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May 26, 2017

1819 $1,500,000.00 of Gold Buried at the Knobs of Knob Noster? and other history stories

February 18, 1970
The Sedalia Democrat Page 5 & 12a

Knob Noster's History is Gilded by Buried Gold Tales 


Democrat-Capital Staff Writer 

Knob Noster, in Johnson County, is the only town in the United States and probably in the world, by that name. It is believed to have been named for the two hills northeast of the town called knobs. The English meaning for the Latin word "noster" is our and thus, the words were combined to name the town. (Our Knob).

Our Knob or Knob Noster
Around those two hills are woven legends and history that, to this day remains a mystery. One legend claims Indian tribes fought at the site and, after the battle formed the mounds, either as monuments or burial grounds for slain warriors.

The Knobs of Knob Noster, MO

Another legend claims Indian treasure or gold is buried there. Just as fantastic is the true story of the seven covered wagons that stopped at Georgetown for supplies in 1819 on the way to Independence, MO. The country at that time, was a wilderness. The people of Georgetown tried to persuade them not to go on. An old hunter warned of the danger of Indians, but the wagon train went on seeking a shortcut to Independence instead of following the river where the trails had been made The people caused a great deal of curiosity in Georgetown because they did not barter for things, as was the usual custom, but promptly paid for everything in gold. It was several years, however, before the fate of the wagon train was learned. It had been attacked by the Indians about dawn after they had camped near the knobs.

Transport Center. The W. E. Zink Livery Stable in the town of Knob Noster as it appeared back in the days of horse-drawn buggies, carriages and wagons, which were a principal means of transportation.
Traced by their families as far as Georgetown, the remains of the wagon wheel rims were found where all had been killed and their wagons burned but where was the gold? 
Georgetown, Mo - North of Sedalia
Surely there must have been more gold in that wagon train, had they buried it in the knob? This provided authentic material for a story by Harry Chalfant. “Mystery Gold at Twin Knobs published in Real West magazine in 1964. Chalfant's ancestors were settlers in early Georgetown and the story of the wagon train had been handed down. One day W L Shockly and R H Carr took picks and went out to see if they could dig up any buried treasure They dug into the knobs but all that they were able to find were skeletons, perhaps of mound dwellers.
Searching for Hidden Treasure 1893
Sedalia, Mo., June 26. (1893) A company composed of prominent citizens has been organized to search for $1,500,000 in gold, which tradition says were buried by Spaniards fifty years ago (1840s) near Knobnoster.
The story is that a caravan of Spaniards with seven wagons, which they said were loaded with gold, passed through Boonville, and that a single member of the party returned saying that the Indians had attacked them and all the others had been killed, after having buried, their treasure. 
Dr. Wm. Workman of Knobnoster had a dream last week locating the gold and the search will be commenced at once.
And another story....about the Gold in Knob Noster
From Woofee's Ghosts
Located on Highway 50, about 50 miles east of Kansas City. The town was founded and laid out in 1850. Legends tell of a great tribal battle fought on the site of the two mounds. Following the battle, the tribes formed the mounds as either a monument or a burial site for warriors slain during the battle. Others claim that an Indian treasure, the main portion of it gold, was carried to the mounds and buried. To this day many claim the area is haunted by the spirits of the Indians guarding the gold. Another legend involves a wagon train that was ambushed by the Osagian Indians in 1825. They were rumored to be carrying gold. They disappeared without a trace and the gold was never found. Could they have been killed for stealing the the treasure from the mounds?
The Spook Light (Knobs)
A dour, unfriendly hermit lived on the hills and would only descend to the town for groceries and other essentials. He was not well-liked and had a mean disposition. People generally avoided him when he came to town. He often sent his slave into town, which greatly relieved the townspeople because he was a pleasant man to talk to. Eventually the slave stopped coming and the old hermit resumed his trips to town. The townspeople figured he had beat his slave to death but were too frightened of him to investigate. One night a violent storm hit the area. Several of the townspeople saw a bobbing lantern light descending from the hill from the hill. A flash of lightning illuminated the hermit as he headed toward the safety of the town. But after the next flash occurred, the lantern light disappeared. The next day, some of the more brave townspeople ascended up the hill to check on the hermit. They found him dead with a frozen look of terror on his face still clutching his lantern. Today the local townspeople say that in a raging storm, you can see the ghostly lantern light of the hermit bobbing and swaying down the hill.
Back to the History of Knob Noster
Adam Carpenter and his wife Holly, came to the area and settled three miles north of present day Knob Noster. Carpenter built a large home with an 18 foot fireplace and because of the welcome given by Mrs Carpenter, their home became known as "Hospitality House." 
The John Robinson Tavern was on the old stage road from Warrensburg to Georgetown, one mile north of the present town. Here the stage coach stopped to change horses.
1819 Wagons Went from Georgetown to the Knobs of Knob Noster. Everyone was killed by Indians and the gold disappeared.  ".....the remains of the wagon wheel rims were found where all had been killed and their wagons burned but where was the gold?"
Knob Noster was first settled in 1854 by W A Wortham, although the post office was established in 1850. By 1800 the town had a population of 450, with 30 professions and businesses, a Masonic Lodge and a seminary. It had been laid out in 1845 and incorporated m 1852. Jacob Knaus came to the area in 1836 and farmed 1480 acres He butchered cattle and took the best cuts m a wagon drawn by an oxen team to Waverly where he sold it for three cents a pound. Rufus Henry Utley and his wife, Fannie Mae Gilbert Utley, came to Missouri in a covered wagon at an early date They were pushing westward, but when they came near the vicinity of Montserrat they decided to turn back and return to New York. They was close to Knob Noster when their wagon got mired in the mud and since there wasn't much else to do he went to a nearby farm where he got a job working for a man named Redd. He had intended to make enough to return to the east, but he did so well that it wasn't long until he had enough money to buy some land. Soon he started cattle trading, later he built an elevator and stockyard and became a wealthy man. By 1860 (it stopped in Sedalia until 1864, stagecoaches were used) the Missouri Pacific Railroad was coming closer to the little settlement of Knob Noster, but Weiderman refused to give the land that would bring the railroad through the town. Samuel Workman, who had little except the farm he owned, saw an opportunity and offered the railroad some land.
One Residence of Samuel Workman, Founder of Knob Noster, MO  1895
He had taken 40 acres of his land and laid out a town one mile south of the original settlement, and told them he would give them every other lot along the right-of-way. Workman, who had a wood house, then started to build a new brick house the bricks were made and fired in his yard. 
In Brick Yard W. O. Gowin, Knob Noster, is shown working at the brick yard. The making of brick and tile was Knob Noster's biggest industry at one time and bricks and clay were shipped everywhere. This picture was taken in 1913. The old Warren Street M.E. Church in Warrensburg was built of bricks from here as were most churches in Knob Noster. 
The first floor was built when the Civil War broke out Colonel Wells also began building a brick house and got as far as the rafters. Both men went to war but Col. Wells did not return. The brick home where Mrs. Areta Musick lives was built at that time, with the bricks being fired in the yard. The brick building where the bank and post office were erected was also built this way. 
Bank of Knob Noster, MO 1895
Oldest Bank in the County, Organized March 29, 1869 
Frame structures for the business district were destroyed as a fire swept through the district. State Street was built by 1869. It had a drug store, the Farley House, a two story structure that had a small granary on the ground floor run by John and F B Farley. 
Hanna & Son's Boot and Shoe Store 1895  Knob Noster
Their mother ran a hotel for transients Brown and Ramsey's dry goods store was located in a brick building. There was the frame building owned by Mr. and Mrs George Jackson, where he ran a pool hall and she had a millinery and ladies fancy goods store. In a two-story, brick building was a saloon which Pete Sullivan ran. Upstairs was a public hall with a stage. The Billie Wortham store had everything from pins to threshing machines and from raccoon skins to dried apples. The second story was occupied by the printing office of the Missouri Farmer, a publication of the Missouri State Grange. The Winkler Brothers, J C and A P had a restaurant in a one story brick building and later ran a grocery store.
Windkler Brothers Grocery, Bakery & Restaurant, Knob Noster, MO  1895
Henry Thornbro had a harness shop in a one-story, frame building which was taken over by his brother, E. M. (Zeke) Thornbro after Henry's death. There was a three-story, brick building at State and McPherson where Amos Case and Charles Larkin hardware store was on the first two floors and the Masonic Lodge on the third Case and Larkin shipped grain and later built an elevator.
Residence of Mr. Alonzo Case, Knob Noster, MO  1895
A monument and stone cutting shop was run by a man named Gilbert. There was a livery barn and Jonathan L Shockley and Valorous Hughes had a blacksmith shop. The Knob Noster Bank was organized on March 29. 1869 and is the oldest bank in the county.
Bank of Knob Noster, MO  Oldest Bank in the county. Organized in 1869   drawing from 1895
In 1872 Knob Noster was a growing community, with five churches, an $18,000 school building warmed by a hot air furnace, business places and industries. There was a saddle and harness shop, gun shop, boot and shoe house, one tobacco dealer, one flouring mill, one wine factory, two hotels, three blacksmith shops, three wagon shops, two livery stables, six physicians, two dentists and three lawyers. Among the items shipped from Knob Noster in 1871 were 129,930 bushels of wheat corn and oats different quantities of beans, hemp seed, Hungarian seed, dried apples flax seed, rye and dried peaches; 9,550 head of livestock nearly 500,000 pounds of coal, and hem and tow. bacon lard, tallow, feathers molasses, glower, butter, wood, green apples, hides, broom, sheep pelts, furs, apple brandy and barrels. About 1883 the town wanted a better water supply and drilled a well in the street It was not a success although a pump was installed. A pagoda or bandstand was erected over it with seats above and below the bandstand was hexagon shaped and the band would give a concert every Saturday night.
On March 25 1892, before midnight, a fire was discovered on the first floor of Cases Hardware William Elliott, one of the first to discover the fire, went running down the street yelling and soon 100 men had gathered with buckets of water, but even so, they couldn't save the building. The Masonic Temple was located in this building on the third floor.
Metts Brothers Furniture Store, Knob Noster, MO  1895
The cisterns at Cobb's Furniture and Carr's grocery were pumped dry in an effort to put out the fire. At one time Knob Noster had three brick kilns. T H Boyd and son George Boyd, owned the brick yard where William Gowin, who still lives in Knob Noster, started to work when he was 11 years old. When the father died George took over. Then Frank Jenks and his father had an interest in it. Stump and Matthews ran it for a year, then Vitts Mayes, Warrensburg, ran it for awhile and Ed Bridges. Mayes had it when it closed down in the 1930's. All of the old shed and kilns were then torn down. In 1890 when Boyd was running it, brick was shipped to Jefferson City from Knob Noster for the capitol. The Presbyterian Church, Latter Day Saints Church, Baptist Church and Christian Church, the Knob Noster Bank, several business places and residences were made of Knob Noster brick. The bricks made were buff and red. There were also paving blocks and at one time tile was made. The paving bricks were marked Knob Noster and the early bricks were hexagon shape. Some ot the streets in Warrensburg and Kansas City were paved with bricks from Knob Noster. It was considered the best fire clay and brick clay anywhere and a lot of the clay was shipped to a terra cotta firm. The main business was shipping clay.
There was a tobacco factory in Old Town and a wine mill at Knob Noster. The first floor of the old brick house which was the Larkin home, Mrs Areta Music said, was built before the Civil War and the second floor after the war. Workman traded horses for labor to build the house. Knob Noster has more than 65 businesses and professional people. The Knob Noster bank which was founded in 1869 has never closed its doors, even during the depression when banks were closing everywhere. The population of Knob Noster is more than 2,500. Two things have added to the town s prosperity. Whiteman Air Force Base and Knob Noster State Park, both very close to the town Whiteman AFB was originally opened in 1942, and after a period of inactivity, 1947 to 1951, was reactivated. In the "A Salute to Whiteman Air Force Base" it says; "Knob Noster is not a city composed of 'local' and 'air base people', but a city of 2,300 friends and neighbors."
Built Town 

Samuel Workman was a man with vision, who seized the opportunity to bring the railroad through his farm a mile south of the original Knob Noster, and built a new town which made him wealthy. The original Knob Noster, now called Old Town, dwindled to nothing.

Most People Don’t Know These 11 Treasures Are Hiding In Missouri

December 02, 2015 by Stephanie Butler

Wouldn’t it be great to come across a long hidden or buried treasure? How easy would it be for a person to forget a treasure’s exact location, especially over a long period of time? Or what if something happened to them without anyone else knowing where they hid it? It’s easy to think that this could have happened many times in history. Here are some places in Missouri that are said to contain a hidden fortune. Should we start digging.
1. Spanish treasure near Noble Hill.
A Spanish treasure is supposedly buried somewhere on Highway 13 near Noble Hill, about 13 miles north of Springfield on the Polk-Greene County line. 
2. The Kaffer Treasure, Armstrong.
About forty miles northwest of Columbia, a cache of gold coins known as the Kaffer Treasure is buried near Armstrong. 
3. Independence jewelry heist loot.
Sometime around 1927, a group of bandits stole $25,000 in gems and jewelry from an Independence jewelry store. It is said to be buried at the foot of an old oak tree between two large roots about 6 miles east of Independence. However, six miles east of Independence in 1927 would actually be somewhere in the Independence metropolitan area today, difficult to discern exactly where. 
4. Lost Copper Mine in the Ozark Hills.
In the mid-nineteenth century, a man named Joseph Slater is said to have known the location of a hidden copper mine a few miles northwest of Jacks Fork near the Current River. He made several trips to New Orleans during this time, unloading nearly $50,000 worth of copper over a three or four year period. He had a mining claim, but in an effort to keep the mine secret, it was actually on a tract of land a couple of miles away from the mine.
When he discovered the mine was actually on another man’s property, instead of buying the land and thus revealing the mine’s location, he and his daughter sealed up the mine and moved east, planning to return at a later time and offer to purchase the land for farming. He never made it farther east than Missouri and eventually died, never to return to the Jacks Fork area. His daughter married and moved west, and no one in Shannon County ever saw then again. The legend of the mine, however, remains, still believed to be in the vicinity of the junction of the Jacks Fork and Current rivers. Many have searched for the mine over the years, but it has never been found. 5. Parson Keithly's hidden gold.
Parson Keithly was an odd character from the mid-nineteenth century who roamed the Ozark countryside, preaching on Sundays and wandering the area with his dog and his gun the rest of the time, sometimes disappearing for days. During one of these disappearances, he apparently had gone to California to search for gold during the rush. He was gone for around three years, then suddenly reappeared and returned to Missouri to preach and wander as before.
Turns out, Keithly had found gold in California, come home and hid it somewhere. His family never knew where, although there was a nearby cave he visited frequently. It was where he was eventually laid to rest upon his death. Many thought this cave might be where the treasure was hidden. Hints of the treasure over the years occurred when he would periodically pull a $10 gold piece from his pocket, hand it to his daughter and say, "See here what I’ve found.” The cave is located near Galena, Missouri in Stone County.
6. Alf Bolin's outlaw loot.
Alf Bolin was a Missouri outlaw from the mid-1800’s. The story is that, many years ago, a man came to a farm on Highway JJ south of Kirbyville in Taney County looking for a treasure that Bolin had buried near a cave in the Fox Creek country containing gold and silver from his many robberies. The cave had been used as a marker to the nearby buried cache. There is definitely a good chance that Bolin’ had buried his loot in these hills.
“Murder Rocks,” on the Pine Mountain south of Kirbyville, is also known as “Alf Bolin Rocks” due to it being the location where Bolin and his gang of outlaws often hid and then robbed and sometimes murdered unfortunate travelers. It was also the area in which Bolin was later trapped and killed by a Union soldier commissioned to capture the outlaw. At the time of his death in 1863, Bolin was only 21 years old. With so many raids in this area, he had amassed a considerable fortune, but because he couldn’t keep it in a bank, he likely buried it near the cave. Unfortunately, the exact location of the burial spot died with the outlaw himself, and so the treasure is quite possibly still there. 
7. Sunken treasure in the Mississippi.
In the Mississippi River that runs along the banks of St. Louis, several steamships have sunk long ago and over many years. Some of these are said contain treasures of gold coins. 
8. Forty-Niner gold in Missouri.
Another Missouri man, long ago, is said to have struck it rich in the California gold rush. When he returned to his home near Waynesville in Pulaski County, it is believed that he buried $60,000 somewhere in the hills. 
9. Sinking Creek Mine.
The Sinking Creek legend tells of a St. Louis doctor named Tyrell who, when treating a delirious, dying man, was told of a silver mine near Sinking Creek in Shannon County. The doctor must have felt there was some truth to the tale, because he started buying land near the creek, moving there and building himself a house. Both he and his son continued the search their entire lives, believing that the area contained sulphite or silver. However, the mine was never found. 
10. Tin whistle loot north of Milford.
In the 1930s, some men were running a bootlegging operation out of Frontenac in Kansas, and one evening, when delivering their illicit merchandise, they held up a farmhouse near Arcadia taking guns, jewelry and gold. When they crossed the state line, they buried their ill-gotten gains just north of Milford. The location may have been chosen due to it being near another bootlegger who made moonshine for them and ran his operations out of Milford. According to the grandson of one of these men, his grandfather claimed the loot is still hidden in a small cavern near Horse Creek, with the names of the bootleggers carved in the walls. 
11. Legend of Bone Hill Cemetery, Levesy.
Before the Civil War, a farming family came to the area of Levesy with their slaves, and settled on Bone Hill. They had their slaves build a stone fence which completely surrounded their acreage. When border warfare hit its peak in 1862, the farmer sold his acreage for gold and supposedly buried it somewhere along the stone wall. The family moved away and vowed to return in seven years, but they were never seen in the vicinity again. In the seventh year after they left, a mysterious light was said to been seen hovering above Bone Hill near a stone wall. Legend says that the light continues to appear every seven years and many believe the light is the ghost of the farmer coming to claim his buried fortune.

The Osage Indians
by George Sabo III

The Osage Indians lived along the Osage and Missouri rivers in what is now western Missouri when French explorers first heard of them in 1673. A seminomadic people with a lifeway based on hunting, foraging, and gardening, the seasonal movements of the Osage brought them annually into northwestern Arkansas throughout the 18th century.
Osages hunting buffalo, by George Catlin. 
Three principal hunts, each organized by a council of elders, were held during the spring, summer, and fall. The men hunted bison, deer, elk, bear, and smaller game. The women butchered the animals and dried or smoked the meat and prepared the hides. The women also gathered wild plant foods and at the summer villages tended gardens of corn, beans, squash, and pumpkins. Surplus products, including meat, hides, and oil, were traded to other Indians or to Europeans. The Osages acquired guns and horses from Europeans during the eighteenth century, which enabled them to extend their territory and control the distribution of European goods to other tribes in the region.
Most men shaved their heads, leaving only a scalplock extending from the forehead to the back of the neck. The pattern of a man's scalplock indicated the clan he belonged to. Men wore deerskin loincloths, leggings, and moccasins, and bearskin or buffalo robes when it was cold. Beaded ear ornaments and armbands were worn, and warriors tattooed their chests and arms.
Women kept their hair long and wore deerskin dresses, woven belts, leggings, and moccasins. Clothing was perfumed with chewed columbine seed and ceremonial garments were decorated with the furs of ermine and puma. Earrings, pendants, and bracelets were worn, and women decorated their bodies with tattoos.
Osage communities were organized into two divisions called the Sky People and the Earth People. According to their traditions, Wakondah, the creative force of the universe, sent the Sky People down to the surface of the earth where they met the Earth People, whom they joined to form the Osage tribe. Each division consisted of family groups related through the males, called clans, that organized social events and performed rituals for special occasions. Each clan had its own location in the village camping circle and appointed representatives to village councils which advised the two village leaders - one representing each tribal division.
Villages were laid out with houses on either side of a main road running east and west. The two village leaders lived in large houses on opposite sides of the main road near the center of the village. The Sky People clans lived on the north side of the road, and the Earth people clans lived on the south side. Council lodges for town meetings were also constructed in the larger villages.
Detail from "Osage Dreams," by Charles Banks Wilson. Courtesy of the artist. 
Osage houses were rectangular and sheltered several families. Measuring up to 100 feet long, they were constructed of saplings driven into the ground and bent over and tied at the top. Horizontal saplings were interwoven among the uprights, and the framework was covered with hides, bark sheets, or woven mats, with smokeholes left open at the top. Most houses had an entrance at the eastern end. A leader's house had entrances at both ends.
Village life followed rules and customs established by a group of elders known as the Little Old Men. To join the ranks of the Little Old men, serious-minded individuals had to undergo training that began during boyhood and lasted for many years. Little Old Men passed through seven stages of learning, at each stage acquiring mastery of an increasingly complex body of sacred knowledge.
Ceremonies were performed for important activities and events, including hunting, war, peace, curing illnesses, marriages, and mourning the dead. Many ceremonies required elaborate preparations and participants would often wear special clothing and ornaments or paint elaborate designs on their bodies. Each clan had specific ceremonial duties that in combination served to sustain the well being of the tribe.
Osage lands in Arkansas and Missouri were taken by the U.S. government in 1808 and 1818, and in 1825 an Osage reservation was established in southeastern Kansas. Today there are about 10,000 Osages listed on the tribal roll, many of whom live in and around Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

May 23, 2017

1891 John Donaldson Born - One of the Greatest Pitchers Ever - Attended George Smith School in Sedalia and Played for Brown's Tennesse Rats in Holden, MO

Donaldson got his start by attending George R. Smith College in Sedalia. In 1911, he pitched for the Tennessee Rats based in Holden, Missouri and, on one day, Donaldson struck out 31 in an 18-inning game.¨

2017 - John Donaldson -  Missouri Sports Hall of Fame Inductee May 25

Inductee spotlight: John Donaldson, who climbed out of Glasgow and starred in Negro Leagues 
He climbed out of the quaint, central Missouri River town of Glasgow and chased his baseball dreams – and perhaps would have become a household name across America had he come of age in a different era.
And yet John Donaldson soldiered on. Despite Major League Baseball refusing to employ black ballplayers. Despite the little pay and little exposure. Despite it all.

In fact, Buck O’Neil, a Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee who later in life championed stars of the Negro Leagues, likened the flame-throwing left-handed pitcher to Satchel Paige, one of the greatest arms of all time. It sums up why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is proud to posthumously induct Donaldson with the Class of 2017.
The honor is part of the Baseball Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company, set for 11 a.m. Thursday, May 25 at the University Plaza Convention Center in Springfield. (For tickets, call 417-889-3100, and see details below.)
Said O’Neil, the former Monarchs manager and baseball scout, “John Donaldson … showed Satchel the way, and the fact is, there are many people who saw them both who say John Donaldson was just as good as Satchel.”
Donaldson enjoyed a 33-year career (1908 to 1941) in baseball as he played for 25 teams, both in the Negro Leagues and barnstorming circuits – including on the inaugural Kansas City Monarchs team of 1920.
By pitching in 500 cities across the United States, Donaldson still opened eyes. He won more than 400 games – the most in segregated baseball history – and struck out more than 5,000 batters, according to the Donaldson Network, whose extensive research is building his case toward induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
However, those statistics likely could be far greater, considering that more than 150 of his known pitching performances have no published strikeout total and more than 200 wins by teams he played for report no pitcher of record.
But his impact was great, even after his playing days. You see, in 1949, Donaldson was hired by the Chicago White Sox as a scout, becoming the first African-American full-time scout in Major League Baseball. He passed away in 1970.
Overall, it’s an incredible story, given all roads to the big leagues were blocked for black players from 1889 until Jackie Robinson’s 1947 arrival with the Brooklyn Dodgers led to a desegregated game.
Donaldson certainly experienced those challenges.
John Donaldson, One of the Greatest Pitchers of All-Time
Missouri Sports Hall of Fame 2017
“I am not ashamed of my color,” Donaldson was once quoted as saying. “There is no woman whom I love more than my mother; I am light enough so that baseball men told me before I became known that I could be passed off as a Cuban. One prominent baseball man, in fact, offered me a nice sum ($10,000 in 1917) if I would go to Cuba, change my name and let him take me into the country as a Cuban. It would have meant renouncing my family. One of the agreements was that I was never again to visit my mother or to have anything to do with colored people. I refused.”
Donaldson got his start by attending George R. Smith College in Sedalia. In 1911, he pitched for the Tennessee Rats based in Holden, Missouri and, on one day, Donaldson struck out 31 in an 18-inning game.
Four years later, he pitched three consecutive no-hitters for the All Nations team operated by Monarchs owner J.L. Wilkinson, whose All Nations team of Chinese, Japanese, Cubans, Indians and Hawaiians proved players of any ethnicity could form a winning club.
His time there launched his career. Eventually, Donaldson became the highest-salaried black pitcher in baseball, earning $450 a month at his peak.
Along the way, he pitched for the Chicago Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants, Detroit Stars, Indianapolis ABC’s, Los Angeles White Sox and the Satchel Paige’s All-Stars, earning much respect.
For instance, Wilkinson in 1940 made one of the boldest statements regarding Donaldson’s ability, saying “Satchel isn’t the best colored pitcher. He’s tied with John Donaldson. Satch hasn’t got a thing that old John didn’t have.”
Which helps explain why Donaldson was among 13 black “All-Time Greats” documented by the Pittsburgh Courier in 1952. (Donaldson is one of only two of that group not enshrined in Cooperstown – a list that includes four pitchers, notably Paige and 119-game winner Bullet Rogan.)
Nevertheless, one newspaper back in his heyday flat-out called him the best.
Wrote the Fairmont (Minn.) Daily Sentinel, “John Donaldson is – and there is no one that is qualified to speak authoritatively that will dispute it – the greatest colored baseball player of today and of all time.”
When: 8:30 a.m. continental breakfast, 9 a.m. unveiling
Where: Legends Walkway of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 3861 E. Stan Musial Drive in southeast Springfield (about one mile east of the U.S. 60-65 interchange)
What: Unveiling of larger-than-life statue of West Plains grad and Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder making a game-saving catch in Game 1 of the 1960 World Series
When: 11 a.m. Thursday, May 25
Where: University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in downtown Springfield
President’s Award: Hiland Dairy’s Mark Speight
Inductees: Mark Bailey (Glendale High School/Missouri State/Houston Astros), the late John Donaldson (Glasgow HS, Negro Leagues), former Westran and Sturgeon coach Kelly Odneal, sports writer Rob Rains (Kickapoo/St. Louis media), baseball coach Mark Stratton (Glendale High School/Drury University).

John Wesley Donaldson (February 20, 1891 – April 14, 1970) was an American baseball pitcher in Pre-Negro league and Negro league baseball. In a career that spanned over 30 years, he played for many different Negro league and semi-professional teams, including the All Nations team and the Kansas City Monarchs. Researchers so far have discovered 667 games in which Donaldson is known to have pitched.[33] Out of those games, Donaldson had at least 400 wins[34] and 5,002 strikeouts[35] as a baseball pitcher. According to some sources, he was the greatest pitcher of his era.


Researchers have documented most of his career, from 1908 to 1940. Published totals from local newspaper accounts covering his 30-plus year career provide a glimpse at his prowess on the diamond. Despite what has been found regarding Donaldson's career, over 150 games that Donaldson pitched in state no strikeout game totals, consequently his overall totals are under-reported.
Printed box scores reveal 378 wins and 135 losses and a winning percentage of .737. He also notched 4,409 strikeouts, an ERA of 1.37, and 86 shutouts against all levels of competition. He completed 296 of 322 starts (92%) Donaldson can be credited with 13 no-hitters, a perfect game, and dozens of one-hitters. He also has two 30 strikeout games, 11 games with more than 25 strikeouts (including two back-to-back 25 strikeout games), 30 games with more than 20 strikeouts, 109 games with more than 15 strikeouts, and a total of 203 double digit strikeout games. Donaldson could also hit well, batting .334 in over 1,800 at bats.
Early years
Donaldson's early career was spent in and around his hometown of Glasgow, Missouri. He played for the Missouri Black Tigers of nearby Higbee, Missouri, in 1908, and subsequently for the Hannaca Blues, an all-black contingent from Glasgow during the 1909-10 seasons.
Tennessee Rats
He pitched for Brown's Tennessee Rats,[3] which were managed by W.A. Brown of Holden, Missouri. The team traveled with a complement called "Brown's Tennessee Minstrels". Together, the group of about 20 players crisscrossed the upper Midwest, playing ball during the day and providing an evening minstrel program for their mostly white ticket buyers.
Donaldson established himself as a stellar pitcher, posting a reported record of 44-3. Known highlights of that season include an 18-inning 31 strikeout game,[23] a 27 strikeout performance and on at least four separate occasions, he whiffed 19.
All Nations
He contracted to pitch for the World's All Nations team based in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1912,[4] for a reported sum of $150 per month. Donaldson went on to star for the team, which included a female player named Carrie Nation, as well as players of several different races. The experiment of an interracial ball club was successful as the All Nations thrived traveling throughout the Midwest and Upper Midwest from 1912 to 1917.
During Donaldson's 1915 season, he struck out an average of 18 batters a game and fanned 30 in a marathon 18-inning contest. Donaldson not only struck out more than 500 batters that season, but did it three years straight. Most of his accomplishments were against semi-professional competition, but Donaldson also did very well in his relatively few contests against highest level professional baseball teams, and there were a number of first-person reports of his talent from such opposing managers and players.
1914 All Nations Team
Donaldson and his ball-clubs prior to the organization of the Negro National League in 1920 played ball all year round, both in the Midwest and venues as far west as Los Angeles[6] as far east as Palm Beach, Florida.[5]
In an interview in the Kansas City Call in 1948, J. L. Wilkinson said Donaldson was "one of the greatest pitchers that ever lived, white or black." [36] He also said Donaldson suggested the name "Monarchs" when Wilkinson was preparing a team for the Negro National League in 1920.[36]
Tumultuous times, 1918 to 1920
During the time of World War I, the 1918 flu pandemic and many of the nation's racial unrest such as the Red Summer of 1919, John Donaldson was present in many of these same cities during those dates, playing and pitching in some of the United States' most populous cities like Indianapolis,[7] Brooklyn,[8] Detroit,[9] and Chicago.[10]After being in the middle of all that turbulence, Donaldson made his way back to Kansas City, Missouri to play again for J. L. Wilkinson.[11]
Kansas City Monarchs
After World War I, J. L. Wilkinson formed the Kansas City Monarchs in 1920, where 29-year-old John Donaldson worked as a pitcher and center fielder.[11] In fact, it has been reported that Donaldson came up with the name "Monarchs." A Kansas City newspaper even reported that Donaldson would manage the Monarchs, but it appears there was a change in the 11th hour, and José Méndez was chosen as the Monarchs manager. Donaldson played with the Monarchs at different times through much of the 1920s. 
He also played in at least one pre-season game with the All Nations in 1920,[12] and in 1921.[13]
Donaldson also played part-time with various semi-pro barnstorming teams during this era. However, for at least two years, Donaldson managed and played on the revamped All Nations baseball team,[14] which now served as a way to train, recruit and make money for Wilkinson's "parent club", the Kansas City Monarchs. Players for the All Nations would show up on the roster one week, then appear on the Kansas City Monarchs roster in the next week. Crowds of over 5,000 people sometimes watched these exhibition games, well into the mid-1920s.
Post-Negro league playing career
Perhaps most impressive, Donaldson played in towns in Minnesota,[15] the Dakotas,[18] and Canada,[17] sometimes as the only black player on a small-town semipro team. This was at a time when the Ku Klux Klan was active in the state, and three years after the notorious lynchings of three black circus workers in 1920 in Duluth, Minnesota, Donaldson led a barnstorming troupe into Duluth. Here, he pitched and beat a team of white all-stars from the Iron Range, 6-3.
Donaldson made a comfortable living traveling through rural America, even during the Depression. Like many black barnstormers of the time, Donaldson faced white Major Leaguers and fared well enough to prompt New York Giants manager John McGraw to say, "I think he is the greatest I have ever seen." McGraw is also alleged to have said about Donaldson: "If I could dunk him in calamine lotion, I'd sign him."
Baseball historian Pete Gorton has said that Donaldson's charisma, composure and stellar character were a countermeasure to the deep-seated prejudices of the time, "But I don't want anyone to look at the career of John Donaldson and think 'Oh, here's another poor black ball player exploited by the "Man" or by the times he lived,'" the writer noted. "This is a story of a man who was covered by the media and adored by the fans and had an outstanding career on the baseball diamond."
A May 17, 1928, Letter to the Editor in Melrose, Minnesota tells of one fan's appreciation of watching Donaldson: "Two-thirds of the attendance at Melrose wanted to see Donaldson, the great. They did not come because they wanted to see the Melrose or Scobey ball teams, but they wanted to see Donaldson, the master of base ball."
Donaldson was playing mostly semi-pro ball in the mid- to late-1930s, and by the end of 1939 was asked by Satchel Paige to play again in the Upper Midwest as the star pitcher on the days when Paige wasn't pitching. Local papers reported the 39-year-old Donaldson lacked speed, but that he still had enough experience to "fool the batters." [21] Newspapers and ball players often lied about their age throughout their career, for birth, marriage, and other government records show Donaldson was about 48 years old at the time. Currently, the last known game Donaldson pitched in professionally, was in a 1940 game against the House of David baseball team.[22]
After more than 30 years as a player, Donaldson retired in 1941. Settling in Chicago, some historians believe he worked for the U.S. Postal Service.
He made appearances on the mound in far less serious games, as late as 1949. However, by then Donaldson was in his late 50s.
Major League scout
Although Donaldson never gained the full recognition for his pitching skills during his lifetime and was never admitted into Major League Baseball during his career, he made history by becoming the first full-time black talent scout in the big leagues,[37]for the Chicago White Sox of the American League, in 1949, working into the 1950s.[38] He pursued Willie Mays and Ernie Banks for the team and is credited with the signing of several prominent Negro leaguers of the time, including Bob Boyd and Sam Hairston.
Research also suggests that Satchel Paige owes much of his style and acumen to Donaldson, whose barnstorming efforts pre-dated Paige's by two decades.[21]
Elden Auker, a former major league pitcher, who had played against Donaldson, related this anecdote when he (Auker) was 95 years old, in 2006: "I played against Donaldson in 1929. I was in college and we played at an Arapaho Indian reservation in Kansas. I pitched against Paige and I won, 2-1. Donaldson played center field. Donaldson got out in center field and squatted like a catcher", Auker related. "The Monarchs had a catcher named Young, and he squatted behind home plate and they played catch from 300 feet. They threw the ball on a line. If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it."
Efforts to resurrect his career after his death
At age 60, Donaldson was voted a first-team member of the 1952 Pittsburgh Courier player-voted poll of the Negro leagues best players ever.[32]
John Wesley Donaldson's Grave Marker
Donaldson died of Bronchial Pneumonia at age 79 in Chicago and is buried in Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.[1] He was buried in an unmarked grave at the cemetery, until Jeremy Krock, of Peoria, Illinois, raised enough money for a proper headstone[39] via the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project. He started the project with Jimmie Crutchfield and lead to Donaldson, and has continued to more than 20 other unmarked graves.[37]
Donaldson was nominated for a special ballot of pre-Negro leagues candidates for inclusion in baseball's Hall of Fame. A 12-member voting committee, appointed by the Board of Directors and chaired by former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent, however, did not choose Donaldson for membership in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, in a vote in February 2006.
As of 2016, researchers working as a networking team calling themselves "The Donaldson Network", living and working in several states around the United States, have located Donaldson's 4,942 career strikeouts and 399 career wins as a pitcher.
Film footage
Amateur film footage made on August 16, 1925, of Donaldson at a game in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, was uncovered in 2010.[40] Thirty-nine seconds exist. Donaldson faced off that day against Joe Jaeger, who made two relief appearances for the Chicago Cubs in 1920, and advertisements for the game called Donaldson "the colored wonder pitcher."
Burr Oak Cemetery, Alsip, IL., Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 12612). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
"A GOOD GAME" Bayard News Gazette, Bayard, Iowa, June 1, 1911
"All-Nations Beat Johnsons" Sioux City, Iowa May 19, 1912
Palm Beach Daily News, Palm Beach, Florida, January 25, 1916
"DONALDSON TO PITCH TODAY" Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1917
"Cuban Stars Will Meet A.B.C.s in Two Games Today" The Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, Indiana, Sunday, May 19, 1918, Part 4 Sports, Page 1, Column 5
DONALDSON TO PITCH FOR ROYAL GIANTS, The New York Age, New York, June 29, 1918, Page 6, Column 3
"Hilldale Team Wins" Philadelphia Inquirer, August 6, 1919, Page 12]
Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri, October 18, 1919 Page 14]
"Monarchs will play K. of C. This Afternoon" Kansas City Journal, Kansas City, Missouri, April 25, 1920
"No-Hit Contest for Andy Graves" Omaha World Herald, Omaha, Nebraska, May 8, 1920, Page 5, Column 2
"Murphy Did-Its Take Two from All-Nations" Omaha World Herald, Omaha, Nebraska, April 17, 1921, Page 7, Column 2
"Struck out, by Bishop 1, by Donaldson 20." Bertha, Minnesota May 31, 1924
"Merrill-Lismore Game, 11 Innings" LeMars Globe-Post, LeMars, Iowa, Monday, June 28, 1926, Page 8, Column 1 and 2
"no hits, no runs off Donaldson" Regina, Saskatchewan July 23, 1925
"Struck out: by Donaldson 9, by Lindblom 4." Fargo, North Dakota September 6, 1927
"Slugging Monarchs Humble Rapids Club, 5 to 2" Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, Saturday, July 11, 1931, Page 7, Columns 2, 3, and 4
"Hampton, Giants Into Semifinals" Omaha World-Herald, Evening Edition, Omaha, Nebraska, Saturday, September 24, 1932, Page 10, Column 2
"Famous Monarchs Play Copper Sox Tonight" Montana Standard, Butte, Montana, Saturday Morning, July 1, 1939, Page 8, Columns 1 and 3
"Locals Tie Up Series by 5-2 and 3-2 Wins" Benton Harbor News Palladium, Benton Harbor, Michigan, Friday, July 5, 1940, Page 10, Column 3
"Humboldt Loses Long Game" Humboldt, Iowa September 15, 1911
"All Nations 8; Stumppullers 0" Centerville, Iowa May 18, 1914
"Donaldson likewise pitched his most noteworthy game Sunday." Sioux Falls, South Dakota June 21, 1914
"Austin Wins, 1 to 0, in Fine Slab Duel" Austin, Minnesota August 17, 1914
"Schmelzers Beaten in No-Hit Game" Kansas City, Missouri May 3, 1915
"Schmelzers Held Hitless 12 Innings by Donaldson" Kansas City, Missouri May 24, 1915
"Julesburg, Colorado, July 16" Denver Post, Denver, Colorado, Monday, July 16, 1917, Page 8, Column 6
"Donaldson Pitches Good Game of Ball" Boyd, Minnesota June 18, 1926
"Sports Light" Kansas City Call, Kansas City, Missouri, May 28, 1948
"Negro Leagues project marks history" ESPN's Outside the Lines, ESPN Network, Updated February 20, 2011
"Major League Scouts to Watch East-West Game" The Plain Dealer, Kansas City, Kansas, Friday, July 27, 1951, Page 4, Columns 7 and 8
"Visiting Negro League Greats at Burr Oak Cemetery" Chicago Tribune video, July 25, 2011
Pete Gorton, contributed a chapter to the book Swinging for the Fences: Black Baseball in Minnesota,' which chronicles Donaldson's career and is available here: http://johndonaldson.bravehost.com/pdf/00235.pdf
Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball, Lawrence D. Hogan (National Geographic 2006)
"Donaldson greatest baseball player ever? He played in southwest Minnesota", by Doug Wolter, Forum News Service, Aug 10, 2015
External links
Negro league baseball statistics and player information from Seamheads.com, or Baseball-Reference (Negro leagues)