history

Book Review: Historic Missouri Roadsides by Bill Hart

This book review is a celebration of sorts of both the Missouri Bicentennial (2021) and National Preservation Month, also known as Historic Preservation Month (May). In Historic Missouri Roadsides, author, historian, and preservationist Bill Hart takes us on a two-lane highway trip through several of Missouri’s small-town destinations, introducing us to, or reacquainting us with, what they have to offer.

Before taking us on the road, Hart breaks down the “how to” of using his book, pointing out that how long each trip takes to complete is, in fact, up to the traveler. Each stop along two-lane Missouri includes basic historical information about the place, suggestions for where to eat and stay, as well as for where to visit and what to do. Hart reminds us that these trips are meant to be leisurely rather than a race from point A to point B: “Chill. You’re not traveling on two lanes to win any races […].”

These adventures are arranged neatly into six road trips: Missouri Highway 79 / The River Road; El Camino Real; Route 100 / Gottfried Duden & the Lewis and Clark Trail; Osage Hills and Prairies; Mostly Route 24; and The Platte Purchase. Each tour begins with a summary about the trip and information about where, exactly, to start, and each town visited within a given tour clearly directs us to the next town. Although it is possible to reach some of these points using freeways, I recommend following Hart’s directions, as exploring what’s along our byways (rather than the sameness of our freeways) is the beauty of venturing out in the first place.

I feel a special kinship with this book as I start to travel about again. It’s a fantastic resource for those of us who wish to start by seeing what the places close to home have to show us. One of my favorite things about this title is that the largest city we’re guided through is St. Joseph, with a current population of about 73,400, give or take, whereas the smallest cities are only in the double digits.

Don’t get me wrong – I love visiting Kansas City, St. Louis, and other larger Missouri cities – but Missouri has much outside of those cities to show us. For example, a 1910 Beaux Arts-style post office in Nevada; the historic Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs; a theatre in Blackwater, where productions written and directed by a local playwright are featured and locals serve free punch and cake during intermission; and landmark bluffs and other natural sites in tiny towns like Arrow Rock. We may even opt for additional “side trips” that take us into more remote areas of the State, such as Lithium, which, once upon a time, was a Victorian resort town.

Hart touches on the prehistory of Missouri, mentioning which Indian tribes traversed which areas before European American settlement, as well as tells the story of town names and sites that take their name from Native American and early European American history. He also makes mention of conservation areas, national register listings and districts, state parks and historic sites, persons of note, and more.

Not to mention the wonderful photographs, which enhance the stories of these lesser-known Missouri places. Check out the magnificent 1884 Second Empire Federal Courthouse on page 20, the picturesque view from the Fourche à Duclos Roadside Park on page 43, or the Old Dutch Hotel and Tavern’s neon sign in Washington on page 86.

It’s worth mentioning that two editions of this book are published and that the second edition is expanded to include “Destinations,” which are meant as stand-alone places to visit rather than a guided road trip. These destinations include St. Joseph, Glasgow, The Boonslick area, Fulton, Sedalia, and the Arcadia Valley.

As noted in his foreword, this book is “a travel book, a history book, a photography book, and more.” Indeed, it is all that and more. It is an opposition to what Hart describes as “Generica,” or the commodification of place and product. The fast-food chains and big-box stores found along our freeways and in our commercial districts, for example, all of which look the same regardless of locale. Hart encourages us to turn away from Generica for the uniqueness of “what lies right beneath [our] noses here in the Show-Me State.” Not only does he encourage us in this direction, but he literally tells us how to get there.

Happy trails and, as always, happy reading.

By Post Art Library Director Jill Sullivan

Book Review: The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman by Margot Mifflin

Book Review by Post Art Library director Jill Sullivan

March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, I encourage you to read a book written by – or, better yet, by and about – a woman. I started this year’s celebration by doing just that, with Margot Mifflin’s The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman. Admittedly, this wasn’t my first reading of this title, but my third.

Olive Oatman was born to parents who decided to settle in the American southwest as it was becoming the American southwest. Although much of the Mormonism that she was brought up with was left out of the many narratives about her life, Mifflin picks up Olive’s story at the point when it was, in fact, that very Mormonism that influenced the family’s move. Following the Brewsterite sect that broke away from Brigham Young, the Oatmans set west with others to what they thought would be a sanctuary and some sort of nation in and of itself, a nation within an expanding nation (both of which were destructive, to say the least, in their makings).

On their trek to California from Illinois, Olive’s father, Royce, broke the family away from the original Brewsterite caravan in what is now southwestern Arizona, quickly leading to the family’s demise. After an intense night “marooned on a tiny island surrounded by quicksand in the Gila River in Mexico,” the family encountered members of the Yavapai Indian tribe, who, after seemingly harmless initial contact, killed Royce, his wife Mary Ann, and four of their seven children. Lorenzo, who was all but dead after the attack, was thrown off a cliff and left to (presumably) die, while two of the daughters – Olive, 14, and a younger sister, Mary Ann – were taken by the Yavapai.

Olive and her younger sister spent about a year with the Yavapai Indians. According to Mifflin (and others), they were treated as captives, which is to say that they were treated poorly. The Mohave tribe, upon seeing the girls’ mistreatment, requested that they were traded to them. After negotiations, the girls were traded to the Mohaves, who accepted, raised, and treated them as their own. Olive spent about four years with the Mohaves; Mary Ann fewer only because she perished during a famine that they experienced.

Olive and Mary Ann were led to the beautifully described Mohave Valley by Topeka, who became their Mohave sister. Espaniole, a festival chief, and his wife, Aespaneo, became the girls’ Mohave parents. The bond that the girls, especially Olive, had with their Mohave family was strong. When Mary Ann died, both Olive and Aespaneo mourned in the traditional Mohave manner. The Mohaves gave Olive a nickname, which “confirms her acceptance within the culture; if she had been marginalized within the tribe, she would never had warranted one.” Some suspect, though never substantiated, that Olive married and had children while with the tribe.

It’s unknown whether Olive actually wanted to rejoin white society after her time with the Mohaves. It is known, however, that she had no choice but to do so once her whereabouts were discovered. The Mohave Indians were forced to return her to the whites “in exchange for horses, blankets, and beads.” Olive was upset during her so-called restoration to white society, which, as Mifflin points out, is an indication that she did not wish to return. Also, Olive never spoke ill of the Mohaves and, when the opportunity arose later in life, she went to greet and see a member of the tribe speak at an event.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Olive’s tattoo – the blue tattoo – not only because that is the book’s title, but because I am a visibly tattooed woman, though in another, vastly different, context. Nevertheless, I’m intrigued by Olive’s status as a tattooed woman, as well as interested in the history of women and tattoos, which, admittedly, is what prompted my initial reading of this book (and others by the same author).

Placed on her chin, Olive’s tattoo was a very public, permanent mark – in the 1850s – of her time with the Mohaves. Unlike some other tribes, the Mohaves did not tattoo their captives. Rather they tattooed only those who became a part of their tribe. Mifflin writes that Olive’s willingness to be tattooed indicates her willingness to become Mohave. Olive is the first known tattooed white woman in the United States, as well as the first known to profit from her tattoos. (In addition to her chin tattoo, she had vertical lines on her arms, though those were never shown publicly.) Olive’s narrative became so popular that tattooed ladies – women with real tattoos – started showing their skin in circuses and sideshows, stealing Olive’s story, distorting it and claiming it as their own, saying that they were captured and forcibly tattooed by Indians.

Olive was not like any other woman of her time. Upon her return to white culture, a man by name of Stratton wrote a (highly profitable) sensationalized account of her capture and she became a touring lecturer during a time in which it was highly unfavorable for women to work or have agency outside of the home. Eventually, Olive married a man named John B. Fairchild. In a letter to her aunt that the author includes and discusses in the postscript, it seems Olive’s marriage was a happy one. Eventually, Olive and her husband settled in Texas, where she died in 1903.

In her epilogue, Mifflin discusses Olive’s posthumous appearances. That is, her ongoing legacy in literature and television, connecting her to numerous novels and shows inspired by her story, as well as to those who tried to write themselves into her story. The author refers to this legacy as “Oatman’s Literary Half-Life” and notes, and seems disappointed, that not once in these fictional accounts is Olive reunited with her Mohave family. Indeed, it is disappointing that, even in fiction, Olive never makes her way back to the Mohaves.

I might mention that you will not find this book on the library’s shelves, but as an e-book via the library’s Ebsco eBook Collection database, which may be accessed with your library card on Joplin Public Library’s website or through their card catalog.

As always, happy reading.

Joplin Historic Preservation Commission Awards 2020 Jeff & Carolina Neal Award to Corner Greer Architects

The Joplin Historic Preservation Commission (JHPC) awards the 2020 Jeff & Carolina Neal Award, an award that’s part of the Commission’s annual awards program, to Corner Greer Architects (CGA) of Joplin, Missouri.

The Jeff & Carolina Neal Award is for those who made significant developments to historic preservation in Joplin by way of developing and restoring/revitalizing buildings and property within Joplin’s commercial corridors.

CGA has been committed to improving and preserving the downtown commercial corridor for many years. The projects for which CGA is being recognized include: CGA and Craven Media at 714-716 Main, completed 2012; the Orpheum Building at 6th and Main, completed 2014; FTC at Memorial Education Center, 8th and Wall, completed 2019; and two ongoing projects at Midwestern Interactive and Joplin Empire Market.     

“Corner Greer’s efforts in developing and revitalizing buildings and property downtown since 2012 has made a tremendous impact on the amenities and visual appeal of Joplin buildings, workspaces, and public facing businesses. The quality put into materials and design is apparent to anyone who has seen their work, such as the Orpheum Building restoration at 6th and Main. Joplinites should be excited by Corner Greer’s ongoing work at Midwestern Interactive and the Empire Market,” said Dr. William Fischer, Chair of the Commission’s Policy, Procedure, & Promotion Subcommittee, which reviews nominations for the awards.

The goal of JHPC’s annual awards program (est. 2019) is to celebrate and recognize the extraordinary efforts of individuals and groups who made significant contributions to historic preservation in Joplin. The program is comprised of three awards, with public nominations opening each spring.

Due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19, JHPC has postponed the 2020 public awards presentation until next year’s awards presentation. For more information, please contact JHPC Chair, Jill Sullivan, at 417-623-7953 x1041 or jhsullivan@postartlibrary.org. 



Corner Greer Architects & Craven Media, 714-716 Main Street, Joplin, MO
Courtesy of Corner Greer Architects



Infuxn (Orpheum Building), 6th & Main Streets, Joplin, MO
Photo by 1281 Photography, Drew Kimble

Franklin Technology Center at Memorial Education Center, 8th & Wall, Joplin, MO
Photo by 1281 Photography, Drew Kimble

A Brief History of Forest Park Cemetery

May is Preservation Month! As such, we’re sharing brief histories of Joplin, Missouri’s four city-owned cemeteries; this is part three of four in the series.

Forest Park Cemetery is unique among Joplin’s municipal cemeteries in that it has a long history of changed ownership and is the most recently acquired city cemetery. Jeremiah Turk, an early citizen of what would become Joplin, donated land to Shoal Creek Baptist Church (No. 1) to establish a church and develop a cemetery. The church had recently split into two factions (No.1 and No.2), with the Joplin faction acquiring the land at Central Street and Range Line Road in 1884. Jeremiah Turk himself laid out Forest Park cemetery in 1888. Prior to that time, the church cemetery was referred to as Old Baptist Cemetery, Turk Cemetery, or, as in one newspaper account, Kirk Cemetery.

About 1913, another early citizen, T.C. Clary, laid out cemetery tracts alongside the Forest Park tract. Unfortunately, Clary made a bad deal with some “promotors” from Chicago in 1917 and, after going to court, his cemetery tract was put into foreclosure and purchased by the Forest Park Cemetery Association to become one Forest Park Cemetery.

Due to rapid growth, the Forest Park congregation moved to another location in 1948. Since that time, Forest Park Cemetery has changed ownership over the years, with the City of Joplin acquiring it in 1988.

In 2018-19, a subcommittee of the Joplin Historic Preservation Commission conducted an architectural survey of all four of Joplin’s city-owned cemeteries. Also, they researched and wrote nominations for the cemeteries to be included on the city’s Local Landmark/Historic Sites list. Although the nominations were submitted in summer 2019, the commission awaits a fresh survey of one of the cemetery sites before the nominations can move to the next phase of the Local Landmark nomination process. Click HERE to view the nomination in its entirety, including supporting documentation.

Mausoleum in Joplin’s Forest Park Cemetery. Photo: Paula Callihan

Contributed by Jill Sullivan, Post Art Library Director, Joplin Historic Preservation Commission Chairperson, and Missouri Preservation Board Member

A Brief History of Parkway Cemetery

May is Preservation Month! As such, we’re sharing brief histories of Joplin, Missouri’s four city-owned cemeteries; this is part one of four in the series.

Prior to the establishment of Parkway Cemetery, Joplin’s citizens – black, white, and others – were buried in the only city-owned cemetery, Fairview Cemetery. In 1931, Joe H. Myers, then Commissioner of Public Property and Public Utilities, realized that Fairview Cemetery would soon be full and considered plans for establishing a new cemetery on the new cemetery tract that ran along the east and west sides of McClelland park road. This cemetery tract eventually became two cemeteries—Parkway (east) and Osborne (west). Although this tract of land is commonly thought to have been donated to the city by the Osborne family, it was, in fact, purchased by the city during one of former Mayor Jesse F. Osborne’s administrations, around 1922.

In May 1932, a committee of Joplin’s Colored Citizens’ Club requested that Commissioner Myers set aside a portion of the newly considered city cemetery exclusively for use by Joplin’s black citizens. Myers agreed and, in 1933, announced plans to develop the east side of the McClelland park road cemetery tract solely for use by Joplin’s black citizens. Also at that time, Myers let it be known that the black plot in Fairview Cemetery was full and the city was no longer able to accommodate the burial of black persons in that cemetery (though accommodations were still being made for white persons in a new addition).

In April 1933, work began to clear the east side of the McClelland park road cemetery tract for exclusive use by Joplin’s black community. Later that same year, in August, the city commission (i.e. Council) chose ‘Parkway Cemetery’ as the official name for the new all-black cemetery. It is not known why, exactly, the Council chose the name ‘Parkway’ for the new cemetery. While the east side of the McClelland park road tract was developed as an all-black cemetery, the tract on the west side was reserved for later development for use by white persons.

Although the city-owned Parkway Cemetery opened to Joplin’s black citizens in 1933, the earliest tombstone burial date reads 1932. According to the city’s cemetery records, Joseph Stover was initially interred at Fairview Cemetery in 1932, where he was then disinterred and reinterred at Parkway Cemetery upon Parkway’s opening, in 1933. Parkway Cemetery has been in use since 1933 and continues to be in use today.

In addition to serving as a burial ground for Joplin’s black citizens, Parkway Cemetery historically served as a gathering place for black families during a time when black people had very few choices for gathering spaces. According to local oral histories from those within Joplin’s black community, funerals and celebrations of life were all-day events. Family and friends traveled from afar and used the lawn to the south of the cemetery as camping and picnic grounds. Thus, Parkway Cemetery offered an integral space for fellowship among black people and African-Americans during unfortunate times of segregation in America.

Among those interred at Parkway are veterans from World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and Vietnam; former law enforcement officers; members of the Masons and the Order of the Eastern Star; and others who contributed significantly to the development of our community.

In 2018-19, a subcommittee of the Joplin Historic Preservation Commission conducted an architectural survey of all four of Joplin’s city-owned cemeteries. Also, they researched and wrote nominations for the cemeteries to be included on the city’s Local Landmark/Historic Sites list. Although the nominations were submitted in summer 2019, the commission awaits a fresh survey of one of the cemetery sites before the nominations can move to the next phase of the Local Landmark nomination process. Click HERE to view the nomination in its entirety, including supporting documentation.

Mr. and Mrs. Cuther are thought to be the first persons to purchase a burial plot in Joplin’s Parkway Cemetery. Photo: Jill Sullivan
The bridge leading to one of the picnic tables in Joplin’s Parkway Cemetery. Photo: Jill Sullivan

Contributed by Jill Sullivan, Post Art Library Director, Joplin Historic Preservation Commission Chairperson, and Missouri Preservation Board Member

Route 66 – Highway to the Stars

Route 66 – Highway to the Stars, an educational exhibit created by local history detectives and authors William and Doris Martin, is showing now through July 31 in the Genealogy, Local History, and Post Reading Room wing of our library. The Martins discovered a connection between William’s mother’s family and astronomer Edwin Hubble’s mother’s family, who were living in Marshfield, Missouri many years ago.

When William’s 91-year-old aunt told them, “This story needs to be told,” they wrote and self-published a book entitled Dreams and Adventures: The Edwin Hubble Story (2015). It’s an inspiring, never-before-told story about the amazing astronomer for whom the Hubble Space Telescope is named.

After publication of their book, the Martins continued to research astronomy and space exploration. William began creating original storyboards about Edwin Hubble and many other astronomers, astronauts, observatories, and planetariums. Many of these people and places, as it turns out, have connections to Route 66, such as astronomer Harlow Shapley and astronaut Janet Kavandi.

Discover the dreams and adventures of Edwin Hubble, learn about Harlow Shapley – the man who determined our solar system’s place in the Milky Way – visit some planetariums and observatories, soar with astronauts, and reach for the stars as you travel along Route 66 – Highway to the Stars!

A Place for All People: Introducing the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Smithsonian Institution opened the National Museum of African American History and Culture on September 24, 2016. The celebration continues and reaches beyond Washington, D.C. to Joplin, Missouri, as we present “A Place for All People: Introducing the National Museum of African American History and Culture.” This commemorative poster exhibition, which is comprised of twenty 11″ x 17″ posters, will be on view in our Local History, Genealogy, and Post Reading Room wing from February 1-28, 2019.

Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, “A Place for All People” highlights key artifacts that tell the rich and diverse story of the African American experience. From the child-size shackles of a slave and the clothing worn by Carlotta Walls on her first day at Little Rock Central High School to Chuck Berry’s Gibson guitar, “Maybellene,” and the track shoes worn by Olympian Carl Lewis, the exhibition presents a living history that reflects challenge, triumph, faith, and hope.

The journey to establish this museum began long ago with a call for a national memorial to honor the contributions of African American Civil War veterans. After decades of efforts by private citizens, organizations and members of Congress, federal legislation was passed in 2003 to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Since then, thousands of artifacts have been collected to fill the inspiring building that has risen on the National Mall. Through its exhibitions and programs, the museum provides a shared lens to view the nation’s history and the possibility for hope and healing. It is a place where all can gather to remember, reflect, and embrace America’s story: a place for all people. For more information, visit nmaahc.si.edu.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washing, D.C., for over 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work, and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.

Book Review: The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris

This book review is not for the faint of heart nor for the weak stomached. Imagine: You’re out for a stroll in Victorian London, prepossessed with the styles of that era’s architecture as you take in the crisp, comforting wintry air. In your prepossession, you fail to notice a spot of ice ahead on the walkway and, whoops, you slip. In doing so, your tibia breaks and, very unfortunately, protrudes through your skin. Seeing your plight, a passerby summons a constable and the two carry you to the nearest hospital, where, for one reason or another, the surgeon decides that your broken leg must be amputated mid-thigh.

Suddenly and shockingly, you find yourself on a blood-encrusted table in a stifling operating theater. At least one hundred spectators, some of whom have little or nothing to do with the study of medicine, and none of whom you know, are transfixed by the surgical sport of your leg being lopped off. Luckily, your surgeon was London’s most renowned at the time, Robert Liston. Unluckily, Joseph Lister was yet to arrive on scene and, though you survived the amputation, you died an all too common death—that of hospitalism. Or, as simply stated in today’s terms, infection.

Sparing no detail, Lindsey Fitzharris’ The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine is itself a grisly, though wonderfully written, account of the horrors of Victorian medicine, specifically those of surgery and post-operative infection. The bulk of Fitzharris’ history regards, as its title suggests, one Joseph Lister, who, most graciously, spared us from the brutal, Dickensian-like world she describes. In her words, Victorian medicine was “the age of agony.”

Victorian era British hospitals lacked cleanliness, to say the least. In one account, a patient was found convalescing in damp sheets covered with mushrooms and maggots. Putrid odors permeated the facilities, as well as the doctors and the medical students who worked within. Operating tables were not cleaned from one patient to another, instruments were not sterilized between patients, and employees’ hands, let alone the wounds of the afflicted, were scarcely washed. Surgeons and their assistants performed grimy operations, haphazardly throwing limbs and flesh into buckets or onto sawdust-covered floors. Literal body snatchers disturbed the dead by digging them up and delivering them to hospital dissection rooms, where men carved them up in the interest of medicine. This is but a sampling of pre-antiseptic conditions.

At the time, surgeons were paid less than those whose job it was to rid the hospital beds of lice and, often, those who chose to specialize in the field were stigmatized. Surgery was considered manual labor rather than medical practice. In part, no doubt due to the fact that, in its infancy, surgery was an absolute last resort primarily comprised of the quick lopping off of limbs. Not only was surgery dangerous for the patient, but for doctors and their assistants. Take, for example, a man who once assisted the aforementioned Robert Liston. Quick with his saw, Liston accidentally sliced three fingers off of the assistant when removing the patient’s limb. Both patient and assistant died of post-operative infection.

Enter Joseph Lister. Born into a Quaker family, it’s somewhat ironic that Lister chose to become a physician, as the Quakers were known for their disbelief in medicine. Fortunately, Lister’s family was very supportive of his medical endeavors. Lister and his father had a common bond–the microscope. Lister’s father made a number of improvements to the device and Lister was one of few students in medical school acquainted with it. In fact, his professors and  contemporaries alike thought the microscope either frivolous or superfluous to medical pursuits. Yet, and thankfully for us, Lister persisted.

While Lister’s predecessors and peers were more interested in treating the symptoms of infection, Lister was more curious about discovering its causes. He spent countless hours peering through the lens of his microscope, viewing, sketching, and painting human tissues, fibers, and the like. He acquired specimens from others within his field, as well as harvested from his own body. He was so devoted to his cause, that he and his wife, Agnes, who was the daughter of his mentor, spent their honeymoon collecting frogs for Lister to dissect. Throughout their marriage, she was often in his study or lab with him, taking notes and essentially acting as his assistant.

Eventually, Lister gained an understanding of infection, of how hospital environments impacted the outcome of procedures and the well-being of both patients and staff. Although his theories were initially rejected by the Victorian medical community, over time Lister was able to prove them and he received a number of awards and recognitions throughout his career. Conditions improved, not only in British hospitals, but in hospitals everywhere, as cleanliness became increasingly practiced.

Fitzharris’ narrative of the transformation of Victorian medicine is altogether fascinating, if gruesome and not for the faint of heart nor for the weak stomached. Although she writes in a manner that speaks well to those outside of the world of medicine, I wrote this review after reading this title twice. Trust, it’s a lot to take in and a lot to process.

As always, happy reading.  

Historic Missouri Roadsides by Bill Hart

In his recent title Historic Missouri Roadsides, author Bill Hart takes readers on a journey of Missouri’s two-lane roads and highways. This wonderfully illustrated book is for both the figurative and literal traveler. In addition to beautiful photography, Hart offers facts about each destination, directions, and information about where to eat, stay, visit, and what to do, as well as a few travel tips. Perhaps unique to Hart’s adventure advice is that he does not manage your time, but encourages you “to take your time at every juncture of your trip” so that you may explore and enjoy Missouri’s heritage.  What’s more, all of his listings for food & drink, accommodations, and such are venues that are truly local to the area in which they are found.

The book proper is divided into six tours: Missouri Highway 79 / The River Road; El Camino Real; Route 100 / Gottfried Duden & the Lewis and Clark Trail; Osage Hills and Prairies; Mostly Route 24; and The Platte Purchase. Throughout each tour, Hart expertly covers historic, small-town Missouri. He engages with intriguing histories of towns traveled and captivates with photographic landscapes and streetscapes, ranging from beautiful buildings and homes in current use to structures that have either fallen into serious disrepair or stand vacant.

Although Joplin is not featured in this title, the Osage Hills and Prairies tour winds through Jasper County, beginning in Avilla and passing through Carthage and Jasper before moving on to nearby towns. Carthage’s Boots Motel, a decorative parapet made of “Carthage marble” that crowns a downtown building, and “A Victorian lady of a building” on Maple Street are among the sites photographed in Jasper County. Hart touches on the rich history of Carthage, including the infamous Belle Starr, the lawful Annie Baxter, the Civil War, and more.

Not only is Hart’s Historic Missouri Roadsides an entertainingly educational read for those interested in history and preservation, but its a fantastically fun resource for those who are interested in taking the drive through Missouri’s roadside heritage. To learn more about Missouri author Bill Hart or his recent publication, then visit his website or visit him during his book signing in the Post Art Library, 300 S Main St, Joplin, MO, on Saturday, September 19, 2015, from 4pm-6pm.

Carthage 13 Boots Edited

The photograph above shows the Boots Motel in Carthage, Missouri. It’s but one of numerous buildings depicted in Historic Missouri Roadsides. (Photograph courtesy of the author, Bill Hart.)

About the Author:
Bill Hart grew up in Perry County in southeast Missouri. His interest in small town and roadside Missouri was fostered by his work for the past several years with the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation (Missouri Preservation), where he currently serves as executive director. He holds a degree in Historic Preservation from Southeast Missouri State University and did his graduate coursework in Architectural History at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Bill is particularly interested in vanishing Missouri building types, including roadside and countryside. He was one of the founders of the Missouri Barn Alliance and Rural Network (Mo BARN), advocating for documentation and preservation of Missouri’s historic farmsteads.

Greetings! from Joplin, Missouri

Recall days bygone when travelers documented their journeys and friends shared status updates via postcard. Imagine, if you will, that hundreds–perhaps thousands–of such cards were published to promote Joplin and its development. Imagine no more: the Joplin Public Library’s digitized collection features a touch over 500 such historical postcards. An array of subjects range from buildings to churches to eateries to lodging to mining to parks to recreation to schools and so on. Along with the postcards are their descriptions. Leslie Simpson, Director of the Post Memorial Art Reference Library, wrote the details that accompany each postcard included in the digitized collection. I recently met with Leslie to ask a few questions…

Jill’s questions/comments are in bold,
whereas Leslie’s are not.

How did you become involved in this project?
Carolyn Trout, who was the director of the Joplin Public Library at the time, wanted to do a digitization project. The postcard collection is a part of that project. It was a collaboration among the public library and the Post Library.

Who provided the postcards? Did you put out a call for postcards or seek collections that you knew existed?
We put out a newspaper notice inviting people to share their postcards. Brad Belk [of the Joplin Museum Complex] allowed us to go through the museum’s collection. Some were bought on Ebay. We also sought out people who had collections and asked to borrow them.

How many postcards did you all have to choose from?
We started with 1,000 and narrowed it down to a little over 500.

Your primary role was to write the postcards’ descriptions. How long did you conduct research and how so?
At least a year. I worked hard to specify the date of each image. Each postcard has a publisher’s code. I researched these codes to determine when they were in use and to date the cards. And I was able to date cards by the cost of postage at the time or by each card’s style and type.

When you were going through the postcards, which were the most interesting?
My favorites were the postcards with inscriptions, anything personal. One of the mining ones that I can remember had an arrow drawn to the mine with “This is how we make our money” written nearby.

What do you think it says about Joplin that such a plethora of postcards documents its development?
Well, Joplin WAS the most happening place in Missouri at the turn of the century! There was so much excitement about the fortunes to be made, not just in mining but in all the services to go along with that–dynamite companies, machinery works, hardware stores, grocery stores, etc. People came from all over the US to get in on the action. Postcards were also marketing tools–Joplin civic leaders could show off what Joplin had to offer. Theaters, churches, libraries, public buildings, etc.

Why do you think it’s important to preserve this collection for posterity?
There’s so much history there that’s not really in the history books. The parks, for instance. They were resort areas and amusement parks unlike anything we’ve ever seen. We get a glimpse into how people lived. The downtown scenes are fascinating snapshots into everyday life. We get to travel back in time!

Indeed we do: http://www.joplinpubliclibrary.org/digitized/postcards.php

joplin_card