From an unknown newspaper, apparently Carthage, Missouri, about 1948
| 76 YEARS A CARTHAGINIAN
R. D. Jennison---Richard Daniel Jennison has been a resident of Jasper County since his birth something over 77 years ago, has been a resident of Carhtage 76 years, worked in the mines in the northwest part of town when Carthage was an important ore producer and has been a continuous subscriber to the Press for 58 years and a reader of this paper for 68 years.
Mr. Jennison thinks--and this should shock the Chamber of Commerce--that around 1892 before the "Cleveland depression" Carthage was a better business town to the square inch than it is now. "People argue with me about this," he says, "but there must have been well over 10,000 people here then and it certainly was a busy, bustling and prosperous place."
Born Near Larussell
The family house was on the west side of Fulton Street just south of Central and there were not so many trees and houses in that part of town then. From their back yard they could see plainly the Jasper County jail which had been erected in 1872. Mr. Jennison well remembers the public hanging of John Ables in 1878 which he saw--or nearly saw--from his back yard.
The family gathered in the back yard to watch proceedings over at the jail. With them were some of the neighbors for whom this was a better viewpoint. They could see the erected scaffold and the condemned man led on to it. That was enough for 7 year- old Dick Jennison. He looked away. That sort of thing might, as people said, have a salutory effect on youth but he didn`t want to see it. "You know," says Mr. Jennison, "everyone seems to think that that scaffold was on the west side of the jail where later executions took place. Looking back in memory it seems to me that it was on the east side. Of course I was a child and my memory on that may be at fault."
Baptist Church a School
He attended Sunday school at the Methodist church where the Drake Hotel now stands. R. H. Rose local merchant, was superintendent, he recalls. Later the Franklin school on Maple street north of Miller street was built and he attended there, his father having in the meanwhile moved to the corner of Thirteenth and Clinton streets. His teacher there at first was Miss Kate Fisher, later the late Byron Ash. Finally he went to the Central school which had high school classes on the third floor.
Sometime in the early `eighties the Missouri Pacific railway was built right through town on Parsons street and the boy watched the grading and track laying on this, the more interested because he had heard his father tell when the first railway train came into Carthage July 4, 1872, on what is now the Frisco line, he had gone to Pierce City to come in with it. It was quite impressive to him that building of the Missouri Pacific down Parsons street.
D. A. Jennison was a friend of I. N. Lamb, who owned a lot of ground at the northwest edge of town and was prospecting for mineral there. Mr. Lamb told him if that he struck ore he would give him the first chance to buy a mining lot--an acre--on which to sink a mine of his own. Mr. Lamb struck ore and his friend, in partnership with Aaron Myers became a mine operator. The 18 year-old son went to work at the mines, first driving a horse-hoister as a shaft was sunk, then later working at various jobs about the mines as machinery and mills were installed.
Much Mining Here Then
"Those were the days when Carthage was really booming. In addition to the mines there were a lot of industries--the flour mills, two woolen mills, the foundry on Oak and Garrison, a big canning factory, a couple of brick plants, eight quarries as I remember and a lot of other things. There was a big pottery, for instance, north of Limeston street. Carthage was going strong in those days. It is now too, of course, but those seem to have been the really big days to me."
Joseph Crowley, a union veteran of the Civil War like Mr. Jennison`s father, came down from Vernon County to work for Mr. Jennison in the mines. Dick Jennison heard that there was a daughter in the family and thought that it might be well to cultivate her acquaintance. He did. He and Miss Agnes Crowley were married here December 13, 1891. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary December 13, 1941, and are looking forward to their sixtieth anniversary.
Depression of 1893
Thereafter Mr. Jennison worked at various occupations, mined occasionally, farmed some, did some market gardening. One of his last mining activities was as a superintendent of the Main Street Mining company, belonging to J. W. Ground and W. R. Logan. This mine was south of Fairview and east of the present water tower.
"I operated that mine myself awhile after Mr. Ground and Mr. Logan quit," recalls Mr. Jennison, "doing some work that they would not let me do while I was working for them. I did pretty well at it too--made over $300 a week for awhile, I remember. No, I wasn`t pulling the pillars. That ground was left sound and it hasn`t ever caved in. What I did was to take out the floor separating an upper level from a lower one. That was the rich ground."
Later he went into the fuel and timber business--stove wood, cord wood, railway ties. He sold about 2,800 ricks of wood a year to Carthaginians then. He furnished 4-foot wood for the Coahuila mines northwest of Carthage to burn under their boilers during a coal strike. The last year he was in this business he furnished 2,000 railway ties for the quarry switches.
Mr. and Mrs. Jennison now live on West Mound street just north of the Boggess & Graul addition. Rev. Herbert Jennison of Carthage is a son. One daughter, Lola May, died in infancy, Miss Neva Jennison died in 1931 and Luther Estle Jennison died in 1937.
Tribute to Wife
It is the old days in Carthage that Mr. Jennison is prone to talk most. Circuses used to show in Carthage on College hill north of Central and east of Fulton streets--P. T. Barnum and others. Like most other old residents Mr. Jennison is not sure why it was called College hill. He supposed there had been a school there before the war and when he was a boy there was the ruins of some brick buildings on the hill. A. M. Drake, hardware man, William Motherspaw, livery stable man, and J. M. Whitsett, dry goods man, were friends and sympathetic with the desire of boys to attend circuses. Boys sooned learned that if they dropped around Motherspaw`s livery stable then on Grant street at a certain time on circus day that the three likely would take them to the circus.
He`s a Fair Man, Too
Fairs have always interested Mr. Jennison. He and Mrs. Jennison have attended every one held in Carthage since their marriage. First there was the one south of Fairview avenue east of the Missouri Pacific railway. Mr. Jennison helped set the posts for that. Then there was the Knell fair that became the Jasper County fair. "Incidentally, it is about time that fair was revived," says Mr. Jennison. "It seems to me that young Frank and Bob Knell would be good ones to do it. They could get a lot of good counsel from their aunt, Miss Emma Knell." Then there were the baloon ascensions. Carthage merchants used to stage them on the square on Saturdays before the court house was built, they serving to attract trade. Bill Easton, who lived at the Grant Street hotel on Sixth and Grant used to be the baloonist. Mr. Jennison believes that Mr. Easton broke in Fred Ambrose, who later became noted in that line.
He likes to recall the old businesses in Carthage. He believes that there has always been a hardware store on the north side of the square where the Carthage Hardware company is now located--at least there has always been one there in his memory. Jesse Thacker ran it first as he recalls it. "That is a statue of Jesse Thacker out in Park Cemetery just west of Baker Boulevard near the end of Cedar Street," says Mr. Jennison. "Looks just like him too as I recall him. A clerk there named Henderson was once Mr. Jennison`s Sunday school teacher when he was a boy. Later Mr. Henderson bought into the store and it ran as Henderson & Huntley. Still later the store became Keim-McMillan--H. M. Keim and Joseph M.McMillan. Then it became the Carthage Hardware store operated by C. C. Carter for many years.
"Really a Town in 1892"
But he likes especially to recall the days of 1892, the year before the big panic hit. "Carthage was really a busy place then," he says. They tell me it is better now but that isn`t according to my recollections. She was really a town back in 1892."