The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 20, 2013

Jo Ellis: Different day, different topography in Carthage

CARTHAGE, Mo. —  It may seem implausible to us now, but the topography of our familiar downtown Carthage was quite different 138 years ago.

That was pointed out to me when I recently ran across an article relating a story from an early settler, Mrs. E.O. Brown, published in a 1935 edition of the Carthage Press.

Mrs. Brown (the article never provided her the dignity of a given name), was remembering how the area just southwest of the square was covered by a lake when she arrived here with her family in 1874.

“The Carthage square was on a bluff,” she said, “rising to its highest point at the southwest corner, and there was a sharp drop to the lake level. Most of the area between Main, Fourth, Lyon and Fifth streets was covered by the lake, which was quite deep.

“It was fed by several springs. The water was clear and was deep enough to swim in. It was full of growing cress and was a popular resort for boys of the neighborhood. Ed Gerkey, then a 4-year-old tot, delighted to wade in its edges and drew frequent reprimands for his temerity.”

The Gerkey home stood on the corner of Fourth and Lyon streets, the current site of the Springer Building. Just south was the Spangler residence, and next to that was the Dr. Brooks home at the corner of Lyon and Fifth streets. Lombardy poplars bordered Lyon Street and enhanced the attractiveness of the lake, which was considered a real beauty spot.

(The tall, columnar, aggressively growing Lombardy poplar tree had just been introduced to the United States in 1874 and was in high demand.)

“The only building in the lake area was the structure occupied by the Carthage Daily Banner, facing Main Street,” Mrs. Brown recalled. “It stood on piles 10 feet high to put it above the water and to the street level.

“At the southwest corner of the square where the College pharmacy now stands, the drop to the lake was probably 20 feet. In later years when R. Roessler and his sons, Julius and Ed, built the brick building now occupied by (Uptown Downtown), the workmen excavated deep and laid drain tile to carry off the water from the principal spring that fed the lake. The water was carried to an open ditch that is now a walled-in storm sewer on West Fourth Street. As other buildings were erected, the lake was drained and the hollow filled in to bring it to the street level.”

Our much-acclaimed Jasper County Courthouse, electric trolley lines and automobiles were still a good 20 to 30 years in the future. Think when you drive through this area today what a quiet, beautiful and idyllic spot it used to be.

Address correspondence to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email

Text Only
Local News
  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: ‘Annie’ production is a family thing

    There’s a twist to this week’s production of “Annie” at Memorial Auditorium. The show, a beloved classic tale of an orphan girl in search of a family, is full of real-life family members.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 Band Box.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage icon continues to play in local restaurant

    Chicago Coin’s Band-Box, also known as “Strike Up the Band,” has been a Carthage icon since the mid- to late 1950s. Any customer who frequented Red’s Diner, or Ray’s Cafe, and now the Pancake Hut is familiar with the pulsating rhythms and movements of this mechanical device.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Gubernatorial hopefuls make area appearances

    Three potential candidates for Missouri governor in 2016 made stops in the Joplin area this past week.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • shoalcreekcleanup.jpg Wildcat Glades center puts on service day at Shoal Creek

    About 20 people on Saturday pulled trash out of Shoal Creek as they paddled in canoes and kayaks from Grand Falls to Zan’s Creekside Campground in Joplin.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearts & Hammers plans annual home repair event

    Since 2003, volunteers with Hearts & Hammers of Southwest Missouri have made free improvements to more than 170 homes owned by the elderly, physically disabled, and single parent or low-income families.

    July 26, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • jameswelbornupdate.jpg Local teen completes half of solo river trip

    James Welborn, a recent Webb City High School graduate, has reached the halfway point of his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River — just in time to celebrate his 19th birthday with family.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Neosho police warn residents of phone scam

    The Neosho Police Department has received complaints from residents saying someone impersonating a lieutenant from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office warrants division has been calling them.

    July 26, 2014

Must Read


A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter