Original Owners Cruise-scroggs family
Margaret E. Kerstetter Cruise Scroggs, was the first mistress of the mansion at 720 N.4th Street, Kansas City, Kansas.
Margaret was born in Stark County, Ohio, in 1843. She was an early pioneer to Kansas in 1863, but it is unknown why she came to the town of Wyandot.
In 1864 she married James A. Cruise. James was elected Clerk of the District Court in 1862 and held that position together with the office of Register of Deeds for over 10 years. He had come here from Albany, New York, in 1860 or 1861. Margaret and James had 5 children; Eugene, Marice, Chauncey, Emma and Delia. Chauncey died in infancy. A year after Delia was born James died at age of 34.
Two years after James died, Margaret married John B. Scroggs, a prominent attorney. He was one of the pioneer members of the bar of Wyandot. In 1876 they had son, John Eldon Scroggs. The baby lived 6 months.
John and Margaret had been married 12 years when they decided to build a new house. It was in 1887 and they wanted a house bigger than any in town.
The eastern slope of what was then called “Splitlog’s Hill” was selected for the new home. The house sat elevated on a terrace 10 to 15 feet above 4th Street and looked out over the whole broad confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. A stone wall contained the terrace with an ornamental iron gate bearing the letter “S” which is still there today.
The interior of the house was as fine as the exterior with stain and leaded glass windows, built ins, beautifully crafted woodwork, tile faced fireplaces and the use of lincrusta wall coverings. In the following years Eugene Cruise passed away, Marice, Emma and Delia would marry.
It was Emma who married John E. McFadden, a lawyer, in 1890. They continued to reside in the house with her mother and stepfather. In 1892, a daughter, Margaret Scroggs McFadden was born. Emma was artistically inclined. Her interests were in watercolors, tapestries and china painting. A piece of her china is on display at the museum.
In 1899, John Scroggs passed away. Margaret Scroggs died in 1915. The house passed on to John and Emma McFadden.
Margaret McFaddden married Thomas P. Palmer, also an attorney, in 1916. They were married in the Cruise-Scroggs home.
The family home was sold in 1919 to become St. John’s Orphanage.
Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King St. John Orphanage
In 1918, an influenza epidemic raged throughout the United States. St. John the Baptist Parish recorded 51 deaths that year and 71 in 1919. Many children of the parish were left without one or both parents. Msgr. Martin D. Krmpotic, Pastor of St. John’s was determined to remedy this situation. He asked the Sisters of St.Fransis of Christ the King to open an orphanage. Mr. John McFadden a neighbor of Msgr. Krmpotic expressed his desire to sell his residence, located north of the parish house.
On August 15, 1919 , Sister Mary Bonaventure, the superior, visited the McFadden home and purchased it for $15,400. The Sisters supplied the $3,000 down payment and the sum of $12,400 was raised in the parish.
It was decided that the orphanage was to open to the children of all nationalities, creeds and races. Along with the sheltered care for the children, the Sisters operated a day care and nursery school program. Within a few years there was a great increase in the number of orphans. Over the course of eight years, four additions were made to the original house but always leaving the main facade and ornate interiors intact.
By 1931, the orphanage was caring for 68 children. In 1940, the orphanage received its first license from the State Board of Health and was authorized to care for 70 children.
In the 1950’s, the Sisters started attending workshops on nursery care and became caseworkers. The Orphanage was changing.
The Orphanage operated through the Catholic Charities of the Archdioceses of Kansas City, Kansas, during the 1960’s. At that point they cared for only 35 children.
In 1973, the name was changed to St. John Children’s home. During the 1970’s and 1980’s the focus changed from a children’s home to a long-term residential treatment facility.
In 1988, the Sisters closed the Home. Thru it’s lifetime the orphanage cared for more than 3,000 children who called it “Home”.
Strawberry Hill Ethnic Cultural Society Strawberry Hill Museum
It was through the initial efforts of Msgr. John W. Horvat that the Strawberry Hill Museum came into existence in 1988. Knowing that the Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King were going to end their mission of child care, Msgr. John Horvat, Tom Tomasic and Frank Jaksa, Jr were the acquisition committee. After months of negotiations the property was acquired by the Strawberry Hill Ethnic Cultural Society. Because of Msgr’s enthusiasm for preserving this landmark, a piece of Kansas City, Kansas history has been saved.
Every time someone visits the museum the memory of the Cruise-Scroggs family, the nuns, the children and the ancestors of Kansas City, Kansas is recalled. The Strawberry Hill Museum is a remembrance to all of them. Msgr. John Horvat’s sincere wish of a “Strawberry Hill Museum” has become a reality.