Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.
- Name: Larry Wood
- Location: Missouri
I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written ten nonfiction books, two novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Civil War Springfield, Wicked Springfield: The Seamy Side of the Queen City, and Murder and Mayhem in Missouri.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
John David Mefford in Joplin
The character that I knew nothing at all about, as far as his residence in Joplin is concerned, prior to writing the book is David Mefford. He was neither a guerrilla like Taylor nor a notorious jayhawker like Jennison, but he was still a character of some note during the Civil War, operating against Tom Livingston and others along the border as a captain (later promoted to major) in a Kansas cavalry unit. He, like the other two men, came to Joplin during the 1870s. He was a saloonkeeper both in Joplin and in Galena, Kansas, and also tried his hand at mining, as did nearly every other man who came to Joplin during its early days.
Friday, March 11, 2011
In researching my Wicked Joplin book, I turned up no evidence to support this legend. In fact, I can say almost unequivocally that there is no truth to the legend. The main area for prostitution in Joplin from the very early days of the 1870s through the 1910s (shortly before Prohibition put a damper not only on Joplin saloons but also on the town's other vices) was the downtown area, not a street almost one mile west of downtown.
It seems plausible to me to speculate that Maiden Lane probably got its name because during Joplin's early days it was the site of the town's horse racing track in what was then the extreme southwest edge of town. In the world of horse racing, of course, a "maiden" is a horse that has not yet won a race, and there often are races held especially for maidens. The road that we now know as Maiden Lane would have been the "lane" down which the "maidens" would have traveled to reach the race track.
The oval race track to which I referred in the previous paragraph was located at about 17th and Maiden Lane across from the present-day Price Cutter store, and it was built in the late 1870s. However, even in the early 1870s there was a straight one-half mile race track for horses in Joplin that ran on a diagonal from near the entrance of present-day Fairview Cemetery (then called the City Cemetery) to near present-day West Central Elementary School on 7th Street. So, almost from the town's beginning, Maiden Lane was the place for "maiden" race horses.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Butterfield Overland Stage Reaches Springfield
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The first chapter is mainly about the very early history of Joplin prior to incorporation in 1873 and the first couple of years after incorporation. During the pre-incorporation days, Joplin experienced what came to be known as the "reign of terror." Because the closest law enforcement officers were at the county seat of Carthage twenty miles away, the rowdy miners infesting the mining camp of Joplin pretty much had things their own way, and the anything-goes atmosphere attracted not only a lot of rough characters who were habitually getting into fights but also a lot of gamblers, prostitutes, and other ne'er-do-wells.