Blind Boone in Warrensburg Missouri

Rachel Boone brought her infant son John William "Willie" "Blind" Boone to Warrensburg, Missouri in 1864 shortly after he was born in Miami, Missouri. He lost his eyesight as an infant, but he expressed an early interest in music and residents of Warrensburg raised money to send him to a school in St. Louis for the blind. At the school he learned to play the piano by ear and at the age of fifteen, in 1880, he became the principal in the Blind Boone Concert Company, which was managed by John Lange. John Lange and Blind Boone toured across much of the United States from 1880 to 1916, when Lange died. Boone continued to tour after Lange's death and while Boone called Columbia, Missouri, home, he had many relatives that remained behind in Warrensburg.

The tour discusses Blind Boone's experiences in Warrensburg as well as the concerts that he played at the First Christian Church, Empire Theater, and the Magnolia Opera House. The only extant resources that remain on the landscape for viewing include the First Christian Church, Empire Theatre, Magnolia Opera House, Blind Boone Park, and the Johnson County Historical Society.

Blind Boone in Warrensburg

John William Boone was born on May 17, 1864, to Rachel Boone in Miami, Missouri, in a Union army camp occupied by the Seventh Militia, Company I. Rachel Boone had been enslaved at birth in 1843 in Kentucky. It is unclear just exactly who enslaved…

Blind Boone in Warrensburg

When Willie was eight, Rachel Boone married Harrison Hendricks and moved into his home, which sat "just back of the old Land Fike's Mill [Eureka Mills] on Mill Street." Melissa Fuell Cuther noted: "The house was a one-room log…

Blind Boone in Warrensburg

Blind Boone gave several concerts at the Christian Church in Warrensburg and, according to his biographer, Mellissa Fuell, he considered himself a member of the denomination. On December 19th and 20th, 1890, Blind Boone gave two concerts at the…

Blind Boone in Warrensburg

On January 5, 1884, Blind Boone and his concert company performed at the Empire Theatre. Ellie Fike, daughter of Henry C. Fike, who operated the Eureka Mills north of town, attended the concert with her mother and wrote about it in her…

Blind Boone in Warrensburg

John Lange, Jr., was born enslaved in Harrisburg, Kentucky on October 4, 1840 to a free man and an enslaved mother. During the Civil War he worked with his father as a butcher and at the end of the Civil War the Lange family moved to Columbia…

Blind Boone in Warrensburg

The Magnolia Opera house, an 800 seat theater, was located at 145 West Pine at the corner of Washington and West Pine. Construction started on the theater in 1889, but the first performances did not occur until 1890. The Magnolia Opera house was…

Blind Boone in Warrensburg

The park that today is known as Blind Boone Park once served as the park for African American residents of Warrensburg up until the Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, KS Supreme Court ruling that mandated the integration of public accommodations.…

Blind Boone in Warrensburg

Melissa Fuell was born in Warrensburg, Missouri, on May 15, 1886, and attended and graduated from the Howard School and was active in music. She went on to study at the Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City, where she trained to be a teacher. After…

Blind Boone in Warrensburg

Blind Boone passed away in Warrensburg, Missouri, on October 4, 1927, while visting his step brother at 408 W. Market Street. (The actual home is no longer extant.) African American men and women from Warrensburg attended Blind Boone's…

Johnson County Missouri Historical Society

The Johnson County Historical Society formed in 1958 and serves as an important center for helping residents of Johnson County and those interested in Johnson County history understand the significance of the county's past. The Johnson County…
The only extant resources that remain on the landscape for viewing include the First Christian Church, Empire Theatre, Magnolia Opera House, Blind Boone Park, and the Johnson County Historical Society. Department of History University of Central Missouri