Bent & Ward Houses Historical Marker 

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From previous marker continue southwest on Sunset Dr., left turn at 55th St. to 1032 W. 55th St. This marker is located just east of the intersection of 55th Street and Sunset Drive.

 Bent & Ward Houses Historical Marker

Bent & Ward Houses Historical Marker

Bent & Ward Houses Historical Marker Inscription

"The brick house in the rear was owned by William Bent, fur trader. On Sunday, October 23, 1864, heavy fighting occurred here. After Union General Curtis flanked the Confederate line by coming up a ravine (Rockwell Lane) his troops were a few rods north of the house. The Confederate line was defended by portions of Jackman's and Thompson's Brigades of Shelby's Division. At about noon the Confederates were pushed back to 55th Street. They withdrew south at 1:00 P.M."

 William Bent

William Bent

Back in 1864, the area around Loose Park was a large farm owned by William Bent. Bent’s land extended east to Wornall Lane. On the other side of the lane was the farm owned by John B. Wornall. Bent acquired the property in 1856.

Born in St. Louis in 1809, William Bent went west to Colorado with his brother, Charles, when he was 17 years old. Bent spent his years out west trapping, trading and hauling some freight along the Santa Fe Trail. Bent periodically returned to Missouri, which may have motivated his acquisition of the farm along Wornall Lane.

There is conflicting evidence to determine whether the current Bent House located near Sunset Drive and 55th Street existed in 1864. There is evidence that the northern section of the mansion is antebellum, probably constructed in the 1850s. After Bent’s death in 1869, Seth E. Ward purchased Bent’s Farm from the Bent estate. It may have been Ward who added that part of the house that you can see from 55th Street.

But there was a large brick house located near here that was the center of fighting on October 23. Col. Charles R. Jennison wrote about the brick house during the early morning advance by the Federals.

The 1st Brigade… marched, about 5 o'clock on the morning of the 23d, from Westport directly south, crossing Brush Creek and deploying soon after daylight its first skirmish line in a corn field south of Bent's house, on the right of the road, the howitzers being left with the other batteries in and adjacent to the road. The 2d Brigade was on the extreme right of the line as then formed. Our skirmish lines soon encountered the enemy swarming through the cornfields and in the timber southwest of Wornall’s and the battle of Westport was speedily opened.

Shelby’s men used the building as a base for sharpshooters. Federal Col. Charles W. Blair wrote about a “large brick house” as his 3d Brigade emerged from the woods and onto Bent’s Farm.

A heavy fire was here opened on us from a corn-field which stretched from our right front, and which seemed filled with skirmishers, and from a large brick house in an orchard just beyond, in which a party of sharpshooters was stationed. In a few minutes several of our men had fallen, and the fire was incessant and close. I immediately ordered the right of the brigade forward and drove the enemy from the corn-field and house, while the left of the line kept straight forward through a stubble-field on their flank.

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