Joplin Metro Magazine: Issue 4 Volume 2

This month’s issue of the Joplin Metro Magazine has a number of Joplin history related articles.  First is a profile of Hannah Simpson, who is selling postcards printed with images of familiar iconic and historic signs of Joplin to benefit the Trees for Joplin Fund.  Next in the issue is the cover story, photographs of a number of Joplin landmarks relating to nearly every decade of Joplin’s history with brief histories.  The topics range from the Inn at Reddings Mill to Junge Field, as well as such familiar buildings as the Scottish Rite Cathedral.  Lastly, the issue wraps up its Joplin-centric history with a piece on the Mo-Kan Dragway.

For those interested, the Joplin Metro Magazine can be found about town, published by the Globe, and online here.

Joplin’s Pulitzer Prize Winning Baseball Player

“A great gentleman, a great writer, has gone.”  So concluded an obituary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of the journalist Bart Howard.  Among the many newspaper writers to pass through Joplin on the staffs of the News Herald and the Globe, Howard is among the most prominent.

Bart Howard was born in Worchester, Massachusetts in 1871.  As a boy he walked the privileged halls of Phillips Exeter Academy.  He attended Williams College where he excelled at athletics.  Howard did not graduate from the school, but left early after upsetting the faculty with a paper which mocked certain giants of Greek history.  From New England Howard eventually made his way to Joplin around 1901 and found a job with the News Herald.  He initially provided coverage of Joplin’s triumphs and failures in the Missouri Valley baseball league.  Howard had developed a love for the game in college, and briefly played professionally as a left handed second baseman as a means to supplement the meager income of a young journalist.

Howard did not remain merely a sports writer, but expanded to general news coverage.  After a few years, the talented journalist was noticed by the owners of the Globe and they hired Howard away from their competitor and placed him on the editorial staff of the Globe.  At the Globe, Howard rose to the position of managing editor, and oversaw Ben H. Reese, later a managing editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Wesley Winans Stout, later an editor of the Saturday Evening Post.  It was also during his time in Joplin that Howard met and married Ann Picher, of the mining company Pichers.

For a number of years Howard worked at the Joplin Globe until once again his ability was noticed and this time hired by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  In the Gateway City, he worked as a journalist before a brief return to Joplin, then found work in Columbus, Ohio and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Ultimately, Howard returned to St. Louis and the Post-Dispatch and became an editorial writer.  It was in this capacity that Howard won the Pulitzer Prize in May, 1940 for a series of four editorials entitled, “Europe’s Emperor,” “After the Battle,” “The Golden Age,” and “The Kingdom of Democracy.”  Not long after his win, Williams College opted to make their former student a Doctor of Humane Letters.

Howard was unable to enjoy his laurels.  On February 12, 1941, he collapsed at lunchtime, dead of a heart attack.  The Globe made sure to note the passage of its one time editor, a man who had traded the plush and privileged world of Massachusetts for the rough and tumble streets of Joplin.  Howard may have also been one of the few professional baseball players to ever win the coveted Pulitzer.  The Post-Dispatch printed summaries of the four editorials which had won Howard his great literary prize, and wrote lovingly of its former writer.  An editorial by the paper said of Howard’s writings:

“Behind his writings was, above all, a great and passionate love for humanity and for justice.  It was a humanitarian sense, a warm affection for all his fellows, that embraced their every activity.  He could breathe righteous indignation into his pages of copy paper, when oppression or intolerance or corruption came into the news.  The leavening shaft of humor served to debunk the pretensions of the pompous, or to reduce a raging controversy to its proper teapot proportions, but Bart Howard had a flaming sword in that typewriter when there were wrongs to oppose.”

The Post-Dispatch, as noted above, then concluded, “A great gentleman, a great writer, has gone.”

Sources: Missouri Digital Heritage, St. Louis Post Dispatch, and Joplin Daily Globe.

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

A Splendid Monument of Joplin Enterprise

On March 24th, 1901, visitors flooded into the newly opened home to the Joplin chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association.  Located at the intersection of Fourth and Virginia streets, the three story building was an achievement for the YMCA, if limited.

Established in February, 1891, the Joplin YMCA had 49 active members and 94 associated members.  Elected as the first president was J.H. Dangerfield with C.H. Adams as his secretary.  By its seventh year, the organization had opted to purchase and build a home for itself in Joplin in April of 1897.  The selected site was the then location for the Haven Opera House, which sat on the northwest corner of Virginia and 4th Streets.  For the near prime 4th and Main Street location, the YMCA paid $4,500 and allowed the opera house to continue operation until the end of the theatrical season.  It was a necessary wait, as the YMCA did not yet have the funds to begin the construction of their new building.  Nor did it believe it would raise such funds swiftly, as it entered into a contract to lease the property to the Studebaker Manufacturing Company.

The Joplin Globe stated at the time, “In purchasing the Haven opera house they have selected the best location in all the city for such a public building, and they have a nucleus of such a substantial nature that success is a foregone conclusion in securing the much needed new building.”

Gartang & Rea's plan for a 5 story YMCA building.

It was just shy of a year later that plans for the building were formally released for the public’s consumption.  The Globe boasted of the proposed design, “The building will be large and costlier than any association building ever erected in a city the size of Joplin and will surpass in elegance an convenience most of those erected in cities of greater size.  It will be, when completed, a splendid monument of Joplin enterprise and of its fostering care toward the young men of the city.”

The architects behind the design were Joplin architects Charles Edward Garstang and Alfred W. Rea, of Garstang & Rea.  The men presented a five story building which was to feature a gymnasium located on the 4th floor with a ceiling which stretched up into the 5th floor where a viewing gallery was situated.  Other proposed features were locker rooms for members and guests, as well as sleeping quarters, a camera room with dark room, a reading room, library, and a members and guests correspondent rooms.  Not to be neglected, a small barbershop was also planned for the building.

Groundbreaking occurred on September 29, 1900, and at a cost of $150,000, the YMCA’s home was built, including the cost of furnishings.  The aspirations of the YMCA had been restrained with only a three story building as the finished product.  Never the less, the Globe commented, “If no religious fervor toward the uplifting and saving of young men’s souls fills your heart even then you will be proud of their quarters as a building and a credit to Joplin, for it is certainly a beautiful place.”

The article on the opening described a rotunda located at the top of a stairway which lead from the main entrance.  The floor was tiled linoleum with dark wooden pillars about the room and chairs of the same color to match.  To the right of the rotunda a parlour, and beyond it a kitchen and dining room.  On the third floor, a visitor discovered another rotunda which offered access to a room dedicated for railroad men, as well a boy’s room for pastime and a game room for men.  The men’s game room was equipped with checkers, chess, and a fireplace.  White marble was used in the bathing apartments, which featured both plunge and shower bath arrangements.

The YMCA was not denied a large gymnasium, though instead of being found on a proposed fourth floor, was located on the second.  It, too had a balcony for viewing on the third floor.  Also on the third floor, was a stage, opera chairs, and space for meetings.  Two stain glassed windows showered the stairway to the third floor in colored light, while a electronically controlled gate prevented access to the gymnasium to those who failed to possess bathing privileges (this was overseen by a watchful secretary and a button which raised or lowered the gate).

The home of the Joplin YMCA from 1901 to 1918. Note: Future owner, the Joplin Globe, is visible just around the corner on the right.

From 1901 to 1918, the building housed the YMCA until the organization built its current building on Wall Street (a future post will cover this building’s history).  When it did so, it sold its former home to the Joplin Globe for $40,000, which promptly expanded from its original location into its neighbor.

Sources: Charles Gibbon’s “Angling in the Archives”, Missouri Digital Heritage, and the Joplin Globe.

The Joplin Metro Magazine – A Review

Cover of the Joplin Metro Magazine

Cover of the Joplin Metro Magazine, published by the Joplin Globe. Click on the image to go to the magazine's facebook page.

In May, 2010, the Joplin Globe began the publication of the Joplin Metro Magazine and in the process introduced a new source to learn Joplin’s history.  The monthly magazine is not dedicated to the history of Joplin, but it has on several occasions covered Joplin’s history.   As the magazine’s editor, Scott Meeker wrote in its first issue, the magazine is “a celebration of our city’s past, present and future…”

In its first issue, Joplin Metro set a fascinating beginning with coverage of the history behind Boomtown Days and then featured an article about the Post Memorial Reference Library with extensive quotes from its director, Leslie Simpson (Joplin’s expert on the city’s architecture and history).  The issue concluded its historic coverage with a piece on the presently dilapidated Union Depot (the restoration of which has been an ongoing topic for us here at HJ).

Following issues, such as issue 3, had a cover article on the Bonnie and Clyde Joplin Hide Out, owned and operated by Phillip McClendon.  It was then followed by perhaps its most comprehensive coverage yet of Joplin’s history, with several pages dedicated to a number of the city landmarks, both remaining and vanished.  This included brief histories about the House of Lords, both Freeman’s and St. John’s hospitals, and the Crystal Cave.  Other topics were the Joplin Little Theater and the Civil War violence that occurred on nearby Rader Farm.  Concluding the history coverage was an article on a Webb City man and the World War One memorabilia collection that arose from his personal interest in his grandfather.

The strengths of the magazine’s coverage of Joplin’s history are the humanistic approach to the topics, bringing them forward in an easily accessible format and the photographs used to illustrate the topics.  The weakness, if it can be applied in this case, is that the coverage is not meant to be academic in nature and can be just too brief to satisfy one’s appetite for the topic.  Also, not every issue is as plentiful in the coverage of historic topics.  None the less, Joplin Metro excels as a magazine offering coverage of Joplin’s history.  It exists as a great source to inspire further and deeper research into the fascinating aspects of the city, something that we definitely support.

For those interested in the Joplin Metro Magazine, issues are shipped to those with subscriptions to the Globe, and can also be found in a variety of places around town.

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.

More Coverage on the Union Depot Proposal

Support the renovation of the Joplin Union Depot as a new home for the Joplin Museum Complex!

Support the renovation of the Joplin Union Depot as a new home for the Joplin Museum Complex!


On Sunday, July 11, 2010, the Joplin Globe featured two articles on the Union Depot.  The first article includes a brief history of the depot, when it was built, as well efforts twenty some years ago to renovate it (which only succeeded in putting on a new roof and new stucco on the walls).  Also in the article are some quotations from Clair Goodwin, president of the museum board, who appears reticent about the proposal.  A quote is also offered from Allen Shirley, president of the Joplin Historical Society, again along the lines of hesitance, this time due to space issues.  Historic Joplin yesterday posted a response to the current management of the Joplin Museum Complex with regard to these quotations.

The second article featured a walk through with David Glenn, a contractor and owner of Glenn Commercial Group, who participated in the attempt to renovate the depot twenty some years ago.  In it, Glenn points out how the building is in a good position structurally and has a relatively new roof.   Included with the article is an interesting video of the walk through with Glenn and a Globe reporter.

Union Depot Renovation Has Support of Downtown Merchants

In follow up coverage by the Joplin Globe, merchants along Main Street have voiced their support for the depot renovation for use as a museum, along with the rest of the plans from Tuesday’s, July 6, 2010, meeting.  The Globe has also run an editorial supporting the plan, though with some worry about funding drying up in the current economic condition.  The Globe‘s suggestion for the City Council? Act  steadfastly.  Make it so, Joplin!

Support the renovation of the Joplin Union Depot as a new home for the Joplin Museum Complex!

Support the renovation of the Joplin Union Depot as a new home for the Joplin Museum Complex!

Alice Frances Britten, Globe Newsgirl

Although we often look back nostalgically on the days of the newsboy, there were also newsgirls, although it “was a department of activity not often invaded by girl folks.” Alice Frances Britten, an eleven-year-old newsgirl, was a welcome sight to the miners who lived in the Castle Rock and Brickyard Crossing neighborhoods of Joplin.  The sprightly young girl, who was described as having bright blue eyes, met the “early morning electric car from Joplin at the crossing between Midway Park and Oakland” to pick up her bundle of papers which she then carried to the homes of “the miners and gardeners of the region.”

Alice Bitten, Joplin Globe newsgirl

A sketch of Alice Britten

Originally from Texas, Britten came to Joplin where she “endured the restraint of city life, and as a result was not strong and rugged a year ago when she first undertook the task of representing The Globe in the Brickyard Crossing neighborhood.” But after a year of delivering the paper in sun, sleet, and snow, she radiated health and vitality.

Her meager earnings were deposited in a savings account “of no mean or inconsiderable proportions” which added “zest and incentive to the long and sometimes tiresome tramp over the narrow and difficult trails of the hill country.” Miners made sure to pay her for their subscriptions which was not always the case of the intercity newsboy who often got ripped off by customers.  She even delivered papers when not attending the Range School where she “fought out the difficult problems of the multiplication table and the nominative case.”

The Globe observed, “It has been said that heaven lies about us in our childhood, and surely this mythical land comes very near the Globe’s ‘girl newsboy’ as she communes with Nature during these bright spring mornings.”

Four years later in 1910, Alice F.  Britten was living on Royal Heights Road in Jasper County, Missouri, with her parents and siblings.  Her father, William, was a building contractor for mining companies, as were her three brothers.  Her mother, Ida, listed her occupation as a farmer, while her sister, Nora, taught school.  Alice, however, did not have an occupation listed.

In July, 1913, Alice Britten married James Higgins in Jasper County, Missouri, and disappears from the historical record.  No matter where Alice ended up, she surely never forgot her time as a young newsgirl, carrying the Globe to the rough and tumble mining neighborhoods where she was warmly greeted.

Source: The Joplin Globe

Easter in the Joplin Globe

The majority of Joplin’s residents were Christian and as a result, as Easter neared, ads reflecting the holy day appeared in the Joplin Globe.   Here are three examples for your viewing pleasure:

Easter Advertisement in the Joplin Globe

Easter Advertisement in the Joplin Globe utilizing the Easter Bunny and an Easter egg.

An illustration for Easter Services in the Joplin Globe

An illustration for Easter Services in the Joplin Globe

An Easter advertisement in the Joplin Globe

Easter Bunny with Easter eggs in advertisement.

Sources:  The Joplin Globe