Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of 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 fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jasper County Place Names

A year or so ago, I posted an entry in which I criticized the fact that the Jasper County portion of Moser's Directory of Towns, Villages, and Hamlets Past and Present (available on the Internet at the website of the Western Historical Manuscript Collection, the Springfield-Greene County Library, and possibly other sites) confuses Blende City with Blendville. Later, I issued a mea culpa for being overly critical when someone pointed out to me that libraries should not be held accountable for the accuracy of their web content any more than they are held accountable for the accuracy of every book they stock on their shelves, and I also realize that the compiler of a monumental work like Moser's directory should himself not be held accountable for the complete accuracy of everything included in the work. The compiler of such a large work in most cases has to rely on other secondary sources and cannot be expected to personally verify every fact. So I do not intend the following to be construed in anyway as a criticism but merely as providing additional information.
To repeat what I said a year or so ago, contrary to what Moser's directory says, Blende City and Blendville were not the same community. Blende City was located a mile or so southwest of Carl Junction near what is now Highway JJ, while Blendville was located in what today is southwest Joplin. Also, there seems to be some confusion about the various names by which Blende City was known. It was originally just a mining camp called Skeeterville after lead was discovered at the site around 1880. Supposedly the man who first stuck ore there named the camp Skeeterville, suggesting the presence of mosquitoes, to try to keep other miners away. The ploy didn't work, and soon so much blende (zinc ore) was being mined from the site that the booming community was named Blende City. A year or so later, an addition to the town was built and named Lehigh, and soon Lehigh had engulfed or at least overshadowed Blende City to the point that the entire community became known as Lehigh. Under the listing for Fidelity in Moser's directory, the author notes that Fidelity was also known as Skeeterville and Lehigh. This, at least as far as I have been able to determine, is not true. Fidelity was a completely separate place (located near the present-day intersection of I-44 and Highway 71) and was never known by any other name. Apparently someone simply got Fidelity and Lehigh (or Blende City) mixed up.
Parr Hill is mentioned in Moser's directory as a Jasper County place, but the notation under the listing says that it "could not be located." For the record, Parr Hill was a mining camp/community located in what is today southeast Joplin. There is still a Parr Hill Park just a couple of blocks north of the Dillon's store on East 20th Street. Swindle Hill is also listed in the directory as a separate community, but "nothing more is known about the place." Swindle Hill was another Joplin-area mining camp located near the present-day intersection of East 7th Street and Murphy Boulevard (the Ewert Park vicinity).

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