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Jasper County,

County History

[Source is: The biographical record of Jasper County, Missouri By Malcolm G. McGregor (1901). Transcribed by Kim Mohler]
Out of the depths of his mature wisdom Carlyle wrote, “History is the essence of innumerable biographies.” Believing this to be the fact, there is no necessity of advancing any further reason for the compilation of such a work as this, if reliable history is to be the ultimate object.
Jasper county, Missouri, has sustained within its confines men who have been prominent in public affairs and great industrial enterprises for half a century. The annals teem with the records of strong and noble manhood, and, as Sumner has said: “the true grandeur of nations is in those qualities which constitute the greatness of the individual.” The final causes which shape the fortune of individuals and the destinies of States are often the same. They are usually remote and obscure, and their influence scarcely perceived until manifestly declared by results. That nation is the greatest which produces the greatest and most manly men and faithful women; and the intrinsic safety of a community depends not so much upon methods as upon that normal development from the deep resources of which proceeds all that is precious and permanent in life. But such a result may not consciously be contemplated by the actors in the great social drama. Pursuing each his personal good by exalted means, they work out as a logical result.
The elements of success in life consist in both innate capacity and determination to excel. Where either is wanting, failure is almost certain in the outcome. The study of a successful life, therefore, serves both as a source of information and as a stimulus and encouragement to those who have the capacity. As an important lesson in this connection we may appropriately quote Longfellow, who said: “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while we judge others by what they have already done.” A faithful personal history is an illustration of the truth of this observation.
In this biographical history the editorial staff, as well as the publishers, have fully realized the magnitude of the task. In the collection of the material there has been a constant aim to discriminate carefully in regard to the selection of subjects. Those who have been prominent factors in the public, social and industrial development of the county have been given due recognition as far as it has been possible to secure the requisite data. Names worthy of perpetuation here, it is true, have in several instances been omitted, either on account of the apathy of those concerned or the inability of the compilers to secure the information necessary for a symmetrical sketch; but even more pains have been taken to secure accuracy than were promised in the prospectus. Works of this nature, therefore, are more reliable and complete than are the “standard” histories of a county.
We are indebted to the Honorable Malcolm G. McGregor, of Carthage, Missouri, for the excellent general history and sketches of many eminent men of the earlier period which he has so generously contributed to this work.


Jasper county is located in southwestern Missouri, bordering on the state of Kansas, a little north of the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude and about forty miles north of the state line of Arkansas. Barton county bounds it on the north, parts of Dade and Lawrence counties on the east, and Newton county adjoins it on the south. The county contains about six hundred and fifty square miles or four hundred and sixteen thousand acres of land, being about thirty-one miles long from east to west and twenty-one miles wide from north to south. The average elevation above sea level is one thousand feet, the county being on the south and west slopes of the Ozark mountain range. About three-fourths of its surface is gently undulating, was originally prairie land, and the balance was timbered, mostly of oak, with some hickory, walnut, sycamore and other varieties, skirting along and near the streams. The county is well watered, with many springs and streams. The principal streams are Spring river and Center creek, each of which form in Lawrence county, entering Jasper county at its eastern boundary, Center creek being about four miles south of Spring river and flowing nearly parallel to it, the whole length of the county, the two streams joining their waters near the western border of the state. These streams are fed by the north fork of Spring river, Coon creek, Dry fork, Buck branch, Turkey creek and by other smaller streams. Their fall is efficient to afford good water-power to run many mills in the county.
The county is divided into nearly two equal parts by Spring river. While the northern part is more fertile and better, as a rule, for agriculture, there is much fertile land in the southern part; and forming for the most part the great mineral belt of the county, the southern is by far the more valuable part of this wealthy county.
Nature has done a great deal for Jasper county. The climate is mild and healthful. The winters are short and never severe. The springs and falls are long and pleasant, and summers, owing to the altitude and the prevalence, at all times, of a gentle breeze, are not extremely hot, with uniformly cool and refreshing nights. The soil is productive, consisting in the bottom lands of a rich, black loam, and in the valleys and on the prairies for the most part is a rich mulatto soil. While in some cases a stony or boulder formation appears on the surface, there is very little waste or hilly land. The soil, at a depth varying from two to four feet, is for the most part underlaid with a sedimentary, overcapped with a glacial, formation, supported at varying depths by a number of sedimentary limestone strata. The northwestern part of the county is a different formation, being part of the great coal belt of Missouri and Kansas, and the soil consists of a smooth prairie and in some parts a sandy soil underlaid by a calcareous rock. The soil of the county is adapted to general farming, stock-raising and fruit-growing. Winter wheat, corn and oats are cultivated to a great extent. Dairying and the raising of cattle, horses, mules, hogs, sheep and all kinds of poultry are carried on extensively, together with gardening and fruit-raising. In good years the county has produced about two million bushels of wheat, which for the most part have been converted into flour by the large mills located in the cities and along the streams of the county. Jasper county excels in wheat-raising. Apples, peaches, cherries, pears and other fruit are grown. The raising of small fruits, such as strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, is carried on extensively. The strawberry crop of this county probably exceeds that of any other locality in the United States. The shipments of Jasper county’s surplus products have, for many years, exceeded that of any other county in Missouri. The little city of Sarcoxie in each season ships over two hundred large refrigerator cars of strawberries – at one time shipping a full train of twenty-five cars in one day.
While the soil, water and timber of Jasper county make her rich as an agricultural, stock-raising and fruit-growing region, it is her great mineral resources and her vast mining industries that are the foundation of her greatest natural wealth. In this county are found lead, zinc, building stone, limestone, and some coal, brick and potter’s clay. There are also found evidences of oil deposit.
The United States produces about one-fourth of the world’s zinc supply, and the greater part of this zinc product of the United States comes from the mines of Jasper county. The value of the product of the zinc mines of this county for the year ending June 30, 1900, amounted to $4,601,358 and the value of the annual lead product of the county for the same year was $780,022, making the total value of both lead and zinc $5,381,380.
The lead ore is sulphide of lead, or soft galena, and the two forms of zinc ore are blende or zinc sulphide and silicate of zinc. The purest forms of galena consist of eighty-six per cent of lead and fourteen per cent of sulphur.
The purest zinc blende runs sixty-six per cent zinc, and silicate of zinc contains from thirty to forty per cent of zinc.
Geologically, this region belongs to the sub-carboniferous period. Lead and zinc ores are found together and in the same mines. Both of these minerals are found at various depths, from sometimes near the surface to, as yet, unascertained depths. At present the greatest depth to which mines are worked is about two hundred and fifty feet. The most of the mineral is mined at from one to two hundred feet deep. The mineral is found in pockets, layers and fractures, the deeper deposits often showing regular strata or sheet formation.
Jasper county also has in her limestone ledges a superior quality of building stone. It is hard, durable, possessing a fine grain and takes a bright, smooth polish – making it not only suitable for all forms of building, but also for monuments and walks. The walls of the court house in Carthage are built entirely of this stone, as are also the First National Bank building of Carthage, and other buildings in Joplin and Carthage. It is now extensively quarried and shipped, the various quarry companies operating along the bluffs of Spring river, near Carthage, and along Center creek, shipping about forty carloads per week.
Lime and brick are also burned and shipped.
Coal is mined extensively at Pittsburg and Weir City in Kansas, and at Minden in Barton county, Missouri, adjoining Jasper county, and to some extent in the northwestern part of Jasper county. It is also found in pocket formations and is mined near Carthage and northwest of there.
Among other transformations in Jasper county has been the character of wagon roads. From the rough natural roads originally traveled, the county now contains some of the best roads in the state. Added to the soil peculiarly fitted to making roads, the expenditure of the necessary money and labor, with gravel from her mines furnishing the macadam, have brought about this result.
The county has now some fifteen rural mail delivery routes, six of that number running out of Carthage.

Jasper county was organized in the year 1841. Crawford county had been organized in the year 1829, with Little Piney, on the Gasconade river, as its county seat, and the first movement which had for its object bringing southwestern Missouri under a local or county government was an act of the Legislature, approved January, 1831, which provided that “all that territory lying south and west of Crawford county, which is not included in the limits of any county shall be attached to said county of Crawford for all civil and military purposes, until otherwise provided by law.”
In 1833 Greene county was formed out of the territory temporarily attached to Crawford county, as above, embracing all the territory lying between the Osage river on the north, and the Arkansas line on the south, and extending from what is now the line of Kansas and the Indian Territory, on the west, one-half of the way, eastward, across the state. Springfield, then as now, was the county seat of Greene county.
Barry county, from the part of Greene county embracing what is now the counties of Barry, Lawrence, Dade, Barton, Jasper, Newton and McDonald, was organized in 1835. Mount Pleasant, near where Pierce City now stands, was made the county seat of Barry county.
In 1839 Newton county was formed from the western part of Barry, embracing what is now Newton, McDonald, Jasper and Barton counties.
Then followed the act of the Legislature, approved January 29, 1841, by which “a separate and distinct county to be known by the name of Jasper,” was created from the northern part of Newton county, including the territory now embraced in Jasper and Barton counties, except that a strip two miles wide off the south side of what is now Jasper county, was retained as part of Newton county. On this strip of land are now situated the city of Sarcoxie and a considerable part of the city of Joplin. While Hon. John M. Richardson was a member of the Legislature as the representative of both counties and through his efforts a change in the boundary line between the counties was effected in the year 1845, by which this additional strip, including the town of Sarcoxie, was taken from Newton county and added to Jasper.
The act creating the new county of Jasper provided for the appointment of commissioners to select the “permanent seat of justice” for the new county, which was to be located “as near the center of the inhabitable part of said county as practicable, due regard being had to the situation.” The circuit and county courts were to be held at the dwelling house of George Hornback until the permanent seat of justice was established or until the county court should otherwise direct. The house of George Hornback, referred to, was located on the south bank of Spring river about two miles of the present city of Carthage.
Samuel M. Cooley, Jeremiah Cravens and Samuel B. Bright having been appointed by the Governor justices of the county court, they met at the house of George Hornback on Thursday, the 25th day of February, 1841, and organized the first county court of Jasper county, thus setting in motion the machinery of a county government. Ellwood B. James was appointed clerk of the circuit and county courts and ex-officio recorder of deeds, which offices he continued to hold by successive elections until the beginning of the year 1859. However, during the summer of 1841, an election was held for county officers, and James H. Faris was elected clerk of the circuit and county courts and qualified as such, but before assuming office he died, and, at a special election to fill the vacancy, Mr. James was elected for a term of six years, and his incumbency of the office was not interrupted by the election of Mr. Faris.
The other appointments by the county court at its first session were: Samuel M. Cooley, presiding justice of the court; George Hornback, county treasurer; John Hopkins, county assessor; and Clisby Robinson, public administrator. John P. Osborn had been appointed for the first sheriff of the county by the Governor.
The county court continued to hold its sessions at the house of George Hornback until the 28th of March, 1842, when it met at the house of John Pennington, which was situated on the hill south of Spring river and just south of where the Carthage Woolen Mills now stand in the city of Carthage.
The commissioners appointed for that purpose reported that they had selected the land south of and adjoining Mr. Pennington’s residence for the “permanent seat of justice of Jasper county,” the county court thereupon named the county seat “Carthage,” and on the 19th of August, 1842, the county court, for the first time, convened at the “Court house in Carthage.”
Barton county was formed from what was formerly the northern part of Jasper county, in the year 1855, and since that year Jasper county has embraced its present boundaries.
So far as known no tribes of Indians were ever permanently located here, but this region was a favorite hunting and fishing ground for them. The clear and sparkling streams abounded in fish, and the prairies and timber lands sustained various kinds of game, especially deer, wild turkeys, quail and prairie chickens.
The Delaware Indians were early located near Springfield, on James river, and the Osages near Fort Scott, Kansas, and were in the habit of making frequent visits to this region before and after white people settled here. Later the Quapaws, Cherokees and Shawnees were settled in the Indian territory, near the southwest corner of Jasper county. Prior to its settlement the county had been traversed, also, by the white frontiersmen in hunting and trapping expeditions. There are traditions and evidences of Spanish adventurers, at a very early date, stopping for a time, searching for gold and silver; and they doubtless made the first discoveries of lead.
The first permanent settlement of Jasper county was in the year 1831. In that year Thacker Vivion emigrated from the state of Kentucky and located in the southeast corner of what afterwards became Jasper county, on Center creek, at the site of what is now the city of Sarcoxie. In that same year John M. Fullerton came from Kentucky and settled near Vivion.
The early settlers, for the most part, came from Tennessee and North Carolina, and some came from Kentucky, Illinois and other states. They generally located along the streams, principally on Center creek and Spring river. The prairie lands were, as a rule, only regarded as fit for grazing, and not suitable for cultivation.
In 1833 Ephraim Beasley and Hiram Hanford also settled near Sarcoxie. Ephraim Jenkins settled south of Center creek on what afterwards was known as Jenkins creek. Isaac Seela with his family also settled near Sarcoxie. Abraham Onstott with his family, Thomas Boxley, Tryon Gibson, Isaac Gibson, William Gibson and John W. Gibson settled on Center creek south and southwest of where Carthage now stands.
Abraham Onstott had emigrated from North Carolina, stopping for a time in Kentucky and Indiana, and later, as early as 1816, when Missouri was still a territory, he settled in what is now Pike county, Missouri. In 1832 he visited what is now Jasper county to look at the country, and the next year moved with his family to this county. His neighbors, Isaac Seela and Tryon Gibson and their families, accompanied him from Pike county. Judge John Onstott, the son of Abraham Onstott, who came with his father at that time, and William Seela and John N.U. Seela, then little sons of Isaac Seela, have resided in Jasper county longer than any other living residents of the county. Judge Onstott, the oldest living pioneer settler of this county, has spent a long and most eventful life in this county and will be gratefully remembered for his sacrifices for the interests of the people of this county and his sterling integrity.
In addition to the above, among those who came to this county prior to 1840, before the organization of the county, were: William Tingle, Benjamin F. Massey, John M. Richardson, B.W.W. Richardson, James Hornback, John Hornback, David Lemasters, Ellwood B. James, Montalbon M. James, Hannibal James, Josiah Boyd, John C. Cox, Elijah P. Dale, and Robert J. Dale, his son George Hornback, John Prigmore, John P. Osborn, Claiborn Osborn, William Duncan, John Henry, John Halsell, Samuel M. Cooley, Jeremiah Cravens, Samuel B. Bright, John R. Chenault, William M. Chenault, Clisby Robinson, Thomas A. Dale, Thomas Buck, James N. Langley, Dr. David F. Moss, William Spencer, Calvin Robinson, Rev. John Robinson, Banister Hickey, Middleton Hickey, Milton Stevenson, J.G.L. Carter, Robert R. Laxson, Washington Robinson, Nelson Knight, Rev. Greenville Spencer, Rev. Anthony Bewley, Rev. William H. Farmer, Charles Vivian (a relative of Thacker Vivian), Judge Daniel Hunt, Judge Rice Challis, Judge Andrew McKee, Hiram Thompson and John D. Thompson.
Many of these have held places of trust and honor. They endured the hardships and privations incident to a new country. They led honorable lives, and many of their descendants are among the best and most highly respected citizens of this county to-day.
Hon. John M. Richardson represented this and Newton county in the Legislature in 1845-6, and was Secretary of State of Missouri from 1853 to 1857, and was succeeded in the latter office by Hon. Benjamin F. Massey from 1857 to 1860. Among other things, Colonel Richardson enjoyed the distinction of being one of the eleven voters who, in 1860, cast a vote for Abraham Lincoln. John R. Chenault served as Circuit Judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit from 1857 until courts were suspended by the war. Samuel M. Cooley, Jeremiah Cravens, Samuel B. Bright, Josiah Boyd, John Onstott, Milton Stevenson, Andrew McKee, Rice Challis, Daniel Hunt and John Hornback were Justices of the county court. Isaac Gibson served as Sheriff of Newton county before the organization of Jasper county.
Robert J. Dale, one of the pioneer settlers of Jasper county, who still lives in Carthage, first settled with his father, Elijah P. Dale, just east of where the city of Joplin now stands.
The first postoffice established west of Sarcoxie was at Blytheville, in 1840, with Elijah P. Dale as postmaster, and Robert J. Dale carried the mail once a week from Sarcoxie to Blytheville. On this route two other offices were afterward established, one at Diamond Grove, with J.W. Walker, postmaster, and another at Jenkins Creek, Major William Dunn, postmaster.
Thacker Vivian moved from Sarcoxie to a farm near what is now Carl Junction, erecting a brick house thereon, and in 1843 or 1844 moved to Texas. The farm was afterward owned by his son, John Vivian, and his descendants, the widow of John Vivian, and daughter, Mrs. Jameson, together with the great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of Thacker Vivian, the first settler of the county, still reside at Carl Junction, and the Vivian farm at that place has proved to be valuable mineral land.
None of the land of the county was surveyed and subject to entry from the government until 1836, and then only that lying east of range 31. The land lying west of range 30 was not surveyed until some years later. The county remained sparsely settled until after the Civil war, farming and stock-raising, with some little mining of lead, being about the only industries. The people, before the war came to disturb conditions, were contented and measurably prosperous, and were gradually improving their material conditions. Frame and brick houses were supplanting the primitive log structures; public schools were established and encouraged. A few plain church structures had been built at different place in the county; religious services were held in them and in school houses, and often in private residences and at the old-time camp-meetings.
Mills were erected along Spring river and Center creek – all run by water power. People raised their own breadstuffs, fruit, vegetables and meats, and to a great extent manufactured and made up their own clothing. The old-fashioned and healthful wood fireplace supplied necessary heating and to a great extent the means for cooking. It did not require much money to provide a good living, but the people lived largely within themselves by their own individual industry and the exchange of commodities between neighbors. The principal towns were Sarcoxie and Carthage and while they had not made a large growth they were building up in a very substantial way. Carthage could boast of a two-story brick court house, a brick academy, brick jail and a number of brick business houses and residences.
These were the conditions at the time of the breaking out of the Civil war.

The results of the Civil war of 1861-5 were very disastrous to southwestern Missouri and especially to Jasper county. The war almost depopulated the county. Towns and farm buildings and other improvements were destroyed. So great were the destruction and change of conditions that after the war but little remained save the mere natural physical features of the country, dotted over here and there with the ruins of former homes.
Before the war the population of Jasper county was almost wholly of southern birth and quite a number of her citizens were slave owners. There had been practically one sentiment prevailing on the slavery question. Politically people were either Whigs or Democrats, the Democrats being in the majority. Of course, the Republican party had no organization or following in Jasper county. There had never been much political excitement, and men were elected to local offices largely on their personal popularity, without considering their political views. With the election of Lincoln and the movement throughout the south in favor of secession from the Union the feeling and excitement which soon culminated in war were aroused here as elsewhere, only more intense in these border states than anywhere else, and old neighbors and former friends were soon estranged and became bitter enemies. A state convention had been called to consider the position Missouri should take on the all absorbing question of secession. This convention met at Jefferson City, and while a sentiment in favor of adhering to the Union prevailed no definite action was ever taken. John R. Chenault, of Jasper county, was a member of the convention and acted with the secessionists. The sentiment in Jasper county was almost equally divided between the secession and Union parties. After actual war commenced in April, 1861, the bitterness between these parties increased and it was not long until hostilities broke forth in Jasper county in full force. The battle of Carthage was fought as early as the 5th of July, 1861. The Confederates in this state, along with the governor, Claiborne F. Jackson, having been forced to leave the capital, first retired to Booneville and from thence, in June, 1861, retreated southward, intending to establish themselves in southwest Missouri. General Sterling Price was already in McDonald county organizing an army, when the governor with his generals and forces under him started south from Booneville. General James S. Rains, a citizen of Jasper county and at that time the state senator from this senatorial district, had been assigned a command of some of these troops, the state troops with the governor being commanded by Generals Parsons and Rains. Their object no doubt was to make a junction with General Price’s army. In the meantime the federal forces were active, and having first gained control of St. Louis and central Missouri federal troops had been sent to Springfield in the southwest. In the beginning of July General Franz Sigel, with a small force of eleven hundred men, marched from Springfield to Neosho, probably with the intention of watching the movements of the enemy and preventing, if possible, a junction of Governor Jackson’s forces with those of General Price. Arriving at Neosho, in Newton county, on the 3rd of July, on the 4th the march was made to Carthage, and on the morning of the 5th General Sigel’s command marched to a point just beyond Dry Fork creek, some seven miles north of Carthage, where on the prairie it encountered the force with Governor Jackson, numbering some five thousand state troops. It may be General Sigel expected another Federal force to follow Jackson from the north, and that while he encountered the Confederates in front another Federal force would soon come up in their rear, but if this was his expectation he was disappointed. The Confederates, although having the advantage in numbers, were not so well armed or disciplined as Sigel’s men. The fighting commenced in the forenoon and continued through the day. Sigel had some artillery and the Confederates had none. Sigel would keep up the fight with the enemy in his front until General Rains’ force of mounted men, poorly armed, however, would seek to flank him and get in his rear, when he would be compelled to turn his fire on it, at the same time gradually retreating towards Carthage. The battle continued until Carthage was reached, the last of the fighting being in the town. As night came on Sigel withdrew his force to the east, on the road toward Springfield, and the Confederates were glad to let him go and did not follow him beyond Carthage.
After General Sigel had started north from Neosho runners from there were sent to inform General Price of the movement, on learning of which, General Price with his command started for Carthage. On the day after the battle at what is now the Corwine farm, three miles south of Carthage, the governor’s force was joined by that under General Price, where they rejoiced greatly on account of their “victory over the Dutch.” The losses to Sigel’s command in this battle are stated to be eight killed and forty-five wounded. The losses of the other side were considerably greater, being in the neighborhood of two hundred and fifty in both killed and wounded.
After this battle and during the whole course of the war the county became a field for almost constant irregular fighting, robbing and destruction of property, in which the rules of civilized warfare were disregarded. All civil government was suspended and the county was not permanently under the military control of either army. Especially with this the condition of the western two-thirds of the county, including the town of Carthage. The eastern part of the county, including the town of Sarcoxie, had some protection from detachments of Federal troops sent out from Springfield and from its own militia organization. Nearly all of the inhabitants of the county were forced to join either one army or the other or entirely leave the country. Many went to Texas and settled there permanently. Those of Union sympathies went into Kansas or further north.
Among the first acts of violence committed in the county after war had commenced was the robbery and murder of George W. Broome, which occurred in the summer of 1861. Mr. Broome was a native of Georgia and had resided in Jasper county a number of years, a young man, unmarried and living on his farm at Georgia City. He was quite wealthy, owning several thousand acres of land and was engaged in stock-raising and farming. He also owned a number of slaves, besides a large amount of other personal property, and was understood to have a considerable sum in money. A body of men, supposed to have been mainly from across the state line in Kansas, came to Broome’s house in the daytime and murdered him, burned his house, seized and carried away his money and much personal property. This was the first assassination and robbery occurring after the breaking out of war, and aroused a strong feeling for revenge among Broome’s friends, who charged some of Broome’s neighbors with complicity in the outrage. Some of Broome’s friends, citizens of Jasper county, soon after this, one night took out John Ireland, who lived near Broome, and after giving him a form of trial on the charge of participation in the murder of Broome hung him. Some prominent citizens of the county were afterward charged with a part in the hanging of Ireland. These events were only a prelude to the conditions which prevailed afterward.
Thomas R. Livingston, formerly a merchant and lead miner and smelter at a place near Minersville, called French Point, on Center creek, organized and led a company of men who carried on a guerilla warfare throughout this region and are charged with much of the incendiarism and destruction of life and property occurring in this county.
Quantrell’s band, which raided the city of Lawrence, Kansas, operated in Jasper county, and also another force, charged with burning the court house at Carthage in October, 1863, and other similar acts, was Anderson’s company of Confederates. These various local organizations operated independently of any of the main armies, and were controlled by none of the restraints of military discipline which applied to the armies of either side.
Colonel Ritchey’s command of Federal Indians is charged with the murder of many inoffensive people, and with arson, robbery and with much wanton destruction of property.
There were also irregular bands of persons bent on robbery passing back and forth over the border between Missouri, Kansas and the Indian Territory, killing, robbing and destroying without much regard to whether their victims’ sympathies and affiliations were with one side or the other.
As a result of this state of affairs the town of Carthage was destroyed – the court house being burned in October, 1863 – and farm houses and farm improvements were mostly burned and destroyed. At the close of the war all that remained of Carthage was less than a dozen dwellings of the poorer sort, all else, including court house, jail, academy, business houses and dwelling houses, were destroyed, and the town was a heap of rubbish, exposing to view open cellars, standing chimneys and occasionally part of the brick walls of what had been some of the more pretentious buildings. Before the war closed nearly all the inhabitants of the central and western part of the county who lived to tell the tale of their privations and sufferings had been compelled to leave the county and seek safety elsewhere.
Other prominent instances of arson and murder were the murder of Dr. Jaquillian M. Stemmons and the burning of his residence. Dr. Stemmons was a pronounced Union man. In the spring of 1862 his house, located on his farm about three and a half miles northeast of Avilla, was surrounded by a band of men at night, and his house set on fire and he was shot down. The other members of his family escaped unhurt. The supposed cause for this attack was that a man, claiming to be a recruiting officer for the Federal army, along with a few of his recruits, were stopping at Dr. Stemmons’. Also James G. Ennis was killed at his home south of Georgia City by Indians supposed to belong to Colonel Ritchey’s command, and his wife was so severely tortured as to render her a cripple for life.
Archibald McCoy was a leading lawyer at Carthage before and at the breaking out of the war, and was the county treasurer when the war broke out. Mr. McCoy was a native of Ohio, and an active, outspoken Union man. As the war progressed McCoy was much concerned for the safety of the county’s money in his custody, especially after Governor Jackson and his forces came into this region. Knowing the governor to be greatly in need of money to equip an army, McCoy concluded his safest course was, at least temporarily, to turn the county’s money over to some good man known as a Confederate sympathizer. So, at his request, his sureties called on him and it was decided that the money should be placed in the hands of John J. Scott, who had been McCoy’s predecessor as treasurer. It is certain that McCoy if he had to give up the money was anxious to place it in hands that would preserve it for the county and would not aid the Confederates with it. This matter was kept as quiet as possible. Mr. Scott kept the money safely until in October, 1861, and fearing longer to remain in Jasper county he prevailed on Judge John Onstott, one of McCoy’s sureties on his bond, to take the money for safe keeping. He accordingly paid over to Judge Onstott the sums of one thousand and fifty dollars in gold and two hundred dollars in paper money. No one except John B. Dale, Onstott’s wife and his little son, Abe W. Onstott, knew of his having this money. He kept the gold buried in the ground for nearly the four whole years it was in his custody, his son Abe alone knowing the spot where it was buried. It not being safe, for fear of its rotting, to bury the paper money, Mrs. Onstott carried it much of the time on her person until she was robbed of it by Colonel Ritchey’s Indians. Judge Onstott remained quietly on his farm on Center creek until June, 1864, not taking any part in the war. By that time it became so dangerous to remain longer that he went to another part of the state temporarily, and his family soon followed him, taking the county’s gold with them. He remained away until August, 1865, and upon the reorganization of the county government in the fall of 1865 Judge Onstott paid over to the newly appointed treasurer of the county all this money in the identical coin he had received from Mr. Scott. This gold during this time was at a high premium over greenbacks. If it had been suspected by the armed bands marauding the country that Judge Onstott was the custodian of this money they would have resorted to every form of violence and torture conceivable to compel him to give it up. Upon paying the money into the county treasury he related to the new county court the circumstances of his having received the two hundred dollars paper money and its loss, but the court insisting that he pay that money also, Judge Onstott sold his team and wagon to get the money and paid it to the treasurer in addition to the gold he had paid. In 1874, the first time after the war that a Democrat was elected to office in this county, Judge Onstott was elected county treasurer, holding the office by re-election for three successive terms.
Mr. McCoy remained in Jasper county until the early part of 1862, and feeling compelled to leave the county for his personal safety he started for Fort Scott, Kansas, but never arrived at his destination. His fate was long in doubt; his friends, continuing to hope him alive, made strenuous efforts to find him. Near the time of McCoy’s disappearance a Confederate force under command of General (now United States senator) Francis M. Cockerill, passed south through this region, and it was first supposed that Mr. McCoy had been taken a prisoner by this force, and to seek to insure Mr. McCoy’s safety and as a retaliatory measure the commander of a Federal force at Fort Scott, Kansas, sent to Jasper county and arrested William Tingle and John Halsell to hold as hostages for the safety of McCoy. It was later ascertained that McCoy had never been a prisoner of General Cockerill’s command, and Tingle and Halsell were released and nothing could be learned of Mr. McCoy. It has since developed that Mr. McCoy went to Lamar on his way to Fort Scott and was there taken prisoner by either Quantrell’s or Anderson’s men, who took him to near Lone Jack in Jackson county and there shot and killed him.
Stanfield Ross was clerk of the circuit and county courts and ex-officio recorder of deeds of the county at the breaking out of the war, having been elected as the successor of Ellwood B. James at the election in 1858. As the county court at that time had probate jurisdiction he was the custodian of all the county records and valuable papers. By the movement of the Confederate forces to the south and Governor Jackson establishing his movable state capital at Neosho, following the battle of Carthage, that town became temporarily the Confederate state and military headquarters of Missouri. Mr. Ross not only accompanied Governor Jackson and the Confederate army to Neosho, but he took with him the Jasper county records and files of his office. Soon afterward by a Union military movement from Springfield the Confederates were compelled to abandon Neosho rather precipitately and Mr. Ross left with them, leaving the Jasper county records and papers in Neosho. Norris C. Hood, of Carthage, ex-sheriff of the county, and a Union man, learning of the condition of the county records, went to Neosho and loading them into wagons brought them to Carthage, and from thence he took them with his family to Fort Scott, Kansas, for safety, and where he kept them during the war, returning them to the proper authorities when the county was reorganized in 1865. Thus all of Jasper county’s deeds and court records were preserved from destruction during the war.

The return of peace found Jasper county almost depopulated. Mail routes and postoffices had been discontinued, and the courts and all local civil government suspended.
In February, 1865, the legislature passed a law authorizing the holding of the circuit and county courts at a house to be designated by the sheriff at or near Cave Springs, but the county was not reorganized and the various officers appointed to fill vacancies existing, until in August, 1865. There was no place left in which to hold court at Carthage, hence by authority of the above mentioned law the sheriff recently appointed designated the brick school house near Cave Springs as the place to hold the courts until the county should provide a place at the county seat.
This school house was about three miles northeast of Sarcoxie, about two hundred feet from Cave Springs, near the residence of William Duncan and close to the line of Lawrence county. It consisted of two rooms, both on the ground floor, and had been known also as the Cave Springs Academy.
The clerk’s office, with the county records, occupied one of the rooms and the other was reserved for the use of the courts. This place was practically the county seat from August, 1865, until June, 1866, and courts were all held there. By June, 1866, the walls of the old county jail at Carthage, which were left partly standing, had been rebuilt to the height of one story and roofed over and a brick floor laid, making only one room of the size of about sixteen by twenty-four feet, and this one room served as clerk’s office and court room, besides being used for religious meetings of all kinds for about one year.
On the re-establishment of the civil authorities many of the old settlers, who had been compelled to leave, returned to find, in many instances, their homes and improvements destroyed. Many had died and many others had established homes in other places, south and north, and never returned.
Northern troops had marched through and been stationed at times in Jasper county, especially from Iowa, Illinois and Kansas, and many of these soldiers so greatly admired the climate and natural resources of the country that they resolved to return here at the close of the war. Nearly all the old settlers who had been Union men during the war were now Republicans in their politics. Those who had borne arms for or sympathized with the Confederacy were disfranchised by law from voting, so that the Republican party was in control of the national and state governments and of the local offices. It was not possible that the bitter feelings engendered for four years of war would at once subside, yet as a rule good order prevailed. Aside from the fact that two or three persons were, during the first year or two succeeding the war, waylaid and shot on account of old grudges there was no serious trouble. Every man, as a rule, went armed, carrying two large revolvers strapped to his person, outside his clothing, and was prepared to defend his person and home. Strangers and newcomers were welcomed and treated with great hospitality.
Rolla, to the northeast, and Sedalia, north, were the two nearest railroad points, each about one hundred and forty miles distant, and freight was all hauled by wagon from these points. Notwithstanding the drawbacks, the settlement of the county was rapid. There were large bodies of land to sell at low prices. Those who had their farms in condition to raise crops found a ready market, at high prices, for all grains, fruits and produce at their doors, selling to new settlers and others who were not so fortunately situated. During those first years after the war corn, wheat and apples often sold as high as one dollar and a half per bushel.
Commencing with 1866 a large immigration flowed into Jasper county, mostly from northern states. The mild and salubrious climate, productive soil and the well watered and timbered country rendered Jasper county an inviting spot. The counties north of this used to complain that from nearly all the covered wagons, laden with immigrants, the response was that they were “bound for J-as-per county,” with the accent prolonged on the first syllable of the word Jasper, and they could not be induced to stop elsewhere.
In later years the wonderful mineral resources of the county induced another character of immigration and the building up of cities and towns. By the census of 1850 Jasper county had a population of 4,223. In 1860 she had 6,883 – of the last number 350 were negro slaves; and notwithstanding the war and its ravages by 1870 the population increased to 14,928. In 1880 it was increased to 32,019; 1890 it was 50,500 and in 1900 it was 84,018, for more than ten years this county having been the third county in the state in population – the city of St. Louis and the counties of Jackson and Buchanan, of the one hundred and fifteen counties in Missouri, alone exceeding the population of this county.
The increase in population for the last twenty years has been mainly in the cities, towns and mining districts. The city of Joplin, with a population of 26,023 in 1900, is now the fourth city in size in the state. Carthage, with 9,416, is the ninth city, and Webb City, with 9,201, is the tenth city; besides these three cities are several fourth-class cities, Carterville, with 4,445 population, Oronogo, 2,073, and Sarcoxie, 1,126.
In October, 1866, a threatening and unlooked for invasion of the county occurred, which for a time was a source of alarm to the inhabitants. Like the old plague of the ancients, it was the grasshopper, rather grasshoppers – grasshoppers almost as numerous as sands on the seashore. They came from the west, flying through the air in such numbers as to obscure the light of the sun. As they alighted they covered the earth everywhere. In a day or two following their coming they had devoured every spear of grass, the newly sprouted wheat and every other form of vegetation, leaving the ground bare. When heavy frosts came they became dormant and died, and those persons who resowed their wheat raised a good crop the next season. In the spring of 1867, with the coming of warm weather, young grasshoppers hatched out from the eggs deposited in the earth the fall previous, and although this for a short time caused alarm to many persons, they soon disappeared and no further harm resulted. This visitation of the grasshopper, however, did not extend to the eastern line of the county, but only a few miles east of Carthage.
A special feature that induced the early immigration to Jasper county, after the war, was the sales of the so-called “swamp lands” at the low prices and favorable terms of payment offered to settlers, and the advertising of the advantages of this county by the vendors of these lands. Now there are no swamps in Jasper county any more than there are snakes in Ireland, the natural drainage being such as not to allow their formation. However, in the year 1850 the congress of the United States passed an act to enable the states of Arkansas and Missouri and other states to reclaim the swamp and overflowed lands within their boundaries, by granting all such lands to the states, respectively, in which they were situated, in aid of schools. The state of Missouri in turn granted these lands to the respective counties wherein they were located. While the fact is notorious that no lands answering the description of those designated by the law are within the borders of Jasper county, commissioners were appointed who selected and reported practically all the lands owned by the government in Jasper county as “swamp and overflowed lands.” These selections were confirmed in the year 1857, embracing about one hundred and twenty-five acres in Jasper county, and being nearly all fine prairie land, among the best farming lands of the county. The title to all these lands vested in the county and the lands became subject to sale by the county, the proceeds constituting a permanent school fund, which is loaned by the county court, and the yearly interest in distributed to the school districts for the maintenance of public schools. This is the principal source of Jasper county’s great public school fund of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. During the years of 1857 and 1858 the county disposed of these lands, first selling in tracts of quarter-sections and over to individuals at one dollar per acre, and latterly selling all of the remainder of these lands, about ninety thousand acres, in bulk, to George E. Ward, of Barton county, John M. Richardson being a silent partner with Ward in the purchase. The lands were sold to Ward at ninety cents an acre, and the county took Ward’s note with security bearing ten per cent interest per annum for the purchase price, due in one year from the date of purchase, and the county also retained the legal title to the land until it should be paid for. George E. Ward died during the war without making payment for these lands. In 1866 the interest of Ward’s estate and of John M. Richardson to about seventy-five thousand acres of these lands was sold to William Frazier, of Ohio, Frazier assuming to pay the county’s claim, which amounted, in June, 1866, to one dollar and sixty-four cents per acre, and which the county treated thereafter as principal of the fund. In 1867 Frazier’s interest in most of these lands was sold by him to G.A. Cassil and some associates. Mr. Cassil came to Carthage and immediately commenced to make sales of the land at quite reasonable prices and liberal terms of payment.
Prior to the year 1869 Jasper county was remote from railroads. In the early days merchandise was hauled by wagon from Booneville on the Missouri river, having been shipped by boat from St. Louis to that place. Salt and other kinds of heavy freight were often shipped by boat to the town of Linn Creek on the Osage river, when the stage of water in the Osage would admit of navigation, and was then hauled from that place by wagon. Pig lead was hauled in wagons to these points for shipment, and on the return trip merchandise was hauled. In 1869 the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, then commonly known as the “Jay Road” (and now the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad), was completed from Kansas City through the eastern border counties of Kansas to Baxter Springs, and soon after this the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (now the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway) was built from its former terminus, Rolla, to Neosho. Neither of these railroads touched Jasper county, and its prospect for a railroad for several years was not encouraging. The enterprising citizens of the county felt the need of railroad facilities and were anxious for the building of a railroad into the county. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad was then building south from Sedalia under a charter granted in this state to the Tebo & Neosho Railroad Company, which authorized the building of a railroad from the line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad in a southwest direction and to leave the state south of the northwest corner of Jasper county. Notwithstanding its charter provision and the activity of Jasper county citizens in favor of its building into this county, this railroad was built from Sedalia to Fort Scott, Kansas, and thence to Texas, and all efforts for its building into Jasper county were unsuccessful, as were also efforts to bring other railroads, until finally, in the year 1871, L.P. Cunningham, then a lawyer at Carthage and an extensive real estate owner – now living in Joplin – and E.H. Brown, another citizen of Carthage, organized a local railroad corporation, under the name of the Memphis, Carthage & Northwestern Railroad Company, of which Mr. Cunningham was president and Mr. Brown secretary, to build from Pierce City on the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, this railroad was completed through the county in 1872, and is now part of the main line of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway running from St. Louis to Wichita and Ellsworth, Kansas. In 1878 a branch of this railroad was built from Oronogo through Webb City to Joplin and has since been extended to Galena, Kansas. Until the building of the Memphis, Carthage & Northwestern Railroad Jasper county had no railroad within her borders. Now she can boast of more miles of railroad than any other county in the state.
The next railroad built in the county was the Joplin & Girard Railroad, built from Girard, Kansas, to Joplin in 1876. This, too, was a local enterprise by Joplin’s two pioneer citizens, Elliott R. Moffett and John B. Sergeant, the two men who first discovered the mines at Joplin. This was the first railroad built to Joplin. Now that city has five railroads. This railroad has also become part of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway system.
E.H. Brown, after his experience in helping build the Memphis, Carthage & Northwestern Railroad, obtained control of the charter granted the Lexington & Southern Railroad Company, and after beginning the construction of this railroad from Pleasant Hill, on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, south, he interested Jay Gould in the enterprise, and mainly through Mr. Brown’s efforts the Lexington and Southern branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad system was built in the year 1880, from the north into Jasper county, through Jasper, Carytown, Carthage, Carterville, Webb City and Joplin to Galena, Kansas.
In 1880 the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad was extended east from Baxter Springs to Joplin, Webb City and Carterville, and also, about that time being built from Fort Scott to Memphis, is assumed the name of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad. This railroad has now been consolidated with the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad and runs its trains to and from Carthage over the track of the latter road.
In 1886 a local organization was formed at Neosho in Newton county for building a railroad south from that point and was chartered as the Kansas City, Fort Smith & Southern Railroad, which soon became known as the “Splitlog road,” owing to the fact that Mathias Splitlog, an Indian, one of the wealthiest in the United States, who resided in the Indian Territory southwest of Neosho, became its heaviest stockholder. Principally with Mr. Splitlog’s money this railroad was built from Neosho south into McDonald county to a point called Splitlog, and between which place and Neosho this railroad was operated for some time with only one locomotive and a few cars. Mr. Splitlog was a very interesting character. Although without education and necessarily lacking business qualifications, in many respects, to manage his large fortune, and being quite childlike and trusting toward those he believed to be his friends, he had a great love for machinery, and was withal a capable and orderly farmer and something of an inventive genius. After he became the principal owner of this little railroad he delighted to ride on the locomotive and never tired studying its mechanism. In a short time Mr. Splitlog disposed of his railroad to eastern parties, who in 1889 extended it north to Joplin and south also. The Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf Railroad was some later built from Kansas City to Pittsburg, Kansas, and under the promotion of A.E. Stillwell was consolidated with the “Splitlog road,” and in 1893 the railroad was built from Pittsburg to Joplin and extended south from the terminus of the “Splitlog road,” making a continuous line of railroad from Kansas City to Port Arthur, Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico, passing through Asbury, Waco, Carl Junction and Joplin, in Jasper county, and now known as the Kansas City Southern Railroad.
Aside from short branches and numerous switches built into mining districts, this completes the history of Jasper county’s railroads operated by steam. It now remains to notice her system of electric railroads.
Both Joplin and Carthage prior to the days of electric roads had an experience with the local mule car, which made trips over some of their streets, but which was a very unsatisfactory service, most people who were able to walk or ride in any other form of conveyance shunning it.
In 1893 the Southwest Missouri Electric Railroad Company was organized and an electric railroad was constructed by it running from East Joplin to West Joplin and south on Main street in Joplin to the different railroad depots, and was built from that city through the cities of Webb City and Carterville to Prosperity, three miles southeast of Carterville. A.H. Rogers was president of this company, and the other principal stockholders resided in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, among whom was E.Z. Wallower, who built and owns the Keystone Hotel building in Joplin.
In 1895 the Jasper County Electric Railroad Company was organized by residents of Carthage, W.W. Calhoun becoming its president, the other members of its board of directors and principal stockholders being William McMillan, J.F. Harrison, D.R. Goucher, J.L. Moore, Robert Moore, C.F. McElroy, Isaac Perkins, W.E. Hall and F.H. Fitch, the latter of whom was superintendent of the road. This road was built from Carthage to Carterville to a connection with the Southwest Missouri Electric Railroad, and in 1895 the two roads were consolidated under the control of the Southwest Missouri Electric Railroad. The electric railroad was after this extended from Joplin to Galena, Kansas, making a complete and highly satisfactory electric railroad service from Carthage to Galena, a distance of twenty-eight miles, passing through Carterville, Webb City and Joplin, with a branch to Prosperity, besides street cars being operated on some of the principal streets of Joplin and Carthage.
In the early days of Joplin the method for reaching the county seat was either by private conveyance or by hack, and when by competition of the rival hack lines the fare between the places was reduced to twenty-five cents, it was regarded as a cheap fare for nearly a twenty-mile ride. When railroad connection was had over the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway, by way of Oronogo and Webb City, and a local train ran between Joplin and Carthage several times a day, the hack lines became things of the past; and now with an electric car service, at low rates of fare, running each way between the four leading cities of the county every half hour of the day and into the night, and railroad trains each way every two hours and less, citizens of these cities find but little inconvenience from living in one place and carrying on business in another, as is frequently the case now. The electric road maintains parks at different places, the most inviting of these being “Lakeside,” on Center creek between Carthage and Carterville.


Deposits of lead were known to exist in Jasper and Newton counties from their earliest settlement, but without railroad facilities there was not much profit in working mines; neither was the extent of these deposits realized, and mining for many years was carried on in a very primitive way. The first regular mining operations were at Granby, in Newton county. In the early ‘fifties the Granby Mining and Smelting Company, organized by St. Louis parties, among whom were Henry T. Blow and Peter E. Blow, obtained control of the mining lands in that vicinity and erected smelters at Granby.
After this mining of lead was carried on to some extent, prior to the war, in Jasper county. The first mining in Jasper county, in anything like a regular way, was done by William Tingle. Mr. Tingle came to Jasper county at a very early day, being one of the first settlers of Sarcoxie. He emigrated from Maryland and entered first into mercantile business, and with B.F. Massey laid out the town of Sarcoxie. Afterward he left Sarcoxie and settled on a large farm on Turkey creek, near where Joplin now stands. He soon commenced mining lead, and erected a lead smelter, and also established a store, calling his place Leadville. He converted the lead ore into pig lead, which he marketed in St. Louis, hauling it by wagon to Booneville, on the Missouri river, and to Linn creek, on the Osage, and shipping by boat, bringing back goods for his store. Mr. Tingle owned a trusty, intelligent slave named “Pete,” whom he brought from Maryland when he came to the southwest. Pete superintended freighting the pig lead from Tingle’s smelter, having charge of several freight wagons and mule teams, bringing on his return trips merchandise for Mr. Tingle and other merchants living along his route. Mr. Tingle trusted his slave fully to make contracts and collect and handle his money. When the war broke out Mr. Tingle gave Pete money, a team and other property and sent him to Kansas, a free man. John Fitzgerald was for a time associated with Mr. Tingle in his mining and smelting operations. Next Orchard and Shelton erected a log smelter where Joplin now is and mined lead. After this and about the year 1855 William T. Orchard changed his field of operations from the Joplin locality to what became the town of Minersville (now Oronogo), and was the first to mine at that place.
Mining after this was carried on at a place called French Point, about two miles west of Minersville, by William Parkinson and Thomas R. Livingston, who were half-brothers. Both Parkinson and Livingston were killed during the war. They also operated a smelter and conducted a store. All of these parties conducted lead mining operations up to the breaking out of the war. Quite a trade with the Indians from the Indian Territory was maintained at these mining points in the western part of Jasper county.
With the war all these mining operations were suspended, and during the war and for about two years thereafter very little mining was done in the county. The first mining after the war was at Minersville. In 1867 the Granby Mining and Smelting Company obtained control of the mining land at Minersville, which only consisted, at that time, of eighty acres, and let mining lots to miners and bought the lead ore from them. The company maintained steam pumping plants to drain the water from the mines. The mining operations at that time were confined to what was called the “circle” on the company’s eighty-acre tract. Mining at Minersville (now Oronogo) has been carried on regularly and successfully ever since that time.
The next mining done in the county after the war was not done until 1871, at what is now the city of Joplin, which, owing to the large deposits of mineral and the extent of the mining territory in that locality, immediately became the most prominent mining center of southwest Missouri, and has thus far remained such. On the discovery of mines there a mining boom was forthwith inaugurated and miners and investors flocked to the locality.
One of the tracts of land on which lead was first discovered, where Joplin now stands, belonged to John C. Cox, an old settler of the county, who had occupied this land since about 1833. Mr. Cox had followed farming and at the time of the lead discovery was keeping a country store in part of his dwelling house and also a postoffice called Blytheville. Cox owned about six hundred acres of land in the locality.
Other land on which lead was discovered adjoined Mr. Cox’s land on the south and west and belonged to Oliver S. Pitcher, of Carthage, who owned about seven hundred acres in a farm occupied by his tenant. This part of Jasper county was up to that time sparsely settled, there being no town in the southwestern part of the county and none of the immigration to Jasper county which was rapidly settling up other portions of the county had been attracted to this region.
Mr. Pitcher was one of the more recent settlers from the north. He had come to Jasper county in 1866, from Illinois, as the agent and representative of William Frazier in the purchase of the large body of swamp lands from Ward’s estate and John M. Richardson. Mr. Pitcher, being a lawyer, conducted the negotiations on Frazier’s behalf, and after the purchase of the swamp lands was Mr. Frazier’s resident representative until the transfer of these lands was made to Mr. Cassil. Soon after coming to Jasper county Mr. Pitcher concluded to buy a large tract of land on which to make a farm, his attention being naturally attracted to the northern part of the county, where other newcomers were settling and where Mr. Frazier’s recent purchase was located. So he selected a section of land near Preston, in the northern part of the county, which he concluded to buy. All of this section, save eighty acres in one corner, belonged to Frazier’s purchase. Desiring to acquire the full square section Mr. Pitcher sought to learn who the owner of the eighty acres was, and discovered that the owner thereof had left the state and that this eighty acres and other lands were soon to be sold under execution for the debts of the owners. Pitcher, having purchased the judgment, bought not only the eighty acres which he specially desired, but all of the land sold at the sheriff’s sale under the execution, among which was one hundred and sixty acres where Joplin now is. Mr. Pitcher, not until after his purchase, went to see the last mentioned land, and was so well pleased with it and the locality that he abandoned the idea of a farm near Preston and purchased more land in the southwestern part of the county and located his farm there. He acquired this land in 1867 and afterwards improved it as a farm, but his farming operations up to the time of the discovery of mineral had been rather disastrous and unremunerative. He had bought about two thousand head of sheep, intending to go into sheep raising extensively, but the sheep having been driven through from Illinois, proved to be diseased, and before the next spring had pretty much all died. But in connection with Mr. Pitcher’s farm matters soon took a turn for the better and weekly royalties on lead and “jack” (zinc) proved more satisfactory returns than agriculture yielded.
Elliott R. Moffett and John B. Sergeant were partners in mining on the land of the Granby Mining & Smelting Company at Minersville. They had been associated together as mining partners in Wisconsin, before coming to Missouri. During the year 1870 the Granby Mining & Smelting Company, to stimulate mining, in addition to the prices it paid miners for lead ore mined on their ground, offered to the miners who should mine and turn in to it from any mining lot on its ground within a given time the greatest amount of lead ore, a reward of five hundred dollars, and Moffett & Sergeant obtained this reward under the terms of the offer. With this money as a capital they went to Mr. Cox and Mr. Pitcher and obtained mining leases on parts of their land and immediately went to work on their own account to develop mineral. They were so successful that it was not long until there was a great mining excitement, and miners and investors were rushing to the Joplin locality. About the same time it was learned that lead was not the only mineral product, but the mines yielded zinc ore along with the lead. A city sprang up and a mining camp such as had not before been known in this locality was established. From working miners Moffett & Sergeant became wealthy mine owners and active public-spirited business men. In addition to their mining ventures they soon established a bank, were interested in the town of Murphysburg (later part of Joplin) and built the first railroad into Joplin from a connection with the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, at Girard, Kansas.
Among those who went to these mines with the first mining excitement were William P. Davis and Patrick Murphy, who up to that time had been merchants at Carthage. On the east side of Joplin creek John C. Cox had laid out the town of Joplin City and Moffett & Sergeant and Davis & Murphy laid out the town of Murphysburg on the west side of the creek. Davis & Murphy acquired land and obtained mining leases to lands in the vicinity and operated mines and smelters successfully and were among the most progressive and active men in the mines and in other enterprises.
Hon. John H. Taylor and others, incorporated as the Joplin Mining & Smelting Company, purchased land from John C. Cox and mined it, their tract being along Joplin creek, and known as the Kansas City bottom.
Oliver S. Picher and his sons, Judge O.H. Picher and William H. Picher, carried on mining on the Pitcher land, their best mines being known as Parr Hill.
Judge O.H. Picher, before engaging in mining, had been a practicing lawyer at Carthage, later becoming judge of the court of common pleas of Jasper county, which office he had resigned to enter a firm of lawyers in Chicago. He and his brother, William H. Picher, early settled in Joplin and became identified with the mining and business interests of that city. Among their other interests they are now connected with the Picher White Lead Works, Judge Picher being now president of the Picher White Lead Works.
Hon. John H. Taylor first had his attention called to this county from reading the report of its geological survey of this state, made in 1854, by Professor G.C. Swallow, state geologist, in which he predicted that in future years part of Jasper and Newton counties would develop some of the richest mines in the world. So, when Mr. Taylor learned of the big strikes of lead and zinc at Joplin, he went there from his home at Independence, Missouri. No zinc ore was mined and sold until about the time Joplin was founded. Prior to that lead alone was mined.
In 1875, near where Webb City and Carterville now are, was the next discovery of extensive deposits of lead and zinc. This was on the farm of John C. Webb, and was soon extended to land of J.G.L. Carter and up along the little creek which flows between Webb City and Carterville.
The Center Creek Mining & Smelting Company, of which J.C. Stewart is president, obtained a mining lease on most of the Webb land and after mining the land for a number of years purchased the title to the land from Mr. Webb’s heirs.
William A. Daugherty had become owner of the Carter land and associated with Thomas N. Davey, William McMillan and Charles C. Allen, who bought interests in the land. Messrs. Daugherty and Davey mined the lands and afterwards incorporated the Carterville Mining & Smelting Company. Mining operations soon spread to nearby lands, embracing what became known as “Sucker Flat,” Tracey land, Ealer land, Eleventh-Hour, Troup and “Get There.” Among the mines of the county those embraced in what is known as the Carterville district stand next to the Joplin district in point of production.
The mining industry of Jasper county has ever been extending and growing, with every indication that it will continue to develop. The territory where mineral is found has greatly enlarged to embrace other portions of the county. While the production has gradually increased, prices of ore have likewise increased. Of course, on account of the greater depth at which mining is prosecuted, the cost of producing the ore has increased. The first zinc mined in the county only sold for about six dollars a ton. Expensive machinery in the way of pumps, reduction mills, air drills, etc. are now found to be a necessity to the operation of mines, calling for the investment of much more capital than formerly. In the year 1898 and 1899, when the price of zinc ore ranged from thirty to fifty dollars per ton and lead brought about fifty dollars a ton, a great impetus to the mining industry was given and much money was brought into this district from the east for investment in the mines, and the field for mining and mining investments has been considerably extended. The old mining localities of Joplin, Carterville, Webb City and Oronogo still lead in production, but new mining camps have been started, covering not only additional territory in the vicinity of the old fields, but operations have extended to Neck City and Alba in the northwestern part of the county, to Carthage and vicinity in the central part and to Reeds and Sarcoxie in the southeastern part, so that the only locality of the county not now boasting the location of some good mines is the northern and northeastern part of Jasper county.
The value of the annual production of lead and zinc in the county for the past few years has amounted to about five million dollars.
The stone quarrying industry may be properly noticed here. Jasper county has extensive deposits of fine limestone lying adjacent to Spring river and Center creek in the bluffs and hillsides. This stone is capable of standing a heavy pressure, is of fine grain, takes a beautiful polish and is easily worked into monuments or ornamental work, aside from use as a superior building and paving stone. Lime from these deposits of stone was first burned for shipment, taken from the bluff of Spring river, immediately west of the ‘Frisco depot at Carthage.
Afterwards, in the year 1880, J.F. Garner, of Carthage, opened the first quarry, putting in machinery to quarry and saw the stone, on the Kendrick farm, north of Spring river, adjoining Carthage, on the line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Now there are six of these quarries adjoining Carthage on the north where stone is quarried and sawed, operated extensively, and two other quarries along Center creek, between Carthage and Webb City, and extensive lime works at Sarcoxie, from which point much lime is shipped. About forty cars of stone per week are regularly shipped from Carthage.

Jasper county’s first court house was built in 1842. It was a frame building, one story high, located about midway of the north side of the public square in Carthage. The next building was a much more pretentious brick building, erected in the center of the public square, two stories high. The order for its erection was made by the county court in July, 1849, the cost not to exceed four thousand dollars. The contractor failing to comply with his contract, its completion was delayed, and it was not accepted or occupied by the county until May, 1854. This house was destroyed during the war, in October, 1863, and its ruins occupied the square until 1866.
In the spring of 1866 the county court caused the old county jail building at Carthage, the foundation and walls of which were partly standing, to be rebuilt, and this building was used a year or more for clerk’s and recorder’s offices and a court room as well. After that, until the present jail was built in 1872, this building was used as a jail and had an iron cage set up inside of it. This court house and jail was a small, one-story building, consisting of only one room, located nearly where the opera house at Carthage stands, east of the public square.
In 1867 the county purchased lot 17 on the west side of the public square at Carthage and erected a frame building thereon two stories high, using the lower story for court room and two rooms up stairs for clerk’s office and probate judge’s and sheriff’s office.
In 1871 the county purchased lots and frame church building from the Baptist Church Society, at the corner of Fourth and Clinton streets, Carthage, which up to that time had been used by the Baptist church and which was thereafter used for a court house, and after that, on the lots adjoining on the east, the present jail building was erected. The courts were held in this old church building until it was burned down in 1887.
Some of the county offices occupied part of the new jail building and office room for the others was rented. After the burning of the old Baptist church building the county was compelled to rent rooms for courts and offices, both in Carthage and Joplin, until the building of the present court houses at Carthage and Joplin.
As an appropriation for building public buildings or issuing of bonds therefor, under the constitution of this state, can only be made upon a favorable vote of two-thirds of the voters of the county, the building of court houses was delayed. With so many rival towns and cities a favorable vote was quite hard to obtain. The agitation for building court houses first took definite shape by the submission of a proposition for a court house at Carthage, alone. As might have been expected this proposition was defeated, hardly receiving a majority vote, let alone the necessary two-thirds. It encountered a great deal of opposition in the other cities of the county.
Afterwards a special election was ordered to be held on July 14, 1891, to vote on a proposition for erecting two court houses, one to cost one hundred thousand dollars, at Carthage, to be located in the center of the public square, and the other to cost twenty thousand dollars, at Joplin, to be located on a lot to be donated by the citizens. Fifty thousand dollars of the required one hundred thousand dollars for the building at Carthage was to be paid by the city of Carthage, in consideration of which said city was to own and use four rooms in the building; and the county was to pay the remaining seventy thousand dollars for the two buildings, and which was to be paid by the direct levy of taxes for three years, without issuing any bonds. This election resulted favorably to the proposition by the required two-thirds vote; but the citizens of Webb City contested the validity of the election proceedings in the courts, and the supreme court of the state, on appeal, held the election void on the ground that it had not been conducted under the Australian ballot system, then recently adopted in this state.
Following this adverse decision substantially the same proposition was submitted over again to the voters, and at an election held on the 9th day of May, 1893, the proposition was again carried by an increased majority and under which the two court houses at Carthage and Joplin, one costing one hundred thousand dollars and the other twenty thousand dollars, were erected without the county incurring any indebtedness therefor, being paid for by three successive tax levies in the years 1893, 1894 and 1895, as contemplated in the order of the county court calling the election. The buildings erected under the orders and supervision of the county court reflect great credit on that body, and those who carried out the contracts for constructing the buildings.
The building at Carthage, costing one hundred thousand dollars, is an elegant three-story building with four fronts, to every street around the public square, the walls being of the Carthage stone. The building at Joplin is a good building for the money it cost, being a two-story brick building, with offices and court room, and some cells for holding prisoners. James A. Daugherty, of Webb City, was the presiding judge, and L.A. Fillmore, of Joplin, and Robert G. McMeechan, of Madison township, were the two associate judges of the county court, under whose faithful and diligent administration the buildings were commenced and almost brought to completion. The building at Carthage was completed and occupied during the summer of 1895, and the building at Joplin had been finished the fall before.
Prior to the organization of Jasper county, while this region was successively part of Greene, Barry and Newton counties, Charles H. Allen (familiarly called “Horse Allen”), a resident of Springfield, was judge of the circuit court. After this county was organized the first circuit court convened at the house of George Hornback, on February 25, 1841, with Charles S. Yancey as judge; James McBride as circuit attorney; Ellwood B. James, clerk, and John P. Osborn, sheriff. Robert W. Crawford and John C. Price were the only other lawyers mentioned as in attendance. Judge Yancey continued to serve as circuit judge until his death in 1857, and by appointment William C. Price was judge part of that year. Both Yancey and Price were residents of Springfield. Judge William C. Price, during the closing days of President Buchanan’s administration, was the treasurer of the United States. He still resides at Springfield, at a very advanced age.
The circuit, then the thirteenth judicial circuit, was made up of Barry, Dade, Lawrence, Greene, Taney, Stone, Newton, McDonald, Jasper and Barton counties. In the beginning of the year 1858 Greene county was transferred from the thirteenth circuit to the fourteenth circuit. Thereupon John R. Chenault, of Carthage, became judge of this circuit and was serving as such when the war put an end to the dispensing of justice hereabouts for four years, and Judge Chenault, soon after the breaking out of the war, took up his residence in Texas and never returned to Missouri. There were no courts held in this county between May 11, 1861, and October 10, 1865, during all which time no county government or civil authority was in an organized state.
In 1864 John C. Price, of Mt. Vernon, was appointed by the governor circuit judge for this circuit and held his first court for Jasper county in October, 1865, holding the fall term, 1865, and the spring term, 1866, at the brick school house near Cave Spring. In June, 1866, an adjourned spring term of the court convened in Carthage, since which time courts have been regularly held at the county seat.
The terms of court in the early days usually lasted from a few days to two weeks. Circuit court was the greatest event of those days. The larger part of the population, men, women and children, turned out twice a year to court; and the grown persons took great interest in the cases tried and the “pleadings” of the lawyers. Along with the few local attorneys, lawyers from other counties were in attendance – Springfield furnishing largely the talent and greater number. The court was also a place for the gathering of politicians and candidates for office. Political speeches were a great feature of every court, whether an election campaign was pending at the time or not. Horse racing and other sports were frequently indulged. The first term of court which the writer attended in southwest Missouri was the spring term, 1866, at Cave Spring, where he met for the first time the then circuit judge, John C. Price, Governor John S. Phelps, Judge Thomas A. Sherwood, Judge Charles B. McAfee, Colonel John M. Richardson, Henry C. Young, Nathan Bray, Judge B.L. Hendrick and others.
Judge John C. Price served as judge until the beginning of the year 1869. B.L. Hendrick, of Mt. Vernon, having been elected in 1868, served nearly six years, until his death in the fall of 1874. Joseph Cravens, of Neosho, was elected in 1874 as Hendrick’s successor, and Judge Hendrick dying a short time before his term expired, Judge Cravens was appointed to fill out a month or more of Hendrick’s unexpired term. The circuit at this time comprised Jasper, Lawrence, Newton and McDonald counties, and in 1877 four terms of court were provided for Jasper county, two to be held at Carthage and two at Joplin, in each year, as is the present arrangement.
In 1880 M.G. McGregor was elected circuit judge and was re-elected in 1886. In 1887 the circuit was reduced to Jasper and Lawrence counties.
In 1892 Waltom M. Robinson, of Webb City, was elected circuit judge and by the next legislature Jasper county was constituted a separate judicial circuit. At the election in 1894 Judge Robinson was promoted to the supreme bench, which position of supreme court judge he now holds. This necessitating his resignation as circuit judge, Edward C. Crow, of Webb City, was appointed his successor, as judge of the circuit court. At the election following in the fall of 1896, the present judge, Joseph D. Perkins, of Carthage, was elected to serve the remaining two years of Judge Robinson’s unexpired term and in 1898 Judge Perkins was re-elected for a full term of six years.
In the winter of 1901 the office of additional circuit judge was created for Jasper county, and under the law creating such office the governor appointed Hugh Dabbs, of Joplin, judge.
Some idea of the growth of business in the courts, as well as along other lines, may be formed from the position of Jasper county thirty years ago, as one of six counties forming a judicial circuit, and now the county has two separate circuit courts in session almost constantly.
Prior to the adoption of the present constitution of Missouri, in the year 1875, there was organized for Jasper county a number of courts under special laws. Up to 1866 the county court has probate jurisdiction. In that year the probate court was organized and William J. Cameron, a lawyer at Carthage, was elected the judge of the court, but the court was two years after abolished and the county court again transacted probate business until the establishment of the Jasper county court of common pleas.
In 1874 a court of common pleas was established, with jurisdiction limited to Joplin and Galena townships, to be held in the city of Joplin. Galen Spencer, of Joplin, was elected judge of the court and served until 1875, when the court was abolished.
In 1869 the Jasper county court of common pleas was established and Oliver H. Picher, of Carthage, was appointed judge of the court and was afterwards, at the election in 1870, elected to that position. Judge Picher resigning the office in 1870, Edmund O. Brown, of Carthage, was appointed his successor and was afterwards elected to the office. At the expiration of Judge Brown’s term of office, by provision of the new constitution, these local courts were abolished.
In addition to Judge Chenault the other resident attorneys of Jasper county before the war were William M. Cravens, who was serving as circuit attorney when the war broke out, and was one of the sons of Jeremiah Cravens, one of the first judges of the county court of the county; Ben E. Johnson, Archibald McCoy and George T. Vaughn.
Archibald McCoy was killed during the war, and none of the others, after being driven out by the war, ever returned to permanently reside in the county.
James Allison was the first lawyer to settle in Jasper county after the war, coming in October, 1865, from Illinois. He left here and returned to Illinois about the beginning of 1868. William J. Cameron came about the beginning of 1866. He also left the county over twenty years ago. The writer came to the county in March, 1866, and within a little over a year of that time came Robert A. Cameron, L.P. Cunningham, G.W. Crow (father of the present attorney-general of Missouri), William H. Phelps, E.R. Wheeler and A.L. Thomas. Galen Spencer located at Joplin as an attorney soon after the founding of that city. The bar of Jasper county is now composed of nearly one hundred and fifty members, located in the various cities of the county.
By an act of congress to go into effect July 1, 1901, two terms of the United States circuit court and the United States district court are to be held in the city of Joplin each year, and a government building to cost one hundred thousand dollars is to be erected in that city, at the corner of Third and Joplin streets, the city to furnish the site for the building.
The schools of the county are a source of pride for its inhabitants. A great interest has always been taken to afford adequate school facilities for children and young people. The schools have gradually developed as population has increased, and there has been a gradual evolution from the rude log school house to the well appointed brick graded school and college.
Prior to the war there was maintained at Carthage an academy, located on the present site of the central and high school buildings – being a very creditable two-story brick building. This academy, at the breaking out of the war, was conducted by John J. Williams. At Sarcoxie and other places in the country schools were held. I have before noted the fact that at Cave Springs, in the eastern part of the county, was a brick school house of two rooms. As early as 1841 Robert J. Dale, still living in Carthage, taught the first school established in the southwestern part of the county, in a log school house erected by his father on Turkey creek, with twelve scholars.
From the sales of swamp lands and other school lands in the county has been accumulated permanent county and township school funds, amounting to about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, the interest on which is distributed by the state and received by direct taxation on the property of the districts.
Including the various city school districts there are at present one hundred and twenty-three school districts in the county, employing over three hundred and sixty teachers – five of whom are colored. Over one hundred and fifty school buildings are maintained. About thirty thousand dollars was expended on new buildings during the year 1900, and the value of school property in the county is about six hundred thousand dollars. The enrollment in the schools at present is in excess of twenty thousand. In addition to the public schools of the county two colleges are maintained, which are briefly noticed further along.
In the early days the pioneer preachers exerted a great influence for the religious and moral upbuilding of the community. Religious meetings were held and religious societies were formed throughout the county. The leading denominations prior to the war were the Baptists, Methodists and Christians. There were no church buildings, either in Sarcoxie or Carthage, until after the war, although plans were maturing for such before the war. A Baptist church building, known as the “Peace Church,” was early erected in the southwestern part of the county, on Turkey creek; a log Baptist church called “Freedom” was located on Jones creek, in the southern part of the county, and another one known as “Enon” was located on White Oak creek, southeast of Avilla. A Christian church was located at Fidelity, seven miles south of Carthage.
After the war great interest was manifested in spreading religious influences, preaching the gospel and building churches. The two branches of the Methodist church – the Methodist Episcopal and the Methodist Episcopal church (south) – the Presbyterians, Baptists, Christians and Congregationalists were early on the ground and organized for work, and it was not long until all the leading denominations were represented. Early in the year 1866 the conference of the Methodist Episcopal church sent out Rev. John C. Willoughby as a circuit preacher, who had the whole of Jasper county for his circuit, with Rev. Leroy M. Vernon as presiding elder of the district. Mr. Willoughby soon located his family in Carthage, and was probably the first to reorganize people into church societies. He preached at different points in the county, from Sarcoxie, in the southeast, to Medoc, in the northwest. As a result of these early efforts, continued to the present, the Methodist Episcopal church now maintains about thirty-eight separate preaching places in Jasper county. The Baptists soon organized churches throughout the county, Rev. Caleb Blood being one of the leading ministers to come into the county at an early day after the war.
Aside from the many large and commodious churches now maintained in all the cities and towns of the county many churches are scattered throughout the rural communities, exerting a salutary influence for good.
The Jasper County Sunday-school Association was organized as early as 1868 and has been maintained ever since, being auxiliary to the State and National Associations, and has held its annual conventions ever since and has done efficient work in the organization of Sunday-schools in all the townships of the county. These Sunday-schools thus planted have in many instances resulted in the forming of church organizations and the building of church buildings. At present Jasper county ranks first as the best organized county in the state in the Sunday-school work, and has twice been awarded the first premium banner from the State Association.
The Young Men’s Christian Association maintains its organization in the cities of Joplin, Carthage and Webb City. The association at Joplin has just completed a fine building at the corner of Virginia avenue and Fourth street; the value of its building and ground being fifty thousand dollars. The association at Webb City has also secured a location and is preparing to build.


Jasper county has had fifteen townships since 1873, at which time the municipal townships were reorganized and formed as they at present exist. Prior to that time they were fewer in number, embracing more territory. Naming the townships in order from east to west the northern five townships are Lincoln, Sheridan, Preston, Duvall and Jasper; the middle tier are McDonald, Madison, Marion, Mineral and Twin Grove, and the southern five are Sarcoxie, Union, Jackson, Joplin and Galena. Until recent years the county for the most part was composed of a rural population, farming, stock-raising and fruit-growing being the principal occupations, but now more than two-thirds of the population is located in the cities. The population of the various townships, including the cities within their boundaries, in 1900 was as follows:
Lincoln 721 Twin Grove 2,628
Sheridan 800 Sarcoxie 3,335
Preston 1,597 Union 1,377
Duvale 1,092 Jackson 1,678
Jasper 1,175 Joplin 18,499
McDonald 1,203 Galena 32,937
Madison 1,184
Marion 11,056
Mineral 4,646

Space will not allow of anything like an extended history of the cities and towns of the county. Of course the first in importance and population is the
The metropolis of southwestern Missouri. From the earliest settlement of this part of the state until recently Springfield has enjoyed the distinction of being the leading and most populous city, until by recent census Joplin is shown to be now the most populous, and no doubt as the center of this great zinc and lead mining district she has also become the most noted.
The little creek that flows through Joplin into Turkey creek had long been known as Joplin creek before any town was located near it, being so called after a pioneer Methodist preacher of the early days of that name. Rev. Harris G. Joplin came to Jasper county from Greene county as early as the year 1839. He was the first settler on what was known afterwards as Joplin creek. He settled on a piece of land at what is now the city of Joplin, building a log house, in which he lived near a spring at the head of the creek. Soon afterwards his brother-in-law, Fullbright, of Springfield, settled east of Joplin’s, on land afterwards owned by Robert J. Dale. Of course at that early day none of this land was subject to entry or purchase from the government and these settlers had a mere squatter’s right. Rev. Mr. Joplin improved a little farm and remained only about three years, at the end of which time he returned to Greene county, selling out his claim to one Josiah F. Pinson. Considerable lead had been mined in that locality before the war, and in 1870, when Moffett & Sergeant came there and began mining operations, soon discovering large deposits of both lead and zinc, two towns, one on either side of Joplin creek, sprang into existence, and from being a quiet, sparsely settled farming district the activity and disorder incident to a newly discovered mining camp were soon manifested.
Elliott R. Moffett, John B. Sergeant, William P. Davis and Patrick Murphy, on the 12th day of July, 1871, laid off and platted the town of Murphysburg on the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 3 in township 27, of range 33, which land they had purchased from Oliver S. Picher. This was on the west side of Joplin creek. On the 28th day of the same month John C. Cox, on the east side of the creek, laid off and platted the town of “Joplin City,” on the east half of lot 1 of the northwest fractional quarter of section 2 in township 27 of range 33. Both towns were not long in spreading beyond the original boundaries, Murphysburg, almost from the first, becoming the principal town. They were each incorporated on the same day, January 20, 1872, as separate municipalities by the county court, enjoying each a town government and for a time maintained separate postoffices as well. The name of the postoffice already established at Blytheville was changed to Joplin City and a new postoffice was established at Murphysburg. At first there was a good deal of rivalry between the towns. The Joplin Mining & Smelting Company, of which John H. Taylor was president, controlled the mining land known as the “Kansas City bottom,” from which a great deal of mineral was taken and furnished employment to a great many miners. Mr. Taylor and this company took a great interest in the growth of Joplin City, laying out several additions to the town on land bought from Mr. Cox. The company, in addition to erecting a hotel and a number of business houses, started the Joplin Savings Bank, which was the first bank in either town. A fire in the business part of Joplin City contributed to give Murphysburg the ascendency as the business center and an agitation soon followed in favor of uniting the two towns under one municipal government.
On the 15th of March, 1873, the county court made an order incorporating the two towns under one town government, known as “Union City,” but there was much opposition to this movement and the controversy was settled by the legislature, by a special act, approved March 24, 1873, incorporating both towns as the city of Joplin.
The city of Joplin some years afterwards incorporated under the general laws of the state as a city of the third class and has remained such ever since. With productive mines within its borders and surrounding it in every direction, combined with the enterprise of its citizens, railroads have been built, business and manufacturing have developed and the growth of Joplin has been rapid. By the census of 1880 its population had increased to 7,038, in 1890 to 9,943 and by 1900 to 26,023. From a rough mining camp it has grown in less than thirty years to be not only the center and leading city of this mining territory, but also a thriving business and manufacturing center and a distributing point for a large wholesale trade. Much of the mining machinery used in the mines all over the district is manufactured here. The city has quite a number of large machine shops engaged mainly in the manufacture of mining pumps, hoisters, crushers and reduction mills.
The city has four leading lines of railroad entering the city, the Missouri Pacific, St. Louis & San Francisco, the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis and the Kansas City Southern, together with branch lines of these roads. She also has good street car service through the city by the Southwest Missouri Electric Railroad, which also connects her with Galena, Kansas, on the west, and Webb City, Carterville and Carthage on the east. Another electric line has been chartered and granted a franchise over many streets by the city.
Perhaps the greatest manufacturing enterprise in the city is the Picher White Lead Works. These works were erected in 1879 by George T. Lewis and E.O. Bartlett, of Philadelphia. Mr. Bartlett was the inventor of a patent process for manufacturing white lead from the fumes that had formerly gone to waste in smelting lead ore into pig lead, and he, in connection with Mr. Lewis, erected the works under a contract with the Lone Elm Mining & Smelting Company, through which the works passed into the ownership, after their completion and successful operation, of the latter company. After two years the first works burned down and were rebuilt.
In 1887 the Picher White Lead Company purchased these works, with which Judge O.H. Picher, William H. Picher and E.O. Bartlett, the original patentee of the process, and others are connected. The company is capitalized for $100,000.00, but the actual capital employed in the company’s business and represented by the property owned by it exceeds many times that sum, the works alone having cost in the neighborhood of $300,000.00. These works now cover ten acres of land and employ one hundred and fifty men. They annually manufacture four thousand tons of white lead and smelt about eight hundred tons of pig lead.
Joplin’s water supply comes from Shoal creek, three miles from the city, and she has both gas and electric lighting and a thorough sewage system. Her hotels and business houses are equal to those of many larger cities, the Keystone hotel being six stories in height. There are many elegant residences. The schools and school buildings are among the finest in the state. She has some thirteen public school buildings, which have been erected at a cost of over one hundred thousand dollars, the high school building being a costly, elegant building. The teachers employed in the schools number over eighty.
The location of the county seat of Jasper county was made by the commissioners appointed by the legislature in the act creating the county in the beginning of the year 1842. Lot 1 of the northwest fractional quarter and the west half of the southwest quarter of section 3, and lot 1 of the northwest fractional quarter and east half of the southwest quarter of section 4 in township 28, of range 31, comprising three hundred and twenty acres of land, was selected before the government survey of the land, so that it was not until December 23, 1846, that the land was entered at the government land office by George Hornback, as the agent of Jasper county, and who, by a quit claim deed, conveyed the land to the county. Before this time the town had grown to a considerable size.
After the report of the commissioners, as to their selection, the county court, by an order of record of March 29, 1842, named the new county seat Carthage. The first plat of the town, dedicating the public square and seven streets surrounding and near the square for public purposes and locating ninety lots, was filed in the recorder’s office June 30, 1842, and by the orders of the county court these lots and others, as they were laid off from time to time, were sold by commissioners of the seat of justice.
What are now the public high school grounds, including also what are now the lots on Main street fronting these grounds, were on July 28, 1858, conveyed by Jasper county by J.Q.A. Walton, commissioner of the seat of justice of Jasper county, to the board of trustees of the Carthage Female Academy, which institution has been incorporated by a special act of the Legislature of the state, and on these grounds was erected a substantial two-story brick academy building, and school was conducted in this by John J. Williams, to which both sexes were admitted, until forced to suspend by the war. There was no public school in Carthage during this time. With the destruction of Carthage this academy building was destroyed, and after the close of the war these grounds stood unoccupied until in 1871. All the original members of the board of trustees of the Carthage Female Academy having died or removed from Carthage, save Norris C. Hood, a new board of trustees was organized, of which Mr. Hood remained a member, and the new board, on the 31st day of May, 1871, conveyed these academy grounds to the board of education of the town of Carthage for a consideration sufficient to pay the indebtedness resting on the Female Academy growing out of the erection of the academy building. The part of the grounds lying on the west side of Main street was sold by the board of education for residence lots, and the remainder of these grounds, lying between Main street and Grant street, has ever since been held as public school grounds, what is now known as the Central School building having, soon after the acquisition of this property by the school district, been erected thereon at a cost of thirty thousand dollars, and in the year 1889 the High School building was erected on the same grounds, costing twenty thousand dollars. When the ruins of the old academy building were cleared away preparatory to building the Central building, the bell that had been on the Academy was found uninjured and was placed on the Central building and has been ringing ever since for the public schools of Carthage.
The land immediately west of these Academy grounds, consisting of about seven acres, had been, on August 30, 1848, set apart and dedicated by the County Court as a burying ground, and had been used as such until May 7, 1869, when the town had so built around it that it had become desirable that this public cemetery should be removed; so, by order of the County Court, this ground was transferred to the town of Carthage for a public park, subject to the right of the public for burying purposes, which right was to cease when other and suitable grounds should be obtained for that purpose, by the town. The town obtained such grounds and bore the expense of removing nearly all the graves thereto and has enjoyed, improved and beautiful this old burying ground which is now known as Central Park.
The town of Carthage immediately before the war continued a population of about five hundred people located around and within two or three blocks of the public square in each direction. Shirley’s Tavern was on the north side of the square; Norris C. Hood lived on the west side of the square and there were two or three stores on that side. William M. Chenault lived on the block cornering with the southeast corner of the square, and Jesse L. Cravens had a store there. James and John B. Dale had a store on the east side of the square. Judge John R. Chenault lived on the eighty acres of land immediately south of what is now the High School grounds and Central Park, the land being now in Lamb’s addition to the city. He had his residence where Neill Platt has completed his elegant new house on Grand avenue, and his orchard was to the west and north of the house. The first place where the writer boarded after coming to Carthage in March, 1866, was at the log house, the former slave quarters of Judge Chenault, nothing but the foundation of his residence then remaining. Titus B. Housted lived on a farm north of town, including the bottom land south of Spring river. The Heusted family residence is still standing on the hill a little to the south of the Carthage Woolen Mills. Ellwood B. James had a residence and orchard some distance east of the square, and his brother, Hannibal James, lived still east of that, where is now Dr. John A. Carter’s farm and residence. North and west of the town, reaching from what is now Central avenue north and from Garrison avenue west, was timbered with a thick growth of trees, mostly black jack oaks. There was no road leading directly north from the square, but the road to the north crossed the river where is now the lower bridge.
Carthage was depopulated by the war, and all its buildings, except about six of the more inferior ones, were destroyed. Very few of the former residents returned to live there after the war. Norris C. Hood, Mrs. McCoy, the widow of A. McCoy, M.M. James, Mrs. Elizabeth A. James, widow of Ellwood B. James, William G. Bulgin and Amanda Glass, widow of Thomas R. Glass, with their families, returned and again resumed their residence in Carthage. Dr. A.H. Caffee, who had been a physician in the county before the war, and served as surgeon in the federal army during the war, settled in Carthage and in co-partnership with Captain J.W. Young started the drug business still continued by him.
George Rader, who was the first postmaster of Carthage after the war, was the first person to take up his abode there after the close of the war. He came in August, 1865, before any of the former residents had returned. He brought with him in a wagon from Fort Scott, Kansas, a small stock of goods, which he opened in an old building he found unoccupied. He continued as postmaster until March, 1879, nearly thirteen years, having been appointed May 18, 1866. He served for a time as county treasurer also, and was, after his term as postmaster expired, mayor of Carthage.
Dr. John A. Carter came soon after Mr. Rader and took up the practice of medicine, which he has unceasingly and with great success continued to this time. Thomas E. Gray, still an honored citizen of Carthage, came in the fall of 1865, and successfully conducted a mercantile business for a number of years. Griffith M. Robinson, Esq., who still resides a few miles west of the city, took up his residence in Carthage, and served some years as justice of the peace.
The first newspaper established in Carthage was printed in 1857 by James Kelly and was called the “Carthage Pioneer;” afterward the paper passed into the hands of Christopher C. Dawson and its name was changed to the “Southwest Star.” After the battle of Carthage it is understood Dawson took his printing outfit and accompanied Governor Jackson to McDonald county, where he printed state script. In December, 1866, Thomas M. Garland established the Carthage Weekly Banner, which was the next paper printed in the county, being Republican in politics. The Carthage Patriot, a Democratic paper, was started in 1870 by Albert W. Carpenter.
A district school was taught in Carthage in 1867 by Andrew J. Shepard, who had been a teacher in the county before the war and was deputy circuit clerk for William G. Bulgin, who was the first circuit clerk after the war. Mr. Shepard was assisted in the school by his sister Clementina, who became afterward Mrs. George D. Orner. The court room in the frame building erected on the west side of the square was occupied by this school when courts were not in session.
The first municipal government for Carthage was formed March 12, 1868, when the town was incorporated by the county board and a board of trustees for its government was appointed, and a town school district was also organized with the legal title of the Board of Education of the town of Carthage. Graded town schools were then organized, with William J. Seiber as superintendent, who had some three or four teachers under him. These schools were taught in a double building on the south side of the square, belonging to G.A. Cassil, until the central brick school building was erected.
The city of Carthage was incorporated by a special act of the legislature in 1873, and Peter Hill was elected its first mayor. Afterward, March 6, 1890, this special charter was surrendered and the city organized as a city of the third class, under the general law.
There was no church building erected in Carthage prior to 1868, when the Methodist Episcopal church erected the brick building still standing at the corner of Fourth and Howard streets. The Presbyterians soon after erected their frame church building, which is still occupied by them on Grant street, and the Baptists erected a frame church on East Fourth street, near where the jail now is, which they afterward sold to the county for a court house. Before this these denominations, as well as the Christians, had held services first in the court room and afterward rented rooms for their meetings.
The modern city of Carthage lays claim to being the prettiest city in the state. The location is all that could be desired, high above and on the south bank of Spring river, with excellent natural drainage – the character of the soil being such that with slight work and attention the streets are never muddy. Besides its location the beauty of the city consists in its fine streets and walks, its uniformly neat and commodious homes and the well kept lawns and shade trees surrounding them, and its parks and drives.
Central Park, located centrally in the city, having formerly been the town cemetery, contains about seven acres, and still retains many of the original forest trees, and is laid out into walks, grass plats, flower beds, and has a large fountain and basin in its center, in which sport numerous gold fish.
Carter’s Park, near the east end of Chestnut avenue, is the property of the city, being a gift from Dr. John A. Carter. This park was originally part of the farm owned by Dr. Carter, on which he now resides, his residence and farm being just beyond the city and park and adjoin them on the east. The park consists of about eight acres of ground, and adjoining it is a large spring flowing from underneath a high bluff of limestone rock, and the creek, of which the spring is the source, flows through the park. The city’s electric lighting plant is located in the edge of the park. The gift to the city was a valuable one and will ever remain as a lasting reminder of the generosity of its donor.
Adjoining the city limits and along the bluffs lining the north bank of Spring river are five stone quarries, where stone out of these bluffs are sawed by machinery and in some cases worked ready for the structures for which it is intended. These quarries employ about one hundred and twenty men, and shipments of the stone, to say nothing of the home demand, now amount to forty cars per week.
The city has a large woolen mill, employing about one hundred and twenty operatives, two large flouring mills, with a third mill a mile east of the city, their united capacity being about eight hundred barrels of flour per day, besides machine shops, furniture factory, bed spring factory and other like establishments.
The public schools of Carthage have always ranked high. Including her new high-school building, she has eight public school buildings, in which forty-eight teachers are employed.
In 1883 was organized the Carthage Collegiate Institute, which has building and grounds valued at twenty-five thousand dollars. This is a Presbyterian college, of which William S. Knight, D.D., is now president, and under whose leadership, while pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Carthage, the institution was founded.
Carthage is blessed with many churches, some seventeen in number, in which about all leading denominations are represented.
The city, being the county seat, is centrally located in Marion township, and in 1900 contained a population of 9,416.
Dr. Robert F. Brooks, who for about thirty years prior to his death was a leading physician and surgeon of Carthage, by his will has left to the city his library of medical books and has also directed that on the death of his three sisters his real estate, consisting of a valuable tract of mining land near Joplin and a block of four business houses in Carthage, shall be sold by his executor and that the proceeds shall be paid to the city of Carthage and held in trust to be used for the erection and maintenance of a public hospital in the city.
Is located in Joplin township, with the city of Carterville adjoining it on the east, from which it is separated by a small creek and a string of zinc and lead mines stretching up and down the creek.
On September 10, 1875, John C. Webb, the original proprietor of the city and from whom it took its name, filed with the recorder of deeds of Jasper county the plat of the town of Webb City, locating it on the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 18 in township 28 of range 32. Under the fostering care of Mr. Webb and the development of the extensive lead and zinc mines in and surrounding it the town grew rapidly, and has extended its borders by numerous additions beyond the original limits. Mr. Webb expended much money in aiding the growth of the place, erecting many buildings himself and doing all in his power for its advancement. It has had a rapid growth, the population in 1900 numbering 9,201. The power house and main offices and shops of the Southwest Missouri Electric Railway are located in this city. Aside from a good retail trade, quite a wholesale business is done, as well as a considerable manufacturing business. There are three lines of railroad passing through the city, the St. Louis & San Francisco, the Missouri Pacific and the Kansas City, Fort Scott, & Memphis, in addition to the Electric Railway, which passes over the principal streets, reaching all the railroad depots, and furnished quick and convenient transportation to Joplin and Galena on the west and to Carterville, Prosperity and Carthage on the east.
The city was incorporated as a city of the third class in 1890 under the general law of the state.
In 1893 was erected the Webb City Baptist College on ground donated to the college corporation by J.J. Nelson, occupying a beautiful site of about six acres in the western part of the city. The building is a large, modern-built, commodious structure, costing about fifty-five thousand dollars. In this enterprise the college has been very liberally aided by citizens of Webb City, especially by Mrs. Elizabeth Chinn and E.T. Webb, the son of the founder of the city, who is now one of her most prosperous business men. The college is in a flourishing condition, with an attendance of one hundred and sixty pupils under the care of John W. Keltner, D.D., its president, and some thirteen teachers.
The city has also excellent public schools, employing twenty-eight teachers, with first-class high school and ward buildings.
Is the center of an extensive mining territory. The mines in the city and immediately surrounding it, especially to the south, being the richest and yielding a greater amount and a higher grade of lead and zinc ores than any other mines covering the same extent of territory in the whole mining district of southwest Missouri. Probably more capital is invested, more expensive machinery used, and deeper and more systematic mining is done and with more satisfactory results than at any other mining locality in southwestern Missouri. The formation of the ground admits of comparative safety in mining it, a good cap-rock, as a rule, forming a roof to the mines, so that very little timbering to hold up the ground is necessary. The mines are well drained and the ore is quite generally found in stratified sheet formations. The city of Carterville quite naturally enjoys the benefits of the prosperous condition of its mines, and has some large manufacturing and mercantile establishments, a national bank, a good system of graded schools, modern brick school buildings, good railroad facilities, leaving the Missouri Pacific and the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroads located on the line dividing it from Webb City on the west, and the Southwest Missouri Electric Railway passing through the city over its principal streets. It has for many years been incorporated a city of the fourth class, and, although adjacent to Webb City, has always maintained a separate municipal government and refused all overtures looking to united the two places under one city government. The plat of the town of Carterville was filed in the county recorder’s office on the 9th day of September, 1875, by William A. Daugherty, James G.L. Carter and William McMillan, covering the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter and the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section 17 in township 28 of range 32, the town being named after Mr. Carter, who still resides on his farm near the city. Mr. Daugherty has resided in the city ever since its organization, having been a very prominent, enterprising business man, and having conducted mining operations on a large scale, mostly in connection with Thomas N. Davey, and his son, Judge James A. Daugherty. Numerous additions have been laid off to the original town. The population of the city in 1900 was 4,445. A branch of the Electric Railway is operated from Carterville to Prosperity, and many switches and spurs from the other railroads are built to the mines. The Missouri Pacific Railroad has a branch from the city to and beyond Prosperity, which is likely to be extended to Granby in Newton county. Carterville is also located in Joplin township.
This city is located in Mineral township, nine miles west of Carthage and three miles north of Webb City. It was first known as Minersville and is the oldest mining town in the county. Lead was mined here as early as 1853, and mining was resumed here immediately after the war and was not prosecuted again at any other place until Joplin started in 1871. The town of Minersville was laid out October 20, 1856, by Stephen O. Paine on the south half of lot 2 of the southwest fractional quarter of section 31 in township 28, of range 32, on the north side of Center creek. On November 19, 1873, by an order of the county court of Jasper county the name of the town was changed, and it was in that order incorporated as the town of Oronogo (Ore-or-no-go), for the reason that there was another Minersville in the state, and the name of the postoffice, which up to that time had been Center Mines, was soon also changed to Oronogo.
Notwithstanding the length of time that lead and zinc mining has been vigorously carried on at Oronogo, it is, for the extent of territory mined over, one of the most productive mining localities in the mining district. The Memphis, Carthage and Northwestern (now the St. Louis & San Francisco) Railroad was built through Oronogo in 1872, Mineral township voting bonds to aid its construction. In 1878 a branch of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway was built from Oronogo to Webb City and Joplin, a distance of ten miles, which has been since extended to Galena, Kansas.
In 1868 the Granby Mining and Smelting Company obtained control of the mines at this place and have carried on extensive mining operations here ever since. Colonel J. Morris Young was the first superintendent for that company and resided at Oronogo for many years – representing Jasper county in the legislature in the years 1869 and 1870. Judge Charles E. Elliott was from an early day a leading merchant in Minersville and Oronogo. He served as presiding justice of the county court for the years 1985 to 1899, during whose term the court houses, commenced under the former county court administration, were completed. Ulysses Hendrickson, the first sheriff of Jasper county elected after the war by the Democratic party, has resided at Oronogo since coming to the county in 1866. The city is now a thriving, busy place, with a population in 1900 of 2,073.
The oldest of the cities and towns of Jasper county is the city of Sarcoxie. At the site of this place was the first settlement within the borders of Jasper county – that of Thacker Vivian in 1831, as heretofore related. This occurred when there was no town west of Springfield; when there was no Jasper county, but when all southwestern Missouri was Greene county and long before any land of the county had been surveyed.
In 1834 the enterprising Mr. Vivian built a log water mill on Center creek, where is at present located the Boyd mill, adjoining the present site of the city. The mill brought customers in those days from quite a long distance, and the result was that stores, shops and dwelling houses soon followed its erection. Dr. Jewett started the first store, and in 1836 William Tingle and Benjamin F. Massey started a more pretentious one.
The town, at the first, was called Centreville, but when a postoffice was established it was called Sarcoxie, being named after a Shawnee Indian chief who frequently visited the locality and who made friendship with the whites, gaining their respect and confidence as a veritable good Indian.
In 1834 Thacker Vivian made entry of the land, at the local government land office, that was afterward platted as the town of Sarcoxie – the southeast quarter of section 8, township 27, of range 29, but the plat of the town was made and filed in the recorder’s office much later, August 6, 1840, by William Tingle and Benjamin F. Massey, and a United States patent for the land was not issued until as late as November 4, 1859, to Tingle and Massey as assignees of Mr. Vivian.
Until after the close of the Civil war Sarcoxie was the most thriving and populous town in the county. The stage line from Rolla, the end of the railroad, to the southwest passed through the town. The city is located in Sarcoxie township near the southeast corner of the county on the line of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway, and is a very enterprising business place, having a population in 1900 of 1,126. It was organized November 6, 1883, a city of the fourth class. The burning and shipment of lime is among its chief industries. It has a large flouring mill, and wheat and flour are among its chief shipments. The Wild Brothers’ extensive wholesale nurseries are a great feature in the business of the city, and much nursery stock is shipped by this enterprising firm. It is probably the centre of and the shipping point for the greatest strawberry raising locality in the United States; hundreds of acres of land are devoted to this industry near the city, and in strawberry picking season the population of the city and its suburbs is increased temporarily to several thousand persons, and shipments of strawberries made not only by the car load but by train loads of refrigerator cars.
At the crossing of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway and the Joplin & Girard branch of that railroad, and near to the crossing of the St. Louis & San Francisco and Kansas City Southern Railroads is this important little city of the fourth class, which is growing rapidly, being in the midst of an excellent farming and fruit-growing region, and also a region in which good mines are being developed. In 1900 is population was 1,177. The town of Carl Junction was laid out and platted by Charles L. Skinner on the 14th day of April, 1877. It is located in Twin Grove township, on section 6 in township 28, of range 33, about fifteen miles west of Carthage and eight miles north of Joplin.
Is a city of 627 inhabitants on the line of the Missouri Pacific Railway in the northern part of the county, surrounded by a rich and productive farming country, in Preston township. The plat of the town was filed on the 26th day of April, 1881, by D.A. Harrison, and is located on section 23 and 24 in township 30, of range 31, ten miles north of Carthage.
Among the towns of the county are Neck City, a new mining town in the northwestern part of the county, in Mineral township, having a population in 1900 of 374. This town was platted March 22, 1899, by the Neck City Real Estate Company, on the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 8, township 29, range 32. The town has had a steady growth since its founding and has some very valuable zinc mines.
Two and a half miles southeast of Neck City and about ten miles northwest of Carthage is the town of Alba, located on the east half of the northeast quarter of section 16, township 29, range 32. It was platted by Stephen Smith and others March 24, 1882, and is located near the north bank of Spring river, in Mineral township. Besides stores, shops, church buildings and school house the town has a good flouring mill, run by water power from the river. Lead and zinc are also mined there.
The town of Belleville, about six miles northwest of Joplin, in Galena township, is another mining locality. This town has a branch from the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad, furnishing transportation for the products of its mines and for its commerce.
Duenweg is another new mining town located on the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 10, township 27, range 32, platted by J.W. Aylor November 5, 1895, in Joplin township, about six miles east of the city of Joplin.
Prosperity is a mining town in Joplin township, two miles southeast of Carterville, at the end of a branch of the Southwest Missouri Electric Railroad and on a spur of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Other towns of the county are Reed’s, in Sarcoxie township, ten miles southeast of Carthage, a station on the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway; Asbury and Waco, in Jasper township, in the northwestern part of the county, about two miles apart on the line of the Joplin & Girard branch of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway and the Kansas City Southern Railway. Smithfield, in Twin Grove township, in the western part of the county, on the line of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway; Cary, in Preston township, six miles north of Carthage, a station on the Missouri Pacific Railroad; Avilla, in McDonald township, ten miles east of Carthage; Medoc, Georgia City and Galesburg, in Jasper township, in the northwestern part of the county; Preston, in Preston township, about six miles southwest of Jasper; and Scotland, in Jackson township, about two miles east of Duenweg.
These towns are the locations for local stores, shops and churches. Galesburg is the site of an excellent flouring mill, run by water power from Spring river. Smithfield has a flouring mill, run by power from Center creek, and Avilla has a good steam flouring mill, surrounded by a most productive farming country.


Jasper County


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