|Birth: ||Aug. 9, 1850|
|Death: ||Oct. 17, 1924|
Top right photo is picture of Barbee Park, in it's 'glory days' of racing. Circa early 1900's.
Second photo at right is downtown Joplin at 4th & Main Streets looking south. House of Lords on on the very left side of the picture. Circa early 1900's
Click on photos to read captions
Gilbert 'Gib' Barbee 74 passed away at the Keystone Hotel in Joplin, Missouri from complications of heart disease/myocarditis.
Parents were James Barbee and Louisa Lee
Louisa died early on and James remarried to Elizabeth Garner
His brother and sister were a set of twins.
Brother: James Monroe Barbee
Sister: Louisa Barbee Adams
Barbee family information courtesy of
Missouri Death Certificate
PARR AND SWINDLE HILL ACTIVITIES
Swindle Hill and Parr Hill, two old fields in East Joplin, are now occupied by homes cemeteries, the stockyards and industrial plants. There is scant evidence of mining anywhere, but dozens of pioneers in Joplin got rich out there. Also, many young miners were buried in the soft ground, caught in some sort of accident.
An abandoned mill site on Parr Hill, now being platted as the Bankers's Addition to Joplin, is where Gib Barbee, Joplin's first and foremost political boss, got his start from the Ozark foothills. That was in the spring of 1875, when the young camp was turning poor country boys into rich mine owners every week.
Although Barbee was a greenhorn about mining, he did know how to get along with men, and he seemed to have the scent for ore in the ground. With a $200 grubstake, provided by farm neighbors, he sank a shaft 148 feet deep, and in a short time he had enough money to build a three-story brick building on Main, right in the center of Joplin's business activity. That building, was known as the House of Lords. In pioneer days it was the toughest gambling joint in the entire country.
A natural organizer and leader, Barbee took stock in many local enterprises, among others a daily newspaper. The announced purpose of this newspaper was to support William Jennings Bryan and free silver. There are many stories told of the Barbee brand of journalism, but no one denies that Barbee used his newspaper to grind his own axes and keep them plenty sharp for those who opposed him politically - and in any other way. After Barbee had made a small fortune from mining on Parr Hill, he abandoned lead and zinc mining for business and politics. When he died he left $100,000 to the charity fund of Joplin.
Excerpts above from Old Grubstake Days in Joplin by Wm R & Mabel Draper
Today's Joplinites can scarcely imagine the thrilling events that once took place in southwest Joplin from 1872 until 1909. The excitement began in 1872 with the construction of a half-mile racing track. By 1876, the Jockey Club and Fair Association had expanded the grounds, which stretched from 17th to 20th Streets between Murphy Avenue and Maiden Lane. In 1879, the sprawling 40-acre site, known as the Joplin Exposition, boasted the racing track, stables, stalls and pens for the animals, plus shelters for agricultural implements and carriages, all of which, according to the 1883 History of Jasper County, Missouri, "experienced horsemen pronounce one of the best in the United States." The park also featured a grandstand and a 3000-seat amphitheatre. One of the most spectacular buildings was an octagonal-shaped "art and floral hall," which was two stories high, topped with an observatory "commanding a most excellent view of Joplin and the surrounding country." In addition to the horse racing, the Exposition track also presented chariot races, military tournaments, political rallies, and fire department competitions.
After the Exposition wound down in the late 1890s, Gilbert Barbee purchased the site, renamed it Barbee Park, and kept the racetrack going for several more years. The legendary "Gib" Barbee, who served as the area's Democratic political boss, owned the Joplin Globe newspaper and the infamous House of Lords bar. Barbee hit some hard times in April 1909, when a fire destroyed the grandstand. Fire fighters managed to save the stables and other buildings, but the grandstand was a total loss at $6,500.
In 1927, Barbee's son O H Barbee cleared and leveled the acreage for residential development. He built the Barbee Court addition right on the old race course, preserving the graceful oval of elms trees that once surrounded it. The outline of the racetrack can be traced by looping around from 17th to 19th Streets from Maiden Lane to the alley between Porter and Harlem Avenues. The stone and brick bungalow-type homes in Barbee Court all faced on Harlem, the homestretch of the former racetrack.
Charles Gibbons. Angling in the Archives
History of Jasper County, Missouri
Dolph Shaner The Story of Joplin
CARTHAGE EVENING PRESS
October 18, 1924
GILBERT BARBEE DEAD
FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS AWAIT WORD FROM DAUGHTER
Veteran Joplin Editor and Politician Born in Newton County 74 Years Ago
Arrangements had not been made this afternoon for the funeral of Gilbert Barbee, widely know Joplin Democratic politician, former newspaper editor and publisher, who died yesterday. A daughter is expected to come to Joplin from New Mexico for the services and arrangements are awaiting definite word from her.
Mr. Barbee was a life-long resident of southwest Missouri, having been born in Newton county. He was 74 years old. For more than 50 years he had resided in Joplin. He owned controlling interest in the Joplin Globe from 1899 to 1911. Losing control of that publication, he sold his stock in the corporation and was one of the men instrumental in starting the Joplin Tribune as a real Democratic party organ. The paper failed to be a financial success, however, and suspended operations after a comparatively short career.
Barbee was a politician of the old school and was one of the most widely known political leaders in the southwest for many years. He also was public spirited and promoted many public institutions in Joplin. He had been retired from active business for several years because of ill health and had spent much of his time in southern cities.
His death came after a 16 days illness at his apartments in the Keystone Hotel.
Mr. Barbee is survived by his divorced wife who resides in Joplin and five children. The children are Mrs. Pauline Elliott of Dexter, N.M., Mrs. Jessie Brite of 618 Empire Avenue, Oliver H. Barbee of 1731 Annie Baxter Avenue, Roscoe Barbee of Dallas, TX., and T. G. Barbee of Ritchey, MO.
POLITICIAN OF OLD SCHOOL
LAMAR DEMOCRAT ON CAREER OF GILBERT BARBEE
Joplin Publisher Long Foe of Phelps and Benton - Some Political History Recalled
Author Aull comments as follows on the death of Gilbert Barbee in his Lamar Democrat of Saturday:
The death of Gilbert Barbee Friday at his suite in the Keystone Hotel, at Joplin reminds those who have taken an interest in politics, that for fifteen years he was one of the outstanding figures in the Democratic politics in Missouri.
Barbee owned the Joplin Globe. It was during his ownership strongly partisan in politics, and its control made its owner the dominant figure in the Democratic leadership of the fifteenth district.
For several years Barbee vigorously fought the late W. H. Phelps, who was then the political attorney for the Missouri Pacific railroad.
The two leaders came to an open breach immediately following the campaign of 1900. In this latter election the Democrats carried Jasper county by a thousand votes. The entire Democratic county ticket was elected. The fifteenth district returned a Democratic majority of four thousand.
But almost immediately following this election Col. Barbee through the Globe began a series of sweeping assaults on Phelps.
The party in Jasper county split between the two leaders but Barbee triumphed. In 1902, he named the entire delegation to the state convention and every candidate on the county ticket was a Barbee man.
The Phelps men whetted their knives and at the election that fall the entire Democratic ticket was defeated in Jasper county.
Barbee from this time on generally dominated the politics of Jasper county. He and Col. Phelps would patch up a truce for election purposes. But there was pretty constant warfare between them in the ranks of the party.
Another Democrat who was early upon the blacklist of the pulsant owner of the Globe was Congressman M. E. Benton. But there was no chance to beat Benton out of the Democratic nomination for congress until he went down at the polls in the Roosevelt landslide of 1904. then Barbee swore he should never come back. Barbee backed Hon. Tom Hackney for congress in 1906 and the latter was nominated and elected. But two years later Hackney was defeated at the polls by Hon. C. H. Morgan.
Then as the campaign of 1910 came on the friends of Ex-Congressman Benton believed it was time for the latter to come back. But Barbee swore he was going to see to it that Benton didn't come back. He called his klansmen together to consider a candidate to pit against the distinguished Democrat from Neosho, and they chose the late Jim Daugherty.
Daugherty was an unlettered businessman who had amassed a considerable fortune. He was a good mixer and he was no novice in the game of politics.
Daugherty defeated Benton and he did it through the influence of Barbee. Col. Benton never came back from his defeat. It was "old Gib's," as his friends all like to call Barbee, last victory.
There has always been a good deal of discussion among fifteenth district politicians as to why Col. Barbee did the thing which forever took the scepter out of his hand.
One of the fixed policies of the Globe under "old Gib's" ownership was to fight the Southwestern Railway, that owned the urban and inter-urban street car lines that radiated through and out of Joplin. Naturally this fight of the old warrior would center on A. H. Rogers, the head of the corporation that owned the street car lines.
Shortly after his election of 1910 when Barbee stood forth really more triumphant and powerful in fifteenth district politics that he ever had before. His friends in Southwest Missouri were startled and confused to learn that he had sold the greater part of his stock in the Joplin Globe to Rogers.
The effects of this disheartening and un-explainable occurrence were somewhat occurrence were somewhat softened when it began to be handed out among Barbee's political friends that "old Gib" would still control the Globe as of yore. Rogers had bought most of his stock. But it wouldn't do him any good. His money would be wasted. Men who were under the spell of Mr. Barbee's personality and power still controlled a majority of the stock. They would vote it as "old Gib" directed - and Rogers would find he had spent his money for nothing.
Sure enough when the next stock holder's meeting was held in the private office, of the Globe every director proposed by Barbee was elected while Rogers slate was all defeated. Barbee had Rogers money and yet he still controlled the Globe.
Whether it be true or not a characteristic story is told of what is alleged to have happened, just after the meeting. It was said that Rogers unruffled and outwardly good humored went up to Barbee and remarked, "Well Gib, you certainly put one over on me. I'll have to hand it to you for that. It's all right and you won't hear any squalling out of me. When it comes to controlling a political situation you know all about it and I know nothing. But when it comes to a fight for the control of a corporation, I believe I know a good deal more than you. So I'm going to tell you now that while I haven't figured out just how I'm going to do it, when the next meeting of the stockholders occurs it will be me and not you who elects the slate of directors."
Rogers was as good as his word.
Above bio research courtesy
I Remember When
James Barbee (1820 - 1864)
Louisa Lee Barbee (1823 - 1859)
Susan Sophronia Henry Barbee (1856 - 1927)
Jessie Barbee Brite (1879 - 1961)*
Oliver H Barbee (1880 - 1959)*
Gilbert Barbee (1850 - 1924)
James Monroe Barbee (1859 - 1917)*
Maintained by: NJBrewer
Originally Created by: Betty Saltenberger
Record added: Mar 13, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 34751567
http://www.historicjoplin.org/?p=208 - interesting artible about Gilbert Barbee and son Roscoe|
Added: Jun. 26, 2016
Fascinating to read about my gg grandfather. Thanks for all of the great research.|
Added: Apr. 23, 2012
Added: Mar. 21, 2012
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