Our Man in Havana

Joplin’s dapper James H. “Jimmy” Worth, owner of Joplin’s famed Worth Block, traveled to Havana, Cuba, and wrote the following letter to his friend E.R. McCullum that was published in a Joplin newspaper:

“Friend Mack: I am well at the time and hope this will find you the same, although I am tired of seeing the prettiest country in the world. I have been most favorably impressed with the cleanliness of the city and the salubrity of its climate. Having visited nearly all the cities in the United States and Canada, I believe I am conversant with municipal conditions in all of them, but I have never see any place that would compare with Havana. I have been in every direction and found the sanitary conditions excellent. It has surprised because of its novelty.

The courteous conduct of the people is another eye-opener. I do not speak Spanish very well and expected to be embarrassed most of the time while I was here, but the innate helpfulness of the native population put me at my ease whenever a difficulty arose. I was dining at a Spanish restaurant the other night and would have had difficulty in ordering my meal had not a Cuban sitting at another table noticed my predicament and voluntarily came to my assistance.

The modern equipment of the financial institutions here are a revelation to all visitors from the states. They have a bright future. I went out and saw the old Spanish forts and visited the negro schools and attended the courts, and was greatly amazed at the thoroughness with which everything is being done here. I haven’t time to write more now, but will follow this with another. My regards to the boys.

JH Worth.”

Jimmy Worth

A Man From the Lead Diggin’s – A letter from Boston

The Joplin that Martin Left Behind for Cultured Boston

In the spring of 1908, a Joplinite ventured far from home and landed in “cultured Boston.” The gentleman, E.F. Martin, sent a letter back to his friend, John P. Frank in Joplin, and offered in colorful terms his feelings on visiting the historic town. In the process, we’re offered a glimpse not only in the words Joplinites chose to represent their feelings, but also what they felt was proper from low heel shoes on women to modern day Yankees.

“Boston, Mass, April 28, 1908.

I have had so little to do today that I am awfully lonesome and thought possibly I might work some of it off on you. Boston is an older town than Joplin. You can tell that by the dates on the head-stones at the burying grounds.

I went in to the ‘Arm and Bella,’ an old hold-out and had a drink of real musty ale sitting in the same place where Nathaniel Hawthorne used to sit and tell stories. Sunday I visited the Old South Burying Ground and while walking about in there found the grave of Paul Revere. You remember Paul. He became excited one night when he saw a light in the old South meeting house and got on his horse and rode out into the country giving the alarm that the Britishers were about to get them. If the average Yankee was then as he is now it is a durned pity that the Britishers didn’t get them all.

Boston is a real nice place, though, for a day or two – not for a whole month. I would much rather be down in Stone county, Missouri, catching speckled bass. Talk about fish, they sure have it here in plenty. I have sampled everything in the fish line since coming, except an octopus. I think I shall order planked octopus net. I spend some of my leisure time on the Commons. This is the place spoken of in Saint Matthew where the British soldiers broke the ice in the ponds and the school boys went and told on them for it. Served them right, eh? I was in New Haven, Conn., the first of the month and tried to buy some wooden nutmegs, but could find none. I will try and get you some postals showing pieces of interest – ancient interest. The old state house is still here and is used for a depot for the subway. Faneuil Hall – the Cradle of Liberty – is here down on State street. Armour Packing company have the first floor rented and there is a large sign out telling the people that Armour’s dressed lambs are the best. I think that is simply awful.

I wish I had someone with me to walk around with and kill time. I am stopping at the “Tavern.” Tolerably good place. There are no large department stores, but many shops. There are no Jews here here that I have seen and but very few negroes.

I was down on the wharf last week and saw an ocean vessel come in from the South loaded with bananas. I was there again this morning and they are still unloading bananas. The vessel will carry about 100 car loads.

From things here in general I don’t wonder that our forefathers wanted to go west. I have that same feeling, and it makes me glad to think that I can start Saturday noon. Doggone me if I hadn’t rather live in Carl Junction, Saginaw or Carthage, than in cultured Boston. The ladies here all wear low heel shoes like a man. The men all smoke pipes. I wonder why until I tried some of their cigars.

Of course there are plenty of places of interest, but one grows tired of looking at sights highly valuable because of their age and historic surroundings.

Well I will be down this summer when bass are ripe and we will make up for all this tomfoolery. By the way, I saw a sturgeon brought in that weighed more than 300 pounds. It was caught in a net far out at sea.”

A Joplinite Takes a Bath

Americans have always loved a good excursion and they love health fads even more. Men as varied as Robert E. Lee and Franklin Delano Roosevelt enjoyed a good soak in hot springs. E.R. Moffet, Jr., son of one of the most significant men in Joplin’s history, engaged in a soak at Hot Springs, Arkansas at the turn of the century. As his descriptive letter indicates, not everyone enjoyed their experience at the baths.

“Editor of the Joplin Daily Globe:

Hot Springs Ark. Nov. 20 –

I arrived here yesterday and thought I would give you my views of the place and express my opinion of the first bath.

I took my choice of some 15 bathhouses situated upon the U.S. reserve and, fortifying myself against surprise, I boldly opened the door and there I met a man behind a counter with a 55 cent smile and a bunch of keys with a rubber band to each key. Upon making my wants known, he returned to a row of boxes like the boxes in the safety deposit department of a bank, and drawing out a box, he pushed it toward me.

I told him I did not want it – I came for a bath. He explained that I was to put all my earthly belongings into the box, so, having had to pay for my bath in advance, I had only three coppers and a nickel left, but in they went, and he put the box back and as it locked there I thought I was fleeced. He took one of the keys corresponding to the number of the box and slipped it onto my wrist telling me to let it remain there.

Well, as I had broken the ice, I was open for everything. As each 55 cent bath is entitled to a 15 cent attention I was put in the hands of a son of Africa who knows his business. He assigned me to a certain room to disrobe and gave me a robe to don, and I shortly went forth. Going to the bath, we went through the cooling rooms where some eight or ten men were cooling off. Passing through a door, we come to the finest place I ever saw: marble floors, marble partitions between baths, tubs, all supported with brass and porcelain as clean as could be.

My attendant being a man built on the Jeffries order, I soon saw after getting into the bath I was in for it. I remonstrated, but he said I wanted my money’s worth. After rubbing about all the skin off, he took me to a wire cot, laying me out, wrapped me up, and handed me a cup of hot water saying, “Have one on me.” The water was as hot as coffee and could only be supped, the degree of heat being something near 175 degrees.

While lying there I saw a sign saying, “Ladies in the cave.” I called my attendant and said, “Let’s go to the cave,” but he made me lie still. I kept watching that sign and presently it flopped over and it was the word, “empty.” Then my attendant said, “You can now go to the cave.” I said I was not particular now, but I went.

I found a cave some five feet wide, six feet high, and about thirty feet long, and as hot as hell or hotter. This cave is used for bad cases of heart trouble – love, for instance. The heat in the cave is natural, coming from the rocks, and is a most wonderful thing. It is lighted up and one is not allowed to stay in it over eight minutes.

After returning to the bath room, I was asked if I wanted to take a sweat. As I had sweated only about 5 gallons I thought I could stand a little more so he opened an iron door and invited me to step in. I went and out I came – I thought I was done for. The water in the room was it comes from the ground and steam rises from it all the time. But I managed to get in again and stay. Talk about a Turkish bath! They are not in it. I could only stay a few minutes and then called to be released. Getting out of the sweater, as the cloister is called, I asked what next.

I was led to the shower room where I believe ten thousand small streams of water about the size of a knitting needle shot at you with about 40 pounds of pressure. They came from every conceivable direction and in striking you they sting very sharp. I concluded the thing had gone far enough and I begged for quarter, but my attendant said, “You isn’t near through yet.” I had enough, however, and after having a pound or so more skin rubbed off, I was allowed to go into the first cooling room and presently to my place of starting.

After dressing I went to the office. There the key was removed from my wrist, the box unlocked, and my money turned over to me with the remark, “Call again.” I guess not – I know when I get enough.

E.R. Moffet, Jr.”

 

Source:  Joplin Daily Globe

A Joplin Man Writes From the Klondike

Hopeful Gold Miners Begin the Journey into the Klondike

A former Joplin resident headed to Alaska during the great Klondike Rush of the 1890s. He wrote to relatives in Fairfield, Missouri, who shared the letter with the Joplin Globe:

“I will try to write you a few lines in answer to your letter I received this morning. I will have to ask you to excuse this dirty paper, for it is all I have, and paper is hard to get in this country. My partner and I landed in Dawson City yesterday in the best of health, but we are immediately worn out.

We had an awful trip, a trip that tried one both in strength and heart. First, it required one to have a strong constitution. To give you some idea of what we went through with, I will relate a part of our trip from Glenora to Dawson City via Teslin lake. First, it cost us $400 to get 500 pounds of provisions carried from Glenora to Teslin lake, a distance of 200 miles. We had to walk, for it was impossible to get a ride.

Even women tried to walk over but failed. We had to wade streams and mud up to our knees and sleep in wet blankets at night. It took us 21 days to make the trip to Teslin lake. There we had to build a row boat and start down the river and many times my partner wanted to turn back, but I told him no, that I was determined to go through or die in the attempt, for I had long ago learned that a faint heart could conquer nothing.

Now I will give you some idea of the suffering on that trail. There were 2400 persons left Glenora and only 230 out of that number ever reached Dawson City. Many turned back broken-hearted while many lost their lives. I don’t think I am very faint-hearted but I would not come in over that trail again for all the money in Alaska.

I have seen men sit down and cry like a child when they saw that they could not stand the trip and would have to turn back.

The scenery was the grandest I have ever seen but a man could not enjoy it.

I live to get home again. I will tell you more than I can write in a month, for I know I have taken the greatest trip of my life or at least I never want to take another one like it.

We thought we were picking the best trail but instead of that we got the worst one and had to make the best of it we could.

The ground here is covered with a coat of moss about a foot thick. Under that is ice and frozen dirt. There is no level ground here. It is all mountains. It is very rich in gold and we still think we will make our fortunes before next August.  My partner is an expert miner but I rely on my own judgment. We are on a [word obscured] now for a lay in the mines. I have come here to make a stake and intend to make it. The output of the mines this spring was $22,000,000, the richest output in the history of the world.

Dawson City is a city of 20,000 people. Many are homesick and will go home, while many have no money or provisions and cannot get away, and it seems that starvation awaits them. To walk the streets of Dawson reminds one of being at a funeral. You never see a smile on anyone’s face. There are too many men here that were never away from home and they don’t know how to meet disappointments and hardships. There are lots of provisions in Dawson, but they are very high priced.

We have money and provisions enough to winter us nicely. Wages are $10 a day and board yourself. If a man is a good rustler he can make lots of money here. As this will probably be the first letter from Dawson this summer to reach your part of the outside world., I would like for you [to] tell the boys to think before they start, especially those who have never been away from home. I would not advise anyone to come to Alaska, neither would I advise them not to come. Everyone must come on his own responsibility.

I do not need nice clothes here now, for I look like the breaking up of a hard winter. Tell the young people of Fairfield that I wish them a pleasant autumn and happy winter.

I will try to get another letter out to you before the freeze comes. I send my love to you and all inquiring friends. I remain,

Yours, as ever,

Ed Ferguson.

Source: Joplin Globe