The purchase of this photo ignited a rewarding research project.

From the 3rd floor
of the Webb City Public Library

Old News

Would you like help researching your family or historic home?

Webb City Area Genealogical Society

March 13, 2024

Let’s use our photograph this week as an example of the how we like to research ancestry and historic homes. The picture was purchased at an antique store in Carthage. Written on the back is, “Home of Nancy Jane Lea, December 29, 1918.”

A member of the Webb City Area Genealogical Society decided to try and find out if the house is in our area. Using tools and resources available at the genealogy room, she was able to place the location of the home as 2616 W. Morgan Heights Road, Carthage.

Starting at, the researcher found a Nancy Jane Lea, who died in Marion Township, Jasper County on May 17, 1920.

The state of Missouri has death certificates online from 1910-1973, Missouri Death Certificates, 1910–1973 (, and Nancy’s certificate was found there, giving us more information about her life. She was born on July 4, 1843, in Lee County, Va., to Walter Harvest (Hargis) and Nancy Hyden and was the widow of John Lea. Her occupation was listed as housewife. The information was provided by Mrs. Phillips of Carthage. Nancy was buried on May 18, 1920, in Carthage’s Park Cemetery by Knell Undertaking Company.

Further research on provided a marriage license for John H. Lea and Nancy Jane Hargis. They were married on July 18, 1864, in Webster County, Mo. John H. Lea was the son of Alva and Nancy Lea. He was a member of the 16th Missouri Cavalry during the Civil War.

John and Nancy are listed on the 1870 Missouri census as living in Center Creek Township, Jasper County. In 1880, the census record shows John and Nancy living in Joplin Township, with his occupation listed as farmer and Nancy’s occupation listed as housekeeping.

Patrick H. Hargis, age 12, brother-in-law of John, and J. Jones, age 10, niece of John, are listed as living in the household. John Lea died on Dec. 8, 1887, in Ozark, Johnson County, Ark., and was buried there. His will was available on, and he left property outside of Webb City to Nancy Jane. The 1895 Jasper County plat map shows Nancy owning 40 acres in the area that would be Country Side Estates today.

The 1890 census records were lost in a 1921 fire in the Commerce Department building in Washington, D.C., so there is not a record of Nancy’s location at that time. Many states compiled census records in 1885 and 1895, and sometimes people can be found using those records.

In 1900, Nancy was living with her brother, Patrick H. Hargis, and his family in Joplin Township. He was farming, and Nancy was listed as a landlady. By 1910, Nancy had moved to Marion Township and was listed as head of household. Her brother and his wife, along with nieces and nephews were living in the home with her. The 1920 census shows the family in Marion Township with Nancy, age 75, listed as a farmer. Her brother and many nieces and nephews were also living there, along with one servant.

The researcher still had not proved that the house in the photograph belonged to this Nancy Jane Lea so she checked more resources. Since the photograph was dated 1918 and Nancy Jane was living in Marion Township during that time she started looking at maps. The Jasper County township map shows that Marion Township includes the town of Carthage and extends north and west from there.

The Carthage Evening Press published a probate notice for Nancy after her death in 1920. It noted she died at Morgan Heights, which is located in Marion Township. A later article in the Joplin News Herald told that S. C. Lindsey, Holstein cattle breeder, purchased Nancy Jane Lea’s 40 acres at Morgan Heights near Carthage.

Now it was time to use a modern resource, Google Maps, to search for the home. Using the map in 3D mode allows the viewer to see actual street views and the researcher was able to virtually drive down Morgan Heights Road and find the house. The current view of the house shows it as almost identical to the 1918 image, minus all of the large trees that have grown on the property over the last 106 years.

Plans are being made to visit the home and offer the photograph to the current owner.

If you are interested in researching the history of your family or home, please visit us at the Webb City Area Genealogical Society, located on the third floor of the Webb City Library. Other Jasper County resources can be found at the Jasper County Records Center in Carthage.

Archivist Annie Golden recently gave a presentation at our society showing many of the resources and tools that she has available for research. You may reach the records center at ARCHIVES & RECORDS | Jasper County Missou (

List of resources used: Genealogy, Family Trees and Family History Records online–

Find A Grave Find a Grave–Millions of Cemetery Records

University of Missouri Digital Library University of Missouri Digital Library | MU Digital Library, University of Missouri (

Missouri Death Certificates Missouri Death Certificates, 1910–1973 (

Newspaper Archive NewspaperArchive 1700s–2024 | NewspaperArchive

The historic Nancy Jane Lea home as it is today at 2616 W. Morgan Heights Drive, west of Carthage.

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.