By Linda Emley
The Richmond Missourian ran this picture on the front page Thursday, Aug. 17,1939. The caption said, “A local Fishing Group of 32 Years Ago. Standing left to right – Russell (Doe) Farris, Tom (Tick) Carter, Arch (Rastus) Carter. Seated, left to right – E.A. (Skipper) Farris, Maurice G. (Cookie) Roberts, Joseph F. (Uncle Joe or Kid) Duval, G.R. (Dick) Stinnett. Gathered on Crooked River at Miller G. Brown’s farm. This photograph was taken in July1907, by the late George S. (Cat) Weber, who also was a member of the fishing party that included local young men about town who appeared in this picture.”
All these gentlemen have a nickname, but one of them has a real name that many of us see everyday in Richmond, Maurice G. Roberts. Have you ever wondered why one of our city Parks is named after Maurice Roberts?
Jean Hamacher and I have been talking about doing a story about this park for several years and a few days ago we decided it was time to get it done. This one is for my friend Jean.
On June 26, 1939, the Richmond Missourian noted, “Maurice G. Roberts Park was Presented to City Saturday Afternoon. Speaker on Program at the Park Ceremony Included Judge Mitchel J. Henderson, Maurice G. Roberts, Judge A. M. Clark, Forrest Smith and Mayor Robert S. Lyon. Before a crowd of Ray Countians, former Ray Countians and visitors, Mitchel J. Henderson, former Richmond attorney and present probate judge in Jackson County, presented the city of Richmond the 10-acre tract now known as the Maurice G. Roberts City Park at the acceptance ceremony held Saturday afternoon at the park.
“The park was accepted by Mayor Robert S. Lyon, who accepted the deed to the park from Judge Henderson on behalf of the city of Richmond.
“Before the acceptance ceremony, a parade led by City Marshall Charles Armour and Coombs W. Higdon, which included the high school bands of Shawnee Mission, Platte City, Raytown and Richmond, marched from the courthouse square to the park for the ceremony.
“Judge Henderson was the first speaker introduced by D.A. Thompson, chairman of the meeting who praised the record of Judge Henderson as probate judge of Jackson County.
“In his speech, Judge Henderson told of his youth in Ray County and the years he spent in Richmond as a young lawyer, during which time he received much encouragement from Maurice G. Roberts, then prosecuting attorney of this county.
“Judge Henderson said that he realized the need of this community for a city park and that in the presentation of the park to the city he wanted it to be known as the Maurice G. Roberts City Park, believing that it might serve as an inspiration to the youth of the community to consider the success that Mr. Roberts has achieved through his own efforts and that it would afford a playground for the youth of Richmond.
“Mr. Roberts was loudly applauded when he was introduced. He told of his youth and how he chose the legal profession. He gave tribute to the members of the Richmond bar at the time he came to Richmond to open his practice of law. He told of the first time he met Mitchel J. Henderson and of their association through later years. He recalled numerous incidents concerning his friends in Ray County.
“Judge Albert M. Clark of the Missouri Supreme Court was presented and he told of a campaign in which he and Mr. Roberts were opposing candidates in a county campaign. He commended his one-time opponent to the audience.
“State Auditor Forrest Smith was the final speaker on the program. He expressed his pleasure in being present and participating in the program of the acceptance to the Maurice G. Roberts Park with his friends.”
On the next page I found the following, “Mrs. Newton Hamacher will be hostess to her bridge club tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at her home on East Main Street.” Jean would later move next door to the park.
Now we know when the park started and why it is named after Maurice G. Roberts. Coming next is a second installment that gives us some more details about the early days and the future our our beloved park.
Have a Maurice Roberts Park story for Linda? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.