Joplinites were not the type to idly sit by when opportunity knocked. In 1901, El Reno, Oklahoma, served as the site of the last land lottery in Indian Territory. The small settlement was flooded by thousands of hopeful settlers who sought to obtain free government land and forge a better future. Several Joplin residents were present to take part.
Some, like Captain Marion Staples, were there to engage in business. Money was to be made off of those who came ill-prepared for the rush. Carl Dufflemeyer went to El Reno to sell insurance to new arrivals in the territory. African-Americans Aaron Fuller and Allen Hardy were making “a veritable mint” by running a black barber shop and boot black stand. Ed Riseling was there for the thrill and spent much of his time entertaining his friends from Joplin in style in “one of the best rooms in the place.”
Joplin resident Matt George was in El Reno “protecting a roll of Uncle Sam’s currency, all of which he has made” since arriving there two weeks earlier. Joplin’s “Big Luke” was also there, though for reasons known only to himself. Even Joplin’s city collector, W.A. Kirkpatrick, was there, as well as future Joplin mayor Guy Humes.
For most, the opportunity to make money and watch as thousands of fellow Americans made a desperate run for land was enough, and after the dust had settled, they returned home to Joplin.
Source: Joplin News Herald