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Arthur Edward Stilwell, Railroad Entrepreneur and Visionary



October 21, 1859 Arthur Edward Stilwell was born in Buffalo, New York to Charles Herbert and Mary Augusta (Pierson) Stilwell.

1875 At the age of 14 Arthur Stilwell moved west to St. Louis, where he worked as a cashier in the billiard room of a hotel owned by a former neighbor.

1876-77 Arthur returned to Rochester and opened a print shop with $400 his grandfather left him, selling a patent medicine called "Stilwell's Specific".  Not making much money, Arthur left Rochester, taking a traveling job selling stationary.

1878 Arthur was hired by the New York Advertising Company selling ads on railroad timetables in Virginia, where he courted his childhood sweetheart, Jennie A. Wood.

June 10, 1879 Arthur Stilwell and Jennie Wood were married in Ionia, Virginia.

1879 Arthur and Jenny Stilwell moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where Arthur worked at a print shop owned by a friend. Damp conditions from flooding caused Arthur to contract typhoid fever, so he left the printing business and took a job in Chicago for a photo engraving company, selling illustrations to book publishers.

1880 - 1886 The Stilwells lived in Chicago where Arthur sold insurance for the Travelers Insurance Company, introducing the  "Coupon-Annuity Endowment", a life insurance policy which gave the policy holder a monthly income after they reached a certain age. Arthur and Jenny traveled to Europe for four weeks during this time.

1886 The Stilwells returned to Kansas City with $25,000 earned from Arthur's insurance innovations, and he formed the Real Estate Trust Company, selling houses that came with a life insurance policy that would pay for the house if the purchaser should pass away.

February 14, 1889 A local real estate depression caused the Trust to be reorganized as the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Trust Company.

May 31, 1889 The Kansas City Suburban Belt Railway contracted with Arthur Stilwell to build a rail line encircling the city. Stilwell formed the Kansas City Terminal Construction Company, selling securities in Philadelphia.

November 2, 1889 Stilwell and E. L. Martin formed the Missouri Coal and Construction Company.

November 6, 1889 Stilwell and Martin formed the Kansas City, Nevada and Fort Smith Railroad, to be built by the Missouri Coal and Construction Company.

1890-91 Construction on the Kansas City Suburban Belt Railway,  with Stilwell as vice-president of the line.

Fall, 1890 Stilwell began selling lots at the townsites of Amoret and Stuart City, Missouri, on the KCNFS line

January 23, 1891 Arthur Stilwell, et. al, incorporated the Kansas City and Independence Air Line Railway Company, running east from the Blue River to Independence.

May 19, 1891 Consolidated Terminal Railroad Company was formed to build line from Grand Central Station at 2nd & Wyandotte to the Kansas/Missouri state line.

January, 1892 Stilwell proposed extending the KCNFS twenty miles to a connection with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad.

January 15, 1892 Stilwell formed the Missouri Elevator and Terminal Company, acquiring grain elevators along Suburban Belt.

March 18, 1892 The Air Line to Independence opened. 

July, 1892 Suburban Belt invested in the Union Terminal Railroad Company.

July, 1892 Kansas City, Pittsburg and Western Railroad Company formed to build line extending KCNFS to mining center of Pittsburg, Kansas.

July 21, 1892 Kansas City Star reports that the Kansas City, Nevada and Fort Smith line would be extended to connect Kansas City with the Gulf of Mexico.

July 25, 1892 Consolidated merged into the Suburban Belt, forming the new Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad Company.

Fall, 1892 Stilwell incorporated the Arkansas Construction Company.

December 3, 1892 Kansas City, Nevada and Fort Smith railroad became the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf, nicknamed "Pee Gee"

December 13, 1893 Arkansas Construction Company purchased the Texarkana and Fort Smith Railway Company.

March, 1893 Stilwell formed the National Surety Company which handled surety business for several railroads.

May 11, 1893 The KCPG acquired the Kansas City, Fort Smith and Southern Railway, which operated from Joplin to Sulfur Springs, Arkansas.

May 1893 Fairmount Park opened in Independence, built by Stilwell to boost revenue for the fledgling Air Line.

June 10, 1893 KCPG line from Pittsburg to Kansas City opened.

August, 1893 Stilwell formed the Philadelphia Construction Company, which purchased the Missouri Coal and Construction Company.

1894 Stilwell created the Bethany Night School, a social service center in Kansas City's "Hell's Half Acre"

February, 1894 Following the economic depression of 1893, Stilwell sailed for Europe to raise money in Holland.

September 27, 1894 Charter filed for the Kansas City, Shreveport and Gulf Railroad Company, running from from the northern border of Louisiana to Sabine Pass, Texas, to be built by the Arkansas Construction Company and the Kansas City Terminal Construction Co.

November 20, 1894 Texarkana and Fort Smith Railway merged with the KCPG.

1895 Stilwell had built more than forty miles of belt railway in Kansas City running through the major industrial areas and connecting with all local railroads.

1895 Stilwell became chairman of a committee to raise funds for the building of the future Convention Hall.

April 5, 1895 Articles of association were filed for the Kansas City and Northern Connecting Railroad (KCNC), with Stilwell as president.

September 1895 First horse show held at Fairmount Park, would later become the American Royal.

October-December, 1895 Stilwell acquires property for the KCPG's terminal city at the Gulf of Mexico, to be named Port Arthur.

December 4, 1895 The Port Arthur Townsite and Land Company was organized.

1896 The Quincy, Omaha and Kansas City Railroad was acquired by Stilwell, et. al.

1896 Stilwell formed the town of Mena, Arkansas, named after Holland's queen Wilhelmina, and names the 1,300 foot mountain towering over it "Mount Mena". A resort is built on the mountain, the "Wilhelmina Inn"

1896 Dutch investors withheld money pending the outcome of the McKinley/Bryan election. Stilwell worked hard to support the election of William McKinley.

May 20, 1896  Stilwell returned home from Holland, Germany, and England with financing for the KCNC.
June 16, 1896  Stilwell created the Port Arthur Channel and Dock Company.

July 23, 1896  Stilwell, et. al, incorporated the Omaha, Kansas City and Eastern Railroad Company, to connect the KCPG with the northern lines.

August, 1896  KCPG employees recieved a paid holiday and transportation to Fairmount Park to hear Arthur Stilwell speak in support of the McKinley campaign.

November, 1896  In the wake of the McKinley election, Stilwell announced that 1,500 more men would be hired for the KCPG

1897  Stilwell announced the formation of Janssen Place in Kansas City.

January, 1897   KCNC purchased the Kansas City and Atlantic Railway, which ran from Haarlem to Smithville, Mo.

January 24, 1897   KCPG purchased the Calcasieu, Vernon and Shreveport Railway Company, giving them a second Gulf terminus.

February, 1897 Stilwell sold the National Surety Company at a profit

February 8, 1897 Stilwell reincorporated the Port Arthur Channel and Dock Company in the State of Texas.

March 2, 1897  KCPG line from Kansas City to Shreveport opened to fanfare in Kansas City.

March 3, 1897 Stilwell addressed the Kansas City Commercial Club to thunderous applause before embarking on a 10-day trip to inspect the line to Shreveport and the site at Port Arthur.

March 29, 1897 Stilwell replaced E. L. Martin as the president of the KCPG, who resigned for health reasons.

June 8, 1897 KCPG line to Hornbeck opened.

June 11, 1896  The Omaha and Saint Louis Railway was acquired by Stilwell et. al, and became the OStL Railroad Company.

July, 1897  KCPG line to Lake Charles completed.

July 4, 1897 OKCE line from Trenton to Pattonsburg was completed, with Stilwell arriving at the celebration in his private car.

September 11, 1897 Last spike on the KCPG driven in Port Arthur as Arthur Stilwell celebrates at Fairmount Park.

September 12, 1897 Hurricane tears through Port Arthur, filled with revelers celebrating the railroad's completion, killing 14, including four who sought shelter in KCPG roundhouse. Many more injured.

September 12, 1897 Yellow fever quarantine established between Shreveport and the Gulf, closing all rail traffic south of Shreveport, lasting for six weeks.

October 18, 1897  George Pullman died in Chicago, before providing the financing he promised Arthur Stilwell. Stilwell learned of the death arriving at the Chicago train station to meet with Pullman to sign the contract.

1897-1898  Port Arthur Channel and Dock Company built wharves, piers, warehouses, and a grain elevator.

March 10, 1898  Last spike driven in the KCNC, giving Stilwell a direct line from Port Arthur north to Council Bluffs and Quincy.

November 21, 1898 Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Port Arthur Channel and Dock Company, ending two years of litigation, clearing the way for Stilwell to finish the waterway.

November, 1898 - February, 1899 Stilwell traveled to the East Coast to raise money for the struggling KCPG, but was unsuccessful.

March 20, 1899 Last piece of earth removed from the canal, and the ship Jennie, named for Stilwell's wife, became the first vessel to pass through.

March 23, 1899 5,000 people, including many dignitaries, attended the official opening ceremony of the Port Arthur Canal.

April 1, 1899 KCPG thrown into receivership over a $44 printing bill.

July, 1899 Arthur and Jennie Stilwell moved to Chicago in an attempt to save the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Trust Company and the KCPG.

August 13, 1899 The British ship St. Oswald became the first large ocean vessel to pass through the canal.

January, 1900 KCNC and OKCE went into receivership; Stilwell resigned as president of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Trust Company.

February 10, 1900 Upon Arthur and Jennie's return to Kansas City, hundreds attended a testimonial dinner at the Midland Hotel to show appreciation for Arthur Stilwell's contributions to Kansas City. Stilwell used this opportunity to announce plans to build a railroad from Kansas City to the Pacific Ocean.

February 17, 1900 Stilwell announced organization of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway Company (KCMO)

Spring, 1900 Arthur and Jennie Stilwell travel to Mexico, where Arthur meets with President Diaz and arranges for subsidies from the Mexican government.

March 19, 1900 The Kansas City Southern Railway Company was incorporated to acquire the KCPG.

April, 1900 Stilwell was removed from the board of the KCNC

May 18, 1900 Stilwell won back presidency of the Guardian Trust Company.

July 27, 1900 KCMO receives concessions from the Mexican government for a 99-year lease, giving KCMO the right of way across the entire country of Mexico.

November 30, 1900 Guardian thrown back into receivership by Stilwell nemesis John W. Gates.

January 10, 1901 Oil discovered 15 miles north of Port Arthur, securing the future of Port Arthur as a vital shipping port.

February 1, 1901 United States and Mexican Trust Company of Delaware created to enter the general trust business.

1901 Stilwell created the Union Construction Company and the International Construction Company to build the KCMO.

May 20, 1901 KCNC was foreclosed.

July 4, 1901 Arthur Stilwell drove the first spike into the "Port Stilwell Route" in Emporia, Kansas.

Fall 1901 - Spring, 1902 The Stilwells traveled to Europe to secure financing for the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad, opening an office of the United States and Mexican Trust Company in London.

August 7, 1902 Arthur Stilwell gave a dinner at the Hyde Park Hotel promoting the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient.

1903 Bethany Night School destroyed by flood.



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