Ancestors, Legends & Time

Family businesses were active on Stone’s Corner

Picture of Jeanne Newby

Jeanne Newby

March 27, 2024

As we have learned from the history of Stone’s Corner (Glen Elm), Dr. William Stone had his veterinary office at that intersection. He also had a grocery store (Stone’s Grocery) just south of his home, and his wife, Ora, ran that business.

Bill and Mary (Polen) Hughlett purchased the Stone’s Store in 1938. Mary had experience in operating a store because her parents, Bob and Minnie Polen, owned a candy store in Antioch, Neb., and upon moving to Asbury in the ’30s opened a grocery store there.

Some of you may recall Bill Hughlett being the Jasper County tax collector. Back in 1938, he and Mary enjoyed running their little store. They lived in the apartment above the store. During World War II, Bill decided to do his patriotic duty and joined the Navy. Mary could not run the store by herself, so her parents, Bob and Minnie bought the grocery store and moved into the apartment upstairs. They loved living above the store because it had indoor plumbing, which was a novelty for the Polens. Although, Bob was embarrassed that a customer in the store could hear the great rush of water that revealed what he was doing upstairs.

With two stores to run, Bob and one of his children ran the Asbury store while Minnie and one of the children ran the Stone’s grocery store. Eventually, they sold the Asbury store and gave Stone’s Corner their full attention. They purchased eggs and cream from area farmers. The children learned at an early age to handle money and the rush of children stopping by the store on the way to school to get their penny candy.

Later, the Polens purchased some land south of the store just south of what would be the Skating Rink. They moved in three houses, one to live in and two to use as rentals. Bob and Mary Polen retired from Stone’s Grocery in 1957, and their son, Bill Polen, and his family took over the store.

Although I did not know Bob Polen, I do have a description of the man. He was of medium height 5’8” and weighed about 185 pounds. His medium brown hair was of fine texture and only slightly grey at the time of his death at age 78. He wore glasses and had light colored eyes. He had worked as a miner, a dam builder, contracted irrigation system, insurance work, wheat farmer, blacksmith, grain operator, bookkeeper, corn farmer and finally a store keeper. A “Jack of all trades!”

The only description I have of Minnie is that she was the first farm wife in the area to learn to can corn in tin cans instead of glass jars, which she claimed were subject to a high degree of spoilage. Minnie shared her knowledge with others in the community to improve their food supplies. Canning the corn in tin cans had more flavor than the drying and salting or canning in glass. Minnie also loved being in the egg business before she got into the grocery business. She had eggs and baby chicks. She would set several hundred eggs in the incubators, heated by kerosene lamps, and turning the eggs daily until they hatched. She would move the chicks to brooders, also heated by kerosene lamps. They were fed and cared for one day and then delivered to customers as “day-old chicks”.

I was lucky enough to have known Bill and Mary Hughlett as I was growing up, and they were a wonderful couple. They had six children, Bill Jr., Steve, Mike, Joe, David and Elaine. Bill and Mary were such giving and helpful people who gave their attention to anyone in need. Even after Bill became an elected official he was still loved and respected by those around him. Their children carry on with that same attribute.

Remember, Stone’s Corner (Glen Elm) was considered part of Webb City because the folks felt closer to Webb City, just down Webb City Road than all the way into Joplin down North Main Street Road.


Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.