HOW JUSTICE ROSS
MADE HIS FORTUNE.
DONOR OF MONEY TO MA-
HONEY CHILDREN WAS
ONCE A LAMPLIGHTER.
Formed Partnership With
John Mahoney Twenty-
Five Years Ago.
Justice Michael Ross, of Kansas City, who in the Wyandotte county, Kansas, probate court Saturday gave the children of his dead partner, John Maloney, $50,000, was born in Cincinnati, O., December 19, 1859. His father, Alexander Ross, came to Kansas City in 1866 to aid in the erection of the first gas plant the city had. In June a year later, the family followed him, coming from St. Louis by boat.
"The Missouri was full of boats in those days," said Justice Ross last night, "and was the principal means of navigation between here and St. Louis. Kansas City had a real wharf and it was a busy one."
Two brothers, William J. and James Ross, and a younger sister constituted the children at that time. James was drowned while swimming in the Missouri river in 1872.
"We attended a little frame public school down in the East Bottoms just opposite what was known as Mensing Island," said Justice Ross. "Later we went to Washington school which still stands at Independence avenue and Cherry street. A ward school education was as high as one could go in those days unless he went away, and that was all we received."
After the erection of the gas plant Justice Ross and his brother William secured positions as lamp lighters. It required them to get up at all hours of the night, according to the condition of the weather and the fullness of the moon, both to light and turn out the street lamps. After doing this work at night Justice Ross worked all day on an ice wagon for J. E. Sales. Later on he worked in the old Davis brick yard, which stood about where the Zenith mill now stands in the East Bottoms.
Justice Ross always had in view the day when he would go into business for himself -- be his own boss. With his savings and some help from his mother he started a little grocery and general store on the levee at First and Campbell streets in 1874. After a time his brother, William, was taken into partnership, but remained but a few years. The latter for several terms was a member of the city council.
BOUGHT OTHER STORES.
As the city began to grow away from the river, Justice Ross saw better opportunities and opened a grocery store at 1401-3 East Fifth street, at Lydia avenue, and later another at 1100-2 East Fifth street, at Troost avenue. These two stores were money makers and enabled him later to branch out along other lines.
In September, 1888, Justice Ross was married to Miss Bessie Egan. All of their children, seven boys and four girls, are living, the oldest daughter being away at school near Cincinnati, and the oldest boy at St. Mary's, Kas. Six of the nine children at home attend the Woodland school.
"I knew John Mahoney from the day he came here with the C. & A. railroad," Justice Ross said. "He was doing small jobs of grading in those days and his mother went with him over the country. They used to trade with us at the little store on the levee and when in town Mahoney and his mother stopped at our home."
It was almost twenty-five years ago that Mahoney and Ross went into partnership and the latter has been a silent partner ever since, Mahoney seeing to most of the details and looking after the work. Justice Ross also had other interests, such as tree planting, and planted the trees around the finest residences and along many of the prettiest boulevards. In speaking of some of the work done by himself and Mr. Mahoney, the justice said:
"We built all of the Southwest boulevard, also Fifteenth street, doing the grading work. Roanoke boulevard is another piece of our work, as was the ill-fated Cliff drive, where poor John and his wife met such a tragic fate. We did lots of work on the country roads in Jackson county and built almost all of the roads in Wyandotte county, besides many of the brick-paved streets.
LARGE CONTRACT WORK.
"We also did much work away from here, such as government work on the levee at New Orleans, county roads in Southern Indiana and railroad grading in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Colorado. Mahoney was a man who made friends wherever he went. I just received a letter from Indiana asking if he and McGuire were the same men who were there asking for all particulars."
As Justice Ross's business ventures thrived he found it impossible to give the time required to his two grocery stores, and a few years ago he disposed of them. Previous to that, however, he had established the Missouri Carriage and Wagon works at 308-10 Broadway, which he still operates.
For many years he has been buying property and erecting modern flats thereon. He does not build flats to sell, but he keeps them for what they bring in. When Admiral boulevard was cut through at Virginia avenue, Justice Ross owned a big row of old flats immediately in the right of way. They are brick and their moving back was the biggest job of that kind ever done in this city. He made them modern and is erecting more flats near them.
The prettiest and most costly structure erected by Justice Ross is a flat building at Benton boulevard and St. John avenue, on a promontory overlooking the entire city. He owns forty or more pieces of improved property in the city.
In the fall of 1898 Michael Ross ran for justice of the peace on the Democratic ticket and was elected. Since then he has held the office for three terms, twelve years, winning each time with ease. He said last night, however, that he would not seek the office again. He intends to build a big home in the southern part of the city and he and Mrs. Ross will devote their time to their children. He now lives at 626 Troost avenue.
"John Mahoney almost decided to go to Jacksonville, Fla., with our party," said the Justice. "The ground was frozen and he could not work. But he was such a home-loving man he hated to leave his family, even for a day. I had a premonition when I left that something would happen. When I got the wire the first thing I thought of was his automobile. We did not get the particulars, however, until we got a paper at Memphis, and did not get full particulars and learn that McGuire was killed and the others hurt until we got The Journal at Paola, Kas.