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.

The Arcade Saloon

Above is a glimpse inside one of Joplin’s Arcade Saloon. The saloon was located at 124 S. Main Street, which put it just a short walk away from city hall and the Joplin Police Department. At the time of the photograph, the saloon was owned by William L. Bigelows from at least 1915 until 1920. Prior to his purchase of the bar, it was home to Schweikert and Sons Saloon. Bigelows’ business came to an abrupt end, like many in Joplin, in 1920 with the passage of Prohibition. The Arcade was in good company, as it was joined in closure by the House of Lords, only two blocks south down the street. A grocery store later moved into the store front, which probably had cleaner floors but much less entertaining stories.

The former home of the Aracade Saloon - the dark green building with white trim at the end of the block.

We would like to thank the current owner of the photo, a great-grandson of Bigelows.

The Architectural Legacy of Garstang & Rea: Amos Armstrong Cass House, Carterville, Missouri

Amos Armstrong Cass House, Carterville, Missouri

We are happy to present the first of many photographs from the portfolio of architect Alfred W. Rea of Garstang & Rea. The featured photo is of the Amos Armstrong Cass House in Carterville, Missouri. Many thanks to Rea’s relatives for preserving and sharing Garstang & Rea’s architectural legacy.

Amos Armstrong Cass

The Biographical Record of Jasper County, Missouri, by Malcom G. McGregor, had this to say about Mr. Cass:

“One of the most conspicuous exponents of that sturdy spirit of American progressiveness which enables men to win success in any field of labor to which they may be called, that could be pointed out among the many successful miners and business men of Jasper county, Missouri, is Amos A. Cass, of Carterville. He is a native of Georgia, but was taken to east Tennessee while yet a mere child, and was there reared to manhood. James M. Cass, his grandfather, was a cousin of General Lewis Cass. His father, James M. Cass, died in Tennessee. His mother, who prior to her marriage was Miss Martha Jane Ryan, was a native of Georgia, and she died in Carterville, Missouri.

Mr. Cass, a contractor and builder, came to Jasper county in 1886 and engaged in the milling business, but soon began to give attention to mining. During the last five years he has devoted himself exclusively to mining, and is now interested in seven good plants, having three on the Cornfield land, at Carterville, one on the Perry lease, one on the McKinley lease and one on Judge McGregor’s lands, besides one other at Oronogo, all productive mines, well equipped with good machinery, and he has come to be known as one of the most extensive miners in the district. He is a partner and director in the Weeks Hardware Company at Carterville, and is a director in the Carterville Investment Company, of which corporation he is secretary.

A man of much public spirit, he has the best interests of Carterville at heart and he is one of its most active and progressive citizens and one of theleading Democrats of Jasper county. He was for eight years a member of the school board of Carterville and was influential in increasing the number of school rooms of the public schools of the town from four to fourteen and in securing the erection of two new brick school buildings. In 1867 he was received as an Entered Apprentice, passing the Fellow Craft degree and was raised to the Sublime degree of Master Mason. Later he took the degrees of capitular Masonry, became in turn a Mark Master, a Past Master and a Most Excellent Master and was exalted to the august degree of Royal Arch Mason; the degrees of Chivalric Masonry were conferred upon him and he was constituted, dubbed and created a Knight Templar, and still later he acquired the Royal degrees of the Secret Ineffable degrees of the Scottish Rite.

Mr. Cass married Miss Sarah Hunt, a native of east Tennessee. His son, Walter W. Cass, owns a good interest in four good producing mines and is connected with his father in the management of the Bell C. and L. C. mines, of which he is superintendent and his son, Carl C. Cass, is assistant superintendent. He had four daughters: Ollie, the eldest, the deceased wife of M. V. James, of Carterville; Lillie A., wife of O. H. Schoenherr; Belle B., at home; and Beulah Jene, a student in St. Charles College, at St. Louis, Missouri.”

According to his death certificate, Cass enjoyed his home by Garstang & Rea up until his death in 1915 from heart disease.

A City of Wealth and Industry: Joplin 1913 Moving Pictures

Previously, we brought you views of Joplin from The City that Jack Built: Joplin, 1902.  This time we offer more views of Joplin, this time from Joplin: City of Wealth, Industry and Opportunity, from approximately 1913.  Just like The City That Jack Built, City of Wealth, Industry and Opportunity, was created as a means to advertise Joplin’s attractive qualities to the world at large.  By 1913, Joplin was quickly approaching what might be considered it’s architectural peak, with many of her most beautiful buildings being completed by this decade and the next.  It was the age of Michaelis, Allen and Garstang & Rea, and a time period when Joplinites held no doubt that their city was on its way to bigger and better things.  To get a more static view of the photographs featured in the video below, just follow this link.

Dining at the Connor: 1923

Another in our “Where to Eat Should You Time Travel Back to Joplin” series brings a menu from the Connor hotel in June, 1923.  A little more accessible than the previous menu from the House of Lords, this time period marks the era when the Connor was the undisputed place to stay when visiting Joplin or passing through.  In her lobby passed all famous men and women and below are a few things they might have enjoined at the Connor’s restaurant.

 

Joplin Live Wire: A.F. Adams

In 1910, the Joplin Daily Globe began a series of short features on the “live wires” of Southwest Missouri, men whom the paper decided were the up and coming members of the community.  The short articles featured a caricature of the individual (usually in a work related setting), plus some biographical information.  Below, we offer A.F. Adams, the first of a number of these “live wires” we’ll be sharing to offer a glimpse of what Joplin once considered her leading members of community.

Note the "Hello Girls" in the background.

A.F. Adams began his career in the telephone business in Wisconsin as a constructing engineer with a telephone company.  From there he successfully managed independent telephone properties in both Wisconsin and Illinois.  Adams arrived in Joplin in August, 1905, presumably to work with the Home Telephone Company.  The Globe noted that since his connection with the company, subscribers had jumped from 2,500 to nearly 7,000. In addition to being a successful member of Joplin’s business community, Adams also had time to join the International Order of Odd Fellows and the Elks.  The paper also offered Adams home address at the time, a common element to articles in the time period, as being 1615 Pearl Street.

The Home Telephone Company was incorporated in 1902, and Adams was at least still an officer of the company five years later in 1915.  Adam’s success, however, led to his move to Kansas City to oversee a larger telephone conglomeration in 1912.  Further success led to Adams sharing his time between Kansas City and New York City.

Have a Safe and Sane Fourth of July!

Have A Sane Fourth of July

A century ago, Joplin adopted the idea of promoting a Fourth of July that was both safe and sane.  The illustration above offers a glimpse at this campaign and below, a familiar company advertising in Joplin on the Fourth.  The idea of promoting a safe Fourth was supported by an article noting the harm already received by the dangerous fireworks.  One case involved a boy, whose friends involved in a fight, found his hand badly burned when the firework he was getting ready to throw went off prematurely (the boys quickly made peace after this casualty).  Another boy, it was reported, suffered terribly burns on the neck and hands while shooting off “fire crackers” and two men, Roy Loving was shot in the hand by a blank gun cartridge and another, Earl Van Hoose severely burned by a “cannon cracker” which went off as he was throwing it.

Needless to say, have a fun, safe, and “sane” Fourth of July!

The Way It Was

Once in a while we find a wonderful glimpse into life in early Joplin. One of these is the article, “’Twas Only a Joke” by Robert S. Thurman of the University of Tennessee. Thurman recounts the practical jokes that people played on one another in Joplin at the turn of the century.

Although miners worked long hours in hazardous conditions, they found time to play jokes on one another. Those who suffered the brunt of the jokes were often greenhorns, who Joplin miners dubbed “dummies,” and other outsiders who decided to try their hand at mining.

Thurman recounted the story of two men who went into the mining business together at Duenweg. Their mine operation consisted of a pick, shovel, a windlass and can, some drills, blasting powder, and a dummy to help them. The two partners hired a man from Platte County, Missouri, to work as their dummy. Unbeknownst to them, the dummy was an out-of-work miner with plenty of experience under his belt.

The two partners would explain the dummy’s tasks to him in the simplest terms because “a dummy wasn’t expected to know anything, especially if he came from Platte River.” The dummy would listen intently, nod his head that he understood, and carry out his tasks as instructed.

One day the two men were down in the mine shaft prepping a drill hole for blasting. Instead of returning to the surface, they called out, “Hey, Dummy! Do you see that wooden box over by the wagon, the one with a tarp pulled over it?” The dummy replied, “You mean the one with some red writing on it?” The miners yelled back, “That’s it. Now go over to it and get two of those sticks wrapped in brown paper and be careful. Then in the box next to it, get two of those shiny metal sticks and about four feet of the string in the same box. Bring them over here and let them down to us! But be careful with that stuff!”

The dummy, already well acquainted with dynamite from his days as a miner, was fed up with his bosses’ attitude. Having earned enough money to strike out on his own, he decided to have a little fun. He found two corn cobs and wrapped them in brown paper, then stuck a short fuse into each one. The dummy walked back to the mouth of the mine and called down to the two miners, “Are these the two sticks that you want?” The miners replied, “Yeah, that’s them. Did you get the shiny metal sticks and the string?” “Why, shore. What do you think I be? And I decided to be right helpful to you, too. I fixed them up so you can use them right now.”

With that, the dummy lit the fuses, dropped the corn cobs disguised as dynamite into the can, and quickly lowered it down the shaft to the two miners below. Chaos ensued and the dummy had his revenge.

Another trick that miners often played on dummies was to send them after a “mythical tool” called a “skyhook.” One such case occurred at the Old Athletic Mine. The mine had hired a dummy from Arkansas. Unfortunately for Arkansawyers, they were viewed as both inferior and gullible by Joplin mining men. On the dummy’s first day at work, the miners told him, “Dummy, go up to the toolshed and get a skyhook and hurry up with it.”

The dummy nodded his head and headed for the surface. But when he reached the top, instead of going to the company’s toolshed, he headed for town. Upon reaching a blacksmith’s shop, he went inside and asked, “Mister, can you make a skyhook?” The smithy looked at the dummy in surprise, “What do you want?” The dummy repeated, “A skyhook. Can you make one?” “Son,” the blacksmith responded, “someone is pulling your leg. There ain’t no such thing.” “Sure there is,” the dummy insisted, “Now here is how you make it.”

Two days went by and there was no sign of the dummy at the mine.  The miners laughed and figured he was too embarrassed to return. But toward the end of the second day, the mine whistle sounded two blasts, which meant everyone had to come to the surface. As the miners reached the top, they saw the mine superintendent, the dummy, and the biggest pair of ice tongs they had ever seen.

The superintendent called out to the one of the miners nicknamed Mockingbird. “Mockingbird, this man says you and the boys sent him after a skyhook. That right?” Mockingbird, so named because he whistled all the time, sheepishly responded, “Well, I guess we did something like that.”

The superintendent looked at the miners and said, “Well, he’s got it for you, but since I didn’t authorize it, I guess you boys will have to stand the charges for it. That will be two days’ wages for him, the bill for the blacksmith, and the cost of the dray for bringing it to the job. Now, three of you boys take that skyhook and hang it over by the office so you know where it is in case you ever need it again.”

Miners were not the only ones who played tricks. As was common in the Ozarks, newlyweds were often treated to shivarees. Sometimes the friends of the young couple would surround the house and ring cowbells and bang pots and pans all night long. Other times they would be taken to a nearby pond, stream, or horse trough for a dunking. Or, the couple would return home and find their furniture had been unceremoniously rearranged.

One couple, Dan and Frances, were determined to avoid any such foolishness. They decided they would stay in their house, lock the doors, and not come out. Their friends soon arrived and began yelling for them to come out. Dan and Frances, however, turned out the lights. Soon it dawned on the group of friends that the couple had no plans to come out. But one of the young men had an idea and promised he would return shortly with a solution.

Upon his return, the young man had a stick of blasting powder, a cap, some fuse, a drill, and a hammer. He and the others drilled a hole in the mortar of Dan and Frances’ stone house, put in powder, tamped it very lightly to avoid doing damage, and lit a match. Within seconds there was a small explosion that shook the whole house and made pieces of stone fly. Dan and Frances came flying out of the house to the sound of their friends laughing and yelling, “Treats! Treats” But to make sure there were no hard feelings, a collection was taken to repair the house, and given to the couple.

But not all jokes in Joplin ended on a happy note. There were two rival saloonkeepers, whom Thurman called Jack and Billy, who often fought with each other. A bunch of loafers in Jack’s saloon began to kid him that Billy was out to get him and that he was a crack shot. A few weeks passed and the loafers once again began to tell Jack that Billy was mad at him and was “going to take care of you.”  Jack, believing their lies, began to worry. He told the loafers that he could take care of himself.

The next day, around noon, Billy left his saloon carrying a bucket. He crossed the street and headed toward Jack’s saloon. The loafers at Jack’s saloon yelled, “Jack, better watch out!  Here comes Billy and he’s got something in his hand!”

Before anyone could stop Jack, he grabbed a pistol from underneath the bar, stepped out onto the sidewalk, and yelled “Billy you ——! Try to kill me, will you!” He then fired at Billy, killing him instantly. Jack, realizing what he had just done, slowly walked down to the railroad tracks and sat down, shaking his head in disbelief. He was eventually arrested, convicted, and served a ten year prison sentence. The loafers who had started the unfortunate affair went free.

Thurman noted that practical jokes were rarely carried out in Joplin after the 1930s. One woman told him, “You can’t joke strangers because they don’t know how to take it.” Another person observed, “We don’t have the gathering places anymore where we can think up devilment. When I was growing up, we’d loaf down at the general store and things would just sort of happen. You can’t do that down at the A & P Supermarket.”

Mockingbird, the miner who took part in his fair share of pranks, told Thurman, “People have a lot of ways of being entertained today. They keep busy either watching television or doing something. They don’t have the time to sit around and think of tricks. And I don’t think they would get by with pulling these jokes on the job. Bosses would not put up today with some of the things we did back forty years ago. Work is more business today; if a guy pulled some of these shenanigans on a job today, he’d get fired. But there’s probably a better reason. I think people are now more grown up today. That kind of humor is just out of place now.”

The Lawyers

The scene of undoubtedly many a colorful exchange between Joplin's lawyers. It later burned to the ground.

We have covered desperados, sinful sirens, and other ne’er do wells in the past. We have yet, however, to discuss the lawyers who were called upon to defend their clients over the years. There are biographical sketches of many judges and lawyers in the various Jasper County histories, but nothing quite brings the local bar to life like the address the Honorable John H. Flanigan delivered before the Jasper County Bar Association on March 1, 1941, the one hundredth anniversary of the Jasper County Circuit Court. Although we cannot reprint the entire speech in its entirety, we can share some of the more colorful stories he related to his audience.

One of the most vivid tales Flanigan shared was one that he had heard from the venerable Samuel McReynolds:

“One of the old time lawyers in Carthage was Bill Green. He died in the State Hospital [Insane Asylum] at Nevada. For years before his confinement there his mind had been failing, but the failure was so gradual that many were unaware of his condition. Samuel McReynolds told me that on one occasion his firm had been requested by a law book concern to make collection of an account against Bill Green. The firm was unable to make the collection and thus the matter stood until one day a salesman from the law book concern called at the office of McReynolds & Halliburton on a sales trip. Learning that the Green account had not been paid, he asked Judge McReynolds if there was any objection to his undertaking to collect. McReynolds agreed that the salesman might try it.

In a few minutes, the salesman came back white as a sheet and quivering like an aspen leaf. He said:

‘Mr. McReynolds, I have had a perfectly horrible experience. I went up the stairs, found Mr. Green’s door, walked in, and found a very large man lying full-length on the floor. The floor was covered with papers and documents. The man had a large past pot on the floor and a paste brush in his hand. Without preliminary, the man said, “This is my filing system. For years I have been unable to find lost papers. Now I take a paper, put paste on it with this brush, slap it on the wall and there it is until the end of time. I am going to patent this invention.”

He then rose to his full height and asked me to state my business. I told him I had come to collect the account. Green had a peculiar glitter in his eye. He said, “Sir, I am possessed of supa’ powers. You see this long knife with its keen blade. With this knife I am able, sir, to separate your head from your body, remove your head, place it on the floor, and replace it on your shoulders without injury to you, and sir, I am going to perform that miracle on you right now.” I don’t care if we never collect that account.’

According to Flanigan, “Tom Connor [of Connor Hotel fame] disliked Judge Malcolm G. McGregor, but said he was willing to trust McGregor to decide any case because, ‘Even though he is a damned Scotchman, he is absolutely honest.’”  He added that when McGregor arrived in Jasper County, he had walked from Ft. Scott, Kansas, to Lamar. After taking a brief rest, he walked the rest of the way from Lamar to Carthage.

Judge John C. Price, it was recalled, had a fondness for alcohol and tobacco. Flanigan said of Price, “When he was riding the circuit he would retire at night in the primitive hotels of the period, a giant ‘chaw’ of tobacco clamped in his jaw. When seized with the desire to expectorate he would spit a steam of tobacco juice straight in the air above his head and would then quickly draw the covers over his head so that they might catch the fall, thus ‘saving his face.’”

Once Al Thomas was participating in a trial at Carthage and, as usual, “shouted his argument in penetrating tones that carried far beyond the court house square.” His opponent in the courtroom that day, Lon Cunningham, stood up and replied:

“Gentlemen of the jury, I read an article in the encyclopedia which interested me very much. It stated that some scientists had gone to the upper reaches of the Amazon far into the jungles of South America to find out what sort of animal was capable of making a tremendous noise described to them by the natives who reported that when this noise was heard the cockatoos and the wild bird would fly from their perch and flit from tree to tree, hyenas would take to the deep undergrowth, and panthers would retreat to their dens. After weeks of search[ing], the source of this noise was found. It was a harmless beetle which made the noise by the tremendous beating of its wings. This noise was the beetle’s only defense against attack. Al Thomas reminds me of that beetle. He is all noise and noise is his only defense.”

Cunningham was also known for winning a court case over water pressure. One of the parties in the case was required to provide enough water pressure that a stream of water would reach the fourth floor of the Keystone Hotel. Cunningham argued that the contract was invalid because of the required water pressure was not provided. In closing arguments, Cunningham recalled that growing up on the family farm, he remembered boys would “usually gather around a large apple tree behind the barn and each in turn would attempt with Nature’s own water pressure to throw a stream to reach the big limb of the apple tree.” According to Cunningham, he knew from experience “there were boys in the family who could furnish more pressure than the defendant had furnished under its contract.”

Perhaps in 2041, we’ll be greeted with just as colorful recollections of today’s lawyers.

The National Register and Joplin

In the most recent copy of Preservation magazine, a publication of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is a good article on the National Register of Historic Places.

The article outlines how the process to place a building or landmark onto the Register works, as well what benefits such a placement can provide or cannot. Below is a summary of the process laid out:

Step One: Anyone can nominate a place to be registered. To do so, one fills out a form (located here) and submits it to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). In Missouri, the SHPO is located within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Also, through the law which created the SHPO in Missouri, the nominations are reviewed by the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation – a council of individuals appointed by the governor that meets four times a year.

Step Two: The SHPO reviews the nomination. In that process, if it believes the nomination worthy, it will contact the owners of the landmarks, places, or buildings to inform them of the nomination. If the owner objects, then the nomination is ended. No owner (or majority of owners in a situation where multiples properties are involved) can be forced to have their property placed on the Register. However, benefits can be had if one’s property is registered!

First, being on the register opens up the property to receive grants or funding, some that are exclusive to registered properties. Second, the property then can become eligible for tax credits to fund restorations or renovations. Third, the owners get to receive the honor of having their property recognized as something of special importance to our nation’s and or the community’s history.

Step Three: The SHPO submits the nomination to the National Register for consideratation. The National Register and the SHPO both review nominees for the same criteria, significance and integrity. Significance on the local or national level, and within that category, either historically or architecturally (or both). With regard to integrity, Preservation states it best:

“The issue of integrity involves determining whether the features that contribute to the property’s significance—its location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, and the like—remain largely intact. A house may be notable because it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, but has Wright’s original design been radically altered through years of remodeling? Similarly, a building may be significant because a history-making event took place there, but has it been moved from the site where the event occurred? If the answer to either question is “yes,” the property’s integrity could be considered destroyed or compromised, potentially making it ineligible for Register listing.”

If the property appears to meet the above criteria, then it has a good chance of being accepted. However, a property usually needs to be at least 50 years old. Another aspect of a property being on the Register is that it does not restrict the owner from doing anything with their property (including tearing it down – as the Connor and other Joplin properties that made the register ended up suffering). The only restrictions are those which local or state laws or regulations might place on such historic properties.

Joplin is home to more than a few registered places and landmarks, most recently the Historic Districts located along Main Street and such buildings as the Olivia, Carnegie Library, and the Union Depot. For more buildings and places, just check out this link. The forms are wonderful sources for the history of a place, building, or landmark, as well photographs or illustrations.

Sources: Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Preservation magazine.