The Devil of East Joplin

Back one hot August summer in the 1920s, the Devil roamed the streets of East Joplin. A number of women and children reported a tall figure that resembled Beelzebub jumping out of the darkness at them and then running away. Mrs. W.H. Longacre watched in horror as a satanic figure ran in front of her car as she drove her children home. Mrs. Longacre’s report to the police went unheeded.

Doors were locked, windows were barred, and a small group of East Joplin men prowled the streets with their shotguns loaded. Rumors swirled as to whether or not it really was Old Scratch or just some harmless prankster. Some believed it was a prankster who wore armor underneath his costume to keep him safe from harm. After it became known that men were searching for the Devil armed with shotguns, Vard I. Cowan, a laborer for the Southwest Missouri Railroad Company, confessed to playing tricks on unsuspecting victims. He had used it at a church party earlier in the year and had such a good time that he continued to play tricks on residents the rest of the summer.

Some expressed their belief that Cowan’s antics were connected to the nearby Nazarene Church, but the pastor, Rev. F.C. Savage, denied that he or the church was involved with Cowan’s mischief. Mrs. Cowan, meanwhile, declared, “He has quit it. We don’t want to get into trouble.”

There were no further reports of the Prince of Darkness lurking on the streets of East Joplin.

Historic Joplin in the Joplin Metro Magazine

For those of you who have not yet had the chance to pick up the latest issue of the Joplin Metro Magazine, Historic Joplin was the focus of an interview. In addition, the magazine also featured a piece on what was going on a century ago in 1910 from the front page of the Joplin Globe.  You can read the latest edition online here.

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

Growth of a City – Northwest Joplin

Sometimes it’s worth letting photographs speak for themselves.   Below are three photos taken from what is likely the Keystone Hotel of northwest Joplin, essentially a view of Fourth Street heading west.

1902 or earlier view of Northwest Joplin centered on Fourth Street

A photo of northwest Joplin, particularly Fourth Street from at least as early as 1902.

In the first photo we can see the Club Theater, which is on the left with the steeple at the intersection of Joplin and Fourth Street.  On the immediate right, we have the old Joplin Hotel which was constructed like the Club Theater prior to 1900.  What is missing  is the Miners Bank building which has not yet been built across the street from the Club Theater, as well the new Joplin post office building that was completed the same year as the aforementioned bank in 1905.

1905 - 1906 view of northwest Joplin featuring Fourth Street

1905 - 1906 view of northwest Joplin featuring Fourth Street

A few years later and there’s a recognizable change in Fourth street and the northwest view of Joplin.  Now across the street from the Club Theater is the Miners Bank building and to the right of it on Joplin Street is the brand new Joplin post office.  The vacant lot across the street from the Club Theater (the other side of Joplin Street) now has a two story building and laid down the center of Fourth Street are trolley rails.  The old Joplin Hotel is still in the right hand corner, but by this time Thomas Connor is likely already planning to tear it down to build a brand new hotel that one day would bear his name.  It was demolished at some point in 1906, which helps date this view.  Thus, sometime after 1905 and before a point in 1906.

1906 to 1907 view of northwest Joplin featuring Fourth Street

1906 to 1907 view of northwest Joplin featuring Fourth Street

If only this photograph was not torn, we might have had a better view of the Joplin of 1906 or 1907.  Not much has changed from the last photograph except the absence of the old Joplin Hotel in the lower right hand corner.  Instead, we have the beginning excavations for the foundation of the future Connor Hotel.   Constant in all three photos are two narrow buildings in the center bottom or left, one with a flat roof and the other with a peak.  In a few short years, a seven story building would take their place and might have contributed to the decline of the Keystone Hotel as a popular spot to take a northwest view of Joplin.

Thus, in three photos that likely cover a time span of less than a decade, you can get an inclination of the rapid growth of Joplin.

Sources: Historic Joplin’s private collection.