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Kansas City Ragtime Landmarks

  • Kansas City was the site of two, large music publishing houses, J. W. Jenkins’ Sons’ Music Co.      (est. 1878) and Carl Hoffman’s Music Co. (est. 1895), both located at 10th and Walnut.  Former employees of both Jenkins and Hoffmans include composers Charles N. Daniels, Charles L. Johnson, E. Harry Kelly, Ed Kuhn and Mamie E. Williams.



  • Scott Joplin’s first rag, “Original Rags”, was published by Hoffman’s in 1899, although his now famous “Maple Leaf Rag” was rejected!  (John Stark of Sedalia published it in 1899.)



  • The very first ragtime tune ever published, “La Pas Ma La”, was written by Kansas City resident Ernest Hogan in 1895 and published by J. R. Bell in Kansas City, MO.



  • The best selling and most widely recorded rag, “12th Street Rag” by Euday Bowman, was written about Kansas City and published by Jenkins in 1914.  Other rags named after local streets include “11th Street Rag”, “13th Street Rag” and “Petticoat Lane”, in downtown KC.



  • James Scott (1886-1938)--whose ragtime compositions are  considered second only to Scott Joplin’s--was born in Neosho, MO, grew up in Carthage, MO and lived in Kansas City from 1914 to 1938, first at 402 Nebraska Street, KC KS and later at 1926 Springfield, KC KS.  While here he worked as a music teacher and as a musician at the Panama Theater on East 12th St., the Electric at 18th & Lydia, and at the Eblon at 1820 Vine (The façade is still standing!).  “The Kansas City Rag” was written by Scott in 1907 and was dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Penn of Kansas City, MO.  Scott is buried at Westlawn Cemetery, 38th & State Ave. in KC KS.  Donations to mark his grave were collected by Helen F. and David Wallace (2 founders of  K. C. Ragtime Revelry) of Overland Park, KS in 1981.   Dennis Pash (another founder) of the Etcetera String Band composed his epitaph.  James Scott’s nephews, James and Harold Scott, live in Kansas City today.



  • Charles L. Johnson (1876-1950), prolific composer of “Dill Pickles Rag”, was born in Kansas City, KS and lived locally all of his life.  “Doc Brown’s Cake Walk”, written by Johnson and published by Jenkins in 1899, was inspired by Dr. William Henry Joseph Cutter Brown, a local celebrity and champion cakewalk competitor.  It was played that year in Kansas City’s Heim Park by the John Philip Sousa Band on tour.  Today, Doc Brown’s portrait hangs in the Kansas City Museum.  Johnson’s Indian intermezzo “Iola”, named for the Kansas town and published in 1904 by Johnson’s own Central Music Co. in Kansas City, MO, was his first nationwide ragtime hit.  Johnson also played with the Walton Mandolin Club of Kansas City, KS and composed for the W. H. Adams Imperial Mandolin Orchestra of Kansas City, MO.  At the time of his death, he lived at 3028 Tracy, KC MO.  Johnson is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in KC KS.



  • E. Harry Kelly (1879-1955) was born in Kansas City, MO, and lived here all of his life.  Kansas  City’s  first  nationwide  ragtime  hit, “Peaceful Henry”, was written  by  Kelly  and published by Hoffman’s in 1901, and inspired by a Hoffman’s Music Co. janitor who was known as an arbitrator.  It was the first rag ever recorded.  “The Muehlebach” was written and published by Kelly in 1916 to commemorate the opening of Kansas City’s Muehlebach Hotel.  Kelly played with the William Zeiler Orchestra and with Kelly’s Band and Orchestra at the Baltimore and Muehlebach hotels downtown and in 1918 at the Kansas City Convention Hall to welcome home the WWI troops.  The former home of E. Harry Kelly at 407 Benton Blvd., KCMO, has been designated an historic landmark by the Kansas City Register of Historic Places.  The Etcetera String Band played at the 1994 dedication.  Kelly is buried at Mount St. Mary’s cemetery in KCMO.  (Brad and Jennifer Finch, founding members of K. C. Ragtime Revelry, currently reside in the Kelly home,



  • Arthur Marshall (1881-1968), composer of “Kinklets” and a student of Scott Joplin’s, was born in Saline Co., MO and moved to Kansas City in 1917.  He is buried at Highland Cemetery in Independence, MO.  Donations to mark his grave were collected by KCRR founding members Helen F. and David Wallace of Overland Park, KS in 1988. 



  • Kansas City resident Charles N. Daniels a.k.a. Neil Moret (1878-1943) was born in Leavenworth, KS, and in 1901 composed the very first Indian intermezzo “Hiawatha”, named for the Kansas town.



  • K. C. Ragtime Revelry founding members Kevin Sanders and Dennis Pash of the former Etcetera String Band performed traditional and their own original ragtime compositions.  Their fourth recording, “Fun on the Levee”, consists entirely of turn-of-the-century tunes written by local composers who lived in Kansas City, MO, Kansas City, KS, Atchison, KS and St. Joseph, MO.  (The title cut was written by Charles L. Johnson of KC MO.)



  • Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver proclaimed October 8, 1994 as Ragtime Recognition Day in appreciation of Kansas City Ragtime Revelry Inc. and its supporters.  “Revelry Rag” was composed in 1993 by Kevin Sanders for Kansas City’s first annual ragtime celebration and is dedicated to the aforementioned Wallaces.


Material for this page was compiled by Nannette Rod


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