Fundraising will commence after the first of the year with an initial goal of raising $100,000 to improve a proposed Civil War park between Joplin and Carl Junction on Fountain Road.

Fundraising will commence after the first of the year with an initial goal of raising $100,000 to improve a proposed Civil War park between Joplin and Carl Junction on Fountain Road.

The Jasper County Commissioners gave the Rader Farm advisory committee the go-ahead on their plans for a proposed Western Jasper County Civil War Historic Site, to be located on five acres at the corner of Fountain Road and Peace Church Road near the site of a Civil War massacre that happened on May 18, 1863.

The Rader Farm Massacre saw between 15 and 20 Union soldiers, mostly African Americans from the Second Kansas Colored Infantry, based in Baxter Springs, Kan. at the time, killed by Confederate guerrillas led by Major Tom Livingston, a Jasper Countian who became notorious for his tactics and for the damage his soldiers did to military and civilian targets alike.  

Committee members Brad Belk, with the Joplin Museum Complex; Bob Harrington, with Missouri Southern State University; and Allen Shirley, a member of the Joplin Museum Complex Board of Directors, met with Jasper County Commissioners Jim Honey and Darieus Adams on Wednesday to discuss plans for the small farm that was donated to the county in 2009.

“We feel like rather than just have a sign and a turnaround and some sort of picnic tables, we could do so much more,” Belk said. “Joplin doesn’t have a Civil War story because it’s not incorporated until 1873 so this is a thing for Joplin and the area as well, Carl Junction and Webb City folks. The whole county can participate in it and I do feel like we have a unique opportunity in that respect.”

The commissioners agreed to the group’s plans and drawings for the construction of a 1860’s-era farm farmstead on the property, with two-story home built to the specifications of homes of the time.

The group hopes to use the park for living history events, where reenactors dressed in period clothes and using tools from the day show visitors what life was like on the frontier during a total war.

Harrington said the group plans to use the Community Foundation of the Ozarks to handle the money that is donated for the park, allowing the donors to use the Foundation’s tax-exempt status to deduct the donation from their taxes.
“It also adds a level of oversight from an impartial body to the process,” Harrington said.

The group presented drawings created by Joplin Architect Don Ness of the various buildings planned for the property.

The commissioners agreed to work with the Joplin Special Road District to maintain the property and to draw up written agreements spelling out the responsibilities of the people and groups involved.

Harrington said the group has spoken with Will Perkins, with Good Will Builders, a Joplin contractor that specializes in homes with an 1800s look to them.
Harrington said the $100,000 estimate is if Perkins’ firm does all the work. He said Perkins has agreed to give the group credit for volunteers who help build the structures, potentially reducing the price.

The plans include a snake-rail fence, which is created in a zig-zag pattern, around the property, a two-story home, and a new smaller cabin. An existing barn on the property will be recovered to look like a period structure and used as a visitors center and information center telling the story of Rader Farm and how it relates to the Civil War in Jasper County and the surrounding area.

“Our intent, depending on how the fundraising goes, by next May, which would be the 150th anniversary of this, is at least to have a nice sign out there telling what’s coming and maybe showing the plans for the homestead,” Herrington said. “We’d like to have at least part of the snake-rail fence in place, at least on that corner, and that will make people see that this is coming and we’re working on it.”