If the desire for something sweet, something chocolate, comes over a modern day Joplinite, they can hop in the car and make their way to the Candy House. A hundred years ago, the Joplinite with the sweet tooth might have made their way to the Independent Candy Company, the secretary and treasurer of which was Oliver P.M. Wiley. An Indiana native, Wiley made his way to Joplin from Parsons, Kansas, during what the Joplin Daily Globe described as, the “Boom of ’99.” Perhaps his first job in Joplin was assistant manager at the Joplin Hotel, the hotel owned by Thomas Connor which was razed to make way for the Connor Hotel. Two years later, he helped form and establish the Independent Candy Company. In 1910, Wiley was the elected official from the Fourth Ward on the City Council (one of his two elections to the city council) and called 634 Wall Street his home.
The Joplin Independent Candy And Manufacturing Company was reportedly established in 1903 and was located at 4th and Missouri Street (now Michigan Street). It was famous for its “Ye Olden Tyme” candies and the company motto was “Do ye unto others even as ye would they should unto thee.” The factory shut down temporarily in 1918 for a lack of sugar. While at the time of the live wire in 1910, Wiley served as treasurer and secretary and eventually rose to the position of company president.
Wiley had an active civic life. In 1925, he was made a 33 degree Mason and was on the building committee that oversaw the construction of Joplin’s present Scottish Rite Cathedral (he was also on the YMCA board established to build the present YMCA building at 5th and Wall). He helped organized Joplin’s Rotary Club and was its first president, and was elected also to the school board in 1914 and served as president from 1916 to 1920. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, he served one term also as president. Prior to his death, he was elected as an associate judge of the Jasper County Court’s western district. Wiley, unlike our last live wire, made Joplin his permanent home and died on January 19, 1936. Wiley is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery.