A Book for These Turbulent Times

It’s been awhile, but it seems only natural to recommend a good book to help us understand these turbulent times. If you have not read it,”White Man‘s Heaven: The Lynching and Expulsion of Blacks in the Southern Ozarks, 1894-1909″ by Kimberly Harper explores the complex racial dynamics of the early twentieth century Ozarks. If you are like us, you might have grown up in Southwest Missouri during a time when there were few, if any, people of color in your community and wondered why. Well, this is why. One reader called it the Ozarks version of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

You can order a copy at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/White-Mans-Heaven-Expulsion-1894-1909/dp/1557289840

Or visit the University of Arkansas Press’ site: https://www.uapress.com/product/white-mans-heaven/

Images from the 1943 Joplin Flood

In the midst of the Second World War, Joplin was inundated with soldiers from nearby Camp Crowder, a war driven demand for lead and zinc, and approximately 10 inches of rain within 36 hours in 1943.  The 1943 flood affected most of Joplin with the area of “Main and Joplin streets from Fifth to Sixth streets” suffering the worse damage in the business district.  The May flood was described by the Joplin Globe, “One man was missing and believed drowned, hundreds of families were temporarily homeless, whole communities were isolated.  Joplin’s water system was menaced, and thousands of acres of land were inundated last night as the most devastating floods this district ever experienced swirled over southwest Missouri and the Tri-State district in the wake of unprecedented rains.”

Below are two photos of Joplin at the time of the flood, click on either image for a larger version.

From the collection of Sammy Lucille Caldwell, courtesy of Dan Bell

 

From the collection of Sammy Lucille Caldwell, courtesy of Dan Bell

Thank you to Dan Bell for sharing the photographs with Historic Joplin! We invite anyone to share scans of their Joplin photos, documents, or other items with us and we will be glad to share them on Historic Joplin with others interested in the city’s fascinating history.

1910s – 1920s Joplin Miners

In honor of the soon to be named Joplin baseball team, here’s one more photograph of Joplin’s longest lasting professional team, the Miners from some time in the 1910s to 1920s.

Unfortunately, this is a private photograph with no labeled names or dates, so the scowling fellow will have to go down nameless into posterity.  We will never know what irritated him approximately 100 years ago.  For a large version of the image, just click on the photograph.

1928 and 1930 Joplin Miners

In celebration of the return of professional baseball to Joplin, here are team photographs from Joplin’s baseball past.  Below are photographs of the Joplin Miners, the first from 1928 and the second from 1930. As usual, for a larger version, just click on the photo.

Here are the names of players as numbered: 1) Red Becker, 2) Bill Diester, 3) Ted Willis, 4) Connelly, 5) Martin, 6) Frank Sidle, 7) Poirier, 8) Mitchell, 9) Delabetta, 10) Reilly, 11) House, 12) Manager Marty Purtell, 13) Brauchle, 14) Jack Hinson, 15) Robinson, 16) Jack Crouch

 

The names of the players as numbered: 1) Mallett, 2) Grant, 3) Novak, 4) Harry Kimberlin, 5) David Cheeves, 6) Bob Boken, 7) Ellison, 8) Byron Humphrey, 9) Bill Diester, 10) Ed Kallina, 11) Griffith, 12) Business Manager Wilson, 13) James Bray, 14) Emery Osborn, 15) Cato, 16) Manager Cotton Tierney, 17) Edward Halbert, 18) Luke Corbus, 19) Scofield

The Yuletide Season

One hundred years ago, the lights of stores lining Joplin’s main street blazed brightly as shoppers and spectators strolled the sidewalks in search of the perfect gift despite a mix of rain and snow. Merchants kept their doors open long after regular hours in the hope of attracting more customers and did so with success. Many businesses reported that the last few hours saw the “heaviest trade” of the season with people coming from all over the Four State region to peruse their wares.

The Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad, sometimes referred to as the “May Never Arrive” because of its chronic tardiness, offered a special Christmas shopping excursion to passengers in Harrison and Eureka Springs, Arkansas. An estimated two hundred Arkansawyers took advantage of the opportunity and caught the 4:30 a.m. train to Joplin, arriving on time at 10:30 a.m., and immediately headed to Main Street. Trains left Joplin bearing “hundreds of bundle-laden passengers.”

Churches throughout the city celebrated the birth of Christ with special programs and charitable organizations worked to ensure that even the poor were remembered and able to “forget their condition” for a brief time. Clothes, food, and toys were distributed to those in need.

The majority of businesses reported they would be closed on Christmas, but mail carriers would have to make their rounds as usual. The city collector and the county sheriff announced their offices would be open, but all other city employees had the day off.

*On a personal note, we here at Historic Joplin have much to be grateful for and ask that if you can, please remember those who are less fortunate this Christmas. Please consider making a donation to the charity of your choice or to a local food bank to help those in need.

Halloween in Joplin

General Spook of Goblin-land ordered his army to invade the city of Joplin last night and the order was carried out to the letter,” the Globe cheerily reported the morning after Halloween.

“Everyone was out – young and old. Motor cars heavily laden with masqueraders raced up and down Main Street, causing traffic jams at times, which gave police officers not little concern. Horns were brought into play by children. In the various sections of the city an occasional revolver shot was heard and drivers of motor cars on Main Street added to the fun with blasts from the exhaust pipe of the vehicles.”

Dances were held at the Connor Hotel and Erickson’s Dancing Academy. Even the Joplin Children’s Home provided Halloween festivities for its residents, allowing the seventy-five children who lived there to invite a friend to the home to enjoy refreshments and play games.

The streets of Joplin swarmed with children decked out in a variety of costumes. Rudolph Valentino was a popular choice as was the “negro mammy, whose picture has adorned the packages of pancake flour.” The Globe observed, “Many girls became boys, while the boy got his one opportunity to strut the streets as a girl.” For all of the innocent youth seeking a treat, it seemed that there were even more intent on carrying out tricks.

Joplin police received more than thirty phone calls to break up gangs of delinquents destroying or removing property. The activity was concentrated in an area west of Main Street, between Fourth and Twentieth streets, though other neighborhoods were also vandalized. Pranksters placed “all sorts of objects” in the streets to stop traffic and a gang of rock throwers made a nuisance of themselves. Finding wooden fences too easy to tear down, one group of hoodlums tried to demolish a stone fence in North Joplin. Windows were soaped in residential and business districts. Despite all of the damage, no one was arrested, most likely because Joplin was home to “many potential champion sprinters.”

The Ozarks Playground Association

The Ozarks Playground Association (OPA) was founded in 1919 to promote tourism in the Ozarks. Headquartered in Joplin, the association published maps and brochures highlighting towns, resorts, attractions, and points of interest for visitors. The association eventually dissolved in 1979. Several of the maps and brochures have survived, but to this day, it is unknown what happened to the organization’s papers, i.e. minutes of meetings, correspondence, etc.

If you know of a family member who was involved with the OPA or know about any individuals who may have OPA material, drop us a line. Although it is of relatively little monetary value, the papers of the OPA (if the papers still exist) are an invaluable part of Ozark history, and need to be preserved for future generations.

To Build A Railroad: Photos from the Katy Line’s Construction to the Union Depot.

As part of our recent discovery of a photograph of the Joplin Union Depot under construction, we also uncovered photographs of the construction of the new Missouri-Kansas-Texas (“Katy”) railroad line by the Walsh-List-Gifford Construction Company. Once again, we are happy and proud to share a few glimpses of Joplin’s history that we believed was otherwise left to the imagination to envision. To learn some about the men featured in the photographs below and the life they lived, just read our earlier entry here about life in a railroad camp.

First, we have a photograph of a steam engine with the name of the company painted along the side of the accompanying coal car. The fellow resting on the front of the engine is one of our favorite elements of the photograph.

Click on the photo to find larger versions.

Next, we have a photograph of the railroad building at work.  Here, the company appears to be building up an earthen support to the trestle bridge that the line is built upon.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Finally, our favorite photograph shows some of the men at work (or spectating) on the side of the line while a steam engine puffs its way toward the photographer.

To view a larger version of the photograph, just click on the image.

 

 

Joplin Union Depot: Under Construction!

For historians, it is a labor of love to research and investigate topics of interest. Often times, in the course of such research, one is repeatedly faced with missing pieces and the fear that some things are forever lost to the ages. In the course of writing our five part history of the Union Depot, we exhausted countless resources trying to find as many images of the depot in its earliest stages of being built. Our most successful find was the image below:

The depot nearing completion in March, 1911.

It was the best we believed that existed of Joplin’s beautiful depot under construction. That is, until now. It is with great pride and excitement that we unveil and share with you a newly discovered photo of the depot in the process of being built.

The Joplin Union Depot under construction sometime in the early months of 1911. Click on image to view larger sizes.

By the appearance and state of completion of the depot and the background trees, we estimate that this photograph was taken sometime in early 1911, quite possibly after the one we posted previously. The photograph was taken from Main Street or just off of Main Street. Of particular note is that the exterior finishes on the building are incomplete, such as the architectural touches on the south end of the building, the lack of glass windows and the white exterior is in the process of being added. In the background, you can spot Eugene Field School (since demolished) sitting as the massive building on a hill. Regretfully, we know little about the photographer, other than he may have worked for a railroad and lived in Oklahoma.

If you still have not read our five part history of the depot, you can find it at the following links: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

Also, watch for more photographs associated with the construction of the Union Depot, which while not of the depot itself, are still quite fascinating and depict a previously discussed post on our site!

House of a Thousand Shines

A fortune in zinc ore.

In the fall of 1924, South Joplin became home to the “House of a Thousand Shines.” Paul W. Freeman, of the John W. Freeman Trust Company, built a unique residence at 3215 Wall. The Globe reported, “As one drives past it on a sunny afternoon, little beams of light twinkle first here, then there in the walls, until the spectator is led to believe the house is studded with diamonds.” While his stucco house was under construction, Freeman found out that gravel typically used in stucco house construction cost $40 to $80 a ton and had to be transported from Michigan or Ohio. He then decided to use lead and zinc ore “instead of gravel as a splash for the walls.” After the “cracked ore was screened to eliminate the finer particles” the entire six room bungalow was covered in a ton and a half of zinc ore. Five hundred pounds of lead was used on the porch columns. Apparently pleased with the results, Freeman told the Globe that lead and zinc ore could be used as economically as out-of-state gravel, although it is unknown if other local residents chose to use it instead of other alternatives.

While Wall Avenue no longer extends into the 32nd block, it is possible the house still survives on Oak Ridge Drive.