White Man’s Heaven Released!

Cover of White Man's Heaven by Kimberly Harper

White Man’s Heaven, by Kimberly Harper, has been released more than a month early!

As previously covered here on Historic Joplin, White Man’s Heaven: The Lynching and Expulsion of Blacks in the Southern Ozarks, is a non-fiction account of a string of violent episodes that occurred through Southwest Missouri and Harrison, Arkansas, between 1894 – 1909.  Two chapters of the book are dedicated to the lynching of Thomas Gilyard that occurred in Joplin in April, 1903, which should be of interest to any who have a passion for Joplin’s past, both bright and dark.

Buy a copy soon, as Amazon.com only has 5 copies left as of 8/30!  You can also purchase copies from the University of Arkansas Press and Barnes & Noble.  

Joplin’s Managers of Baseball

Recently, Joplin Museum Director Brad Belk chose to write briefly about Harry Francis Craft for the Joplin Globe. Craft was not the first nor last baseball manager to pass through Joplin either on the way to the Major Leagues or on their way after. Perhaps one of the earliest baseball managers was “Honest John” McCloskey.

McCloskey rolled into Joplin in 1887. 1887 was the year that the News Herald declared that Joplin finally decided to become serious about baseball. This resolve was put into effort by the construction of a baseball field at the end of a mule drawn trolley line on west 9th Street. The city advertised for players, apparently finding none at home who met their own criteria, and ended up hiring a number of players from the “Kerry Patch” area of St. Louis. At the same time, the paper noted, a boom in some eastern Kansas towns had led John McCloskey to managing in Arkansas City.

Successfully defeating the Kansas towns, McCloskey brought his team to Joplin and thrashed the hometown heroes. Henry Sapp, who had made money mining lead and later zinc, and had been a driving force behind the St. Louis hiring, quickly fired the team and promptly bought out McCloskey and his Arkansas City team. Victory followed for Joplin until summer came to an end and fall grew closer to winter. Eager to keep playing, McCloskey raised enough support among Joplin businessmen to fund a tour of Texas. Purportedly, the Joplin players may have been among the first to assume the title of “Joplin Miners” with the team name stitched on the front of their uniforms. In the process, the Joplin team defeated two national league teams traveling through the state, one from New York and the other from Cincinnati, and may have also contributed to the establishment of a Texas baseball league.

In the late 1890’s, McCloskey returned several times to Joplin to field a team. One team, the Giants, competed against the Bloomer Girls in 1898. A few years later, McCloskey found himself the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1906 to 1908. By his later years, the manager found himself without the success that had brought him a job in Joplin. Friends helped out McCloskey by contributing money to purchase the on and off again Joplin manager a home in Louisville, Kentucky.

Perhaps Joplin’s most successful baseball manager was Charles “Gabby” Street. Street was a son of Alabama and had a baseball career cut short by what Joplin newspaper man, Robert Hutchison called, “overindulgence in the bottled stuff.” Hutchison counted Street a friend and met with him and others every weekday morning during the off season to share their passion for the sport. One of the other regulars was Joe Becker, namesake of Joplin’s Joe Becker Stadium. Hutchison noted that Street earned the most fame as a player for catching a ball “thrown” from the top of the Washington Monument and as the catcher for Walter Johnson, a fellow teammate on the Washington Senators.

Street managed the Joplin Miners from 1922 to 1923, the former season being the one where the Miners won the Western Association championship. The success in Joplin lead him away from the city, but he later returned to make a home and to invest in real estate. He kept this home, according to Hutchison, before his major league appointment as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. At the Cards, Street managed from 1929 to 1933, taking the team to the World Series twice. Hutchison aptly described the two trips, “His Redbirds lost the 1930 World Series to Sly Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, four games to two. They met again the next year and the famed Gas House Gang ripped up the basepaths for a victory in seven hard fought contests.”

The World Series pennant was the highlight of Street’s career. Soon after he was let go from the Cardinals and only returned to the show one last time to manage a losing St. Louis Browns. As Hutchison then recalls, “Gabby came home to stay.” Later on, Street did return to St. Louis, but to provide color commentary for the Cardinals instead of coaching. At this time, a future radio commentator worked with him, Harry Caray. When Street passed away, he was buried in Mount Hope cemetery along with many of the other notable names in Joplin’s past. West 26th Street is named after the baseball coach, who likely will be remembered as the most successful of the baseball managers to find their way to Joplin.

Sources: Joplin News Herald, Robert L. Hutchison’s “Deadlines, Doxies & Demagogues,” and Baseball-reference.com.

Riches From the Earth

A typical mining scene around Joplin.

A typical mining scene around Joplin.

From time to time, we like to point out resources for Joplin’s and Southwest Missouri’s history.  For those of you who haven’t glanced at our links page, you likely haven’t noticed the link to Missouri Digital Heritage.  At that site is located the repository of the Joplin Public Library digital postcard collection which was used to great effect by Patrick McPheron in his Joplin video that we posted a couple days ago.  However, that’s not all that you can find at Missouri Digital Heritage worth looking at with concern to Joplin.  Another fantastic resource is Riches from the Earth.

Riches from the Earth describes its purpose as, “Riches of the Earth provides a basic introduction to the geological and industrial heritage of the Tri-State Mineral District. This district encompasses southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas, and northeast Oklahoma and was one of the United States’ richest mineral districts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”  More importantly, it’s focused entirely on Jasper County, the “heart of the Tri-State Mineral District.”  What follows is 261 images of mining, from mines to miners, to even a few mules.

Interior of a Joplin Mine

Interior of a Joplin Mine

The project is a collaboration between the Powers Museum, Missouri Southern’s Spiva Library Archives and Special Collections, the Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Rolla at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (U of Missouri – Rolla), and the Joplin Museum Complex.  It should be noted that if you have hopes of taking a peek at any of the Joplin Museum Complex’s photograph collection, this will be your only bet outside of buying one of the couple books the museum has deigned to publish periodically.  At this time, the photograph collection is generally off limits to the inquiring public (and in the process – Joplinites are cut off from freely accessing the best photographic and visual depiction of the city’s past).

Photograph access aside, Riches From the Earth is a good source for historic images of Joplin’s and Jasper County’s mining past.  It does suffer some from the slightly clunky interface of Missouri Digital Heritage website, but it’s a small price to pay for a glimpse into the past.

Note: All images are from Historic Joplin’s own collection.

A Quick History In The News Round Up

Joplin's Missouri Pacific Depot as of July, 2010

Joplin's Missouri Pacific Depot as of July, 2010

A couple things have popped up in the Joplin Globe over the last few days.  In good news, the old Missouri Pacific Depot that was saved and moved to its present location by David Glenn has found new owners.  Glenn bought the depot when it was scheduled to be destroyed and carefully relocated it to its spot off of Rangeline where it opened up as Timberline restaurant.  In the future, we’ll provide a little more history on this smaller depot of Joplin’s past.   The new owners are Raymond and Amy Yen, who will re-open it later this year as a far eastern restaurant.  Let’s hope when it comes to decoration that they don’t alter anything original!

The other news item has to do with the arrival in Joplin of general American history, a restored B-17 Flying Fortress, the Liberty Belle. Just like another restored B-17, Aluminum Overcast, the Liberty Belle, never saw combat due to being produced at the end of the war.  However, that doesn’t make her any less grand a lady.  It’s highly recommended to go visit the Liberty Belle when she arrives on August 29 at the Joplin airport.  For those of you in Springfield, she’ll visit Springfield’s airport a day earlier on August 28.   Check here for her schedule and more information about the Liberty Belle.

Music Video Joplin

For those of you who just want to sit back and look at photographs of historic Joplin and listen to good music in the process, we present to you Patrick McPheron’s work, Presenting Joplin (click here!).  McPheron is a free lance designer in Los Angeles with Joplin roots and crafted this music video using photographs and images from Digital Postcard Collection at the Joplin Public Library’s website.

For a look at the rest of McPheron’s work, including photographs, other videos, and music, just follow this link to Interiorstate.com.

The Schedule of the 1902 Joplin Colts / Miners

We previously discussed the emergence of Joplin’s first professional baseball team, the Colts who soon after became the Miners.  After some research, we uncovered what appears to be the schedule for the team that season in the Missouri Valley League.

1902 Joplin Miners' Missouri Valley League schedule

For a larger version click on the photograph

In the earlier post, we offered a team photo from that year.  To keep things fresh, we’ve added a photograph of the 1904 team.  A glance between the supplied rosters for the teams reveals some old faces and some new.

1904 Joplin Miners

1904 Joplin Miners

Sources: Joplin News Herald, Historic Joplin Collection

Tepidness Reigns Supreme at Museum Board Meeting

Joplin newspaper cartoon

Don't Let the Obstructionist Win!

This last week’s meeting of the Joplin Museum board was a showcase in tepid response to bold planning for the future.  The topic of the meeting, covered by the local news station KODE, was the possible relocation of the museum to the Union Depot.  The news segment featured interviews with board member Allen Shirley and City Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg.

Shirley continued what is now becoming a two month long hem haw of expressing a cautious disapproval for the idea of moving to the Union Depot.  The main point expressed by Shirley in his interview was the lack of exhibit space, a point raised by Museum Director Brad Belk previously.  The matter of sufficient space appears to be growing into the banner to be waved by the Joplin Museum Board, we expect to hear it raised again and again as their argument against the move.

From even before City Manager Mark Rohr’s presentation, the Joplin Museum Board has not wanted to move to the Union Depot, and since the presentation, have protested as much as possible without appearing reactionary.  It is clear that if the Joplin Museum Complex is to be moved to the Union Depot, the board will have to be dragged kicking and screaming.  The angry child who did not get its prized relocation and taxes to take over Memorial Hall now just want to take their ball and go home, rather than settle for something less than they desired.

Disconcertingly, the meeting was attended by three city council members, which as the news report explained were there in support of the museum board.  Of the three, only Benjamin Rosenberg opted to speak with a reporter and offered a fascinating rebuttal against Mark Rohr’s well grounded plans for Joplin’s growth over the next five years.  Rosenberg, when asked about the plan declared, “I had no part in the city manager’s vision.  I had no pre-warning. I had no consultation with the city manager.”  By all appearances, it seems Mr. Rosenberg does not like or agree with Rohr’s plan that was presented earlier this summer.

Rosenberger also told the reporter that he strongly believed the fate of the museum should be left in the hands of the museum board and not forced by the hand of the city.  This would be a rational position to take were the museum lead by forward thinking, competent and experienced individuals, but that is not the case.  The only imaginative thinking the museum has displayed in recent years has been to spring an idea that was overwhelmingly disapproved of by 75% of the city’s voting residents.  Meanwhile, the popularly supported plan of moving the museum to the Union Depot languishes because neither the museum board nor apparently some of the city council are willing to take bold steps for Joplin’s future.

Is Joplin anymore the city of Thomas Connor, Charles Schifferdecker, or Thomas Cunningham?

We say nay!

Where is the vision?  Why the desire for mediocrity?  Where is the leadership that has helped to restore downtown?  Joplin became the city that is resplendent with beautiful buildings and good people because its leaders in the past were unwilling to quietly abide.  It would do the museum board well to remember this, a lesson they should learn if they are at all familiar with the history they have sworn to safe keep.

HJ Union Depot image

It Is Time To Be Bold!

Lee & Grant Traveling Exhibit Arrives at Powers Museum

Wikipedia image of Robert E. Lee painting

A portait of Lee via Wikipedia.

The much talked about Lee & Grant traveling exhibit will be opening September 1st at the Powers Museum in Carthage. The exhibit features,”a major reassessment of the lives, careers, and historical impact of Civil War generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.”  Furthermore, the exhibit, “encourages audiences to move beyond the traditional mythology of both men and rediscover them within the context of their own time — based on their own words and those of their contemporaries.” To do this, the exhibit uses a great variety of items, such as photographs, paintings, accouterments, coins, prints, and reproduction clothing.  Also used are documents written by each of the famous generals.

Unknown to many, Julia Grant, Ulysses’ wife, had relatives who lived in Carthage, which created a connection to the Jasper County city and the Grants.  Lee also has a connection to Missouri, where while in service with the Corps of Engineers, he helped to prevent the Mississippi from flowing away from the bustling city of St. Louis.

For a sneak peak of the exhibit, check out this link on the exhibit from the National Endowment For the Humanities.

Of course, available all year round is the Powers Museum, a great place for local history.

Hell Hath No Fury Again

Shrill screams pierced the air. Residents who lived in the vicinity of Sergeant and Fourth Streets emerged from their homes at two o’clock in the afternoon to investigate the horrific screams. Two women were struggling in the street. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that one woman had the upper hand as she “had seized the other by the hair was applying a whip vigorously over her head and shoulders. Hence the screams.”

Spectators intervened and the two women were separated. The woman who wielded the whip, Mrs. John Essry, turned herself in to Officer Robinson. She explained that her husband had been courting Miss Anna Rosser, a young woman who still lived at home with her parents on Sergeant Avenue. After she discovered that her husband had taken Miss Rosser on a Sunday buggy ride the preceding week, Mrs. Essry decided that revenge was the best course of action.

She drove to the Rosser home and pretended to be looking for a young woman to work for her selling samples. While in the street, Mrs. Essry drew her whip and began beating Miss Rosser.

But the beating was not enough. The following week, Mrs. Essry once again unleashed her fury against Miss Rosser. This time she returned to the Rosser home armed with rocks. She began to bombard the house with rocks, breaking windows. The Rossers escaped out the back door and ran to a neighbor’s home as Mrs. Essry continued to assault the Rosser home until she managed to break down the door. Finding no one inside, she went to the neighbor’s home, but was given an evasive answer.

Mrs. Essry was not finished. She returned to the Rosser home, picked up a hatchet, and smashed what she could. “Doors, windows, furniture, stove and household fixtures” were destroyed. Spectators watched her frenzied hatchet attack but did not intervene. Joplin police officers arrived and took Mrs. Essry into custody.

She quickly bonded out of jail “as public sympathy is strong in her behalf. Her neighbors speak highly of her in her struggle to maintain five small children almost wholly without aid from her profligate husband.” Her husband’s advances towards Miss Rosser had driven her “wild.”

The girl’s mother had attempted to keep the two apart, but the girl “is at that giddy, gosling period when a waxed mustache, soft talk, and a musk befogged handkerchief would turn her head more in a minute than maternal precept could right in a day.” It was said that Miss Rosser had left town.

Joplin’s First Speeding Ticket

Just after the turn of the century, Joplin attorney Fred Basom received the first speeding ticket issued in Joplin. He was “hailed by an officer of the law while out for a spin,” after the mayor’s recent instructions to the police department to arrest drivers who violated Joplin’s city ordinance that set the speed limit at six miles an hour. The news item did not explain how fast Mr. Basom was going when he was ticketed or what the fine was for breaking the speed limit, but it can be expected that attorney Basom was able to secure adequate representation for his police court appearance.

Source: Joplin News Herald