This 1947 aerial photograph of downtown Webb City shows the Empire Auto Company building at 201-207 E. Broadway. The Empire Auto Company continued to operate until the early 1940s. In 1943 the telephone directory lists Hickam Metal Works as the occupant of the building. The building currently houses a division of Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Company.

Old News

From the 3rd floor
of the Webb City Public Library

William Claxton started Empire Auto downtown and ran an ice delivery business

William Edward Claxton was born Dec. 15, 1865, in Wright County, Mo. He was the son of Noah and Ophelia Claxton.

William was married in 1884 to Mary Jane Prophet, the daughter of James and Mary Prophet. Mary Jane was born on Sept. 27, 1866 in Hartville, Mo.

In 1900, William, Mary Jane and their daughter, Susie, were living at 339 Galena St. in Oronogo while he worked as a zinc ore miner.

The family moved to Webb City in 1902 and by 1910 William and Mary were living at 824 W. First St. Their daughter Susie was living next door at 820 W. First Street with her husband of one year, William P. Purkhiser. William Claxton was working as a teamster for an oil company, and William Purkhiser was working as an accountant.

Willam Claxton opened an automobile garage and service station about 1914. The Empire Auto Company was located at 201 E. Main St. (changed to Broadway). He purchased additional lots for the business in 1916. Future advertisements listed the address as 201-207 E. Main Street. In the 1920s, William also owned and operated an ice delivery business. He was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge and the Security Benefit Association.

William became ill in 1924, and the Empire Auto Company was sold shortly before his death. He died on May 18, 1925, at his home on First Street.

Mary Jane continued to live in Webb City until her death on Nov. 5, 1961, at the age of 95. She was a 50-year member of the Rebekah Lodge and member of Central Methodist Church for many years. William and Mary Jane are both buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Sentinel bound volumes are now in the Genealogy Room

The WCAGS has accepted ownership of the complete collection of bound volumes of the Webb City Sentinel, from 1983 (after the fire) until the final issue on Dec. 30, 2020.

Those issues can also be viewed on microfilm, along with much older issues.

Webb City Area Genealogical Society

WCAGS members staff the Genealogy Room on the third floor of the Webb City Public Library. Current hours are noon to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month in the Genealogy Room.

Everything you want to know about Jasper County Missouri Schools is available at a site compiled by Webb City Area Genealogical Society member Kathy Sidenstricker.