Carthage - America's
Maple Leaf City
The territory that
would one day become Jasper County,
was purchased by the U.S. Government from the Osage Indians for $1,200
in cash and $1,500 in merchandise in 1808. The Native Americans
were then moved to an area designated as the Osage Nation. Though a number of them tried to return to their native lands in 1837,
they were soon driven back to their territory.
Jasper County was
formed in 1841, with a 12’x16’ split log house on a bluff above Spring
River, designated as the first county seat. The newly formed
government required that each white male was help to build the public
roads through the county at least two days per year or pay a 50 cent
tax. A year later, the county adopted the site of
as the permanent county seat and laid out the new town site
surrounding a public square. On the north side of the square, a
simple one room frame courthouse was built at a cost of $398.50,
completed in June, 1842. Other frame buildings soon followed,
first businesses. By 1851, the prospering little town had
outgrown its small wooden courthouse and the building was replaced by
a two-story brick structure.
In 1856, John
Shirley, the father of the notorious would-be
outlaw "Bandit Queen,"
Starr, moved his family from his nearby farm to
where they built an inn, a tavern, livery stable and blacksmith
shop on the north side of
court house square. Their businesses took up almost an
entire city block and John Shirley became a respected member of
the burgeoning county seat of
Carthage. Though Belle was raised with the life of a spoiled, rich girl,
that life would change when the
Kansas-Missouri Border War broke out.
In 1854, the
Act opened up the new state of
allowing its residents to make up their own minds on the question
Having strong southern
sympathies, the state of
quickly became embroiled in a bitter fight with the newly settled
anti-slavery groups that populated the new state.
The border towns in both
states quickly became the sites of fierce guerilla warfare in the
Kansas-Missouri Border War that prefaced the
by more than six years.
was no exception in the bitter fighting between the two factions. In fact,
on July 5, 1861, the first large scale engagement of the Civil War took
place in Carthage when 6,000 poorly equipped Missouri State Guardsmen held
off 1,100 Union Soldiers. Both sides declared victory and would meet up
again a month later at
Jasper County watched both
armies pass through time and again, forcing residents to take sides, and
making neighbors into bitter enemies. Irregular bands of "Jayhawkers" and
"Red Legs" laid waste to
communities in support of the Union.
brother, Bud joined
Quantrill’s Raiders, John Shirley was a proud father. But in
June 1864 Bud was killed in Sarcoxie,
Missouri. The raids had taken their toll on Shirley’s businesses and after
Bud’s death, the family gave up and moved to
Texas. It was in
would begin her notorious outlaw career.
The battles preceding the
Civil War and the skirmishes that followed, destroyed the small settlement
Though its courthouse continued to serve until 1863, it was destroyed by
fire in the ravages of war. Soon, all of
500 residents had joined the war efforts or moved away from the war-torn
had grown to a population 1,200 and boasted a school, four churches, three
doctors, two hotels, five boarding houses, six dry good stories, five
grocery stores, and scores of other businesses. Continuing to grow,
was called home to some 6,000 people by 1873, adding several industries,
including a woolen mill, two foundries, three wagon and carriage makers, a
furniture factory, and a wealth of other businesses.
In the late 1880s
discovered rich deposits of limestone, lead and zinc beneath the town and
in the surrounding area. Through these gifts from the earth,
soon became one of the most prosperous towns in the state and was called
Queen City of the Southwest by the 1890s.
The corner stone of the present Court House was laid in
August, 1894 and was completed in 1895, at a cost of $100,000.
Wild West days and
new courthouse became the site of many public hangings. According to
old-timers, these events were public spectacles where vendors set up
booths, selling food and trinkets. The gallows, built right upon the
grounds of courthouse, became the "stage" for many viewers who brought
their lunches, enjoying a picnic during the show.
This magnificent structure
remains in use today.
end of the nineteenth century,
had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the United
States. The primary source of the wealth were the rich deposits of
lead and zinc and soon, the mine owners began to build fine homes in
Carthage. Huge deposits of gray marble at the north edge of
provided another source of prosperity. In fact, the
State Capitol, U.S. Capitol and White House are faced with marble that
came from the
mills and factories began to pop up in the thriving rebuilt city. By the year 1900,
approximately 12,000 inhabitants and over one hundred business and
was built through the town,
was soon proclaimed by its Chamber of Commerce as "The Open Gate to
the Ozarks." In no time, all manner of services began to spring up to
serve the many travelers of the
As you travel through
you will see the Powers Museum located on the first alignment of
Route 66 on
west side along with Municipal Park that was developed during the
1930s thanks to several New Deal programs. This site was once
home to the Taylor Tourist Park, later renamed the Park Motor Court
Route 66 winds its way
you can see many historical buildings on the Town Square including its
1894 historic courthouse.
About a block from the
Town Square, at the intersection of
Highway 71 and
Route 66, is a "must see” along your trek
-- the historic Boots Court Motel. Built as a tourist court in 1939
by Arthur Boots, this popular stop along the old
once advertised a radio and every room and reportedly, Clark Gable once
stayed in Room 6. The Boots Motel is a classic example of Streamline
Architecture that was so popular during this era.
postcard of the Boots Drive-In. Click on picture to see a larger version.
The Boots Motel, June, 2004, Kathy
This image available for
Across from the Boots
Motel, once stood the Boots Drive-in that offered fountain service and
"Breakfast at any hour!" The drive-in thrived throughout the 1940s
but declined after the Interstate bypassed
and finally closed in 1971. However, the building was preserved and
today is utilized as bank.
One block north of the
Boots Motel stands the remains of another old tourist court – the Dazy
Apartments and Sleeping Rooms. While its obvious that the Dazy has
seen much better days, it still appears to remain in use today.
is also home to one of the few surviving drive-in theaters left in
America. Thanks to the efforts of Mark and Dixie Goodman, this old
drive-in has not gone the way of most of these old icons. When the Goodmans
bought the historic drive-in, it was in a state of much disrepair,
however, they have brought this old theatre back to life.
Just before you reach
Webb City, you will
pass through the small town of Carterville, another lead mining town
of the region. Once prosperous, the town declined following
World War I and never recovered like its nearby neighbors of
Webb City and
of America, June, 2016.
The 66 Drive-In before restoration, courtesy
The 66 Drive-In in
Missouri has been fully restored, June, 2004, Kathy Weiser.
This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
Kansas and the Missouri Border War
Belle Starr -
The Bandit Queen
Quantrill - Renegade Leader of the Missouri Border War