Carthage Points Out Joplin’s Wrongs

In years past, Carthage and Joplin have had an unspoken rivalry. Sometimes this rivalry would manifest itself in spirited jibes published in the papers, but more often than not it was the Carthage Evening Press that took swipes at Joplin, rather than the Globe or News-Herald that tried to besmirch Carthage’s reputation. The following article is one of hundreds of news items that the Evening Press ran over the years about incompetent, lawless, wicked Joplin.

“Lawless at Joplin. Many Robberies Occur Between the two towns – Police Protection Needed.

‘Kid’ Holden, who runs a gambling device in the Barbee building [Note to Readers: House of Lords] and lives on the corner of north Mineral and Hill streets, East Joplin, was robbed on Broadway, between East and West Joplin, Saturday night, while on his way home. The robbers were secreted behind the bill-boards on Broadway, between Virginia and Pennsylvania avenues, and as Holden approached he was clubbed into unconsciousness – the robbers taking a gold watch and pocketbook which contained $7. It is reliably reported that an attempt was made to ‘hold-up’ Holden some time ago, but he ran his assailants away with a revolver.

This audacious robbery has occasioned much talk in East Joplin, and has brought out the fact that there have been upward of a dozen attempts at ‘hold-up’ and robbery between the two towns within the past two or three weeks. A citizen of East Joplin says: ‘Crooks are to be seen almost nightly between Main street, on the west side and the bridge and its vicinity on the east side, where they are either skulking about the lumberyard, railway crossing, hiding about freight cars, the dives or shanties in the vicinity, or the bill boards.

‘Not long since,’ he continued, ‘an east town lady, while purchasing groceries on the west side, displayed a rather full pocket book in her rounds, she had not gone far on her way home before a robber approached her. But just then a car came gliding down the hill. She at once ran toward it, and the thief made a hurried break in the opposite direction, and was almost instantly out of sight.’

‘It would be a very easy job to ‘pull’ these ‘crooks’ and break up the robbers roost between the two towns, but no attempt has yet been made to afford any relief whatever. The crooks are actually safer between the two towns than any other part of the city.[Editor’s Note: The area between the two towns probably refers to the area known as the Kansas City Bottoms.] The police, or its chief, evidently consider it the duty of the force to remain about the crowded streets, and protect the saloons, and ‘pull’ those who patronize those institutions ‘too freely,’ and thus swell the city’s funds while leaving the various outlying thoroughfares of the city of Joplin utterly unprotected.’

‘It is claimed that if three picked men were taken off the police force, the remainder would not be worth a snap of the fingers. The force is the most incompetent in the history of the city. The recent east town shooting affair – when two policemen in attempting the arrest of an unarmed crippled boy over a twenty-five cent game of cards in a saloon, shot him down at close range – is an illustration.”

Source: Carthage Evening Press

Joplin’s First Speeding Ticket

Just after the turn of the century, Joplin attorney Fred Basom received the first speeding ticket issued in Joplin. He was “hailed by an officer of the law while out for a spin,” after the mayor’s recent instructions to the police department to arrest drivers who violated Joplin’s city ordinance that set the speed limit at six miles an hour. The news item did not explain how fast Mr. Basom was going when he was ticketed or what the fine was for breaking the speed limit, but it can be expected that attorney Basom was able to secure adequate representation for his police court appearance.

Source: Joplin News Herald

Joplin Police Department 1907 (Correction: 1902)

Another in our “We Wish We Had the Originals” series of photographs, this time with the 1907 Joplin Police Department.  If you missed yesterday’s post, here’s the link to the 1907 Joplin Fire Department.

Joplin Police Department 1907

Click on the image for a larger version.

From left to right – Top Line:  N.H. Milligan, John Ginsler, C.H. Cole, Henry Burns, Nathan Swift, Perry Snow, J.E. Gilmore.  Middle Line:  Grant Davis, C.E. Chapman, Fred Sellars, Charles Moore, Joseph Reubart, J.H. Holmes, J.H. McCoy, J.H. Johnson.  Bottom Line:  Night Captain Thomas Lawson, Day Captain T.F. Ogburn, Marshal Joseph H. Myers, Police Matron Ellen Ayers, Deputy Marshall J.J. Cofer, Joseph Giles, James A. Rose

Of note:  See here for more information on the police matron, Ellen Ayers,  (who’s seated in the front row).

Joplin's first police matron, Ellen Ayers

Pictured here, Ellen Ayers took on the role of police matron at the age of 64.

An Accident Spurs the Creation of Joplin’s First Motorcycle Cop

An example of a motorcycle patrolman from around 1922 via Library of Congress

At approximately 5:45 pm on a Monday in June, Roscoe Barbee, son of the wealthy and influential Gilbert Barbee, drove quickly north on Joplin Street in his Speedwell touring car.  His speed reportedly between 30 and 45 miles per hour, Barbee passed over 6th Street and headed for 5th under the late afternoon sun.  At the same time, a horse drawn buggy slowly made its way west along 5th Street.  Its occupants were four young women, Mary Delaney, 19 years of age and a stenographer at the Rudd Insurance company, was accompanied by her guest, Minnie Sanford from nearby Jasper, and the 20 year old twin Shigley sisters, Ruth and Blanche.  Ruth worked as a bookkeeper for the Thomas Fruit Company and her sister, a stenographer like Delaney, worked at the Walker Insurance Company.

The collision occurred as the four women turned their buggy into a right hand turn to proceed north up Joplin and as Barbee turned left to go east on 5th Street.  The touring car clipped the wheel of the buggy, which sent its occupants into the air, while Barbee skidded to a stop some distance down 5th Street.  The witnesses were many, one being deputy constable Fred Gault, who raced down 5th Street to arrest Barbee.  A city prosecutor, W.N. Andrews, volunteered himself as a witness.

The women were found lying on the street paved with bricks.  Blanche Shigley and Minnie Sanford, though stunned, suffered only bruises.  Ruth Shigley and Mary Delaney, however, were seriously injured.  Witnesses quickly reached the women and carried them in out of the summer heat and into nearby homes and buildings.  Mary, described as having sustained a skull fracture and “her face disfigured,” was carried into the home of J.M. Ryall, at 420 Joplin Street, where Mrs. Ryall, who knew Delaney, failed to recognize due to the extent of her injuries.  Such were the severity, that Delaney’s identity was at first hard to establish.

Ruth Shigley, was also horribly mangled, having sustained injuries to her head and internally.  Unconscious, she was carried into the lobby of the Lyric Theater, where her less seriously injured sister Blanche had previously been taken.  From there, an ambulance from the J.M. Myall Undertaking Company transported her to St. John’s Hospital.  The News Herald reported, “her clothing was bespattered with blood and her features were not recognizable by those who crowded about her.”

Roscoe Barbee was unhurt and by 7pm, just under an hour and a half later, had been arraigned for one charge of feloniously maiming to Mary Delaney, and then an hour later, received a second charge for gross negligence and causing the injuries to the Shigley sisters.  A preliminary hearing was set for Saturday, and Barbee was quickly bonded out of jail for $7,500 courtesy Dan F. Dugan.

By Wednesday, doctors at St. John’s, believed that both women had a fair chance at recovery despite the fact that neither of them had regained consciousness.  Further details were offered toward the women’s injuries, with doctors unable to discern if Mary Delaney had suffered any skull fractures, but had sustained a crushed cheek bone.  Ruth Shigley, had suffered several fractures of the skull and doctors were forced to act to relieve the pressure that built behind the injuries.  That morning, Ruth had emerged from unconsciousness only briefly, before she had slipped back out.  Of the other two women, Ruth’s sister, Blanche, and Minnie Sanford, they were described as suffering from a nervous shock, but were otherwise unharmed. Barbee, meanwhile, refused to offer comment about the accident.

The talk not dedicated to the state of the girls on Wednesday was devoted to the pressing need for a motorcycle for the Joplin Police Department.  Motorcycles were not yet commonly found in police departments at the time, but a great amount of frustration revolved around the failure of motorist to abide by the city’s speed limits and the police department’s ability to capture and punish those violators.  The speed limit in Joplin at the time was eight miles per hour.  As previously noted, witnesses believed that Barbee had been traveling at a rate between 30 to 45 miles per hour.

Assistant Police Chief Ed Portley was eager to comment on the need of a motorcycle for the department, “The police need a motorcycle.”  Portley continued, “We are doing our utmost to arrest all person who are guilty of violating the speed law, but when there is no evidence obtained except that furnished by pedestrians or others who have no means of rapid riding, it is hard to convict the guilty.”  Portley pointed out that with a motorcycle, “whenever a machine was seen speeding the patrolman could follow, gain all the evidence necessary and a conviction would follow, in all probability.”  The assistant police chief went on to note that the presence of the motorcycle patrolman would likely greatly decrease the number of speeding vehicles and if the city council would not pay for a motorcycle, the department would find a way to procure one.

Future Mayor Taylor Snapp also weighed in on the issue through his position as president of the Joplin Automobile club.  Snapp quickly noted that speeders would not be defended by the club, more so, that the club would do everything it could to assist the police.  Snapp offered, “If necessary the club will furnish a special automobile for the purpose.”  Though, Snapp agreed, “I think the city should employ a motorcycle policeman to look after unruly auto drivers.”  The president of the auto club also raised the issue of speed limits and pointed out that the state’s speed law conflicted with the Joplin speed law in residential areas, with Joplin’s law being a lower speed.  Furthermore, most automobiles had a hard time keeping to such low speeds in their high gear and that existing conditions should dictate the speed that a car might go, regardless of the neighborhood.  He added, “a great speed should not be attained within the city limits, no matter how clear the streets may be…”

While the debate continued, the condition of Ruth Shigley finally began to improve, while Mary Delaney not nearly as much.  While Roscoe Barbee’s lawyer argued that none of the charges were applicable to his client with the exception of possibly a misdemeanor charge of fast driving, Mary Delaney continued to slip in and out of consciousness.

At this point, the newspaper coverage of the affairs of Roscoe Barbee and the condition of Ruth Shigley and Mary Delaney falls from the front page coverage it had enjoyed.  The conclusion to their stories remain to be discovered and reported.  One result can be reported.  In the first week of June, 1911, Mayor Osborne offered a commission to Joplin’s first motorcycle patrolman, J.C. Haus.  While the make and model of the patrolman’s motorcycle was not provided other than it being “the best and fastest” available, it was boasted that the machine could reach 60 miles per hour and possibly faster.  Two more machines were to be ordered for the constabulary force.

The procedure for enforcing the speed limit was simply for the patrolman to catch up to the speeding vehicle, note his speed, as it would be the same as the violator’s, and write down the motor vehicle’s number, and then report the matter to “proper officers.” A register existed which cross-referenced the vehicle number and the owner, and by checking against this register, the owner could be summoned to court to pay for his or her speeding crime.  As a tangent matter, efforts were to be made to insure that all cars displayed their numbers properly and had lights.

Thus, from an accident at the intersection of 5th and Joplin Streets, Joplin came to acquire its first motorcycle for the police force.  The force still retains motorcycles today, as late as 2007, when the department received two Harley Davidson motorcycles as a gift from a local Harley Davidson dealer.  From 1911 to today, the Joplin Police Department has been employing motorcycle patrolmen for nearly a century.

Sources: Joplin News Herald

Roy Always Gets His Man

After stealing coal from the House of Lords, fourteen-year-old Roy Smith began serving a four month sentence at the Joplin city jail. What was notable about the young African American’s stint at the city jail was that no one filed a complaint against him and he was not tried for theft in police court. Instead, Smith’s guilty conscience led him to serve a self-imposed sentence. Deputy Chief Frank Sowder remarked it was the, “strangest case on record.”

Roy’s friends tried to convince him to “shake” the police after a few days, but he stubbornly stayed at the jail. He busied himself sweeping the police courtroom, building fires in the station in the morning, and running errands for the officers. When asked, Roy told a reporter that he planned to follow the law and serve his sentence.

Officers who may have thought Roy was good at keeping the jail tidy found out that he had even more to offer. Two small paperboys arrived at the jail and reported they had been assaulted by two black boys who pelted them with rocks and struck them with their firsts. Roy, whom officers had nicknamed “Cooney,” listened to their story. He then volunteered that he could identify and find the two black boys. Chief McManamy granted Roy permission to go apprehend the suspects, laughing at the boy as he headed out the jail. But the chief found himself surprised when ten minutes later he heard a “terrible commotion” in front of the jail. Looking outside, McManamy saw Roy dragging two “much larger negro lads by the coat collars.”

Roy proudly announced, “Here they are.” He then proceeded to drag the two boys into the jail. According to Roy, he used the power of verbal and physical persuasion to get the two boys to accompany him to the jail. Roy, who had observed officers over the last few weeks, took every precaution: He searched his prisoners before he handed them off to Chief McManamy, who performed the duties of desk sergeant. A few minutes later, Roy announced he “had scared them into making a complete confession.”

Roy formed a close friendship with Bosco Busick, the assistant deputy poundmaster and patrol wagon driver. The two of them would fall asleep in the big cushy armchairs in the jail at night after talking for hours. Despite fleeting moments of relaxation, Roy continued to serve as Joplin’s junior Sherlock Holmes.

A few weeks later, Roy was called to service once more. When the police needed to question a young African American girl about the whereabouts of some suspected criminals, the officers brought her to the station, put her in the sweatbox, and pressed her for information for over thirty minutes. She professed ignorance. Roy, who had been out buying tobacco for one of the officers, arrived and observed the interrogation. He winked at Night Captain Loughlin and began to talk to the girl. Soon he had obtained the information the officers sought. His task finished, Roy grabbed a broom and started sweeping the jail, which was now decorated with pictures and cartoons he had drawn for the officers.

Like many of Joplin’s other characters, we’re not sure what happened to Roy Smith, but it’s clear he made quite the impression on the Joplin police. One can only hope he stayed on the straight and narrow.

Whistles for the Police

In April, 1911, it was announced that the Joplin Police Department had adopted a “metropolitan police” scheme of equipping the police officers with whistles.  Viewed as one more step toward imitating the police departments of large cities, the whistles were thought useful:

“Although it is seldom that an occasion arises in this city when an officer cannot take care of himself, it is thought best to be on the safe side.  When an officer hears one of these whistles, which are of a peculiar tone, he is to hasten at once to the scene of conflict, or wherever the sound comes from.”

It was thought at the time that the presence of a mere whistle may have prevented some of the deaths of Joplin’s police officers up to that point.  It’s unknown if the whistle dramatically changed the safety of the police in a city with the rowdy reputation of a mining town.

Source: Joplin News Herald

No Rest for the Weary Willie

Today many Americans, unless they live in an urban metropolitan center, have little interaction with the country’s rail system.  Once in a while, one might find themselves stopped at a railroad crossing watching a train roll past, but gone are the days when the train would stop at the town depot to take on coal, passengers, mail, and freight before heading to its next destination.  Peruse an old Joplin newspaper and ads from the St.  Louis and San Francisco “Frisco” Railway touting summer excursions to Eureka Springs, St.  Louis, and Chicago spring from the pages.  Joplin was fortunate that it not only had an extensive interurban trolley system, but was home to a handful of rail lines that carried lead and zinc to industrial centers in the east.

With the trains came hoboes and tramps.  Just a few years after the turn of the century, the Joplin Daily Globe reported that local train crews were having problems with hoboes.  “According to trainmen,” the Globe recounted, “they are having more trouble with tramps this winter than for a great many years.  They are of the worst class and are exceedingly dangerous customers.  They are traveling around stealing rides when they can and endeavoring to find the most favorable places for looting stores or cracking safes.”

The trainmen claimed that the “harmless hoboes who would go out of their way rather than harm a human being are very much in the minority.” Instead, many trainmen told the Globe reporter that they had engaged in “hand to hand fights in an effort to rid the train of them.” Many of the fights broke out during the night when hoboes boldly roamed the rail yards in groups of four to six men.

Later that year, the Globe reported that the, “rail road yards have been especially infested with the merry willies of late.” Nels Milligan, a Joplin police officer detailed to keep an eye on the hoboes told a Globe reporter, “All up along the Kansas City Southern embankment from Broadway to Turkey Creek, you could see the bums lying stretched out in the warm afternoon air sunning themselves like alligators or mud turtles on a chilly afternoon, and here and there was a camp.”  According to Milligan, a hobo’s camp consisted of a “small fire that you could spit on and put out, between two or three blackened rocks, and a blackened old tin can, and an improvised pan or skillet made out of another tin can melted apart and flattened out.”

Hobo getting a free meal

Sometimes a hobo succeeded in getting a free meal.

The officer admitted there were too many hoboes and not enough room in the jail to house them.  He worried they would be “working the residence district for grub, hand-outs, punk, pie, panhandle, pellets, and any old thing they can get together.” Once they had food, Milligan claimed, the hoboes would “feed and gorge and lie around there like fat bears dormant in the winter time” until a bout of bad weather would send them on their way.

Five years later, the Joplin News Herald interviewed a railroad employee about the tramps who traveled through Joplin.  Watching a couple of hoboes jump off of a freight train in the Joplin rail yards, the railroad employee remarked, “See those fellows getting off up there? Now there is no telling where they got on, nor where they rode.” He shook his head.  “There’s another thing connected with this hauling of tramps.  Some of the most notorious criminals of the country have occupied places on the train and eluded the crew for hundreds of miles.”  According to the man, rail workers made every effort to assist law enforcement officers in locating wanted criminals who might be catching a ride on the trains.

Joplin was still struggling with hoboes eleven years later when Chief of Police Joseph Myers directed his officers to sweep the town for any weary willies.  Six men were arrested on charges of vagrancy, jailed, and then told to move on.  But as long as there were trains rolling into Joplin, there were always tramps and hoboes to contend with.

Hobos kicked out of Joplin

Joplin Police kicking out bums and hobos

Hoboes were sometimes looked at in a humorous light.  A hobo celebration was held at the “hobo cave one mile and a half north of the union depot in the hills of Turkey Creek.  Twenty of the Ancient Sons of Leisure gathered there in the cool cave.” One of the hoboes stood up to deliver an impromptu address about the significance of the Fourth of July and said, “Fellow brothers, you all realize what this day means.  It was on this day in 1776 that George Washington crossed the Delaware, whipped fifty thousand Redcoats and whacked out the Declaration of Independence.  Since that time we have been independent.  We do not have to work.  I now propose a committee of three raid a [chicken] coop so we can have an elaborate dinner as befitting Washington’s birthday.”

By 1918, the day of the hobo in Joplin had begun to wane.  Despite Joplin remaining an “oasis  in the great American desert created by prohibition” it was no longer “possible for police to spread a drag net in the railroad yards and gather in anywhere from a dozen to fifty ‘Knights of the Open Road.’”
Tim Graney, a former Joplin police officer and station master at Union Depot, declared he had not seen more than half a dozen hoboes in the last year and not one in the past six months.  The camps where the tramps and hoboes once gathered were empty.  The Globe, unable to explain their absence, mused, “Maybe they have all gone to work…At any rate, they’re gone! The genus Hobo is no more!”

Sources: Joplin Globe, Joplin News Herald

A Changing of the Police Guard

An early ritual of the Joplin Police Department concerned the changing of the guard between new officers and old upon the assumption of a new police chief into office.  One of the powers of the chief was the appointment of selected officers, a relic of the days of political patronage.  In April, 1911, such a changing of the guard occurred and was described in a city paper.

“At midnight tonight the forces of the police will change from the present “bulls” to the new assignment which Chief Myers has selected.  At that time every prisoner in the city jail that is not held on a state warrant will be released so that the new force may enter with a clean slate.”

The preparation involved in this change concerned snipping brass buttons from coats and polishing the stars that the policemen wore to mark their station.  These two things, plus revolvers, were to be handed over by the old guard to the new upon the stroke of midnight.  The newspaper noted that most of the police force was to be dismissed with only a few experienced veterans retained.  Those who were about to lose their jobs were expected to go into mining, many of which who claimed they intended to prospect rather than go into the earth for others.

The dramatic signal to bring all the police to the station was to turn on every red traffic light across the city.  After the policemen had returned to the headquarters for the exchange of stars, buttons, and pistols, it was estimated 30 prisoners would be released.  The recently freed criminals would not have long to play upon the streets of Joplin without oversight, as beats were already assigned to the new officers who would immediately take them up as soon as they assumed their new duties.

Source: Joplin News Herald

Mayor Hume: “No baby raffling in this man’s town!”

Just past the bright intersection of 4th and Main streets, a Joplin police wagon pulled up under the glowing lights of the Connor Hotel.  As the police entered the hotel they were joined by the city’s mayor, Guy T. Hume, intent on arresting N.B. Peltz.  Peltz was working in cooperation with the Provident Association, the successor organization to the Charitable Union, which had been largely run by the city’s ministers.  As Peltz was led out of the Connor Hotel in handcuffs he protested, “I am doing this for charity.”  By this point a crowd had gathered and Hume replied coolly, “That makes no difference.  Raffling off babies is against the law and you know me.  Too many complaints have been made.”

In fact, the baby raffle was actually part of a charity fair to be held by the Provident Association and the Joplin Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks between May 10th and May 13th.  Among the fundraising efforts connected to a fair was a raffle for a $500 lot in Spring Park at a cost of fifty cents a ticket, as well the chance to win a pony and cart for a ten cent ticket.  The tickets were sold by a “Flying Squadron” that consisted of some of Joplin’s prettiest girls who rode around on “dreadnoughts” in the form of cars with flags and flyers which advertised the fair.  Other enticements included a $75 scholarship to the Joplin Community College and six months of free instruction at the Calhoun School of Music.  Activities included a beauty show, music, an Elks’ Museum of Unnatural Wonders, cigars, refreshments, a country store, a flower booth, a dance, and fortune telling.

Before he was placed into the paddy wagon, Peltz continued to contest his arrest, “Why, Mr. Mayor, you couldn’t arrest me if I announced ten days ahead of time that I proposed to get drunk, could you?  Then why can you arrest me because this announcement has been made?”

The announcement of a baby raffle had caused some consternation.  Rumors floated around town that the baby to be raffled off might be exhibited at the Provident Association’s headquarters at 509 Main Street.  Concern had come from within the Provident Association which was divided on the issue of the baby raffle.  The majority believed that a significant amount of money was to be made from such a raffle, while the minority grumbled that it would be well enough to just raise that amount without resorting to such a raffle.  In response to Peltz’s question, Mayor Hume shrugged and replied, “Just jump into the patrol wagon and you can explain to Judge Kelsey later.”

Seated inside the patrol wagon, Peltz was hauled off to the jail.  Although several guests at the Connor Hotel offered to help Peltz, he instead asked G.F. Newberger to post his bond.  Once freed, Peltz announced he would fight the arrest and claimed, “I am backed in this by some of the best people in Joplin.”  Never the less, Peltz pointed out, “the mayor can’t prove that I intend giving away the baby.  The parents can do that, can’t they?”  He went on to point out that the parents did not object, which would make it hard to prove he was guilty.  The mayor, Peltz declared, “is butting into some trouble.”

Told later of Peltz’s words, the mayor simply laughed, “Take it from me, there will be no baby raffling in this man’s town while I’m mayor.”

The question of the reality of a baby raffle eludes us.  Some investigation into the matter found examples of baby raffles where the baby in the end was switched out for a young piglet, while another example was noted in a January, 1912 Popular Mechanics, in Paris, where orphaned babies were actually raffled off to find them homes.  Know anything of baby raffles?  Please comment and let us know!

Sources: Popular Mechanics, “A History of Jasper County and Its People,” by Joel T. Livingston, and the Joplin News Herald, 1910.

Gypsies and Joplin

Joplin Police kicking out unwelcomed "tourists."

The Joplin Police kicking out unwelcomed "tourists."

In mid May of 1911, visitors arrived on the outskirts north of Joplin.  Their presence immediately brought about disapproval and a visit from the Joplin police.  The police had been notified of the arrival of a “tribe of Gypsies” at what was called their “usual camping ground.”  Gypsies or Roma, or Romani, as they presently prefer to be called, were not welcome visitors to Joplin.  The Joplin News Herald, captured the feelings of the Joplin police chief, Joe Myers, who claimed that most (but not all) of the gypsies were of the type who would do anything but work for a living.  Chief Myers added, “It is our intention to make life such a burden for them that they will not want to remain here long.”

One reason for the lack of hospitality came from the Joplin police department’s claim that a month long visit by the gypsies the year before had been accompanied by an explosion of “petty robberies, begging and small crimes.”  The new arrivals hardly had time to unhitch their horses before the police arrived to inform them that no license would be granted to them to fortune tell.  The News Herald reporter was told that the police force was expected to “make life miserable for them generally.”

The gypsies eventually packed up and departed Joplin only to face the likelihood of similar treatment in the next town. Their treatment at the hands of the Joplin police was not uncommon; tramps, transients, and migrant workers often faced the same fate upon arriving in town. Loafers, idlers, and hoboes were not welcome in many towns across the country, including Joplin. The gypsies that sauntered into Joplin were fortunate they were not sent to the city’s work house to break rocks like so many tramps and vagrants had before. Instead, these free spirits were encouraged to move on, lest an anticipated crime wave break out.

Source: Joplin News Herald, 1911.