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 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