Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Galena and Empire City

Galena, Kansas, is pretty tame nowadays compared to what it was during its early days. Like several of the towns in the tri-state region of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma that got their start as mining camps, Galena was a rough and rowdy place in its infancy. During the spring of 1877, lead was discovered on Short Creek just across the Missouri state line in southeast Kansas, and miners and other adventurers flocked to the area throughout the spring and summer.
Two towns, Galena and Empire City, sprang up on opposite sides of Short Creek, and a bitter rivalry between the two fledgling communities quickly developed. Empire City resented the fact that Red Hot Street at the north edge of Galena quickly became a center of saloons and other entertainment for the miners, drawing them away from their own town, and, during the summer of 1877, the city fathers began constructing a long, tall wall to separate the two towns, claiming its purpose was to retard the filthy stench emanating from Galena. Violence erupted and the citizens of Galena burned the wall down before things finally began to settle down when the cool weather of fall approached. The rivalry continued with less intensity, though, for several years, until Empire City was finally annexed into Galena during the early 1900s.

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Anonymous Daniel R. Baker said...

Hi, Larry. Didn't know that lead was already a big ticket item in 1877. Would bullets and pipes have been the main demand? Were there wildcatters in lead fields like there were in gold and silver camps, or was it mostly big operators with lots of capital?

December 4, 2009 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

I think it was mostly big operations, and the lowly miners worked for the people with the capital. Some of the honchos during the Short Creek boom were mine owners who came over from Joplin (in particular, Connor or Moffet or Murphy or one of those early guys who has a street named after him).

December 4, 2009 at 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...


Paint was another big user of lead in this era. For example, the lead mines in Granby were originally controlled by the Blow & Kennett families of St. Louis. The Blows were part owners of the Collier White Lead & Oil Company of St. Louis, which manufactured paint, and the Kennetts were involved with the St. Louis Shot Tower Company, which manufactured bullets.

December 7, 2009 at 9:41 AM  

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