The concrete walls of the streetcar overpass can are still present on Daugherty Street between Webb City and Carterville.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

Our town has lots of historical tidbits

Jeanne Newby

Here are some interesting tidbits of information about Webb City, Missouri.

• The first photo of Earth from outer space was taken by Webb City R-7 Hall of Famer Dale Shellhorn. The photo is at the Smithsonian.

• A.H. Rogers, one of Webb City’s forefathers with the streetcars went to visit Thomas Edison and was one of the first to speak through Edison’s new invention… the telephone.

• The Praying Hands statue was created by Jack Dawson and dedicated on April 28, 1974.

• 1880 – Webb City was dubbed the “Zinc Capital of the World.”

• 1916 – Webb City was known as the richest Zinc and Lead Mining district in the world.

• 1920 – Webb City received recognition for having a 250 percent increase in industry. It as by necessity to fill the void when most of the local mines shut down.

• Ma Barker and her sons resided in Webb City. The police said she could peel the paint off the walls when she would come to argue each time the police arrested her sons. The Barkers moved from Webb City because the boys spent so much time in the Webb City jail cell. They moved to Stones’s Corner and then to Oklahoma.

• 1984 Olympic Gold Medal winner Bart Conner, who married Nadia Comenici, is the grandson of the late Jacob and Ida Conner, of Webb City.

• Coach Charles Cummings, a 1925 graduate of Webb City, is listed in the Indiana Sports Hall of Fame.

• The Webb City Public Library is one of the few Andrew Carnegie Libraries still in operation.

• 1908 – Howard W. Taft stopped by Webb City to rally votes for the November Presidential Election in which he was the winner.

• 1918 – The new concrete highway to Joplin was completed by the Works Progress Administration. It started at 13th and Madison streets and went through Royal Heights to Broadway Street in Joplin. Finally, a second route to Joplin instead of going west on Webb City Road to Stone’s Corner and then south on Joplin’s Main Street

• October 18, 1920, Webb City councilmen voted to change the names of some of Webb City’s streets. Allen Street became Main Street; Main Street became Broadway from Webb Street east toward Carterville; Joplin Street became Broadway from Webb Street west to the edge of town; John Street became Austin Street. No explanation given as to why the changes were made.

• 1906 – The concrete viaduct between Webb City and Carterville was erected by the Southwest Missouri Railroad Company at a cost of $100,000 instead of the estimated $75,000. The concrete walls are still standing.

• May 3, 1940 – The Southwest Missouri Railroad viaduct between Webb City and Carterville was dismantled by R.L. Heisten and 20 men and an audience of several hundred spectators. The 55-ton viaduct that spanned 106 feet was transported to the Grand River Lake near Jay, Okla.

• 1905 – The first hospital in Webb city was founded by Dr. Lincoln Chenoweth in the house of Captain Hemenway, on the northwest corner of First and Webb streets.

• 1905 – The first hospital closed, and the second hospital was set up at the Salvation Army, 300 E. Main (Broadway).

• 1910 – Jane and Charles Chinn donated $60,000 to build Jane Chinn Hospital at Rose and Austin streets. Jane Chinn was 81 years old at the time.

• 1898 – Webb City received a silver medal as an award for its mineral display at the International Exposition at Omaha, Neba. It was the only silver medal ever awarded. Nobody knows where that medal disappeared to.

• 1893 – Webb City had a large piece of lead on display at the Chicago World’s Fair, which was claimed it to be the finest display of all. 

• 1959 – Radar Hill was established in Oronogo by the Air Force to score bombing runs. Many young soldiers moved here for a short stay… and some stayed. Radar Hill is located across from the Oronogo Circle Mine… on material removed from the deep pit. The hill wasn’t considered a hazard by the EPA and is still standing.

• That new traffic light located at West Daugherty and East streets sure stands out. Can you imagine what it was like when Webb City had two traffic lights on Main Street in 1947. One was at the intersection of Broadway and Main Street and the other was at the intersection of Daugherty and Main Street. Wonder what happened to them and why were they removed?

• Webb City’s first kindergarten classes began in September 1963. Before then, parents had to pay for kindergarten classes in local churches and day cares. All-day kindergarten classes began in 1998.

• 1935 – Joplin purchased 319 acres of land from Webb City to develop the Joplin Regional Airport.

• The area of Mount Hope Cemetery was known as Pilot Grove, owned by Thomas C. Webb, a cousin to city founder John C. Webb. Tom brought his wife from Tennessee and found this beautiful land with rolling hills and plentiful trees. He could stand at the high point and see for miles. This young couple, in their 20s, had many plans and dreams for Pilot Grove. 

During the Civil War, vigilantes were very active along the Missouri/Kansas line. The sad part is those who were just defending their property were often killed. Thomas was one of those brave property holders who died defending his property and family. That left Mary a young widow. Mary kept the Pilot Grove Farm going and raised her children alone. She divided the land among their children. One of those children was Erasmus Webb, who married his second cousin Eliza Jane Terry. Erasmus and Eliza had three children, Jesse Thomas Webb, John Edward Webb and Clementine Webb. Erasmus died in 1888, leaving Eliza to raise the children alone. 

Eliza married William Alonzo Bigger. The land on the hill then became known as the Bigger Place but old timers still referred to it as Pilot Grove. 

In April of 1905, 11 Joplin and Webb City businessmen incorporated a business and purchased the 77 acres of the Bigger Place from Eliza for $11,550. The business men made the cemetery a tribute to the wonderful families that helped build Webb City. They contacted family members and arranged to have the bodies of those glorious families moved to Mt. Hope Cemetery. The top mound of the cemetery holds well known families such as the Webbs, McCorkles, Stewarts and Chinns.

• A small town known as French Point used to be  southwest of Oronogo just south of Ivy Road on County Road 240 (Homestead Drive in Webb City). It was the site of Civil War skirmishes on May 14 and May 18, 1863.

 

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.

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