To Cure Evils: The Joplin Automobile Club

The founding members of the Joplin Auto Club met at the meeting room of the Joplin Commercial Club located at the Club Theatre.


“To cure evils,” was the purpose of the establishment of the Joplin Automobile Club, a branch of the Southwest Missouri Association. In the February of 1911, the city of Joplin was faced with the new problems and dangers of a populace that increasingly turned toward motorized travel in the streets. In response, the city attorney, W.M. Andrews, oversaw a crack down on motor vehicle violations with a veritable flood of arrests and fines. Outrage was immediate. In the quarters of the city’s Commercial Club “bankers, doctors, lawyers and businessmen,” the elite who could afford automobile ownership, demanded answers from Andrews. Andrews, in turn, was blunt. Fourth Street, the city prosecutor decried, had turned into a race track and “only miracles have prevented deaths as a result of fast and reckless driving.”

At issue was a city ordinance which required illuminated numbers on cars to help Joplin’s police department identify and arrest offenders. A number of owners complained that the length of their car identification numbers made adherence an impracticality. Andrews, however, was undeterred and argued of the dangerous driving, “This must be stopped. If there are no numbers on the machines how can an office detect the guilty parties? Within the past two weeks there have been several people injured by autos, and in one instance a woman and two children were thrown from a buggy.” In compromise, Andrews stated that adherence within ten days would result in a dismissal of charges and fines. Unsurprisingly, this was well received.

Taken sometime after 1908, this photo reveals that at least 3 years before the creation of the Joplin Automobile Club, Main Street was still mainly a place of horse and buggy.


The car owners were not without a sense of responsibility for their machines of a new century. The Joplin Automobile Club was only part of a series of clubs created throughout Jasper County, with additional clubs associated with the other towns of the county. Approximately 100 men joined that February with the expectation that membership would grow as word and knowledge of its existence spread.

Two weeks later, the men gathered again to elect officers. Taylor Snapp was voted president, Fred Basom and Victor Young, vice-presidents, A.H. Waite treasurer and W.M. Pye, secretary. At the same meeting, the club voted to create reward money for the arrest and conviction of individuals who sought to ruin the enjoyment and lives of car owners. $100 for a car thief, $25 for someone stealing a part of a car, $10 for anyone who cut a tire or threw rocks at a car or its occupants. Interestingly, the club also voted to encourage a crack down on teamsters, who “persist in taking the entire road and who refuse to permit automobiles to pass” in violation of state law. It was Snapp, in this capacity as president who later spoke for the club after a car accident resulted in the creation of Joplin’s first motorcycle police officer. In short, however, the Joplin Automobile Club came into existence as a means for mostly wealthy men to protect their interests in the new and expensive world of car ownership. The distinction of car ownership would fade eventually with the production of cars affordable by all, such as the Ford Model T.

Kansas City Bottoms: Part III

Sunshine Mission in Joplin Missouri
In 1915, a young girl made a simple, but momentous decision that affected the lives of her fellow residents in the Kansas City Bottoms. The girl, name unknown, decided to attend church. Surely the sight of a bedraggled, impoverished child from the Bottoms must have caused a stir in the pews of the church she attended, but if it did, the child did not notice. Instead, she asked her Sunday school teacher, Miss Minnie McKenna, for help.

With Christmas looming ahead, McKenna turned to the Women’s Civic Club for assistance. Eager to help those in need, the Women’s Civic Club leapt into action, and helped establish a mission to the poor. Members initially contributed $90 to start a building fund and formed a committee to bring in more funds. Howard Murphy offered land for the mission and Mayor Jesse F. Osborne, P.A. Christman, and James McConnell agreed to create a building committee.

Within a few days, a small single story structure was completed, and was named “Sunshine Mission.” The humble building served as the site of the first Christmas tree and Christmas services held in the Kansas City Bottoms. The Women’s Civic Club received assistance from numerous other religious and civic organizations eager to show their support for the project. Christmas presents and candy were distributed to the children.

It was at this time that a young boy who lived in the Kansas City Bottoms told McKenna he was “tired of being called a ‘coke bottomer’ and a ‘bottomite’” and asked that the name “be changed to something ‘pretty and bright.’” McKenna renamed the area “Sunshine Hollow.”

Residents of Sunshine Hollow could attend Sunday school services at the mission, take sewing and crocheting classes, and join a mother’s club. The Sunday school services were taught by young men and women from across Joplin’s religious community. Their efforts persisted until 1918 when, due to World War One, their efforts were redirected to the war effort.

In 1919, members of the First Christian Church rallied to reopen the mission, but their work was halted when a ban was placed on public meetings due to the threat of Spanish influenza. A year later, the mission was once again reopened, and the number of attendees grew. It was during this time that the building was moved from the site of the Union Depot to an area further north “just east and north of the viaduct on the North Main Street road.” The building was the enlarged and painted white with paint donated by Eagle-Picher.

The first full-time minister at Sunshine Mission was the Rev. Mr. Ashworth. After three years he left and was replaced by the Rev. William Kelley. Kelley’s tenure at the Sunshine Mission will be continued in the next post.

Stay tuned for Part IV of the history of the Kansas City Bottoms!

Copyright Historic Joplin, 2012.

The Kansas City Bottoms: Part I

Landreth Park Joplin MIssouri
The north end of Joplin’s Main Street is quiet today. The Joplin Union Depot sits abandoned, visited only by aspiring graffiti artists and the historically curious, hoping to catch a glimpse of Joplin’s glory days in the weathered, intricate designs of architect Louis Curtiss. With the arrival of winter, Landreth Park is empty, save for the urban wildlife that call it home. Joplin Creek, the one constant in the ever changing landscape over the last one hundred years, remains. If only its silent waters could tell stories of the contentious rivalry between East and West Joplin, the mining operations that clouded its waters, and of the numerous families who lived in dire poverty along its banks in what was once known as the “Kansas City Bottoms.”

The name Kansas City Bottoms, according to one source, was derived from the Kansas City Southern Railway. Dolph Shaner, however, argued that the name “Kansas City Bottoms” came about because, “Kansas City and Independence, Missouri, capitalists, headed by John H. Taylor, purchased 120 acres of land extending from Fourth Street north three-fourths of a mile along Joplin Creek. The land being owned by Kansas City men, the valley at that point was dubbed ‘Kansas City Bottoms.’”

Attorney Clark Claycroft was one of Joplin’s earliest residents. Toward the end of his life he recalled that, “[John B.] Sergeant made the first big strike of lead ore in Kansas City bottoms, near the mouth of what now is known as Sunshine Hollow.” Veteran well driller Perry Crossman provided more detail, stating in an interview, “Late in the fall of 1871, I made a contract with John H. Taylor of the Joplin Mining and Smelting Company to drill a hole in a pump shaft in the Kansas City Bottoms. Charles Glover, now with the Joplin Globe, drew up the contract for Taylor and myself. That was the first hole ever put down to make a test for ore, and it ended in limestone.”

The area quickly became a magnet for men who sought to make a fortune in the lead and zinc industry. The Joplin Creek valley became inundated with hundreds of would-be miners who lived in tents, constructed crude shanties, or slept out in the open to stay close to their prospective strike. Joplin resident Dolph Shaner remarked that where Landreth Park is now located, “there once existed many, many mine dumps; all are now filled, leveled, and covered with grass.”

As mining operations left the Joplin Creek valley and spread out across the region in search of rich lead and zinc deposits, one might think that story of the Bottoms was over. It was not. As the population grew, two rival entities, East and West Joplin, sprang into existence. The bottoms connected the main streets of East and West Joplin and soon turned into a battleground between young men who fought on behalf of their town’s honor. We will leave it to the reader to pick up a copy of Shaner’s book to read in detail about the fistfights and rivalries that took place.

Stay tuned for Part II of the Kansas City Bottoms…

Twisters, Cyclones, and Tornadoes of Joplin’s Past: Part I

The tornado of May 22 was the worst to strike Joplin, but it was not the first.

In May, 1883, a tornado swept through Joplin and the news accounts of the event appear to echo recent events. Just this past week, a story about Laverne the cat, who was rescued after being trapped in the rubble after sixteen days aired on local news stations. In 1883, Charley Elliott’s dog was “in his store building when it fell. He was dug out next morning pretty badly bruised, but after a few hours he was alright. There were acts of generosity. E.R. Moffett, who would later die impoverished, walked up to an “old friend who he had worked with before he became a millionaire. ‘Crit, I’m damned sorry, I’m sorry $500,” and then gave a five hundred dollar check to the relief fund. Citizens scrambled to help each other. Judge Byers was “constantly busy distributing supplies to the needy who lost their all by the wild winds.” Doctors Fannie Williams and Mrs. Creech did “good work for the suffering ladies who were injured” during the storm. Miss Fannie Hall of Carthage gave her all to assist the suffering at the hospital. Oronogo, also hard hit by the storm, was the focus of a relief committee made up of some of Joplin’s leading socialites: Mrs. L.P. Cunningham, Mrs. J.B. Sergeant, Mrs. J.C. Gaston, and Mrs. Thomas Heathwood. Together these women sought to collect food, clothing, and bedding for those effected by the storm.

For others, the tornado brought excitement and curiosity. The Daily Herald remarked, “Some of the visitors Monday night seemed to regard the occasion in the light of a picnic. Frivolities and flirtations were engaged in that would have been regarded impudent at a circus. No apparent sympathy was exhibited for the crippled, bereaved, and homeless, while silly children took the place of sober sense.” Sightseers came to stare at a “bushel basket that lodged in the top of a large tree near the railroad track.” Telegraph poles at the train depot reportedly looked like “they had passed through a storm of musketry.”

And then there were those that lost their lives. Preliminary reports reported that the bodies of a Mr. Goodwin and his daughter were killed by the tornado. It is unknown how many others lost their lives.

The next significant tornado to hit Joplin was in April, 1902. The News-Herald proclaimed it was, “[The] Worst That Joplin Has Known.” A wind, hail, and rain storm converged upon Joplin around 4:25 p.m. in the afternoon in an area described as covering “Seventh Street on the north and as far as Seventeenth Street on the south” with the worst areas at Moffett and Bird streets from Thirteenth to Sixteenth streets and at Moonshine Hill. Property along Main and Ninth streets received substantial damage.

The News-Herald reporter must have not known about the Tornado of 1883 as they declared, “As Joplin has never experienced a real tornado, the people were unprepared and as it came upon them so unexpectedly, it as a wonder that more fatalities are not recorded.” Telephone and trolley poles were twisted beyond recognition making communication with neighboring communities impossible. Streetcars were unable to run due to the lack of electricity and piles of debris covering the tracks. One car caught at Twelfth and Main, Car Number 41, was struck by a telephone pole. Passengers inside were “thoroughly frightened and several actually said their prayers.” Strong wind was not the only threat to human lives. The pole was described as having fifteen double cross arms with three large cables and several hundred telephone wires. Workers roped off the street to prevent traffic and pedestrians from going near the car. Passengers shakily disembarked and walked home on foot.

Illustration of the damage from the tornado.

A “solid sheet of water, besides some hail” fell, causing people to hide inside their homes. Willow Branch, the Tenth Street branch, and other small streams in and around Joplin began to flood, leaving many to seek dry ground as the streams became “turbulent torrent[s] of water, mud, and wreckage.”

The storm indiscriminately took human lives and property. It was reported that the two room house of William Hunter, who lived on the east side of Moonshine Hill, was carried for a long distance before it shattered. Mrs. Hunter, holding her baby Esther in her arms, was about to flee the house when the storm hit. A plank of wood flew past and hit her child in the head, mortally wounding it, while Mrs. Hunter sustained serious injuries. Her husband, a miner, was at work at the Dividend Mine when the storm rolled through Joplin. A neighbor, Charley Whitehead, came to Mrs. Hunter’s rescue. Other residents of Moonshine Hill suffered the same fate. Will Douglass’ home was obliterated. Lee Whitehead [perhaps related to Charley] and family also lost their home. The Methodist church on Moonshine Hill was a complete loss.

Arthur Cox, owner of Cox Baseball Park, was one of the “heaviest losers.” The storm destroyed the baseball park’s fence, the grand stand’s roof ripped off, and sustained overall heavy damage. The losses were estimated at $1,000. Cox, however, was not one to stand idly by. Within a day, W.J. Wagy was hired to rebuild the park in time for a game just a day after the tornado struck.

The Joplin Miners

The Joplin Miners of 1902 who temporarily lost their home.

At the corner of West Ninth and Tenth streets, several homes were damaged, if not utterly ruined. An African-American family named Smith lost their house and P.B. Moser’s home was demolished. A.J. Stockton was fortunate – he only lost his kitchen.

For the impoverished residents who lived in “shanties” north of the Missouri Pacific roundhouse between Grand Avenue and the Frisco and Kansas City Southern tracks, their impermanent residences were blown away.

White and black churches were not left untouched. The First Baptist Church was “badly wrecked.” The Methodist Episcopal Church’s South Mission location at Tenth and Grand was “completely wiped away.” The African Methodist Episcopal Church on East Seventh street was also destroyed. Despite being a substantial frame structure, the roof was torn off and the walls subsequently caved in.

St. John's Hospital

The nuns at St. John’s Hospital were “buffeted and blown about by the wind as they strove in vain to keep out the sheets of water thrown against the west end south of the building which stands high and unprotected.”

Property damage was estimated at $50,000 and an estimated fifty to sixty houses destroyed. As soon as the storm passed, “ambulances and relief crews found work to do for many hours.” Mayor John C. Trigg released a proclamation that read:

“To the Citizens of Joplin – Authentic information having been received that the cyclone which visited the city of Joplin on yesterday, caused incalculable damage to many of our citizens and has been especially destructive to the poorer classes of our citizens in many instances to the extent of destroying everything they owned, leaving them destitute, houseless and homeless.

Therefore, for the purpose of alleviating the distress which prevails in the city and vicinity and to devise ways and means by the organization of relief corps, or by such practicable methods as may be suggested and agreed upon at a meeting of the citizens is hereby called to be held at the Commercial Club rooms, on the 25 inst., at the hour of 3 o’clock p.m. to consider the premises and take such appropriate action as may be deemed necessary therein.”

Mayor John C. Trigg

Joplin has always taken care of its own in times of need. When the committee met, it was agreed that many of those effected by the storm were impoverished miners who were in badly need of assistance, and a relief fund was created. Thomas W. Cunningham reported that when he checked on his rental properties in the damaged section of town he found that one of the families renting from him had been forced to cut their way out of the house. He decided that they “deserved the house” and “made them a deed for it.” His act of kindness was heartily applauded. It was thought that the family was that of I.W. Reynolds who lived at Thirteenth and Ivy. Mr. Wolfarth of Junge Baking Company pledged free bread to those in need. Arthur Cox and Don Stuart pledged the proceeds of the next baseball game to the relief fund. The Wilbur-Kirwin Opera Company decided to give a benefit performance for Joplin’s tornado victims.

Joplin rebuilt only to face another tornado six years later in 1908. That story and more in our next installment.

[Conclusion of Part I]

The Lawyers

The scene of undoubtedly many a colorful exchange between Joplin's lawyers. It later burned to the ground.

We have covered desperados, sinful sirens, and other ne’er do wells in the past. We have yet, however, to discuss the lawyers who were called upon to defend their clients over the years. There are biographical sketches of many judges and lawyers in the various Jasper County histories, but nothing quite brings the local bar to life like the address the Honorable John H. Flanigan delivered before the Jasper County Bar Association on March 1, 1941, the one hundredth anniversary of the Jasper County Circuit Court. Although we cannot reprint the entire speech in its entirety, we can share some of the more colorful stories he related to his audience.

One of the most vivid tales Flanigan shared was one that he had heard from the venerable Samuel McReynolds:

“One of the old time lawyers in Carthage was Bill Green. He died in the State Hospital [Insane Asylum] at Nevada. For years before his confinement there his mind had been failing, but the failure was so gradual that many were unaware of his condition. Samuel McReynolds told me that on one occasion his firm had been requested by a law book concern to make collection of an account against Bill Green. The firm was unable to make the collection and thus the matter stood until one day a salesman from the law book concern called at the office of McReynolds & Halliburton on a sales trip. Learning that the Green account had not been paid, he asked Judge McReynolds if there was any objection to his undertaking to collect. McReynolds agreed that the salesman might try it.

In a few minutes, the salesman came back white as a sheet and quivering like an aspen leaf. He said:

‘Mr. McReynolds, I have had a perfectly horrible experience. I went up the stairs, found Mr. Green’s door, walked in, and found a very large man lying full-length on the floor. The floor was covered with papers and documents. The man had a large past pot on the floor and a paste brush in his hand. Without preliminary, the man said, “This is my filing system. For years I have been unable to find lost papers. Now I take a paper, put paste on it with this brush, slap it on the wall and there it is until the end of time. I am going to patent this invention.”

He then rose to his full height and asked me to state my business. I told him I had come to collect the account. Green had a peculiar glitter in his eye. He said, “Sir, I am possessed of supa’ powers. You see this long knife with its keen blade. With this knife I am able, sir, to separate your head from your body, remove your head, place it on the floor, and replace it on your shoulders without injury to you, and sir, I am going to perform that miracle on you right now.” I don’t care if we never collect that account.’

According to Flanigan, “Tom Connor [of Connor Hotel fame] disliked Judge Malcolm G. McGregor, but said he was willing to trust McGregor to decide any case because, ‘Even though he is a damned Scotchman, he is absolutely honest.’”  He added that when McGregor arrived in Jasper County, he had walked from Ft. Scott, Kansas, to Lamar. After taking a brief rest, he walked the rest of the way from Lamar to Carthage.

Judge John C. Price, it was recalled, had a fondness for alcohol and tobacco. Flanigan said of Price, “When he was riding the circuit he would retire at night in the primitive hotels of the period, a giant ‘chaw’ of tobacco clamped in his jaw. When seized with the desire to expectorate he would spit a steam of tobacco juice straight in the air above his head and would then quickly draw the covers over his head so that they might catch the fall, thus ‘saving his face.’”

Once Al Thomas was participating in a trial at Carthage and, as usual, “shouted his argument in penetrating tones that carried far beyond the court house square.” His opponent in the courtroom that day, Lon Cunningham, stood up and replied:

“Gentlemen of the jury, I read an article in the encyclopedia which interested me very much. It stated that some scientists had gone to the upper reaches of the Amazon far into the jungles of South America to find out what sort of animal was capable of making a tremendous noise described to them by the natives who reported that when this noise was heard the cockatoos and the wild bird would fly from their perch and flit from tree to tree, hyenas would take to the deep undergrowth, and panthers would retreat to their dens. After weeks of search[ing], the source of this noise was found. It was a harmless beetle which made the noise by the tremendous beating of its wings. This noise was the beetle’s only defense against attack. Al Thomas reminds me of that beetle. He is all noise and noise is his only defense.”

Cunningham was also known for winning a court case over water pressure. One of the parties in the case was required to provide enough water pressure that a stream of water would reach the fourth floor of the Keystone Hotel. Cunningham argued that the contract was invalid because of the required water pressure was not provided. In closing arguments, Cunningham recalled that growing up on the family farm, he remembered boys would “usually gather around a large apple tree behind the barn and each in turn would attempt with Nature’s own water pressure to throw a stream to reach the big limb of the apple tree.” According to Cunningham, he knew from experience “there were boys in the family who could furnish more pressure than the defendant had furnished under its contract.”

Perhaps in 2041, we’ll be greeted with just as colorful recollections of today’s lawyers.

Joplin Church Celebrates 90th Anniversary

On Sunday, the Joplin Globe reported on the 90th anniversary of the Joplin Church of God. Established in 1921, the church initially located from one spot to another before finding its permanent residence at 1402 S. Michigan Ave. The article notes the pastors who played prominent roles in the church’s history, as well a seminal moment when in the thick of the Second World War, the church became the spiritual home to a number of soldiers from nearby Camp Crowder.


View Larger Map

It Can Happen Here

Distinguished historian Richard Hofstader observed in his book, American Violence: A Documentary History that Americans have a “remarkable lack of memory where violence is concerned and have left most of our excesses a part of our buried history.”

Like most cities across the country, Joplin has had its share of wild and wooly episodes throughout its history, though most of these events have faded into the past. The most common story that has stayed with us, perhaps because of their perceived glamour and mystique, is that of Bonnie and Clyde.

Perhaps a more harrowing story is that of what happened in Joplin during the hysteria of World War I. During this time, stories of German spies, disloyal citizens, and labor unrest created an atmosphere in which communities could turn upon their own. Joplin was no exception.

Gustav A. Brautigam, the owner of a delicatessen and bakery at 305 Joplin Street, was a native of Frankfort Germany. In 1881, he immigrated to America, and eventually arrived in Joplin. Brautigam was by no means the first German in Joplin.

Germans had been in Joplin since the very beginning. According to Joel Livingston’s history of Jasper County, “It was a German who built the first bakery in the city and a German who interested in the organization of the first bank in Joplin. In many ways the sturdy sons of Germany have taken a great part in the building and developing of the city.” In 1876, when the Germania Social and Literary Society of Joplin formed, it had over fifty charter members. Thus it was a small, but established German community, that Brautigam discovered upon his arrival in Joplin.

As Brautigam prepared for business on a Saturday morning during the height of World War I, he found that during the night someone had painted his store windows bright yellow. There were also warnings not to remove the paint from the windows. One warning read, “This place is pro-German. Take notice, Americans!”

The 59 year-old Brautigam may or may not have already been the subject of controversy as rumors alleged he had previously declared that he hoped, “to live to see the day when the German flag replaces the Stars and Stripes on top of the Joplin post office building.” Despite such rumors, Brautigam had participated in the Third Liberty Loan, as he was permitted to hang a flag honoring his contribution to the loan fund drive in the window of his deli, as well as one from the Red Cross.

The decorated car played a role in selling war bonds during the First World War.

Upset, Brautigam began to clean the paint from his windows. As he did so, however, an unnamed individual stepped forward with a bucket of paint and began to repaint the window “as fast as it was washed.” A crowd began to gather to watch. Witnesses later disagreed whether or not Brautigam made disloyal remarks as he washed his windows. The crowd began to grow and soon it numbered an estimated 400 people. Brautigam, worried for his safety, went inside his delicatessen and locked the door.

The mood of the crowd remained uncertain until someone broke through the front door of the delicatessen and entered the building in order to rip down an American flag hanging inside the front window. At this point, Brautigam, fearing for his life, dashed out the back door of his business and escaped down the alley between Main and Joplin streets to the Joplin Police Department.

As he did, the crowd, now an angry mob, chased after him. Fortunately for Brautigam, he reached the safety of the police department before the mob caught him.

Upon alerting authorities to the situation, Brautigam was “arrested for his own safety” by the Joplin police. He asked Police Matron Wathena B. Hamilton to take charge of the perishable foods in his store and distribute them to those in need. She was able to assist eleven families in addition to the children at the Children’s Home. Brautigam was then transported to Carthage under guard and turned him over to Jasper County Sheriff Oll Rogers. Sheriff Rogers released Brautigam because “there was no charge on which they could hold him.” Brautigam reportedly then left Carthage by train.

After the mob discovered the Brautigam was out of its grasp, its members formed an impromptu parade. At the urging of an unnamed individual, the unruly mob decided to march on the Joplin Sash and Door Works located at Twelfth and Wall streets to “get” Peter Braeckel, the newly elected president of Joplin’s Germania Society. Only half of the mob made it to the business and the remainder was persuaded by James M. Leonard, identified as one of the original leaders of the mob, to calm down. Braeckel emerged from the Joplin Sash and Door Works to make a short speech to the mob in which he proclaimed his loyalty to the United States. It was reported that Braeckel’s words “had a great deal to do with quieting it.”

James Leonard informed the mob that Braeckel had contributed to the Red Cross “nearly all of the tables and shelves at the society’s headquarters and how he had made a screen door for the local selection board and sent a man to place it in position.” Leonard also told the mob that Braeckel had contributed “to every war work campaign and public charity campaign that had been conducted” in the recent past. Leonard was joined by an unnamed man who “turned squarely about and instead of advising violence, counseled calmness and helped to disperse the crowd.” It was only when Leonard pointed out a man who demanded they paint Braeckel yellow and declared, “It’s just such remarks as that one and such fellows as you that are going to cause this country as much trouble as Germany does” that the crowd finally dispersed.

Word of the mob interrupted a city council meeting, but officials quickly leapt into action. Joplin Mayor C.S. Poole and Chief of Police J.J. Cofer ordered all Joplin saloons be shut down immediately for fear that alcohol would only fuel the smoldering fire of potential mob violence that threatened the city. The entire police force was ordered out to patrol the city in addition to all available constables and deputy sheriffs.

Edward Zelleken, one of Joplin's prominent German businessmen.

City and business leaders met at the Joplin Chamber of Commerce and adopted a resolution to request that saloons be kept closed and that Home Guards be dispersed to deal with any potential violence. Among those present were: Sheriff Oll Rogers, Albert Newman, Haywood Scott, Mayor-elect J.F. Osborne, R.M. Shepard, Hugh McIndoe, J.J. Cofer, Burt W. Lyon, Sol Newman, O.P. Mahoney, G.F. Newburger, P.E. Burress, and E.A. Norris.

Captain Frank W. Sansom of the Home Guards mobilized a squad of forty men to patrol the city. Each man was armed with revolvers and Springfield rifles. Chief Cofer gave the home guard authority to make any arrests necessary to preserve law and order. Fortunately, the day and ensuing night were peaceful and without incident.

Although Brautigam eventually returned to his business and remained in Joplin until his death in 1956, the damage had been done.

A short time later, Joplin’s Turnverein Germania Society, led by its president Peter Braeckel and vice president Gustav Brautigam, voted to disband the organization and donate its property located on the southeast corner of Third and Joplin streets to the local Red Cross. The property was valued at $25,000.

The group issued a statement which read in part:

“Pioneer conditions, such as existed twenty, forty, or sixty years ago, and which forced people of a class to band together and create livable conditions are things of the past and can never reoccur. German immigration has diminished from year to year.

All German societies, as such all over the country are, and were at the beginning of the war, on a decline. About 50 percent of our present members are American born. At our business meetings of the past few years, we seldom had many more than a quorum (nine members). The Verein is dying a natural death. It has outlived its usefulness. The fact that we had the property held us together. The older members sometimes paid it a visit by force of habit – and the younger members did not come at all.

Germanism in this country, even if the war stopped today, will have no prestige for several generations. Too much harm has already been done. We must realize the vastness of the change of conditions. Never in the history of the world has our situation been duplicated. It is a unique situation, but it is a surprisingly clear and plain situation: We left one country. Why? Because we were not satisfied with our conditions.

We entered another country with the full knowledge (unless we were lunatics) that we had to abide by the rules and conditions imposed by this new country. The new country was very lenient with us, we hardly knew that we were being governed.

To us this war comes like a bolt of lightning out of a clear sky. We are awakened from a dream, awakened to the realization that when we changed countries it was also our duty to change our sentiments and sympathies.

The object of our Verein is to advance German customs, German habits, and the German language. This is, under the conditions which have arisen, intolerable and impossible. Our countrymen cannot and will not and should not be expect to countenance the existence of our Verein.”

Charles Schifferdecker, was born in Germany and later immigrated to the United States.

Thus came the end to an organization that had once included leading Joplin citizens such as H. Geldmacher, Charles Schifferdecker, G.W. Keller, and Edward Zelleken as members.

Sources: Joel Livingston’s History of Jasper County, Joplin News Herald

A Splendid Monument of Joplin Enterprise

On March 24th, 1901, visitors flooded into the newly opened home to the Joplin chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association.  Located at the intersection of Fourth and Virginia streets, the three story building was an achievement for the YMCA, if limited.

Established in February, 1891, the Joplin YMCA had 49 active members and 94 associated members.  Elected as the first president was J.H. Dangerfield with C.H. Adams as his secretary.  By its seventh year, the organization had opted to purchase and build a home for itself in Joplin in April of 1897.  The selected site was the then location for the Haven Opera House, which sat on the northwest corner of Virginia and 4th Streets.  For the near prime 4th and Main Street location, the YMCA paid $4,500 and allowed the opera house to continue operation until the end of the theatrical season.  It was a necessary wait, as the YMCA did not yet have the funds to begin the construction of their new building.  Nor did it believe it would raise such funds swiftly, as it entered into a contract to lease the property to the Studebaker Manufacturing Company.

The Joplin Globe stated at the time, “In purchasing the Haven opera house they have selected the best location in all the city for such a public building, and they have a nucleus of such a substantial nature that success is a foregone conclusion in securing the much needed new building.”

Gartang & Rea's plan for a 5 story YMCA building.

It was just shy of a year later that plans for the building were formally released for the public’s consumption.  The Globe boasted of the proposed design, “The building will be large and costlier than any association building ever erected in a city the size of Joplin and will surpass in elegance an convenience most of those erected in cities of greater size.  It will be, when completed, a splendid monument of Joplin enterprise and of its fostering care toward the young men of the city.”

The architects behind the design were Joplin architects Charles Edward Garstang and Alfred W. Rea, of Garstang & Rea.  The men presented a five story building which was to feature a gymnasium located on the 4th floor with a ceiling which stretched up into the 5th floor where a viewing gallery was situated.  Other proposed features were locker rooms for members and guests, as well as sleeping quarters, a camera room with dark room, a reading room, library, and a members and guests correspondent rooms.  Not to be neglected, a small barbershop was also planned for the building.

Groundbreaking occurred on September 29, 1900, and at a cost of $150,000, the YMCA’s home was built, including the cost of furnishings.  The aspirations of the YMCA had been restrained with only a three story building as the finished product.  Never the less, the Globe commented, “If no religious fervor toward the uplifting and saving of young men’s souls fills your heart even then you will be proud of their quarters as a building and a credit to Joplin, for it is certainly a beautiful place.”

The article on the opening described a rotunda located at the top of a stairway which lead from the main entrance.  The floor was tiled linoleum with dark wooden pillars about the room and chairs of the same color to match.  To the right of the rotunda a parlour, and beyond it a kitchen and dining room.  On the third floor, a visitor discovered another rotunda which offered access to a room dedicated for railroad men, as well a boy’s room for pastime and a game room for men.  The men’s game room was equipped with checkers, chess, and a fireplace.  White marble was used in the bathing apartments, which featured both plunge and shower bath arrangements.

The YMCA was not denied a large gymnasium, though instead of being found on a proposed fourth floor, was located on the second.  It, too had a balcony for viewing on the third floor.  Also on the third floor, was a stage, opera chairs, and space for meetings.  Two stain glassed windows showered the stairway to the third floor in colored light, while a electronically controlled gate prevented access to the gymnasium to those who failed to possess bathing privileges (this was overseen by a watchful secretary and a button which raised or lowered the gate).

The home of the Joplin YMCA from 1901 to 1918. Note: Future owner, the Joplin Globe, is visible just around the corner on the right.

From 1901 to 1918, the building housed the YMCA until the organization built its current building on Wall Street (a future post will cover this building’s history).  When it did so, it sold its former home to the Joplin Globe for $40,000, which promptly expanded from its original location into its neighbor.

Sources: Charles Gibbon’s “Angling in the Archives”, Missouri Digital Heritage, and the Joplin Globe.

A Very Brief History of the Joplin O.P. Morton Grand Army Republic (GAR) Post

Joplin’s O.P. Morton GAR Post was organized on May 17, 1882. It was named for Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton. W.H. Fairbanks was elected commander; F.M. Redburn served as senior vice-commander; John C. Bailey elected junior vice-commander; S.B. Williams selected quartermaster; J.W. Lupton voted adjutant; C.T.G. Workizer elected chaplain; C.C. Wheeler, voted officer of the day; and H.C. Combs elected officer of the guard.

Other members included B.F. Joslin, T.H. Mintner, W.E.O. Rush, Edwin Whipple, F.M. Downing, F.D. Owen, N.L. Barner, E.W. Beach, G.O. Boucher, J.T. Everett, Jacob Lurwick, Samuel Ramsey, M.W. Stafford, Ira W. Gilbert, F.E. Eberhart, Samuel Lake, W.S. Scott, T.H. Short, William Stump, Ira Creech, Peter Bittmer, A.B. Adair, W.F. Cloud, T.P. Hill, W.W. Pate, William Sergeant, and W.C. Williams.

In the twenty-five years that followed, hundreds of other names were added to the post’s membership rolls. In 1907, only four of the original charter members were alive: Downing, Whipple, Boucher, and Joslin.

A list of the post’s commanders follows:

1882 W.H. Fairbanks and W.H. Pate

1883 E.W. Beach

1885 E.W. Beach

1886 E.W. Beach

1887 F.M. Redburn and Henry Phelps

1888 Henry Phelps

1889 E.W. Beach and J.L. Briggs

1890 J.G. Lurwick

1891 P.L. Schwartz

1892 A.H. Brewer

1893 J.L. Briggs

1894 H.W. Davison

1895 F.M. Redburn

1896 J.R.B. Roe

1897 H. Crandall and John R. York

1898 John R. York

1899 W.H. Crane

1900 J.R. Goheen

1901 G.W. Hight

1902 L.D. Middleton

1903 W. Jones

1904 M.M. Rice

1905 W.H. McCubbin

1906 G.W. Hight

1907 Henry Digby

1908 Henry Digby

1909 Henry Digby

1910 Albert McCann

1911 J.N. Theurer

1912 D.H. Rhodes

1913 J.M. Theurer

1914 F.L. Yale

1915 F.L. Yale

1916 F.L. Yale

Sources: Joplin News-Herald; Roster of O.P. Morton Post No. 14 G.A.R., Department of Missouri, July 1, 1916 Roster

Mayor Hume: “No baby raffling in this man’s town!”

Just past the bright intersection of 4th and Main streets, a Joplin police wagon pulled up under the glowing lights of the Connor Hotel.  As the police entered the hotel they were joined by the city’s mayor, Guy T. Hume, intent on arresting N.B. Peltz.  Peltz was working in cooperation with the Provident Association, the successor organization to the Charitable Union, which had been largely run by the city’s ministers.  As Peltz was led out of the Connor Hotel in handcuffs he protested, “I am doing this for charity.”  By this point a crowd had gathered and Hume replied coolly, “That makes no difference.  Raffling off babies is against the law and you know me.  Too many complaints have been made.”

In fact, the baby raffle was actually part of a charity fair to be held by the Provident Association and the Joplin Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks between May 10th and May 13th.  Among the fundraising efforts connected to a fair was a raffle for a $500 lot in Spring Park at a cost of fifty cents a ticket, as well the chance to win a pony and cart for a ten cent ticket.  The tickets were sold by a “Flying Squadron” that consisted of some of Joplin’s prettiest girls who rode around on “dreadnoughts” in the form of cars with flags and flyers which advertised the fair.  Other enticements included a $75 scholarship to the Joplin Community College and six months of free instruction at the Calhoun School of Music.  Activities included a beauty show, music, an Elks’ Museum of Unnatural Wonders, cigars, refreshments, a country store, a flower booth, a dance, and fortune telling.

Before he was placed into the paddy wagon, Peltz continued to contest his arrest, “Why, Mr. Mayor, you couldn’t arrest me if I announced ten days ahead of time that I proposed to get drunk, could you?  Then why can you arrest me because this announcement has been made?”

The announcement of a baby raffle had caused some consternation.  Rumors floated around town that the baby to be raffled off might be exhibited at the Provident Association’s headquarters at 509 Main Street.  Concern had come from within the Provident Association which was divided on the issue of the baby raffle.  The majority believed that a significant amount of money was to be made from such a raffle, while the minority grumbled that it would be well enough to just raise that amount without resorting to such a raffle.  In response to Peltz’s question, Mayor Hume shrugged and replied, “Just jump into the patrol wagon and you can explain to Judge Kelsey later.”

Seated inside the patrol wagon, Peltz was hauled off to the jail.  Although several guests at the Connor Hotel offered to help Peltz, he instead asked G.F. Newberger to post his bond.  Once freed, Peltz announced he would fight the arrest and claimed, “I am backed in this by some of the best people in Joplin.”  Never the less, Peltz pointed out, “the mayor can’t prove that I intend giving away the baby.  The parents can do that, can’t they?”  He went on to point out that the parents did not object, which would make it hard to prove he was guilty.  The mayor, Peltz declared, “is butting into some trouble.”

Told later of Peltz’s words, the mayor simply laughed, “Take it from me, there will be no baby raffling in this man’s town while I’m mayor.”

The question of the reality of a baby raffle eludes us.  Some investigation into the matter found examples of baby raffles where the baby in the end was switched out for a young piglet, while another example was noted in a January, 1912 Popular Mechanics, in Paris, where orphaned babies were actually raffled off to find them homes.  Know anything of baby raffles?  Please comment and let us know!

Sources: Popular Mechanics, “A History of Jasper County and Its People,” by Joel T. Livingston, and the Joplin News Herald, 1910.