The story of Murphysburg is an important part of Joplin’s history and we hope to provide a place for people of all ages to enjoy learning those stories. In this section of the website we will share some of the area’s rich history though stories about the homes and people who have lived in them, important historical documents, and other valuable resources.
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Women of Murphysburg
Celebrating women pioneers at the turn of the century in Joplin Missouri
Murphysburg honors women connected to the Murphysburg Historic District at the turn of the century during Women’s History Month. So many of the social life’s aspects have changed for women in the years. Starting with the right for education and ending with gender equality – all of this didn’t happen overnight, and many used their personal lives for a greater cause such as the suffragette movement, prohibition, and supporters of everything tending to uplift the betterment of the community. They were amoung America’s early leaders in the cause for women’s rights.
Four women connected to the Murphysburg Historic District at the turn of the century will be honored during March-Women’s History Month. Historic Murphysburg Preservation, Inc., a local non-profit organization, will celebrate the past by using present day technology. There will be a different woman featured for a week starting every Wednesday in March on HMP’s website and Facebook page. Paula Callihan said, “We are dedicated to making history informative and fun. Be sure to visit our Facebook page at Murphysburg and add your modern-day word/thought bubble via the comment option.” Paula encourages community members and descendants to contact her if they have pertinent Murphysburg historical documents, photographs, maps, or oral history to share. She reminds people that information about Murphysburg housekeepers, cooks, nursemaids, caretakers, chauffeurs, etc., is also a critical historical component.
Hard Luck: The Billy Cook Story
William Edward “Billy” Cook was born into a life of violence. It was a hard-luck life that would carry him all the way to the Death Chamber and beyond. He was executed at California’s San Quentin prison before he was 25 years old. Is Badman Billy Cook buried in an unmarked grave just outside of Peace Church Cemetery as local rumors have suggested?
William Edward “Billy” Cook was born into a life of violence. It was a hard-luck life that would carry him all the way to the Death Chamber and beyond. He was executed at California’s San Quentin prison before he was 25 years old. Is Badman Billy Cook buried in an unmarked grave just outside of Peace Church Cemetery as local rumors have suggested? Will his spirit ever find peace?
In November 1951, a jury found Billy Cook guilty in only 50 minutes. Cook received the death sentence with a smirk on his lips and hate in his heart. “I hate everybody’s guts.” he said, “and everybody hates mine.” Billy Cook gave them hell all the way to the end. He refused to speak with clergymen or the hordes of eager reporters. He denied everyone just because they hoped to get a last minute exclusive with the condemned killer.
Badman Bill Cook was buried at night in Peace Cemetery according to the headline of a 1952 Joplin Globe story. Cook’s graveside service was held under the cover of darkness to avoid attention. The service was officiated by Rev. Dow Booe of nearby Galena and lasted only 10 minutes. “Brief service held at night with aid of flashlights and lanterns before about 15 persons;” “Funeral cortege, consisting of four cars and hearse, moves to burial place over back roads,” the sub-headlines read. “Just as the graveside rites ended,” Wallace wrote, “the cry of a small child could be heard in the chill of the night air.”
Billy Cook in Popular Media
The Billy Cook case inspired the 1953 film classic The Hitch-Hiker, which details the final leg of Cook’s saga in Mexico and, twenty years later, would be the basis for the Doors’ Top Twenty hit from 1971, “Riders on the Storm,” included on their LP L.A. Woman (“If you give this man a ride / Sweet family will die…”). It was the last song the band would ever record.
Free E-Book detailing the story of Billy Cook by Joshua Shackles
Download ebook: Hard Luck-The Billy Cook Story
Peace Church Cemetery is maintained by a fantastic group of dedicated volunteers that are dedicated to preserving the history of Joplin’s Pioneer cemetery! You can find out more about special events and volunteer opportunities on Facebook.
Murphysburg Veterans History Project
American Revolution | 1776 to Treaty of Paris September 3, 1783
War of 1812 | Conflict between the U.S. and Great Britain from 1812 to 1815
Mexican War | Conflict between the U.S. and Mexico | 1846 to 1848
American Civil War | April 12, 1861 and ended by proclamation on May 9, 1865
Spanish-American War | April 21, 1898 to Paris Peace Treaty on December 10, 1898
World War I aka the Great War | 1914 to 1918 | America enters the war 1917 | Armistice was November 11, 1918 | Treaty of Versailles outlines the terms in 1919
World War II | Began in 1939 as a European conflict, but then widened to include most of the nations of the world | U.S. declares war on Japan, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania in December 1941 | War ends May 8, 1945