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.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

An Editor's First Visit to Joplin

On August 16, 1876, one of the editors of the Mt. Vernon (Mo.) Fountain and Journal paid his first visit to Joplin, which at the time was a booming mining town that had been in existence only about three or four years. The purpose of the editor's visit was to attend the Republican convention of Missouri's Sixth Congressional District being held in Joplin. The day was mostly consumed by speeches, and then on the night of the 16th, a torch light procession was held, which the editor called the "grandest torch light procession that has ever been in Missouri, west of St. Louis." The editor estimated attendance at the parade at upwards of 10,000 people, and the highlights of the evening were more speeches from three different speakers' stands. One of the orators spoke for two hours and another for a full hour, but the editor thought the speeches fine entertainment. (Political speeches were, in fact, considered a higher form of entertainment during the 1800s than we regard them today. I imagine most of us today would be bored stiff by a two-hour speech, regardless of who was giving it.)
After spending the night in Joplin, the editor took a tour of the bustling town and some of the outlying mines the next day. He visited the mines at Parr Hill, which he described as being about a mile south of East Joplin. (The Parr Hill mines were where Parr Hill Park is today.) He then went to Lone Elm, which he described as "an extensive town" and "quite a business place" located one mile north of West Joplin. (Lone Elm was located on present-day Lone Elm Road, but virtually nothing remains to identify the community except a church and a slight concentration of homes in the area. The last remaining store, located at what was called Lone Elm Junction, was closed about thirty years ago or more.) The editor also paid a visit to West Joplin and "found the society is better than we had supposed, it being a mining town." The editor then headed home, stopping at Sarcoxie for the evening meal and presumably to spend the night. (His trip from Mt. Vernon to Joplin took him two days; so presumably his return trip also took two days.)
Back in Lawrence County, on August 16 (the day the editor attended the convention in Joplin), a young man named Robert Poland, as reported in the following week's Fountain and Journal, went to the home of W.F. Henderson near Round Grove about 12 miles northwest of Mt. Vernon, shot Henderson's daughter, and then turned the gun on himself. He died shortly thereafter, but the girl fortunately survived with a good chance of a full recovery. It was reported that Poland had been keeping company with Miss Henderson but that she had not encouraged his attentions. Having attempted suicide before, Poland was considered partially insane, and apparently his rejection by Miss Henderson drove him completely mad.

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