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December 6, 1909



Kansas City, Kas., Baker Kills Wife
and Himself as a Result, It's
Thought, of Jealousy Caused
by Use of Morphine.
Mrs. Myra Campbell, Victim of a Drug Crazed Murder.

Neighbors entering the home of Joseph Campbell, 2952 North Seventeenth street, Kansas City, Kas., at 9 o'clock yesterday morning found the dead bodies of Mr. Campbell and his wife on the floor of the stuffy little room which served the double purpose of sleeping and living room. Clasped in the right hand of the man was a revolver. He evidently had murdered his wife, then committed suicide. Crouching down against the bed in one corner or the room, benumbed with cold and fear, was the little white robed figure of a boy, 2 years old, whose crying through the night and early morning attracted the attention of the neighbors and led to the investigation which resulted in the finding of the bodies.


Charles Phillips, 18 years old, who lives next door to the Campbells, and C. R. Lumsdon, another neighbor, were the first persons to make the discovery. The sobs of the baby induced the two men to knock at the door. Receiving no response after repeated knocking they broke the lock and opened the door enough to obtain a view of the interior of the room. The body of the woman was almost against the door. She had remained in a kneeling posture, the head to one side. A bullet had entered below the left breast, passing entirely through the body and lodged under the skin on the right side. The man lay in almost the same position against the south walls of the room and behind the woman. His arms were folded across his breast and the revolver was held tightly against his body. The bullet had passed through the heart. Campbell was a baker. He was 32 years old.

He was married about three years ago in southern Missouri, where he became acquainted with the girl, Miss Myra Matthews, who became his wife. She was 20 years old. Although worn and haggard she bore the traces of having been beautiful. Insane jealousy on the part of the husband is the reason attributed for the murder. The bodies were viewed by the coroner and taken to the undertaking rooms of Fairweather & Barker.
Joseph Campbell, Who Killed His Wife and Then Himself.

The killing of the innocent wife and the subsequent suicide of the murderer was but the logical climax of the events which mark the life of Joseph Campbell. Although for weeks Campbell has spoken of domestic troubles, even going so far as to consult Chief of Police W. W. Cook, and on numerous occasions threatening to buy a revolver and "end it all," it is believed by those who knew him best that these troubles and the consequences had their inception in a drug filled brain.


That the murderer had been addicted to the use of morphine for many years is known, in fact so common was this knowledge that for at least fifteen years he has been known to hundreds of persons in Kansas City, Kas., as "Morphine Joe." A bottle half filled with the drug was found on a chair near the bed.

The police are at a loss to determine at what time the tragedy occurred. The family of William T. Kier, 2950 North Seventeenth street, say that the Campbells were heard pumping water from the cistern as late as 9:30 o'clock last night, but they heard no shots. The family of William Brocket, whose rooms are over those of the Campbells, did not return until about 11 o'clock at night, and no shots were heard by them. Daniel Galvin, a carpenter, living a few doors north, said that he heard a shot around 10:30 o'clock but thought nothing of it.


A scene of utter desolation was witnessed by the men first entering the room. On every side was the evidence of extreme poverty. The ragged covers of the bed, which had not been slept on, were folded neatly back. A few little, cheap pictures adorned the unplastered walls. Despite the cheapness and the poverty there was the touch of a woman's hand, which transformed the scantily furnished room into a home.

The little boy, Earl, crying by the bed where he had stood in the cold during the entire night, and a large dog which stood guard over the dead body of his mistress, were the only living beings in the place of death. The child was hurried to the home of Mrs. C. R. Lumsdon and placed in ht blankets, but the dog growled savagely at the intruders and would not submit to being moved until petted by a neighbor whom he knew.


The news of the murder and suicide spread rapidly over the neighborhood and hundreds of persons gathered about the house. The police were notified and after the bodies had been taken away a guard was set about the house to prevent persons from entering.

The orphan boy will be cared for by his father's mother, Mrs. James B. Grame of 2984 Hutchings street, Kansas City, Kas.

"The news of this awful deed came as a shock to all of us," said Mr. Grame last night. "The fear that something like this would happen has been in our minds for years." The awful condition of Campbell, crazed by drugs, has added twenty years to the age of his mother, who has clung to him through all his troubles.

"It is a matter I cannot discuss, but harsh as it may sound, it is better for the world and better for himself that his life is ended. The thing that hurts me the most is the thought of that poor innocent girl a sacrifice to his drug crazed brain."

Persons living in the neighborhood say that Campbell has made numerous threats against his wife. Mrs. M. J. Cleveland, 2984 Hutchings street, said yesterday that Campbell came to her home Saturday morning and told her that he was going to get a gun and kill the whole outfit, meaning his wife. Practically every person living near them were afraid of the man and it was said that he constantly carried with him a gun and a butcher knife. He had recently secured work at the Armour packing plant.

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July 30, 1909


Henry Nevins Came to Kansas City
in 1869, and Opened Shop
on Third Street.

Henry Nevins, pioneer horseshoer of Kansas City and in the early days a fair prototype of Longfellow's "Village Blacksmith," died at 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon at the family residence, 1032 Olive street. He was 70 years old.

He was born in Tipperary county, Ireland, and came to this country when a young man, spending some years in Canada, where he learned the blacksmith trade and where he married. Later he crossed the line into the United States, settling first in Burlington, Ia., and from there removing to Kansas City in 1869.

He first opened a shop at Third street and Grand avenue and for twenty years Nevins's blacksmith shop was a landmark.

In those early days when railroads were in their infancy and mules and horses were yet the main standby for transportation, the blacksmith was a most important person.

Nevins met the situation with an energy that never seemed to tire, and it is on record that during rush seasons he has been known to stand in the smith forty-eight hours at a stretch, without sleep, eating in the shop meals brought to him by his wife.

Early in his career in Kansas City Mr. Nevins began to put his savings into real estate, and this policy he continued throughout his career. But once in his life did he part with real estate he had purchased, and that was about eight years ago, when he sold to the Armour Packing Company the property at 306 West Eighth street for $10,000, and for which he had paid $900 in early days. For an other property next to the Gillis opera house, which cost him $800 he recently refused an offer of $800 a foot.

Practically all his wealth is in inside Kansas City real estate and a conservative estimate of his estate places the figure at $150,000.

Later he moved his blacksmith shop to 512 Walnut street, and when that property became too valuable for a blacksmith shop he moved once more to 512 Grand avenue, where he continued in business until five years ago, when he retired, owing to advancing age and continued ill health.

He leaves a wife and six children, three sons and three daughters. The children are: John M., James H., William J., Elinore, Catherine Marie and Rose.

The funeral will be held Saturday morning at 9 o'clock from St. Aloysius's church, and burial will be at St. Mary's cemetery.

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January 21, 1909


Jury Is Instructed to Bring In Ver-
dict for Armours.

Judge John C. Pollock, in the United States circuit court, Kansas City, Kas., yesterday sustained a motion instructing the jury to return a verdict for the Armour Packing Company in the $25,000 damage suit against the company which was being prosecuted by Joseph Novak. The plaintiff in the action claimed to have fallen into a large vat of lye while working at the Armour plant in September, 1907. The judge, in his instructions, held that the company was not at fault and did not contribute to the cause of the accident.

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January 14, 1909


Big Rush of Unemployed to the Free
State Bureau.

"Reports about there being plenty of work for all the unemployed in Kansas City at Bean Lake did lots of business for us," said Superintendent K. F. Schweizer of the free employment bureau last evening. "Our office at Twelfth and McGee streets has been crowded all day with men seeking work and we have been busy taking their names and addresses.

"Swift & Co. and Armour were afraid they were not going to be able to get men enough to put up the big crop of ice now ready for the harvest, but they changed their mind and sent word last night to stop the rush of men to Bean lake for a few hours. We sent 155 there yesterday and had more than 500 applications today. We told them all to come around at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning, and if the packers sent word for more men, which they are sure to do if the weather continues cold, part, at least, will get a chance to work."

The men are receiving 17 1/2 cents an hour, and some of them are working twelve to fifteen hours -- all they can stand. The most are putting in ten hours and it makes better wages for them than they can get in this city. Their board costs them $3.50 a week. The work is not very hard, but it is cold work, and the men in charge of the ice packing refuse to hire a man if he is insufficiently clothed to stand the long hours working on the ice and in the chilling wind.

"Of the 500 or more men in the office today there were not more than ten who live in Kansas city. They give their address at some cheap lodging house and their last employer as some railroad contractor. In answer to the question as to why they quit their job they invariably answer that they were 'laid off.'

"We are doing much good in assisting the unemployed to find work, but we could do much more if we had an appropriation from the state board to be used in judicious advertising. At the present time we are allowed only money enough for rent and salaries. Fifty dollars each month to be expended at the discretion of the superintendent, would enable us to secure many good positions for stenographers, bookkeepers and clerks when such vacancies are telephoned to us."

If the weather continues cold there will be work at Bean lake for thirty days and this will do wonders in carrying these men over the hardest part of the winter.

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July 4, 1908



Found They Could Kill Earlier and
Cure Meat Faster and Save
Shrinkage and a
Long Drive.

Col. R. T. Van Horn of Evanston says Kansas City became a great beef packing center by accident. Many year ago the colonel took a visitor to the site of the persent Armour plant and heard John Plankinton, Phillip D. Armour's first partner, explain how he discovered the meat could be cured faster here than on the lake front and how, with the crude equipment of the day, he could kill earlier in the season.

"The manner in which the Armour plant came into existence is fresh in my memory as if it were yesterday," said Colonel Van Horn. "It was sometime in the '60's -- the exact date could be found in The Journal files.

"There was no hog killing, and as refrigerator cars were not in use, the business was packing mess beef, putting the product in barrels; steamboats taking it aboard at the river bank nearby.

"It was in October, the most salubrious and beautiful month of all the year in this midcontinent region. The firm name then was Plankinton & Armour -- John Plankinton and Philip D. Armour -- and the locality was about where the great Armour plant is now. The incident was as follows: Hon. William D. Kelley (Pig Iron Kelley), member of congress from Philadelphia, had been on a Western trip as far as Denver, and returning, stopped over at Kansas City on a visit to Colonel Morton, whose fine farm is in the Clay county bluffs, north of Harlem. Mrs. Kelley and Mrs. Morton had been school girls together and the stop over was to afford them a visit and an old-time reunion.

"Judge Kelley came over every day, and, as I had made his acquaintance in the house of representatives, I was the only person he personally knew here, and I took more than ordinary pains to show him the hospitality of the city, which he kindly returned by a public address in the old court house. His address can be found reported in The Journal of the time.

"Then, as now, the packing business was the great enterprise of the city, and was the point of interest to show all visitors. One day I took Judge Kelley up to the Bottoms to see it. There wsa then no structure that could be called a building -- a frame to cover the killing beds, and a long covered runway for the slaughtered carcasses of beef.

"It so happened that John Plankinton himself was present and, when Judge Kelley was introduced to him, Mr. Plankinton gave him that attention and consideration due a man of eminence and national reputation. Judge Kelly was astonished at the magnitude of the business, was profuse in his compliments and questions, and said: 'I am astounded, sir, at the existence of such an immense business away out here in the wilderness, and so much greater than any of like character in our Eastern states. How does it come and what induced its establishment?'

" 'Well,' said Mr. Plankinton, 'it was what you might call an accident. As you perhaps know, we have been packing beef in Chicago and Milwaukee for some years. Many of our cattle came from the country south of this. The common name was Cherokee cattle, being brought mostly from the Indian Territory. Our method was to drive the cattle to this point, as it is the nearest Missouri river locality, the river being narrow and deep and the banks solid, swimming them across by driving to Quincy, and by rail to Chicago.

" 'It was when I was here on one of those occasions, while stopping at the hotel in Kansas City, that I heard of some cattle over in the Delaware country and, getting on my horse one morning, came across the bottom here to cross the Kaw at the Wyandotte ferry. As I was riding along, not far from where we now are, I saw a dead steer lying at the road side and thinking I would find a strong odor from it I began looking for a way to ride around it, but the under brush, as you may see in places, was so dense that only the roadway to accommodate a single wagon was to be seen. But as no stench was noticed I concluded the air was moving toward the other side and that I would get the benefit of the dead carcass after I passed it. But there was no difference and my horse did not seem to notice it. The facts excited my curiosity and I rode back to the dead carcass and struck it with my whip. It sounded like a drum.

"The incident set me to thinking and I concluded that if the climate here would so cure a dead steer, the carcass of a slaughtered one ought to keep for a longer time than on the lake shore. And then I thought of the jerked buffalo meat cured from time immemorial without salt. And so we concluded to triy it as a packing point, saving the drive to Quincy, the railroad charges from there, and the shrinkage in transit.'

" 'And so we have found it. Today, Judge Kelley,' said Mr. Plankinton, pointing to the immense rows of dressed carcasses on the runways, 'we are killing 1,200 head of cattle and, with the thermometer at Chicago thee same as it is here, all of that meat would spoil, and we can kill two and three weeks earlier than there. And thus you have the reasons why we are here.'

"The facts are exact as I have given you and the words, as a rule, as they were uttered. The points covered are all literally presented -- particularly as to the dead steer and its results. It is all faithful history.

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