissa Jones.4 They lived in Independence until 1857 when they moved to Fremont, Colorado where Lewis was a rancher.5

Independence and Trade in the American West

Independence, Missouri was the gateway to the American West. The town quickly became a bustling center for trade and migration after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.6 Since much of the West was still under Mexican control in the early 1840s, Independence served as an international trade hub.

A birds-eye view of Independence, Missouri in 1868. [source](https://www.pinterest.com/pin/371265563013951241/)
A birds-eye view of Independence, Missouri in 1868. source

Trade between Mexico and the United States relied almost entirely on the Santa Fe Trail.7 Other wagon routes such as the Oregon Trail and the California Trail departed from Independence, as well.8 American merchants also built a steady trade network with the Indian tribes of the West and various fur traders throughout the Rocky Mountains.9

Another prominent endeavor in Independence during the 1800s was the railroad industry. The Missouri and Independence River Railroad began in Independence in 1849, becoming a lucrative investment for local businessmen.10

The House Itself

The Lewis Jones House was constructed in 1840 in the middle of Independence, Missouri. 11 It was built as a two-story, three-bay house with red brick walls and wood trim. 12 A porch was also built into the house on the first floor which covers one side of the house. 13 The house was later remodeled to include two more bays and to give the house a distinct L-Shape. 14 Throughout the years, the house has been able to maintain its historical integrity despite a changing city around it. This house embodies the popular architecture styles of the nineteenth century, but its primary historical significance comes from its resident.

The Lewis Jones House in the modern day. The Unique L-shape and beautiful land that it sits on make this house a interesting place to visit. [source](https://www.flickr.com/photos/51038527@N03/24831664933/in/photostream/)
The Lewis Jones House in the modern day. The Unique L-shape and beautiful land that it sits on make this house a interesting place to visit. source

The Visit

The Lewis Jones house is located on 104 Elizabeth Street in Independence, Missouri. It is very easy to access the area and it is easily located on a map of the city. The house unfortunately is not available for tours, due to its private ownership. If you are visiting the house, please be respectful of the owners and other inhabitants of the neighborhood. When visiting this area you may want to check weather forecasts to determine clothing options and possible items to bring along. A camera is optional but also recommended in order to capture the historical site. If driving to the site, please be aware of any parking laws nearby. Since the house is located in the historical goldmine that is Independence, Missouri, there are many other sites to look at. Take advantage of the rich history and cultural significance of the area and enjoy your visit to the Lewis Jones house.


O’Brien, William Patrick. Merchants of Independence: International Trade on the Santa Fe Trail, 1827-1860. Kirksville, Mo.: Truman State University Press, 2013.

Edwards, Alice and Karen L. Cummer. “Lewis Jones House.” National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination Form. Urbana, Ill.: The Urbana Group, 1993.

National Park Service. [Santa Fe National Historic Trail: Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico: Comprehensive Management and Use Plan.](https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/002444854) Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1990.

  1. National Park Service, 92 

  2. Edwards and Cummer, 6 

  3. Edwards and Cummer, 6 

  4. Edwards and Cummer, 6 

  5. Edwards and Cummer, 6 

  6. O’Brien, 15 

  7. O’Brien, 38 

  8. O’Brien, 38 

  9. O’Brien, 37 

  10. O’Brien, 56 

  11. Edwards and Cummer, section 7, 1 

  12. Edwards and Cummer, 1 

  13. Edwards and Cummer, 1 

  14. Edwards and Cummer, 1 

820 words.