Take Me Out to Lakeside

Via Wikipedia.

Via Wikipedia.

African American ragtime musician James Scott, who spent his formative years in Carthage, Missouri, entertained crowds at Lakeside Park, just outside Joplin. In 1914, Scott wrote music for a song he called, “Take Me Out to Lakeside.” The words are by Ida Miller.

Take Me Out to Lakeside (1914)

First verse:

Take me to “Lake-Side” that beautiful place,
Where your life seems complete,
Orchestras playing and everyone swaying gives you such a treat,
Dancing and glancing with smiles so entrancing is all you can see
The Waltz hesitation is all the sensation,
Oh come and dance with me.

Refrain:

Take me out to Lakeside Sunday afternoon,
Where the band is playing, Flowers all in bloom,
Boys and girls together happy as a lark,
Take me out to “Lake-Side”
Beautiful Lake-side Park, park.

Second verse:

When twilight draws near and the whole world seems drear,
And you’ve no place to go,
You may sit guessing but no thought expressing The pleasures you love so,
You think of your only while you feel so lonely it all
Seems a dream
So while you are pining there comes a reminding,
A glorious thought it seems.

Refrain:

Take me out to Lakeside Sunday afternoon,
Where the band is playing, Flowers all in bloom,
Boys and girls together happy as a lark,
Take me out to “Lake-Side”
Beautiful Lake-side Park, park.

To listen to a sample of the song, visit this link at Pandora Radio.

105th Anniversary of Springfield’s “Easter Offering”

Editorial Cartoon from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as a statue of freedom was placed at the top of Gottfried Tower where the three men were lynched.


One hundred and five years ago, on the night before Easter, a mob in Springfield, Missouri broke into the Greene County jail, carried three prisoners to the city square, and lynched them for the alleged assault of a white woman. The murder of the three men quickly became known as the “Easter Offering.” The lynchings made the front page of newspapers across the nation and faded only with news of a terrible earthquake which leveled the west coast city of San Francisco. Below is an excerpt from Kimberly Harper’s White Man’s Heaven, which in addition to covering the Joplin lynching of Thomas Gilyard, tells the story of the Easter Offering.

The following takes place after two men had already been lynched, Horace Duncan and Fred Coker.

“Resistance was nonexistent at the jail. Sheriff Horner and his men, absent since Duncan and Coker were seized, were nowhere to be found. Members of the mob strolled through the door of the jail unopposed. Men, armed with hammers, chisels, and other tools, walked through holding cells looking for Bus Cain and Will Allen. Bus Cain, however, was nowhere to be found. Apparently his cell was damaged during the first assault on the jail and Cain was able to slip away without being noticed. Cain, in his eagerness to escape, left Will Allen behind. When Cain’s absence was discovered by the mob, a litany of curses filled the air. Infuriated by his escape, men began to shout, “Take any negro and hang him!”

Allen, trapped in his cell, watched from his cot as a rough assortment of men began to coolly and methodically remove the lock from the cell door. Despite the cool night air, the men were drenched in sweat from their exertion. As men tired, they were relieved by fresh replacements. After almost two hours, sledgehammers were brought forth, and men began to steadily pound at the cell door with as much force as they could muster in the middle of the night. Just before two o’clock in the morning, the door to the cell was torn open, leaving nothing between Allen and his attackers. The emptiness between the men was momentary, as the mob rushed forward and seized the man who had been tortured by hours of violent screams and the prospect of the inevitable fate that awaited him.

Allen was blinded as a lantern was shoved in his face, as the mob, with a skewed sense of justice, sought to ensure they had the right man. Unwilling to meekly accept his fate, the 5’5″ tall Allen wrested himself free from the hands of his attackers, and seized a nearby wooden club. He ferociously lashed out at the men around him, but “blows rained on his face and body like hail from a score of arms, and he was quickly subdued.” Allen’s bold attempt to defend himself enraged the mob. While curses and clubs flew freely at Allen’s obstinance, his hands were jerked forward and tightly bound together before he was dragged out of the jail. Once outside the jail’s battered brick walls, Allen insisted on walking, rather than be carried by the mob.

Screams and yells eerily echoed through the air as men fired their pistols in anticipation of a third lynching. In the midst of the chaos, Will Allen walked steadily forward with his head held high, determined not to show fear. The mob guided Allen toward the campus of Drury College where only months before he, together with Bus Cain, allegedly murdered O. P. Ruark. Hoarse voices cried out, “Hang him where he killed old man Ruark!”

Several Drury students who were in the crowd, fearful that a lynching on Drury’s campus would sully the college’s reputation, hurriedly held an impromptu meeting. It was decided that they would try to head off the mob and quickly spread out through the crowd yelling, “Take him to the square! Hang him with the other two! Take him back so the others can see!” The plan worked as the mob suddenly shifted direction and with one voice bellowed, “To the square!”

The city square with Gottfried tower in the forefront. Note the Statue of Freedom at the top of the tower. Beneath her, Will Allen, Horace Duncan and Fred Coker were lynched.

As the mob streamed toward the scene of Coker’s and Duncan’s grisly end, “Men talked to themselves and each other, swore fluently at nothing at all, and shouted all sorts of bloodcurdling things into the air without regard of their significance. Grown men shrieked and howled like demons, shouting to the leaders to hang the negro, to burn him.” It was on the corner of the square, as the howling processional began to arrive that Hollet H. Snow spotted Chief John McNutt and Officers John Wimberly, Henry Waddle, A. R. Sampey, E. T. W. Trantham, and Martin Keener, “laughing and talking and making no effort to stop the mob.” As Allen and the mob approached the square, it was shrouded in darkness, save for the harsh light that came from the bonfire built over the bodies of Fred Coker and Horace Duncan.

As Gottfried Tower loomed before him, Allen trembled almost imperceptibly, but regained his composure. He walked unaided up the steps that led to the tower’s bandstand. In front of Allen was a sea of faces, dimly illuminated by the flames of the bonfire, tense with anticipation. Those who stood on the fringes of the mob were shrouded in darkness. Allen, as he stood on the tower’s bandstand, may have recognized familiar faces. If he did, he did not cry out for help. Instead, he stood silently as an unknown man shoved a lantern into his face for those below, which caused the mob to call out, “Hang him!”

The man motioned for silence and then spoke, “Ladies and gentle – men, here before you is Will Allen, the man who cruelly murdered old man Ruark on the corner of Benton Avenue and Center Street. What will you do with him?” Over a thousand voices thundered in unison, “HANG HIM!” The man turned to Allen and asked, “Are you Will Allen?” Allen replied, “I am.” The unknown man then asked Allen if he had anything to say. Allen looked out at the crowd, straightened, and said, “Only that I did not kill Ruark.” Several men from the crowd howled, “Make him tell who did!” Allen, his hands still bound, declared, “Bus Cain killed Ruark. I had nothing to do with it.” The mob, unsatisfied with his answer, roared, “HANG HIM!”

Source: Reprinted with permission from the author, White Man’s Heaven: The Lynching and Expulsion of Blacks in the Southern Ozarks by Kimberly Harper.

One African American Family’s History in Southwest Missouri

One of our readers sent in a story from the Springfield News-Leader regarding the legacy of race, slavery, and family in Missouri. Although the story does not feature anyone from the Joplin area, the story of Moses Berry and Thulani Davis is one that undoubtedly echoes the lives of some of Joplin’s residents. Unsurprisingly, African American history in Jasper County, Missouri, has long been overlooked by local and academic authors. With the exception of White Man’s Heaven, by Kimberly Harper, which recounts the 1903 lynching of Thomas Gilyard in Joplin and Lori Bogle’s Missouri Historical Review article, “Desegregation in a Border State: The Example of Joplin, Missouri,” little has been published. What stories are waiting to be uncovered in Joplin?

The Joplin Night Owls

Previously, Historic Joplin has mentioned one African-American baseball team in Joplin’s past, the Joplin Shadies of the 1890’s. This was not the only organized black baseball team, and perhaps it was the successor to a team that played for about half a century.

The Joplin Night Owls of 1910 were considered a championship team of Southwest Missouri. The year before the team had won twenty-six of twenty-eight games, losing only two. Not supported as the Joplin Miners, the Night Owls were forced to practice at the cemetery grounds of South Joplin. Though, an article that year reported an expectation that at some point the team would be able to practice in the “old” Miners Park. The same article announced the manager as Lindley. One of the first games of the season was to be in St. Louis against the Grays, likely the Murdock Grays, who later became the Homestead Grays (a noted Negro League team).

Sources: Joplin News Herald and Negro League Baseball Players Association.

Cornbread Wilson

Why some women turned to prostitution, be it from circumstance or drug addiction, it might be never known.  Unfortunately at times, caught up with them in the tragic whirlwind by no choice of their own were children.  This is one story.

How Pearl Wilson received the nickname Cornbread is unknown, but what is known from contemporary accounts is that she bore a “bad reputation and was bringing her little five year old daughter up in the very blackest of sin.” It was not surprising, then, to officers when they arrested her in 1903 on a charge of street walking with her daughter in tow.

After she was arrested, Wilson was escorted to the city jail, and when the “iron doors closed between the woman and her child, she began to cry” because the police “refused to lock up her little girl.” Deputy Marshal Frank Sowder contacted the Children’s Home and asked that someone come take charge of the child.

When Mrs.  Barr, matron of the Children’s Home, arrived to take Pearl Wilson’s daughter to the home, a “most pathetic scene” ensued.  Wilson begged to kiss her child goodbye and when the doors of the cell were opened, she “bounded out and clasped the little girl to her bosom, and the tears of mother and daughter mingled.” But Mrs.  Barr could not tarry long and soon the “tender, loving mother, [fought] the battle of her life to prevent the officers from separating her from little one.” Her appeal to keep her child with her in the jail cell tugged at the heartstrings of the officers.  Both Deputy Marshal Sowder and Night Captain Loughlin could not “keep back the tears.” Neither man wanted to separate mother and child, but with the assistance of Mrs.  Barr, the two were separated.

Pearl Wilson was placed back in her cell while her daughter was taken the Children’s Home.  The following day, Wilson went before the police judge, where she claimed that she was not street walking; she was merely “on her way home from church when the officers placed her under arrest.” The Globe reporter remarked, “No one in the courtroom who is acquainted with her methods was inclined to believer her story and the court decided to continue her case until” the next morning when “her conduct will be thoroughly investigated.”

By the next day, however, Pearl Wilson was in trouble again.  This time it was for going to the Children’s Home at 10 o’clock at night on a Sunday to regain possession of her daughter.  After being denied entrance, she “raised a disturbance.  She disturbed the entire neighborhood and in a loud manner served notice that she would ‘clean out the roost’ if her wishes were not acceded to.” Pearl left empty-handed but returned the next day and through “a series of gigantic bluffs she endeavored to frighten the inmates and she succeeded in scaring the smaller inmates nearly out of their wits.  Perfect and harmonious bedlam reigned” until the police arrived and arrested her once again.

The Globe reporter observed, “Although ‘Cornbread’ has lost the principal attributes of a fond and affectionate mother, she has retained as strong love for the little waif as the matron of the most comfortable home in the city.  She has been known to shamefully neglect little Bonnie, but when she is pursued and corralled by the policemen she invariably takes Bonne with her to the jail.”

She must have failed to sway the mind of Mrs.  Barr as she and a young man were seen on Christmas eve “prowling about the Home by some of the attendants and were ordered away.” The Globe reported, “the Wilson woman has made the threat that she will have possession of her child if it costs her life.”

What happened to Pearl Wilson and her daughter Bonnie remains unknown.  Their story, however, is a common one as many women chose to pursue their livelihood as a member of the frail sisterhood.  For the children who were born to women who earned their living on the streets, life was far from easy.

Source: Joplin Globe