Although writing can help decipher history, it’s our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Annie Chambers: notorious Kansas City madam

Annie’s life threw her some fast curve balls during the frontier days when women didn’t have a lot of choices in how to support themselves. Annie had other friends that had gone and plied their trade as prostitutes and so after reviewing her present situation and taken in review of her life; it is with determination she decided she would have “a short life, but a fast and merry one.”

Annie Chambers was born into the world as Leannah Loveall in Sullivan, Kentucky on June 6, 1843. Annie’s life was fraught with misfortune. Annie would be married as a young woman to William Chambers. The first child from this marriage, a son would die in the first year of his life. Annie was to go on carriage rides daily for health purposes where a second tragedy would occur.
On one of Annie’s daily buggy rides she would be thrown from the wagon and go into a coma for three days. Upon awakening from her coma she was to learn that her child was stillborn and her husband was dead. It was here that Annie relented into the idea that prostitution was the only way to care of herself.
Annie slowly made her way to Kansas City where she would open her own “resort.” Around 1872, she would open a two-story 25-room bordello located on the south west corner of 3rd and Wyandotte. Annie’s resort was a place of plush, feminine elegance.
Upon opening the door to Annie’s the guests would be treated to chandeliers, thick red carpeting, the finest silk drapes, luxurious furniture and artwork devoted to the sensuality of woman. One would also be greeted by beautiful, well-mannered and exquisitely dressed women.
In 1923 Annie’s “resort” would be turned into a legitimate boarding home. Amazingly Annie had run her business just two blocks east of the Kansas City Police Headquarters and city hall. But it was in the end that the community and police pressure forced her hand.
Annie often defended her business stating that he she took care of her girls who came to her sick and broken. I believe she saw herself as a surrogate mother to her girls who had nowhere else to turn. When her girls wanted to leave she would give them a helping hand in starting a new life.
Annie had turned to Christianity prior to her death and donated her home. Her home became a haven for the homeless as the Union City Mission. Annie would die on March 24, 1935. She is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri as Leannah Kearns.
Annie’s home no longer stands but her legacy remains. Her life was filled with personal tragedy, sorrow and perseverance. She is to be admired simply because she did not allow despair to take her down into its dark depths but rather dug in her heels and continued on life’s paths.

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Even though I am from Kansas, I enjoy venturing into other worlds from around the globe which is why my writing focuses on diversity. With fluid accessibility to modern media and traveling opportunities, my Midwestern world can expand and explore beyond my own backyard. In addition to studying cultures, I take pleasure in studying history. Submitting to a moment in time allows us to remember, or to muse even, over our society’s past. Although writing can educate as well as entertain, yet what makes art incredibly amazing, to that of paintings, photographs, and music, it transposes emotion into another form of humanity, and therefore, it is our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.

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