In Neosho, the name Larry James is synonymous with local history. People turn to him with questions about any history in the county or even in their own family.

In Neosho, the name Larry James is synonymous with local history. People turn to him with questions about any history in the county or even in their own family.
"I started doing genealogy when I was 11 years old. I was fortunate enough to still have three great-grandfathers living and they told me stories. One was alive during the Civil War and had brothers who fought. He recounted their stories," James said.
A native of Neosho, James has lived here all his life, except for the years he was away at college. Returning to his hometown after college, he began teaching math in the local school system. He retired from Neosho in 2002 but taught part-time at Crowder College, retiring in 2013.
Over the years he has produced about 50 local books. His first effort was done with his wife, Linda. The two of them canvassed every cemetery they could find in the country and produced 37 books under the title "Pioneers of the Six Bulls." These were followed by other books on genealogy, local history and even three cookbooks.
His first cookbook was done for the Newtonia Battlefield Protection Association. It included some Civil War recipes, some offered by the Association members and also some pictures of Newtonia and its people.
These were followed by two cookbooks which were sponsored by the Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery. These books include modern recipes but also feature old and new pictures of the hatchery and those associated with it.
The latest hatchery cookbook just became available in June. It was dedicated to Dave Hendrix who retired as hatchery manager after more than 25 years in Neosho.
The cover of the new hatchery cookbook features the mural of the hatchery during the fish car days. The mural, by local artist Jeff Jones, hangs in the bookstore at the hatchery. Plans call for a book signing in the near future with Jones attending to provide signatures.
James is heavily involved in most of the local historic groups. He is a member of the Carver Birthplace Association, Shoal Creek Historic Preservation, Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association, the Newton County Historical Society and the Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery.
Besides his love for history, James loves old photographs and post cards. He has collected these for many years. He estimates he has 5,000 pictures of people, events and structures in Newton County. Some of these images show up in his many books.
He specializes in pictures of structures that no longer exist. Even to this day, if he hears about something that is to be demolished, he goes and gets several pictures for his collection.
"The digital camera has made pictures cheap and easy," he said. "You can take all you want for practically nothing."
Although he has never taken a dime for his years of work, James has plans for several more books. He is planning one of Diamond's history, and some smaller volumes on Stella and Stark City as well as a book which will combine stories of communities in western Newton County.
"I really appreciate all the sponsors who support these projects. New-Mac Electric, Clark Funeral Home, Silhouette Images, and First Community Bank have helped make the books possible," James said.