GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH IN OTTAWA COUNTY
by John Schehrer
Since building this site I have received several email messages wondering how to find more information on relatives who worked in the mines and other locations around the district. Most genealogical research should be conducted in the same way as for any other place. There were hundreds of mines and mining companies and they were constantly being sold to other companies and the names changed. These mines were on leased land for most part. Personel records are mostly non-existant. There were a few mining directories put out that listed the owners and officers of the mining companies. There were lots of long pictures made of mining crews from the mines. Usually only one or two persons, such as the ground boss, are named. Museums around the area have lots of these pictures. Other information might be found in courthouse records.
The Picher mining district was split by the state line between Oklahoma and Kansas. Picher, Oklahoma adjoins Treece, Kansas. Records should be checked in both Ottawa and Cherokee Co. I will list as many places as I can think of. I will leave it to you to get the addresses. "The Genealogical Helper" will give addresses of Historical societies and archives. Searching the web will provide more information. I am by no means an expert on this, but these are places that I would look for more information. Lots of times, the best place to start is the cemetery and there to get dates off of tombstones that can lead to obituaries and vital records. The researcher should also check records in Jasper Co, Mo. and Newton Co. since many of these miners came from there to the Picher field. CEMETERIES: There is no cemetery at Picher. Most people who lived there for a long time are buried at G.A.R. cemetery at Miami. This includes folks from Commerce, Cardin, and Quapaw, towns that are also without a cemetery. Another large cemetery is Greenlawn Cemetery. It is north of Picher several miles and in Kansas. Baxter Springs, Ks. Cemetery is another location. Many miners came from Jasper and Newton Counties, Missouri and may have been buried there instead of in Ottawa County.
FUNERAL HOMES: Check all area mortuaries. There is a funeral home directory listing most of these places and just about all funeral directors have one.
LIBRARIES: Miami Public Library has lots of material on the area, also Joplin Public Library. Joplin has a large obituary file and the Joplin newspaper prints obits for the entire area. GENEALOGICAL SOCIETIES AND COLLECTIONS: Miami keeps it's collection at the Miami Public Library. Also, check the Joplin, Galena, Webb City, and Carthage libraries. Cherokee County has a great place at Columbus, Ks.
MINING AND COUNTY MUSEUMS: Dobson Museum at Miami, Picher Mining Field Museum, Baxter Museum, Galena Museum, Dorothea B. Hoover museum at Joplin all have lots of mining pictures. Although they may not know it, most of their mining pictures are from the Picher field. There is lots of historical and genealogical information stored at these places.
COURTHOUSES: Miami, Ok; Columbus, Ks; and Carthage, Mo.
NEWSPAPERS: Miami News Record, Joplin Globe, Tri State Tribune, Pittsburg Sun.
ARCHIVES: Besides having much material on each county, the state historical society at Oklahoma City has microfilm of old newspapers including those that are no longer published. Same goes for the Kansas State Historical Society at Topeka, Ks. Also, bound copies of original papers are available at the Dobson Museum at Miami, Oklahoma.
BOOKS: "The History Of Ottawa County" by Velma Neiberding is a great source of information on Ottawa County towns, lead and zinc mining, native americans, and just about everything that happened in this county. This book can be found at the Miami Public Library, Dobson Museum, and Joplin Public Library, as well as other locations in the area. The book also contains biographies of many citizens who lived in the area. I have heard that another book containing genealogical information is being worked on. Also, Mrs. Neiberding was very interested in Native Americans from the county and wrote many articles for the local papers about their history and folk lore.