JOPLIN, Mo. —
When researching your family, don't be content with birth, death and marriage data.
Add information about the areas where your ancestors lived, the reasons they moved from one area to another, what they did for a living, the sites where they lived, the names of relatives who lived nearby, churches they attended, battles in which they fought, causes of their deaths, cemeteries where they are buried and names of their children.
As part of your research, visit the cemeteries, old home sites and related sites.
With that approach, your family history search will become a fascinating journey.
One of the places to learn about the location of old sites in Joplin and the surrounding area is the George A. Spiva Library at Missouri Southern State University, which has hundreds of maps and books relating to local history. Many of the maps have been digitized and are available online at the Missouri Digital Heritage website. When that site opens, do a search for "Tri-State Mining Maps."
Another excellent place to find records about Joplin and the surrounding area is the Jasper County Record Center located at the Jasper County Courthouse Annex at 125 N. Lincoln St. in Carthage. The center is conservator of the old courthouse records. Some examples are probate cases, wills, divorces, the county poor farm, cemeteries, marriages, circuit court sessions and rural schools.
Through the years, several people have volunteered at the center and helped compile files on topics such as early towns, roads, families, battles, businesses, wars, epidemics, gangs, early newspapers, churches, schools, parks, military units, cemeteries and museums. The center also has an extensive collection of maps.
Another resource at the center is a set of indexed files donated by local historian and author Marvin Van Gilder. Another historian, Ward Schrantz, donated several scrapbooks that he compiled about World War I and World War II. In addition, the center has several cabinets of historic files from the Carthage Press.
While there, don't forget to also check the center's extensive files on Civil War skirmishes and battles that occurred in the four-state area. Some examples are the Rader Farm Massacre at Sherwood; Missouri State Guard; Missouri Home Guard; and battles at Carthage, Baxter Springs, Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge and Newtonia.
Resources from the Joplin Genealogy Society have been donated to the center. They, too, will be very helpful.
The best resources at the center are the director and volunteers who are tremendously dedicated, knowledgeable and helpful.
The center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Suggestions or queries? Send to Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168, or contact: frankiemeyer @yahoo.com.