Hiram Young was born a slave in Tennessee in the year 1812. He began woodworking to earn money to purchase his freedom. He soon fell in love with his future wife, Matilda. In order to make certain their children were born free, he used his money to buy Matilda's freedom for $800.00. Hiram remained a slave. They moved to Jackson County, and later Hiram was able to purchase his freedom for $1,500.00.
In the late 1840's Hiram continued as a woodworker, making ox bows and wagon wheels. Young turned his skills into a vast fortune, becoming one of the wealthiest men in Jackson County. He lived in a well furnished home and invested heavily in real estate along the Blue River. Young received generous government contracts for wagon building and saddles. His success angered many whites, sometimes creating problems for him.
Hiram was often seen at the old slave market on East Lexington, buying young men to work in his wagon shop. He did not treat them as slaves, but rather paid them the going wage of $5.00 a day that was applied to their eventual freedom.
In 1874, Hiram raised $4,000.00 to build the first Young School, located on the northwest corner of Noland Road and Farmer Street. He sent his daughter, Amanda, to Oberlin College in Ohio, where she later became the first principal of Young School. The school was first named Douglass School after the famous abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. Later, the name was changed to Young School, in honor of Young’s great contribution to education. For many years, the Independence Board of Education would only support two grades in this school. The school had a wood shop for the boys and a home economics department for the girls.
Later, in 1935, a newly constructed school was built on Dodgion Street. From its front door, one could enjoy a panoramic view of the Independence Square Court House, and its surrounding areas. The building was new; however, all the furnishings and books had been previously used by the white schools, and were unbefitting a new building! In 1945, a high school program was instituted, whereby students wanting to obtain a high school diploma would have to ride the public transit bus to Lincoln High School in Kansas City, Missouri.
When Hiram Young died in 1882, in Independence, MO, he was buried in the white section of Woodlawn Cemetery. A park has been named in his honor, along Noland Road, between Lexington and East Walnut.
~ Reference: Jackson County Pioneers, Pearl Wilcox, The Examiner files & Ted Stillwell ~
The acquisition of the Hiram Young School
In 2011, Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity (THHFH) received a gift from the Independence School District, which rests exactly next door to our Truman Heritage Habitat ReStore™ in Independence, MO. The gift of this six-acre property holds a monumentally historic structure; the Hiram Young School. This gift imparts not only an opportunity to revitalize and restore the first African American school west of the Mississippi, it also affords the Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity offices a place to continue their contribution to the well-being of the community and remain in service to hundreds of families.
As the Hiram Young School Campaign unfolds, TH Habitat for Humanity has established the infrastructure of renewal, while maintaining the honor and historical value of the venue. THHFH is committed to a classroom devoted to honoring Mr. Hiram Young. Mr. Young’s legacy and dedication to educating and uplifting the underprivileged, and the young, speaks to our mission of Building Homes, Communities, and Hope throughout the community.
The Hiram Young School Campaign includes a Life Skills Center for supplementary family education, a Nutritional Center and an Event Space, as well as expanded offices for THHFH. The rentable Event Space will serve as additional THHFH income to build sustainability for our community programs and outreach campaigns. Our commitment to the Hiram Young School project will better serve the families throughout the Eastern Jackson area.
Hiram Young School Campaign
Would you like to find out more?
Please contact Carla Simpson, Development Director at: 816-461-6551 ext. 225
Restoration of the Hiram Young School Building will help THHFH serve more families in the following ways.
The Life Skills Center (LSC) will afford families with the financial/budgeting, home ownership and personal life skills education to ensure the success and sustainability within our community. These classes are applied to the partner family’s 350 “sweat equity” hours.
Nutritional Center with a full kitchen for healthy choices educational classes.
Construction Trade Workforce Development Education Center working with the Independence School District, Full Employment Council, Youth Build KC, and area construction companies and tradesman to provide hands-on construction trade education and commercial and home build experience to ISD students in the construction Ford Academy program and young adults age 17-24 certification. This addresses the shortage of skilled construction tradesman entering the industry.
Expanded Office Space for staff and volunteers expanding the capacity to serve more families.
Classroom Museum Space to honor and educate the community about Hiram Young and his ground-breaking legacy of the first African American school west of the Mississippi.
Rentable Event/Conference Space that creates a much needed revenue stream.
Truman Heritage ReStore Expansion from 6,000 to 12,000 square feet, as the Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity administrative offices move into the location.
Increase Inventory and Revenue to support more families by building new homes, renovating donated vacant homes and strengthening the operation budget.
Divert Landfill Exhaustion as more items are Reused, Repurposed and ReStored!
Additional Space for Gift-In-Kind partners to make donations.