Joplin’s Potter’s Field

“Every wooden headstone in the potter’s field bears a name – some name.  No one guarantees it to be the correct name, but the name is there just the same.”

The unknown dead were the unwanted in Joplin just a few years after the turn of the century.  For those who perished in the city, without anyone present to claim their body, there were several cemeteries to be laid to rest.  For those unfortunates who died without any present to witness to their name or identity, a specific place in the earth was reserved.  It was located in Potter’s Field, a traditional name for burial spots for the poor and forgotten.  Joplin’s Potter’s Field was found at the western fringe of Joplin’s westernmost major cemetery, Fairview Cemetery.  There the dead rested beneath a landscape dominated by mines, from the mining houses to the chat piles.  It was a barren and lonely place.

The Potter's Field in Joplin, Missouri

A sketch of Joplin's Potter's Field.

The Joplin News Herald reflected on the visitors to the pauper’s cemetery, mothers in search for sons, brothers looking for brothers.  There was one exception, the News-Herald reported.  Husbands rarely, if ever, sought their wives in Joplin’s potter’s field, though it was surmised that sometimes it was husbands who sent their wives there to sleep amid the mines.

Source: Joplin News Herald


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3 Responses to “Joplin’s Potter’s Field”


  • Comment from K Whisler

    Is there any list of those persons buried in potter’s field? Family stories from my dad said his grandfather, Andrew Clinton Dake was buried in potters field near Joplin, Mo. I figure it must have been between 1890 and 1895 but could be as late as 1900.

  • Comment from Brown

    Hi K Whisler,

    We’re not aware of any lists. You can contact the Jasper County Records Center located in Carthage, Missouri and see if they might know.

  • Comment from Tony

    I’m looking for any information on The House of Potter Poultry Farms and Hatcheries. They had stores in Joplin and Carthage as well others in Kansas, NW Arkansas and NE Oklahoma that sold poultry items and chicks. I am mainly interested in the Joplin store and where it was located and any other information.


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