Lee’s Summit MO Fun Facts
Founded as the “Town of Strother”, by William B. Howard for his wife, Maria D. Strother (daughter of William D. Strother formerly of Bardstown, Kentucky). Howard came to Jackson County in 1842 from Kentucky, married Maria in 1844, and by 1850 he and Maria had 833 acres (3.37 km2) and a homestead five miles (8 km) north of town. There was also another town called Strother. He was arrested for being a Confederate in October 1862, near the beginning of the Civil War, and after being paroled he took his family back to Kentucky for the duration of the war. After the war ended he returned and, knowing that the Missouri Pacific Railroad was surveying a route in the area, platted the town with 70 acres (280,000 m2) in the fall of 1865 as the town of Strother.
In 1865 the town of Strother changed its name for early settler Dr. Pleasant John Graves Lea, who moved to Jackson County in 1849, from Bradley County, Tennessee. Lea was listed as the postmaster of Big Cedar in the 1855 United States Official Postal Guide. Dr. Lea was killed in August 1862 by Kansas Jayhawkers (or Redlegs).
When the surveyors for the Missouri Pacific Railroad came through, the local people and the railroad wanted to name the town in Dr. Lea’s honor. He had a farm on the highest point and near the path of the tracks, and his murder had taken place near the site of the proposed depot. So they chose the name of “Lea’s Summit”, the “summit” portion to reflect its relatively highest elevation on the Missouri Pacific Railroad between St. Louis and Kansas City. But they misspelled the name “Lees Summit” (with two “e’s”; “Lee” instead of “Lea”; and leaving out the apostrophe) on a boxcar that was serving as a station and donated by the Missouri Pacific,then a sign next to the tracks, and finally in the printed time schedule for the railroad. Legend states that the name was spelled wrong on the side of the Missouri Pacific depot and has remained Lee’s Summit ever since.