News from the coldest day in Neosho

Wes Franklin

Last week I wrote about some record low temperatures in the Neosho area.

I noted that I saw 31 degrees below zero (-31 F) is the record low but I didn’t find an exact date to go with it. Well, Mr Jeffrey Messens saw that and supplied it. The date was January 22, 1930. Mr. Messens retired as a fish biologist from the Neosho National Fish Hatchery where the daily temperatures were, and are, recorded. He still has a copy of those old records. My thanks to Mr. Messens for the date! 

So that got me curious as to what was going in Neosho at that time. 

The front page of the weekly Neosho Times on January 23, 1930, the day AFTER it was 31 degrees below zero, carried the following news: 

• The record low was noted, and it was also mentioned that the area had had “an almost record breaker” of snowfall over the last two weeks, along with sleet and ice, for a total accumulation of 14 inches. The main roads had been were clear by then, but the side roads weren’t, and the rural folks still could not get in to town. The paper also stated “you no doubt have heard old people say that we do not have the severe winters that they had 40 and 50 years ago, and they really believe what they say, but the records do not bear them them out.” It then quoted an article by the Kansas City Star regarding weather patterns. 

• Harry Simons, a senior at Neosho High School, died of pneumonia at his home at 217 S. Wood Street in the early morning hours of January 22. 

• One third of Neosho students were absent that week, due to illness, road conditions, and for not having received the smallpox vaccine, recently made mandatory by the State Board of Education. It was also thought that “sore arms” from the vaccination itself caused some students to miss school. 

• The undefeated Neosho Wildcat basketball team was expected to play Carthage that evening at home. The Neosho squad had been plagued with sickness lately, but the star center, Norvell Powell, was to return to the court.

• The body of Bert Ragan, a farmer, was found dead by his woodpile at his home, four miles south of Neosho. He had gone out to get more wood and never returned. It was supposed he had a heart attack. By the time he was found, two to three hours later, his body was partly frozen. 

• John Sours, a Second Ward alderman, announced his candidacy for mayor. It was thought incumbent mayor, A.F Karbe, would run for the spot again, as well as Second Ward Alderman V. Jensen. There were already two candidates for Chief of Police, which was apparently an elected position back then: C.C. Butler and Charles McMahan. 

• A coal burning kitchen stove exploded at the home of A.N. Johnson at 523 W. Brook Street, blowing a hole through the wall, breaking windows, and pretty much demolishing the interior of the room. Mrs. Johnson had just left the room, or she would have been seriously injured. Mr. Johnson believe some kind of explosive was accidentally mixed in with the coal. 

That isn’t all the news from that day, but unfortunately is all I have space for. However, I can’t close without sharing that the number one hit song in the country that week was “Chant Of The Jungle” by Roy Ingraham. 

-Wes Franklin writes a weekly column, That History Guy, for The Neosho Daily News.