Friday, October 21, 2016

Ralph Green and Avis Tucker

According to Wikipedia the Solomon Valley Milling Company was founded in 1902 by Lemuel K. Green in Osborne, Kansas. The steam mill used to process flour and Green discovered he could sell electricity. Lemuel Green then bought and sold a series of electric companies
In 1926 he sold his assets to the Fitkin Group again which merged with the Missouri Public Service Company. Green retired to Escondido, California where bought a 2,000-acre orange grove. He died in 1930.
The Public Utilities Act of 1935 broke up utilities. Green's son Ralph Green bought controlling interest in Missouri Public Service. He made himself president of the company and his grateful employees gave him this piece of paper with all of their names on it

The book, An  Informal History of Black Families of the Warrensburg, Missouri, Area by Lucille D. Gress explains, "Alice J. Goodwin Jones related some of her experiences, 'My husband...later began working at the Missouri Public Service Company in Warrensburg, When the company moved to Raytown, my husband drove for six months.  April 19, 1955, the company moved the workers to Lee's Summit...' Allice Jones commented that R.J. Green and Truman Henry were swell men to work for.  She recalled, 'When my husband was transferred to Raytown, Mr. Green told him to take me to see whether the house suited me.  When my husband was sick, he visited him.  He kept up with his employees."

The poster then was an acknowlegement from the employees to a good boss.

R.J. Green, lived for a while just outside of Warrensburg near his daughter's (Avis Green Tucker.)  

His daughter Avis Green Tucker  Avis Green Tucker

Avis Tucker was the publisher and editor of the Warrensburg Daily Star Journal for many years after her husband, the previous owner and editor, died.

Buddy Baker remembers, "My dad used to drive a show wagon for William Tucker in parades.  He'd go out to the farm to help with the clydesdales.  R.J. Green would often be there kicking the shit with Tucker and my dad."

Missouri public service provided power to a lot of West Central Missouri counties.  I don't know which district Johnson country was in so here's a closeup of some of the signatures.  You might recognize some of the names.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Most Unusual Death of Samuel P. Sparks

There is a street in Warrensburg, Missouri named Sparks Avenue in honor of Samuel P. Sparks, a lawyer, state senator and prominent citizen back in the 1800s. But it is not so much his life, but his unusual death for which he is best remembered.

On the 14th of May 1892, Sam Sparks bought an Accidental Death Insurance Policy from the National Masonic Accident Association. One night, shortly thereafter, the 48-year-old lawyer got up in the middle of the night, tripped in the darkness and fell face first onto a heating grate in the floor. A sharp piece of metal sticking up from the grate punctured his eye.

Soon infection set in behind his eye and went to his brain, driving him insane. He lingered for several months in this state before taking his own life on Sept. 16, 1892. According to a local newspaper, "...the Senator had been drinking heavily for several days. He laid down on the floor in his night clothes, and, after asking his wife to pray for him, deliberately cut his throat from ear to ear, half severing..." (the rest is unreadable.) His widow, Nannie, tried to collect on the policy, but was told that Sparks didn't die from the accident - he committed suicide.

Nannie took National Masonic to court several times before a sympathetic federal judge ruled that, "his death was the result of a bodily injury, which was effected through external, violent and ACCIDENTAL means..., to wit: the result of a deep gash cut in his throat, with a razor, in his own hands, while he, the said Samuel P. Sparks was insane, mentally deranged and wholly incapable of forming any mental design..."

So it was an accident.

Source: The Sedalia Weekly Bazoo, 20 Sept. 1892 and The Federal Reporter - Vol 79 page 278 and 279.

Here's a little write-up about his first wife Mira.

Close to the entrance of Sunset Hill Cemetery stands a tall, imposing tombstone that tells a story of two young lives that ended much too soon.

Mira Curtis was the 20-year-old daughter of the Sheriff of Henry county when she married 27-year-old Samuel P. Sparks, the clerk of the neighboring Johnson County on April 6, 1871.

Nine months and 13 days later she was dead. A small tombstone inches away from hers give evidence of the reason for her death.

A few words and some random letters are visible on the baby's stone, but if the child has a name it is known now only to God. When the main monument was put up, the grieving young husband meant for it to stand forever as evidence of his love for her, but everyone's enemy, time, is eroding this neglected structure. Soon all earthly evidence of this story of love, hope, and loss will be gone.

I can't remember where on the Internet I found this biography:


Samuel P.  entered Chapel Hill college where he continued about one year when the war broke out, and he enlisted in the 5th Missouri cavalry, commanded by Col. Sigel, and served three years, afterwards on a non-commissioned regimental staff, and was in many hotly contested battles, in the Price raid of 1864.  He was mustered out of service in May, 1865, and returned home and taught a term of school, and in the following fall entered McKendre college, Lebanon, Ill., where he
continued to pursue his studies for five years, and graduated in the full college classical course in June, 1870.  He then returned home and in the fall of the same year was elected to the office of county clerk of Johnson county,.  In 1874,he entered The St. Louis Law School, and graduated in the spring of 1875; Returning home he commenced the practice of law.
and soon gained  reputation as a trustworthy lawyers.  Mr. Sparks’ second marriage occurred April 8, 1874, to Miss Nannie R. Cuningham,,  daughter of Capt.  Anderson Cuningham Little Rock Ark..  Mr. Sparks owns a handsome suburban brick residence just north of the city limits.  He and his family the attend Episcopal church, where his wife is a leading
member.  In politics he is a true democrat.  In business he is prompt and attentive and among his friends, social, kind and benevolent.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ever Hear of Dairi-ett?

It seems that Simmons Studio did a lot of insurance photography.  Take, for example, this picture of a burned out business.

Here's some details:
Has anyone ever heard of Dairiett?  I couldn't find any advertising for it at the historical society.  Like most pictures from the Simmons Studio collection of negatives, I think this was taken in the late 40s or early 50s.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cute Children's Book For Children With Strong Stomachs

Here's a glimpse into a children's song book that's resting on my desk in the basement of the Historical Society.  Are you ready?
Your children should love this darling picture of a man with his eyes gouged out on the bramble bush.  The impaled eyeballs are enlarged to make sure nobody misses the humor.

You may want to sing the accompanying ditty to your children while they stare at the picture.
What fun!
In case you're wondering how to get your own copy - you missed your opportunity.

You needed to go to Christopher's Dry Goods Palace in MDCCCLXXXII and ask for your free copy.

Here's the back of the book:

Buddy remembers shopping at Heberling's.

Here's some more pages from the book.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Who's Dugan and Harry?

This picture from the Simmon's Studio collection of negatives was filed under the name Bodenhamer.
But the name on the negative is Stoneking.

I ran this picture a few months ago.
 And Brett Penrose identified the man as:
"Brett Penrose Lisa, my great grandfather owned the filling station on the NW corner of Gay & Holden. After looking at the photo, my mom thinks the guy in uniform might be William Ross Bodenhamer-- she says he ran the station across from her grandfather's." 

 So apparently the Bodenhaers were DX people.  Can anybody tell me more about this picture.  Do you know who Dugan and Harry were?

P.S.  I'm too cheap to buy a good photo editor.  I use the free online stuff.  Here's my feeble attempt to enlarge the license plate on the car.

And the Vess Cola sign on the door

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Okay, Don’t Go To War. Stay at Home and Let Your Wife Murder You Instead

I’ve been reading through some pretty interesting letters lately.

They belonged to Carl Baker, a soldier during World War One.
Five different Warrensburg women wrote to him in the fall of 1918 with all of the local news.  One of the big stories was the death of Frank Heibler.  It was so major that it even made the front page of  the Butler Weekly Times on August 8, 1918.  See there it is.

It's that little paragraph- bottom right. In case you can’t read it, it says,

“Street Commissioner Heibler, of Warrensburg died under peculiar circumstances last week and a coroner's inquest was held. The verdict was that he came to his death from poisoning, but it was not decided whether it was a case of homicide or suicide.”

The first I heard of this was in a letter from Carl’s future wife, Leona Narron:

Oct 17, 1918

Dear Husband,

Carl you know that Hebler women thats husband died just before you left they have arrested her and have her in jail….

The next day, his mother, Annie Baker wrote to him about Mrs. Heibler:

Oct 19 1918

Dearest Carl

...I thought maybe you had influ as that seems to be the order of the day now… Mr. Willoughby says they are dying in Clinton at the rate of 5 a day with the Flu.

O yes the grand jury found a bill against Mrs Hiebler of murder in the first degree + she is now in jail I think she is now where she ought to be I sure believe she killed that man.  I saw her at the Flag Raising she stood in front of me for a long while + she had a black veil in her hat + the wind would blow it back in Earlines (Carl’s baby sister) face + she would try to catch it every time…

Finally Leona wrote about Mrs. Hebler’s trial:

Warrensburg, Mo
Dec 31, 1918

My Dear Husband,

Carl you remember that Mrs. Hebler they had her trile today But did not get through with it.  It is to be again tomorrow.  We don’t have to work tomorrow so I think I will go hear it.  There is a women by the name of Roberts that lives next door to us and she is going I think that I will go with her. I never heard a trile in my life and I think that I will hear this one.  Some think she will prove guilty and some think she will come clear but I don’t know what to think But am anchious to know…

Later she sent him articles about the trial.

The articles read in Part:

The trial of Mrs Ethel Hiebler charged with murder in the first degree, began in circuit court at 3 o’clock this afternoon… The defendant, Mrs. Hiebler, occupied a seat near her attorney.  She is attired in deep mourning with heavy black veil and has her little child on her knee, thus presenting a very impressive spectacle.

...There were a few women here and there in the crowd but 96 per cent were of the male persuasion.


If the jury in the case of State vs. Ethel Hieble believes the note introduced in evidence by the defense, the verdict will no doubt be aquittal.

Mrs Simons, mother of defendant testified to finding a note recently among some of the late Frank Hiebler’s papers which read

“Bye, bye, to all: I did it - Frank.”

The state... introduced Drs. Hall and Patterson; Mr. and Mrs. E.E. Wier, Mrs. Will Burnett, Mrs. H.W. Bramel and Mrs. Verl Ele.

The testimony of Drs. Hall and Patterson had to do with their experience in attending Frank Hiebler previous to and during his last illness in July, 1918. The green capsules which were much in evidence at the coroner’s inquest, the nature of Hiebler’s sickness, etc. were gone over and the doctors expressed belief that he died of poisoning.

The report of Chemist Foster finding arsenic, was also presented to the jury.
Mrs. Bramel, wife of the south side druggist, testified that Mrs Hiebler had bought Paris Green from their store at different times representing that it was for killing bugs.
Mrs. Burnett testified to having told Hiebler of her seeing men go into his home during his absence and said that she heard a rumpus between Hiebler and his wife when he went home with the information….

Mrs Verl Ele, another neighbor of the Hieblers, gave the most damaging statement against the defendant. Mrs. Ele said that on one occasion Mrs. Hiebler told her she would give half of his insurance to anybody who would knock him in the head and she didn’t think it would be any harm to give him poison.”

I don't know what happened to Mrs. Hiebler. Carl Baker came home in February 1919 and the letters stopped.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Gerbes Grand Opening Carnival

Gerbes used to be a large local chain of grocery stores.  Here's pictures of their grand opening:

The trouble is that I don't know which grand opening this is.
They had two stores in Warrensburg.
One store in Knob Noster.

And one store in Holden.

Then Mr. Gerbes died and all of his stores went away.

But that's not really part of this story.  What I'm trying to find out is which Gerbes grand opening is the subject of these photographs.
I noticed that the True magazine had a very distinctive cover that I might be able to trace to a date.

But I couldn't find it online.  Here's another hint. See the guy on the far right below.

When a middle aged man is willing to wear a ridiculous hat in public, he's either desperate for a job or he's the manager of the store.

Does anyone recognize him or remember this event?  Please leave a comment.