Ancestors, Legends & Time

We had a plethora of businesses in 1949

Jeanne Newby

Let’s take a journey back in time to 1949. Webb City was just heading  into the new decade of the ’50s. There are many pleasant memories of the ’50s, the golden years of money, jobs, new houses, pleasant everyday life in America. Webb City was a typical small town in the middle of the United States.

The pleasant city is a growing community that was founded on the resources of the mining industry. The mining business took a slump in the ’20s, but after World War II the business began to revive, once again proving the richness of the land in this area.

Webb City was very blessed to have forefathers who thought ahead and made sure this city had many transportation opportunities. Two railroads ran through town, Missouri Pacific on the east side at 700 East Broadway and Frisco (St. Louis & San Francisco) on the west end at 933 West Daugherty, and Kansas City Southern had a spur that ran through town. Two major highways also passed through this Midwest town; Route 66 and Highway 71. An airport was located west of town. The bus station was at 113 W. Broadway, home to the Crown Bus Line and the Greyhound Bus Line. The American Bus Line had a flag stop at 902 W. Broadway. And you could always hail a taxi cab, as there were three companies in competition with each other: Everitt Cab Co. at 210 N. Main St., Thirty-Two Taxi Service at 114 E. Daugherty St. and Webb City Cab Co. at 10 ½ S. Main St. Each one trying to outdo the other in service and speed.

Most of the citizens worked in the immediate area in several different lines of employment. There were three powder plants nearby: Hercules Powder Co., DuPont Powder and Atlas Powder Co. with the Missouri Chemical Co. Industry in town included two shirt factories, Elder Mfg. Co. at 110 W. First St. and Big Smith Mfg. Co. at 23 S. Liberty St.

Rex Casket Co. at 111 E. Church St., Webb Corp. at 402 E. Broadway were both well known all over the country. The outskirts of town were busy with farming, dairy and fruit farms. Goswick Bag Co., in the Linwood Addition, manufactured bags, and the American Bag Co. at 218 N. Madison St. sold used bags.

The Fire Department had six firemen; the Police Department had four officers. Ambulance service was provided by two undertaking businesses; Hedge-Lewis Funeral Home at 301 W. Broadway and Webb City Undertaking Co. at 400 W. Daugherty St.

Entertainment included a golf course and a public swimming pool. Additional entertainment could be found in Carterville to the east, as they had the O’Malley Carnival Co. on Main Street. Not to forget Mutt’s Miniature Golf Course at 915 W. Broadway. Billiards were popular, and you could find your pool tables at The Elks Billiard Parlor, 102 N. Webb St. and Webb City Recreation at 110 W. Daugherty St.

Military-wise, Webb City had the State Guard (not national), located on the southeast corner of Second and Main streets. Webb City had one daily newspaper, the Daily Sentinel, located at 13 S. Main St., also home to the weekly Wise Buyer. But there were other newspapers in town, the Webb City Leader, a weekly publication at 122-24 N. Webb St., also home to Graphic Review and Switzer Printing Co. The Joplin Globe and News Herald had an office at 219 W. Daugherty St.

Webb City had the Gas Service Company office at 25 S. Webb St., the Missouri Utility Co. (water) at 15 S. Webb St. and Empire District Electric Co. at 31 S. Main St. The Missouri Utility Co. had the distinction of their phone number being #1. The Southwestern Bell Telephone Office was at 209 W. Broadway.

No city would be complete without a bank, and Webb City had two; Webb City Bank at 100 N. Main St., and at the opposite end of the same block was Merchant & Miners Bank at 118 N. Main St. Originally there was a third bank in the middle of the same block, National Bank, but in ’49, it was home to the Home Land & Loan Co. at 108 N. Main St., owned by Harry Easley.

If you were moving to Webb City or leaving, the real estate companies wanted your business. Ed Allen had his office at 113 E. Daugherty St. William Burch was at 124 N. Webb St. Civic Theatre Corp. was at 217 W. Daugherty St., Home Land & Loan Co. was at 108 N. Main St., Joseph Switzer was at 334 S. Webb St., Todd Land Corp. was at 210 N. Madison St., and the Veatch J C Realty Co. was at 106 ½ N. Webb St. 

Webb City was the place to live. A lot going on at all times.

Hope you had as much fun on this journey back to Webb City in 1949 as I did. I love to visit the past.

Jeanne’s new book, “The Zinc City, Webb City, Missouri” is now available at Webb City Chamber Office.

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.