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Murphysburg Historic District working to preserve houses, memories, and stories of the women who've lived in them

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Murphysburg Residential District

March is Women's history, and members of the Murphysburg Historic District in Joplin and working to highlight two of the city's historical women. KRPS's Fred Fletcher-Fierro has more.

Unsurprisingly, southwest Missouri and the Four State region is filled with history. However, men dominate the area's history. From Civil War battles to mining and the formation of large corporations such as Tamko and Legget and Platt.

Murphysburg Historic District members Paula Callihan and Mary Anne Phillips are raising awareness of former Joplin Junior College Faculty member Mary Kirk Kelly and Dora Kneeland, the creator of Williams Chili Seasoning. Phillips says female faculty such as Kelly in the 1960s were common due to m fighting in the Vietnam War.

"She did all kinds of amazing things. She started the UN model at what was then Joplin Junior College, and she also received a certificate signed by President Kenedy thanking her for starting the UN Day in Joplin."

The story of the creation of Williams Chili Season is the stuff of lore between Joplin and neighboring Webb City. Depending on which news article you read, residents of both cities claim to be the birthplace of the seasoning.

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Murphysburg Historic District

It was likely first created and manufactured in Joplin in the late 1930s. While manufacturing was probably moved to Webb City in the mid-1940s'. You can still purchase the original recipe in grocery stores. Learn more about Kelly and Kneeland at murphysburg.org. For 89 9 KRPS News, I'm Fred Fletcher-Fierro

Since 2017 Fred Fletcher-Fierro has driven up Highway 171 through thunderstorms, downpours, snow, and ice storms to host KRPS’s Morning Edition. He’s also a daily reporter for the station, covering city government, elections, public safety, arts, entertainment, culture, sports and more. Fred has also spearheaded and overseen a sea change in programming for KRPS from a legacy classical station to one that airs a balance of classical, news, jazz, and cultural programming that better reflects the diverse audience of the Four States. For over two months in the fall of 2022 he worked remotely with NPR staff to relaunch krps.org to an NPR style news and information website.