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 21, 2010

Jennison in Joplin

I've heard or read quite a few stories about notorious characters who frequented Joplin during its mining boom in the 1870s and 1880s. As I noted in a recent post, the notorious characters often mentioned in connection with Joplin include the James brothers and the Younger brothers. Although their connection to Joplin has been exaggerated, there were, in fact, a number of colorful or notorious characters who migrated to Joplin during the years immediately after the lead mining boom began in the early 1870s. Some of them, like Charles "Fletch" Taylor, were ex Confederate guerrillas, and others, like Bruce Younger and Hobbs Kerry, although not ex guerrillas themselves, had a close connection to the post-war outlaw gangs that sprang from the guerrilla bands.
Not all the shady characters who came to Joplin, though, were ex Confederates or were allied with ex-Confederate gangs. One notable exception was Charles "Doc" Jennison, who served during the Civil War as a colonel of the 7th Kansas Cavalry and made a name for himself as a notorious jayhawker. At least that's what many Missourians considered him.
After the war, Jennison served a couple of terms in the Kansas State legislature, but around 1877, he came to Joplin and opened a restaurant and saloon called the Saratoga. Jennison's name shows up repeatedly in Jasper County Court records, mostly in connection with violating liquor laws. Although I haven't delved into the records very much yet, I believe the violations were mainly for selling liquor without a license or for selling liquor on Sunday. I think he was also indicted a time or two for gambling violations--running a Faro bank, etc.
Jennison left Joplin in the early 1880s and died shortly afterwards at Leavenworth, Kansas.

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