1910s – 1920s Joplin Miners

In honor of the soon to be named Joplin baseball team, here’s one more photograph of Joplin’s longest lasting professional team, the Miners from some time in the 1910s to 1920s.

Unfortunately, this is a private photograph with no labeled names or dates, so the scowling fellow will have to go down nameless into posterity.  We will never know what irritated him approximately 100 years ago.  For a large version of the image, just click on the photograph.

1928 and 1930 Joplin Miners

In celebration of the return of professional baseball to Joplin, here are team photographs from Joplin’s baseball past.  Below are photographs of the Joplin Miners, the first from 1928 and the second from 1930. As usual, for a larger version, just click on the photo.

Here are the names of players as numbered: 1) Red Becker, 2) Bill Diester, 3) Ted Willis, 4) Connelly, 5) Martin, 6) Frank Sidle, 7) Poirier, 8) Mitchell, 9) Delabetta, 10) Reilly, 11) House, 12) Manager Marty Purtell, 13) Brauchle, 14) Jack Hinson, 15) Robinson, 16) Jack Crouch

 

The names of the players as numbered: 1) Mallett, 2) Grant, 3) Novak, 4) Harry Kimberlin, 5) David Cheeves, 6) Bob Boken, 7) Ellison, 8) Byron Humphrey, 9) Bill Diester, 10) Ed Kallina, 11) Griffith, 12) Business Manager Wilson, 13) James Bray, 14) Emery Osborn, 15) Cato, 16) Manager Cotton Tierney, 17) Edward Halbert, 18) Luke Corbus, 19) Scofield

The Yuletide Season

One hundred years ago, the lights of stores lining Joplin’s main street blazed brightly as shoppers and spectators strolled the sidewalks in search of the perfect gift despite a mix of rain and snow. Merchants kept their doors open long after regular hours in the hope of attracting more customers and did so with success. Many businesses reported that the last few hours saw the “heaviest trade” of the season with people coming from all over the Four State region to peruse their wares.

The Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad, sometimes referred to as the “May Never Arrive” because of its chronic tardiness, offered a special Christmas shopping excursion to passengers in Harrison and Eureka Springs, Arkansas. An estimated two hundred Arkansawyers took advantage of the opportunity and caught the 4:30 a.m. train to Joplin, arriving on time at 10:30 a.m., and immediately headed to Main Street. Trains left Joplin bearing “hundreds of bundle-laden passengers.”

Churches throughout the city celebrated the birth of Christ with special programs and charitable organizations worked to ensure that even the poor were remembered and able to “forget their condition” for a brief time. Clothes, food, and toys were distributed to those in need.

The majority of businesses reported they would be closed on Christmas, but mail carriers would have to make their rounds as usual. The city collector and the county sheriff announced their offices would be open, but all other city employees had the day off.

*On a personal note, we here at Historic Joplin have much to be grateful for and ask that if you can, please remember those who are less fortunate this Christmas. Please consider making a donation to the charity of your choice or to a local food bank to help those in need.

Halloween in Joplin

General Spook of Goblin-land ordered his army to invade the city of Joplin last night and the order was carried out to the letter,” the Globe cheerily reported the morning after Halloween.

“Everyone was out – young and old. Motor cars heavily laden with masqueraders raced up and down Main Street, causing traffic jams at times, which gave police officers not little concern. Horns were brought into play by children. In the various sections of the city an occasional revolver shot was heard and drivers of motor cars on Main Street added to the fun with blasts from the exhaust pipe of the vehicles.”

Dances were held at the Connor Hotel and Erickson’s Dancing Academy. Even the Joplin Children’s Home provided Halloween festivities for its residents, allowing the seventy-five children who lived there to invite a friend to the home to enjoy refreshments and play games.

The streets of Joplin swarmed with children decked out in a variety of costumes. Rudolph Valentino was a popular choice as was the “negro mammy, whose picture has adorned the packages of pancake flour.” The Globe observed, “Many girls became boys, while the boy got his one opportunity to strut the streets as a girl.” For all of the innocent youth seeking a treat, it seemed that there were even more intent on carrying out tricks.

Joplin police received more than thirty phone calls to break up gangs of delinquents destroying or removing property. The activity was concentrated in an area west of Main Street, between Fourth and Twentieth streets, though other neighborhoods were also vandalized. Pranksters placed “all sorts of objects” in the streets to stop traffic and a gang of rock throwers made a nuisance of themselves. Finding wooden fences too easy to tear down, one group of hoodlums tried to demolish a stone fence in North Joplin. Windows were soaped in residential and business districts. Despite all of the damage, no one was arrested, most likely because Joplin was home to “many potential champion sprinters.”

The Ozarks Playground Association

The Ozarks Playground Association (OPA) was founded in 1919 to promote tourism in the Ozarks. Headquartered in Joplin, the association published maps and brochures highlighting towns, resorts, attractions, and points of interest for visitors. The association eventually dissolved in 1979. Several of the maps and brochures have survived, but to this day, it is unknown what happened to the organization’s papers, i.e. minutes of meetings, correspondence, etc.

If you know of a family member who was involved with the OPA or know about any individuals who may have OPA material, drop us a line. Although it is of relatively little monetary value, the papers of the OPA (if the papers still exist) are an invaluable part of Ozark history, and need to be preserved for future generations.

To Build A Railroad: Photos from the Katy Line’s Construction to the Union Depot.

As part of our recent discovery of a photograph of the Joplin Union Depot under construction, we also uncovered photographs of the construction of the new Missouri-Kansas-Texas (“Katy”) railroad line by the Walsh-List-Gifford Construction Company. Once again, we are happy and proud to share a few glimpses of Joplin’s history that we believed was otherwise left to the imagination to envision. To learn some about the men featured in the photographs below and the life they lived, just read our earlier entry here about life in a railroad camp.

First, we have a photograph of a steam engine with the name of the company painted along the side of the accompanying coal car. The fellow resting on the front of the engine is one of our favorite elements of the photograph.

Click on the photo to find larger versions.

Next, we have a photograph of the railroad building at work.  Here, the company appears to be building up an earthen support to the trestle bridge that the line is built upon.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Finally, our favorite photograph shows some of the men at work (or spectating) on the side of the line while a steam engine puffs its way toward the photographer.

To view a larger version of the photograph, just click on the image.

 

 

Joplin Union Depot: Under Construction!

For historians, it is a labor of love to research and investigate topics of interest. Often times, in the course of such research, one is repeatedly faced with missing pieces and the fear that some things are forever lost to the ages. In the course of writing our five part history of the Union Depot, we exhausted countless resources trying to find as many images of the depot in its earliest stages of being built. Our most successful find was the image below:

The depot nearing completion in March, 1911.

It was the best we believed that existed of Joplin’s beautiful depot under construction. That is, until now. It is with great pride and excitement that we unveil and share with you a newly discovered photo of the depot in the process of being built.

The Joplin Union Depot under construction sometime in the early months of 1911. Click on image to view larger sizes.

By the appearance and state of completion of the depot and the background trees, we estimate that this photograph was taken sometime in early 1911, quite possibly after the one we posted previously. The photograph was taken from Main Street or just off of Main Street. Of particular note is that the exterior finishes on the building are incomplete, such as the architectural touches on the south end of the building, the lack of glass windows and the white exterior is in the process of being added. In the background, you can spot Eugene Field School (since demolished) sitting as the massive building on a hill. Regretfully, we know little about the photographer, other than he may have worked for a railroad and lived in Oklahoma.

If you still have not read our five part history of the depot, you can find it at the following links: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

Also, watch for more photographs associated with the construction of the Union Depot, which while not of the depot itself, are still quite fascinating and depict a previously discussed post on our site!

House of a Thousand Shines

A fortune in zinc ore.

In the fall of 1924, South Joplin became home to the “House of a Thousand Shines.” Paul W. Freeman, of the John W. Freeman Trust Company, built a unique residence at 3215 Wall. The Globe reported, “As one drives past it on a sunny afternoon, little beams of light twinkle first here, then there in the walls, until the spectator is led to believe the house is studded with diamonds.” While his stucco house was under construction, Freeman found out that gravel typically used in stucco house construction cost $40 to $80 a ton and had to be transported from Michigan or Ohio. He then decided to use lead and zinc ore “instead of gravel as a splash for the walls.” After the “cracked ore was screened to eliminate the finer particles” the entire six room bungalow was covered in a ton and a half of zinc ore. Five hundred pounds of lead was used on the porch columns. Apparently pleased with the results, Freeman told the Globe that lead and zinc ore could be used as economically as out-of-state gravel, although it is unknown if other local residents chose to use it instead of other alternatives.

While Wall Avenue no longer extends into the 32nd block, it is possible the house still survives on Oak Ridge Drive.

The Cragin Mansion

The Cragin Mansion, circa 1902.

Along the streets of North Joplin, one can still find stately homes interspersed alongside modest bungalows, reminders of a bygone era. At 516 North Wall Street stands one of Joplin’s oldest surviving homes, Cragin Mansion. The mansion was built in the 1880s by Eber Alonzo “Lon” Cragin, a native of Vermont who became a successful attorney in Iowa, and later retired to Joplin. Cragin’s son, John A. Cragin, subsequently relocated to Joplin, intrigued by the business opportunities to found in the mining boom town. John A. Cragin soon found his niche, helping establish the First National Bank of Joplin. Both he and his wife Minnie became respected members of local society. Minnie was well known for her gracious hospitality.

Eber Alonzo “Lon” Cragin, the first Cragin to arrive in Joplin and builder of the Cragin Mansion.

Lon Cragin and grandson, John Howard Cragin.

The Cragins became even further firmly intertwined in the fabric of Joplin society when John A. Cragin’s sister Susan married Peter Christman of Christman Department Store fame. According to family lore, John A. Cragin was a silent partner in his brother-in-law’s business. The Christmans lived in the handsome mansion with both the Lon and John A. Cragin families in a multigenerational family household. Peter and Susan Christman, although childless, helped raise their nephew, John Harold Cragin.

Flower Parade in front of the Schifferdecker House with Minnie Pease Cragin (wife of John A. Cragin), seated on the left side of the front seat.

John A. Cragin, started as a cashier at the First National Bank and eventually became president.

In 1912, eighty-two-year-old Lon Cragin fell while raking leaves and passed away. After his son John A. Cragin died in 1924, Lon’s grandson John Harold Cragin moved into the family home. The young Cragin followed his family into business and finance, making a fortune in stocks before the Great Depression plunged him into debt, which, according to the family, he repaid and still managed to retain ownership of the family mansion. Despite the family facing serious financial challenges at a time of great uncertainty, Cragin’s cook Anna Bland always fed unemployed men who knocked on the back door of the mansion searching for a meal.

A family portrait in front of the home. From left to right: Pete Christman, Unknown Girl, Susan Cragin Christman, John Harold Cragin, son of John Adna Cragin (brother of Aunt Susie) and Euphemia Graham Cragin.

Harold Cragin (right) in his office located in the Empire State Building at 6th and Joplin St., Joplin, MO.

John Harold Cragin married and had three children, but the marriage ended in divorce. One daughter, Betty Jane, married and moved near Sarcoxie. John’s only son, John Marshall Cragin, went away to college and later to a 20 year career in the United States Army. Thus, Cragin and the last of his daughters, Lynn, lived in a home full of mostly unoccupied rooms until the outbreak of World War Two. She found employment as a draftswoman at Camp Crowder and many of the home’s rooms were rented to married servicemen and their wives from the 303rd Signal Battalion. Cragin’s daughter met her husband, a soldier named Prescott, when some of the home’s temporary occupants set her up on a blind date. The two became engaged and Lynn left Joplin for married life in California. The mansion, meanwhile, was put up for sale and purchased for $12,500 by a relatively young Bible college in October, 1944. The Ozark Bible College has called Joplin home ever since.

The first non-Cragin inhabitant of the home, the Ozark Bible College.


The church converted the mansion was into its new spiritual home. It served as a girl’s dormitory, housed classrooms, the cafeteria, and administrative offices. The residence was expanded in 1953 to add room for a large chapel, additional classrooms, and a library. A year later, 176 students attended classes at the college at 516 North Wall Street. In the 1960s, the college outgrew its space and moved to its present location and took the new name of Ozark Christian College. A church made the mansion its home after the college departed and since then, the former Cragin residence has played host to numerous religious organizations through the present day. It is now the location of the Neighborhood Life House. For over a century, the Cragin mansion has stood on North Wall Street, once home to one of the prosperous families of Joplin and now a home to the Joplin community, bridging the divide between the city’s past and its present.

The Cragin Mansion in 2012, home to the Neighborhood Life House.

Cragin Mansion in 2012.

Photos and family history courtesy of Cragin descendant, Galyn Prescott Metcalf and John M. Cragin.

Visiting their childhood home in 2011, Lynn Cragin Prescott and her brother, John Marshall Cragin.

A Castle of Joplin for Sale

Just win Powerball? Come into a vast family inheritance? Got a spare million laying around and a need to spend it? If so, here’s the opportunity to purchase one of the Joplin area’s more peculiar historic properties.  Built sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s,  Sky High Castle commands an overlook of Reddings Mill, built on cliffs above the Shoal Creek valley.  A website for the castle describes it as such:

The interior of Sky High Castle includes hand-hewn beams overhead, two cast-bronze ceiling fans that feature retractable fan-blades, two floors each having a large stone fireplace, and many windows taking advantage of the surrounding views.

Outside, the property is also special. The Castle is perched atop a hill and large chert, stone cliffs overlooking a river valley where Shoal Creek flows. The striking appearance comes from the fact that the Castle and cliffs are made of the same color of stone, so that the whole is of impressive height and width. It is 180 feet of elevation change down to Shoal Creek below. The hillsides have been terraced with many rock walls at various levels. Walkways and stairs lead around the property offering many splendid views of the valley and Castle. Rose moss, phlox, carnations and columbine make a home on the rock walls and terraces. Surrounding the Castle are oak woods and a city park along Shoal Creek comes up to the property line on one hillside. The Castle can be viewed from the town of Redings Mill below. This is true now more than in the past as some clearing has been done.

For photographs of the interior of the castle, just click here. It stands undoubtedly one of the most unique homes in the Joplin area.  If you know any stories of the home, please feel free to share them!