Joplin Charity

Joplin has benefited from the charity of many over the past year since May, 2011. More than a century ago, Galveston, Texas, was virtually wiped out by a hurricane that claimed 6,000 to 12,000 lives. When that city was struck by a natural disaster, Joplin stepped forward in 1900 and offered over $25,000 to the beleaguered city, a sum close to $646,348.57 in 2010 dollars.

Kansas City Bottoms: Part III

Sunshine Mission in Joplin Missouri
In 1915, a young girl made a simple, but momentous decision that affected the lives of her fellow residents in the Kansas City Bottoms. The girl, name unknown, decided to attend church. Surely the sight of a bedraggled, impoverished child from the Bottoms must have caused a stir in the pews of the church she attended, but if it did, the child did not notice. Instead, she asked her Sunday school teacher, Miss Minnie McKenna, for help.

With Christmas looming ahead, McKenna turned to the Women’s Civic Club for assistance. Eager to help those in need, the Women’s Civic Club leapt into action, and helped establish a mission to the poor. Members initially contributed $90 to start a building fund and formed a committee to bring in more funds. Howard Murphy offered land for the mission and Mayor Jesse F. Osborne, P.A. Christman, and James McConnell agreed to create a building committee.

Within a few days, a small single story structure was completed, and was named “Sunshine Mission.” The humble building served as the site of the first Christmas tree and Christmas services held in the Kansas City Bottoms. The Women’s Civic Club received assistance from numerous other religious and civic organizations eager to show their support for the project. Christmas presents and candy were distributed to the children.

It was at this time that a young boy who lived in the Kansas City Bottoms told McKenna he was “tired of being called a ‘coke bottomer’ and a ‘bottomite’” and asked that the name “be changed to something ‘pretty and bright.’” McKenna renamed the area “Sunshine Hollow.”

Residents of Sunshine Hollow could attend Sunday school services at the mission, take sewing and crocheting classes, and join a mother’s club. The Sunday school services were taught by young men and women from across Joplin’s religious community. Their efforts persisted until 1918 when, due to World War One, their efforts were redirected to the war effort.

In 1919, members of the First Christian Church rallied to reopen the mission, but their work was halted when a ban was placed on public meetings due to the threat of Spanish influenza. A year later, the mission was once again reopened, and the number of attendees grew. It was during this time that the building was moved from the site of the Union Depot to an area further north “just east and north of the viaduct on the North Main Street road.” The building was the enlarged and painted white with paint donated by Eagle-Picher.

The first full-time minister at Sunshine Mission was the Rev. Mr. Ashworth. After three years he left and was replaced by the Rev. William Kelley. Kelley’s tenure at the Sunshine Mission will be continued in the next post.

Stay tuned for Part IV of the history of the Kansas City Bottoms!

Copyright Historic Joplin, 2012.

New Joplin History Book Honors the Past & Helps Rebuild the Future

Leslie Simpson, Director of the Post-Memorial Art Reference Library, has a new book coming out on Joplin history, appropriately titled, Joplin. The book is a history of Joplin as told “in hundreds of vintage images” and will be launched at an event at Hastings on September 24, this Saturday, at 10:00 AM. Profits from the first printing will go exclusively to the Joplin Chamber of Commerce Business Recovery Fund.   Once we get a hold of a copy, we’ll be posting a review.  Until then, please find the press release below concerning the event below!

New Joplin History Book Honors the Past &
Helps Rebuild the Future

Longtime Joplin resident Leslie Simpson is the author of a new history
book that tells the story of Joplin’s past in hundreds of vintage images.
Joplin, the newest addition in Arcadia Publishing’s Postcard History series,
will be available on Saturday, September 24 exclusively at the Hastings
store in Joplin.

Covering a span of more than 130 years, Joplin traces all aspects of the
city’s history through vintage postcard images. Author Leslie Simpson
describes the book as “My love letter to the city of Joplin!”

Local history publisher Arcadia Publishing and multimedia retailer
Hastings Entertainment, Inc. will donate proceeds from the first printing of
the book to the Joplin Chamber of Commerce Business Recovery Fund.

The CEO’s from both companies have been personally involved in the
project and hope the initiative will support Joplin’s ongoing business
recovery efforts.

“When a tragedy like this happens, no matter how far away it is, your
first instinct is to want to find a way to help,” said Arcadia Publishing
president and CEO Richard Joseph. “I’m glad we could do this,” he

Hastings Entertainment CEO John Marmaduke shared, “We are
pleased to have this book available at a time when locals truly need
something to be excited about.”

Joplin will be exclusively available at Hastings through October 2011.
Non-local residents can order online at, from the
publisher at, or by calling (888)-313-2665.

About Arcadia Publishing
Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Books celebrate the
places and faces that give America its spirit and life. Distinctive sepia covers, local authors, and vintage images
present a curbside look and street level understanding of a town’s bygone times. Find your place in history at

About Hastings
Founded in 1968, Hastings Entertainment, Inc. is a leading multimedia entertainment retailer that combines the
sale of new and used books, videos, video games and CDs, and trends and consumer electronics merchandise,
with the rental of videos and video games in a superstore format.

Book proceeds to benefit Joplin local businesses

Author Leslie Simpson has
lived in Joplin for the past 32
years. She helped establish
Main Street Joplin and the
Joplin Historic Preservation

Postcard History Series
Price: $21.99
128 pages/ softcover
Available: September 24, 2011


Arcadia: Mrs. PJ Norlander, Director of Marketing
843.853.2070 x160


Phone: 417-659-9828

Joplin Book Launch Event
Saturday, September 24, 2011
10:00 a.m.


Come share your own stories.
Meet the author.
Take a walk back in time.

Hastings will host the author, Chamber of Commerce members,
community leaders, the publishing company, and any and all residents who
wish to attend.

A special launch event celebrating the publication of a new local history
book, Joplin, by Leslie Simpson.

Saturday, September 24, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon
10:00 a.m.
Welcome, Ribbon Cutting Ceremony,
Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Presentation
10:30 a.m.
Author Book Signing


Hastings located at 526 South Range Line Road.

Proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Joplin Chamber
of Commerce Business Recovery Fund.


Directions and event information can be found online at

Mayor Hume: “No baby raffling in this man’s town!”

Just past the bright intersection of 4th and Main streets, a Joplin police wagon pulled up under the glowing lights of the Connor Hotel.  As the police entered the hotel they were joined by the city’s mayor, Guy T. Hume, intent on arresting N.B. Peltz.  Peltz was working in cooperation with the Provident Association, the successor organization to the Charitable Union, which had been largely run by the city’s ministers.  As Peltz was led out of the Connor Hotel in handcuffs he protested, “I am doing this for charity.”  By this point a crowd had gathered and Hume replied coolly, “That makes no difference.  Raffling off babies is against the law and you know me.  Too many complaints have been made.”

In fact, the baby raffle was actually part of a charity fair to be held by the Provident Association and the Joplin Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks between May 10th and May 13th.  Among the fundraising efforts connected to a fair was a raffle for a $500 lot in Spring Park at a cost of fifty cents a ticket, as well the chance to win a pony and cart for a ten cent ticket.  The tickets were sold by a “Flying Squadron” that consisted of some of Joplin’s prettiest girls who rode around on “dreadnoughts” in the form of cars with flags and flyers which advertised the fair.  Other enticements included a $75 scholarship to the Joplin Community College and six months of free instruction at the Calhoun School of Music.  Activities included a beauty show, music, an Elks’ Museum of Unnatural Wonders, cigars, refreshments, a country store, a flower booth, a dance, and fortune telling.

Before he was placed into the paddy wagon, Peltz continued to contest his arrest, “Why, Mr. Mayor, you couldn’t arrest me if I announced ten days ahead of time that I proposed to get drunk, could you?  Then why can you arrest me because this announcement has been made?”

The announcement of a baby raffle had caused some consternation.  Rumors floated around town that the baby to be raffled off might be exhibited at the Provident Association’s headquarters at 509 Main Street.  Concern had come from within the Provident Association which was divided on the issue of the baby raffle.  The majority believed that a significant amount of money was to be made from such a raffle, while the minority grumbled that it would be well enough to just raise that amount without resorting to such a raffle.  In response to Peltz’s question, Mayor Hume shrugged and replied, “Just jump into the patrol wagon and you can explain to Judge Kelsey later.”

Seated inside the patrol wagon, Peltz was hauled off to the jail.  Although several guests at the Connor Hotel offered to help Peltz, he instead asked G.F. Newberger to post his bond.  Once freed, Peltz announced he would fight the arrest and claimed, “I am backed in this by some of the best people in Joplin.”  Never the less, Peltz pointed out, “the mayor can’t prove that I intend giving away the baby.  The parents can do that, can’t they?”  He went on to point out that the parents did not object, which would make it hard to prove he was guilty.  The mayor, Peltz declared, “is butting into some trouble.”

Told later of Peltz’s words, the mayor simply laughed, “Take it from me, there will be no baby raffling in this man’s town while I’m mayor.”

The question of the reality of a baby raffle eludes us.  Some investigation into the matter found examples of baby raffles where the baby in the end was switched out for a young piglet, while another example was noted in a January, 1912 Popular Mechanics, in Paris, where orphaned babies were actually raffled off to find them homes.  Know anything of baby raffles?  Please comment and let us know!

Sources: Popular Mechanics, “A History of Jasper County and Its People,” by Joel T. Livingston, and the Joplin News Herald, 1910.