I Love You Honey, I Love Your Money, I Love Your Automobile

Automobiles quickly took over the streets of Joplin as Joplinites became wealthier and cars became more affordable.

In 1911, G.B. Fout published the Missouri State Automobile Directory and Guide. Compiled from information provided by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, the guide listed the names of automobile owners, their state license numbers, and the make of their car. Published at the dawn of the age of the automobile, its pages list a wide variety of automobile brands, many of whom vanished decades ago. Unfortunately, the actual model of the automobile was not listed. A snapshot in time, this provides a glimpse of the early autos of Joplin and those who were fortunate enough to own one.

Here is a small sampling of some of Joplin’s automobile owners:

Local capitalist A.H. Rogers owned both a Stevens Duryea and a Packard. Charles Schifferdecker, who also owned two cars, preferred a Pope Waverly and a Rambler. Freeman Foundry owner J.W. Freeman drove an REO while architect A.C. Michaelis had a Reliable Dayton. Baker Albert Junge and “Father of Missouri’s Good Roads” John M. Malang, men after our own hearts, cruised the streets in a Cadillac. Junge also owned a creatively named Hupmobile. Dr. Samuel A. Grantham relied on a Buick and a Pennsylvania for his transportation needs. Edmund A. Bliedung, manager at Christman’s Department Store, was the only Joplin resident to drive a Babcock Electric Car. Former Joplin Globe owner Gilbert Barbee chose the short lived Speedwell. Mrs. Effie L. Snapp, the only woman listed, was the proud owner of a Chelsea.

Three Joplin residents owned cars made in St. Louis, Missouri. S.L. Wilkins was the only individual in Joplin who owned a Moon motor car. Founded in 1905, the company went out of business during the Great Depression. E.A.C. Elliott was the only Joplin resident who drove a St. Louis which was, as the name indicates, also manufactured in St. Louis, Missouri. Established in 1898, St. Louis Motor Carriage Company was defunct by 1907. Very few examples of this car still exist, but one can be found in the collection of the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri. J.J. Anderson putted around in a Dorris

Local businesses were also listed. Both the Thomas Fruit Company and Interstate Grocery Company owned a Rapid, the Empire District Electric Company used an Empire, and the H&H Taxicab Company picked up customers in a short-lived EMF. The United Mining Company, Du Pont Powder Company, United Iron Works Company, Empire Zinc Company, Excelsior Zinc and Lead Company, and Howard & Brown all used Buicks. The Joplin Hay Company used an Overland to deliver orders to customers. The Independent Candy Company owned two Internationals. The Joplin Sludging Company drove an Oakland.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that G.B. Fout published subsequent editions of his directory, leaving us to wonder what automobiles succeeded their earlier counterparts on the rough streets of Joplin.

The A.H. Rogers Home – Before and Now

A.H. Rogers, one of the more influential men in Joplin’s history, who wrested control of the Joplin Globe from Gilbert Barbee, had a home in the area of the Murphysburg Historic Residential District.  As we work on the next depot post, and other topics like the 1903 lynching, this morning we present you with a wonderful comparison of how Rogers’ home has survived over a century.  Below is a photo taken no later than 1902, and then photographs taken last summer, in 2010.  The home is one of the legacies of a more bustling age in Joplin’s past.

The Rogers home around 1902.

The same view of the home, as seen, can no longer be achieved. Note that the property has since been decreased in size with an alleyway going straight through the front wall.

A front view of the home (the only way to capture most of the home) reveals little has changed for the home over the last 100 years.

Source: Historic Joplin collection

The Joplin American

Joplin is home to Thomas Hart Benton’s gorgeous mural, “Joplin at the Turn of the Century.” It’s rare to find someone in Joplin, or even the Tri-State region, who does not know of Benton’s affiliation with Joplin. Born April 15, 1889 in Neosho, Missouri, he spent his youth in Southwest Missouri. As a young man in his late teens, he arrived in Joplin and soon found work as a cartoonist at the Joplin American newspaper. Unfortunately for Benton, the Joplin American was a short lived enterprise. Financed by A.H. Rogers, the founder of the Southwest Missouri Railway, the paper folded. It later moved to Ft. Smith, Arkansas, where it continued on under a different name.

 Although his motives are unclear, Rogers, a Republican, most likely wanted to create a paper to counter his Democratic rival, Gilbert Barbee, who controlled the Joplin Globe. The two were political and business foes until Rogers quietly purchased the Joplin Globe out from under Barbee’s in 1910, silencing his rival for a short time. Barbee, never one to rest on his laurels, tried to launch a second paper after he lost the Globe. His second paper, the Joplin Morning Tribune, ran from 1911-1913, and often made sharp jabs at Rogers and the Globe.

However, the heyday of Barbee’s political and journalistic power was over. The Morning Tribune was shut down and Barbee went into retirement, spending time at health resorts across the country, and only periodically returning to Joplin. Upon his death in 1924, he left a generous bequest to the citizens of Joplin.

Today the name Gilbert Barbee is little remembered, save for his time as owner of both the Joplin Globe and the House of Lords, but he may have helped spark the birth of a short-lived newspaper that employed an aspiring artist who went on to become one of Missouri’s most famous sons. Ironically, no issues of the Joplin American newspaper are known to exist, but should you know of one – let us know.