The Five Cyclists of Joplin

Cycling was all the rage in the 1890s. Cycle tracks were built, races were held, and cycling associations were formed all across America. Cycling became an accepted form of transportation, rather than just a passing fancy. Today we might think of Mongooses, Schwinns, or Bianchis – brands that allow cyclists to ride across the country, over mountains, and commute to work on city streets. Bicycles in the 1890s, however, had heavy frames, cumbersome rubber tires, and uncomfortable seats. That did not deter a group of five friends from Joplin who hopped on their bicycles in the summer of 1896 and pedaled to Louisville, Kentucky.

The Intrepid Joplin Cyclists

Businessman Fred Lawder, attorney Arthur E. Spencer, Boone Jenkins, Captain Marion Staples, and “Ike” Simon left Joplin in August. Although they planned to pedal from Joplin to Louisville, they decided to ship their bicycles to St. Louis and then pedal to Louisville. They made the trip in four days with stops at Vincennes, Indiana, and Cincinnati, Ohio. They spent a considerable amount of time in Louisville before heading west on their bicycles, passing through much of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. They returned to St. Louis where Simon and Spencer, citing pressing business concerns, caught a train back to Joplin. The remaining three men made the trip back to Joplin by bicycle.

They became somewhat of a media sensation. It was recalled that “at every city in which stops were made the party was besieged by reporters, and newspapers published column after column regarding the tour, together with photographs of the tourists and their bicycles.”

The remaining three men returned to Joplin in September, but not before Captain Marion Staples appointed himself a missionary for presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, and preached the gospel of free silver to curious onlookers during the trip. Staples was a surprisingly spry fifty years of age when he made the trek. It was reported that while the other riders were young men, Staples “stood the trip as well if not better than his companions and reached home in better physical condition than he was when he left.” He lived to the ripe old age of 78.

Source: Joplin Daily Globe

Joplin City Marshal Explains Suicides in Joplin

McManamy

In 1904, Joplin City Marshal John A. McManamy gave an interview regarding suicide cases in Joplin. In it, one can observe strains of gender, class, race, and economics that provides insight into the suicidal trends of the city.

McManamy claimed that the majority of would-be suicides in Joplin were women, often “women who have fallen from the highest plane of moral standing. As a rule they are not successful.  But as a rule also, this class of women, if they fail the first time, they try it again.” Very few African-Americans in Joplin attempted suicide, McManamy claimed, as “it is the rarest sort of thing that a negro ever wishes to end his own life and it is more rare still that they ever attempt to end it. Negro men are not the least prone to commit suicide and negro women seldom bother us in this manner.

According to the marshal, most suicide cases involved the use of carbolic acid, which caused an individual to “suffer the greatest of agonies before they finally shuffle. In the event they do not take enough of the poison to produce death, the suffering they undergo while recovering is fearful.”

Others chose to use morphine and cocaine. If the police found a morphine user before death claimed them, the officers would treat them for morphine poisoning by “pounding the party with wet towels, by rapping him hard knocks on the body, by rubbing the legs until they almost blister and in fact indulge in almost every kind of heroic treatment that will keep the would-be suicide awake, until the antidotes have time to neutralize the morphine.” McManamy noted that cocaine and arsenic suicide attempts also required “heroic treatment” as the would-be victim would often go into spasms while yelling, groaning, or crying. He disapproved of what he called “gun play,” but unhelpfully pointed out that cutting one’s wrists was the most effective way to end one’s life.

When asked what caused many of the would-be suicides in Joplin, McManamy declared, “Suicides usually follow debauches, or financial reverses. Debauches with the women and financial reverses with the men. These debauches may be brought about by many causes, disappointments in love being the most frequent.”

For the benefit of the paper’s readers, the marshal sternly pointed out “An attempt at suicide is poor business. Not over ten per cent of the attempts that are made are successful. The agonies, the sufferings, the tortures of the period following the attempt, with those who are not successful, make the game not worth the candle. Life may not hold out any hope to the would-be suicide, but there is seldom a life so devoid of hope, or so without light, that it is not better than the life of one who is frustrated in an effort to end all with one fell swoop.”

Source: Joplin News Herald

If you ever find yourself in need of help or in a time of crisis and need someone to talk to:

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
http://www.save.org/
http://www.afsp.org/

Post Memorial Art Reference Library Debuts New Website


For those of you who may have missed the announcement last week, the Post Memorial Art Reference Library recently unveiled a newly designed website. The new look is a good one, adding separate pages about the library which cover the library’s great benefactors Winfred and Elizabeth Post, the art and antique collection (broken down by type), library resources, and library news. Including in the library resources is information on resources concerning historic preservation. Additionally, the website now offers up to date information on exhibits at the library, as well exhibits of the past.

If you’re not familiar with the Post Memorial, it’s the little gem tucked away in the back of the Joplin Public Library by the computer area, directed by one of the experts of Joplin history, Leslie Simpson. If you haven’t visited it yet, there’s no excuse not to do so after visiting its new website.

A Chilly Ride to the Past

A street car makes its way up Main Street

Street Cars used to be found traveling up and down the major streets of Joplin and connected the city to the surrounding communities. For those of you who would like to experience the real thing, you can catch a ride on the “Polar Express” up in Webb City this coming weekend at King Jack Park. A year long resident of the park, the street car is literally rolled out from time to time for the joy of taking a ride on her.

You can watch the street car carry ticket holders from last week from 1 to 3 pm, or grab a free ticket and take a ride from 3 to 6pm. Don’t miss this chance to experience a bit of the past!

Source: Joplin Globe

Joplinites in Kansas City

Joplinites, as residents of Joplin were referred to at the turn of the century, were a restless bunch. Throughout the last half of the nineteenth century, Joplin miners were not afraid to work as scabs in the copper and silver mines of the west, while others left in the hopes of striking it rich in the Klondike Gold Rush. Some, however, sought wealth in the metropolisies of the Midwest. Kansas City was among the burgeoning cities that beckoned to Joplinites.

One article from the News-Herald discussed a number of former Joplin residents who had since made Kansas City their home. James A. “Jim” Bolen, an early Joplin resident who served as a Jasper County deputy sheriff and as county recorder, owned the Bolen Lead and Zinc Company. He also served as president of the Zenith Mining Company. In 1879, he moved to Kansas City and founded the Bolen Coal Company. He made a large fortune and was once mentioned as a candidate for mayor.

Another former Joplinite in Kansas City was Thomas A. McClelland, who, like Jim Bolen, was an early resident. He served as Joplin’s city collector. After becoming wealthy from investing in land and mines, he moved to Kansas City. He did not forget Joplin, as he gave the city the land for what is now known as McClelland Park.

M.D. Darnall, who was associated with the white lead works in Joplin, moved to Kansas City where he became involved in the real estate business. B.T. Webb, who was once Joplin’s city clerk, also moved to Kansas City. He, too, went into the real estate business. W.F. Snyder, who once worked for the News-Herald, owned a cigar stand on West Ninth Street. John Cotton was working as a dentist. Harry Brundidge, a sign-painter, was kept constantly busy as a sign-painter for the numerous businesses in Kansas City. Pat and Tom Clifford, who struck it rich from diggings on Parr Hill, were considered to be long time residents of Kansas City. Numerous others, including musicians, porters, train conductors, and lawyers had since moved from Joplin to Kansas City, but clearly they were fondly remembered and not forgotten, despite having left the city that gave them their start.

Sources: Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, Joplin News-Herald, Joplin City Code of 1917

A Spring in Joplin

The Ozarks have always been abundantly blessed with springs, creeks, and rivers. Although Joplin’s neighbor to the south, Neosho, is hailed as the “city of springs,” Joplin was once home to the notable “Ino Spring.”

The Ino spring was located a half-mile west of Joplin near where two men, Frazier and McConey, had a brick ward in the early 1870s. The site became popular as Joplinites would drive out in the summer to cool off at the spring. The spring was described as a “stream of sparking water” that gurgled up from the side of a “slight uprising in the ground, not exactly a hill, but a knoll forming one side of a shallow gulley.” Joplin’s old-timers remembered the spring and it was tradition that “when the Indians roamed the prairie where Joplin now stands that they quenched their thirst” at the spring. By the turn of the century, it was “surrounded by numerous mining plants with immense pumps.”

The name of the spring came from the nearby “Ino” (I Know) Mining Company in upper Leadville Hollow. Reportedly the Ino mine was drained of water of almost 200 feet, but the little spring kept flowing. As Chitwood Hollow opened up to mining, it became known as the “Ino Spring.” Teamsters, lead and zinc haulers, coal haulers, and others stopped to water their horses at the spring as well as supplied water to the nearby Chitwood mining camp.

By the turn of the century, the citizens of Joplin were calling for pure water. In response, an unknown enterprising entrepenuer decided to haul water in from the Ino spring, despite competition from the Redell and Freeman “deep well wagons.”

It is unknown now if the spring still flows, we can only hope that it does.

Source: Joplin News Herald

Update on Gryphon Building and Dedication of Joplin High School

There are two articles concerning history in the Joplin Globe this weekend.  The first is a further update on the recently renovated Gryphon Building.  Last week we referred to an article on the present status of the building and its progress in finding tenants.  In that article, it was mentioned that a restaurant would be entering the building.  This weekend brought more news along that front.

Richard and Amy Sanell, owners of the successful Cafe on the Route over in Baxter Springs, will be the ones behind the Gryphon building restaurant.   Of interest, Richard Sanell suggests that the menu might be based upon previous menus of downtown’s former great dining locations, the Connor hotel and the House of Lords.  More info on the Sanells and their plans can be found in the article.

The other article is a short write up by Joplin Museum Director, Brad Belk, on the dedication of Joplin High School in 1958.  The article briefly covers the decisions behind building the new school, the funding measures that succeeded and failed, and the final result with some specifics, such as the number of bricks used in the school’s construction.

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend.   Now back to the trenches!

Carthage Christmas Homes Tour

For those of you who missed the announcement in last Sunday’s Globe, it was announced that the Carthage Historic Preservation, Inc., will be running a historic home tour next month (click on the link for descriptions of the featured homes).  The tour will run from 10 am to 4pm on December 4th for a price of $20 at the door, but buying a ticket in advance will save you $5.  A tea will also be available for $6, and Christmas/Winter themed paintings by regional artists will be available for purchase.  It’s a great chance to enjoy history quite literally from the inside out.  For those of you who love turn of the century homes and just don’t get the chance to visit them often enough, next Saturday will be an opportunity not to be missed.

The Dissolution of Company G

Men of Company G

Last week we brought you the story of Company G of the 2nd Missouri Volunteer Infantry, the Joplin men who went off to fight in the Spanish-American War. Unfortunately for Company G, the end came for the unit in November, 1902. Colonel Henry Mitchell of the National Guard of Missouri came to Joplin specially to see it formally mustered out. The colonel offered the reasons for the end of the 20 year old unit, “Lack of interest seems to be among the main causes which has contributed to the final ending of the organization. The company has no funds and no armory and these things in connection with other factors has at last made it necessary to take the final step.” The end came despite what the Joplin Daily News Herald claimed, “Many of Joplin’s finest and bravest boys strove hard to keep life in the organization but it seemed that the fates decreed it otherwise.”

Source: Joplin Daily News Herald

Carthage Points Out Joplin’s Wrongs

In years past, Carthage and Joplin have had an unspoken rivalry. Sometimes this rivalry would manifest itself in spirited jibes published in the papers, but more often than not it was the Carthage Evening Press that took swipes at Joplin, rather than the Globe or News-Herald that tried to besmirch Carthage’s reputation. The following article is one of hundreds of news items that the Evening Press ran over the years about incompetent, lawless, wicked Joplin.

“Lawless at Joplin. Many Robberies Occur Between the two towns – Police Protection Needed.

‘Kid’ Holden, who runs a gambling device in the Barbee building [Note to Readers: House of Lords] and lives on the corner of north Mineral and Hill streets, East Joplin, was robbed on Broadway, between East and West Joplin, Saturday night, while on his way home. The robbers were secreted behind the bill-boards on Broadway, between Virginia and Pennsylvania avenues, and as Holden approached he was clubbed into unconsciousness – the robbers taking a gold watch and pocketbook which contained $7. It is reliably reported that an attempt was made to ‘hold-up’ Holden some time ago, but he ran his assailants away with a revolver.

This audacious robbery has occasioned much talk in East Joplin, and has brought out the fact that there have been upward of a dozen attempts at ‘hold-up’ and robbery between the two towns within the past two or three weeks. A citizen of East Joplin says: ‘Crooks are to be seen almost nightly between Main street, on the west side and the bridge and its vicinity on the east side, where they are either skulking about the lumberyard, railway crossing, hiding about freight cars, the dives or shanties in the vicinity, or the bill boards.

‘Not long since,’ he continued, ‘an east town lady, while purchasing groceries on the west side, displayed a rather full pocket book in her rounds, she had not gone far on her way home before a robber approached her. But just then a car came gliding down the hill. She at once ran toward it, and the thief made a hurried break in the opposite direction, and was almost instantly out of sight.’

‘It would be a very easy job to ‘pull’ these ‘crooks’ and break up the robbers roost between the two towns, but no attempt has yet been made to afford any relief whatever. The crooks are actually safer between the two towns than any other part of the city.[Editor’s Note: The area between the two towns probably refers to the area known as the Kansas City Bottoms.] The police, or its chief, evidently consider it the duty of the force to remain about the crowded streets, and protect the saloons, and ‘pull’ those who patronize those institutions ‘too freely,’ and thus swell the city’s funds while leaving the various outlying thoroughfares of the city of Joplin utterly unprotected.’

‘It is claimed that if three picked men were taken off the police force, the remainder would not be worth a snap of the fingers. The force is the most incompetent in the history of the city. The recent east town shooting affair – when two policemen in attempting the arrest of an unarmed crippled boy over a twenty-five cent game of cards in a saloon, shot him down at close range – is an illustration.”

Source: Carthage Evening Press