The Heaviest Men in Joplin

In 1896, the Joplin News Herald reported a friendly competition of one town deciding to best another in the size of their men.  As obvious by the measurements below, the term “heaviest” implied something more than just the width of one’s girth.

Weight Lifter from Turn of the Century

An example of a weight lifter from turn of the century

“Mr. W.L. Richards, noticing in a paper from his old town in Nebraska a list of seven residents whose height were six feet or over, with an aggregate weight of 1,318 pounds, set about to pick out a dozen citizens of this vicinity who excel in altitude and avoirdupois. A short canvas secured the following list, which he handed to the Herald:

J.R. Vancil 187 pounds

H.J. Vancil 198 pounds

G.L. Vancil 181 pounds

E.L. Vancil 187 pounds

E.S. Vancil 181 pounds

J.M. Vancil 207 pounds

W.R. Hacker 180 pounds

J.B. James 195 pounds

John Dill 209 pounds

Tony McCarty 200 pounds

Galen Spencer 220 pounds

H.H. Sansom 214 pounds

These twelve men are all six feet tall or over. The aggregate weight is 2,359 pounds, an average of a little over 196 pounds each. The venerable H.H. Sansom leads in height with six feet three inches. J.B. James comes next with six feet two and one-half inches. Each of the others is six feet or over.

The six Vancils are brothers. It is very rare that one family contains so many fine specimens of physical manhood.”

Source: Joplin News Herald, Library of Congress