Monday, May 19, 2008
As I check the Missouri State Department of Conservation I notice that squirrel hunting
season is to start May 24. I used to hunt squirrels when I was a kid more than any other
kind of game. I didn't have a dog so I had to be quiet as I walked through the woods to
sneak up on one to get a good shot. The gun I used was a Savage Arms over and under which
belonged to my father. The top barrel was rifled for .22 caliber bullets and the bottom
barrel was a .410 shotgun. This type of gun is called a "drilling." If you are
interested you can read all about drillings at this website:
Sometimes I would use the shotgun barrel but it was difficult to get all the lead shot
out of the squirrel when I dressed it so I preferred using the .22 caliber. But that
didn't always work if I didn't hit the squirrel in a lethal spot. So when in doubt I used
the shotgun barrel. I didn't know much about the intricacies of hunting squirrels but I
usually brought a couple home to skin and dress for my mother to fry. Elmer
"Dub" Brown (photo 01), in
his very interesting writing style, sent me a narrative about one of his early experiences
squirrel hunting when he was a young boy living in rural Miller County:
01 Elmer Brown
RITE OF PASSAGE
One of the rites of passage for a boy in the Missouri
Ozarks when I was growing up was to be trusted to handle a gun without adult supervision.
My rite came when I was ten and, as often happens with this sort of thing, quite by
It was a late summer or early fall morning and my mother
and I were at the barn milking the cows when I heard the dog barking "treed". As
I finished taking care of my cows and poured some milk in the cat's pan, he was still
"raising cain" in the same area so I went to investigate.
I was amazed and delighted to see that a nice fat, fox
squirrel was draped across the limb of a rather small tree. That target of opportunity was
too good to ignore.
I hustled to the house, grabbed the little Stevens
"Crackshot" .22 from its storage place behind the cabinet and rummaged around in
the buffet drawer for a few cartridges. I had the presence of mind to grab the pliers out
of the kitchen cabinet drawer since the extractor for removing spent shells usually didn't
work. It never entered my mind that I was violating one of the cardinal rules; "You
don't touch that rifle without an adult present".
As I tore out of the house I could hear Scrapper still
barking "treed" so I knew the squirrel hadn't gotten bored and left the area.
Not surprising for a fox squirrel, but you couldn't count on that sort of cooperation from
a gray. They tend to be pretty skitish.
When I arrived back at the tree, the squirrel was still
posing conveniently in plain view on the limb. What with being excited and out of breath
from the run, I'm sure my hands were none too steady, but I managed to get a round in the
chamber. I quickly sighted, thumbed back the hammer and pulled the trigger. Surprisingly,
my aim was good and the squirrel fell out of the tree. The dog rushed in to grab it. At
first, I stood there dumbfounded, but then had the presence of mind to grab the squirrel
away from the dog. Agnes, my mother, came boiling out of the cow barn with fire in her eye
ready to take on whoever was shooting so close to the barn and the livestock.
I don't think the term, "smoking gun", had been
developed at that time to define positive evidence against the perpetrator of a crime. But
I could have been its poster child, for there I stood holding the dead squirrel high above
my head in one hand, to keep the dog from tearing it to shreds, and the .22 rifle in the
It suddenly dawned on me that I was in big trouble!
Mother was very strict with regard to obeying established
rules but she was also pragmatic. Money was pretty scarce, and even though we lived on the
farm and raised a lot of our own food, that squirrel represented the meat for a meal.
Once she had sized up the situation, she let me know in
her own reserved way, that I was forgiven for breaking the gun rule. It was also pretty
well understood, between us, that the rule, though not really lifted totally, was
considerably relaxed as long as I could put meat on the table in a safe and responsible
I bragged about my prowess to all my friends, and anyone
else who would listen, until I'm sure I drove them all crazy. They just didn't understand
the significance of the event.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Wells family who lived on a farm near Tuscumbia
settled by Charles Wells of West Virginia near the end of the Civil War. If you read the
story you may remember I mentioned one of his tenants, Lewis Jones, who had come to Miller
County from West Virginia earlier than Charles in order to clear the Wells farm land.
Well, a great grandson of Lewis Jones, Vincent Uthoff of Texas, with whom I had
corresponded regarding his Jones ancestor, sent me a recording of Grant Jones, son of
Lewis and grandfather of Vincent, made in 1950 by one of Grant's grandsons, George. George
was an electrical engineer and possessed a wire recorder. He recorded Grant Jones, who was
87 at the time, remembering some of his early experiences when he was a child and later a
young teenager living in Miller County soon after the Civil War. It isn't often that we
get to listen to oral history given by those who were living such a long time ago,
especially who lived in our own Miller County. The recording Vincent gave me was on a CD
to which the wire recording had been transferred. I sent the CD to Brian Ahart who made a
MP3 audio file to which David Statler, who prepares this web page, put a link. For those
who are not able to access the MP3 file, I have transcribed the memories of Grant Jones
which are on the CD.
But first, to refresh the memory of those who read the Wells narrative a few weeks ago
and for those who didn't read it as well, I am going to copy the section about Lewis Jones
here to make it easier to understand Grant's narrative:
Lewis B. Jones
Hazel (Pearl) Jones Uthoff (mother of Vincent
Lewis B. Jones (B1802, D1874) was one of 10 children born
to Thomas H. (B 1782 D 1849) and Mary Haines (B 1785 D 1872) Jones. Lewis was born in a
wilderness area of Virginia near the present day city of Middlebourne, West Virginia. At
the start of the Civil War, when Virginia withdrew from the Union; the western counties of
Virginia withdrew from Virginia and were admitted in 1863 to the Union under the name West
Virginia. In the late 1820's Thomas bought a tract of land on the Ohio River near
Sistersville. Thomas became a merchant-farmer and sold produce and cured meats to the
riverboats that carried passengers and cargo along the Ohio River.
On August 1824, Lewis B. Jones, son of Thomas, married his
first wife, Rebecca Haines. In 1838, Rebecca died. Lewis later married a second time. His
second wife was Elizabeth Custer. She bore him 5 children.
When Lewis's father died in 1849, Lewis bought out the
other heirs and started a lumber business on Mckim Creek in what is now Pleasants County,
West Virginia. At one time his holdings included 17,000 acres of land, a sawmill, a store,
and a boat building company. During the "Panic of 1857," Lewis lost most of his
holdings. What he was able to save, he divided among the children of his first marriage.
Lewis then moved West seeking to recoup his fortune. The
children of his second marriage came with him to Miller County, Missouri. Charles Wells,
who operated boats on the Ohio, and with whom Lewis's family had been associated in
western Virginia, owned 900 acres of land on the Osage River near Tuscumbia, Missouri.
Charles wanted it cleared and fenced. Lewis agreed to a 3-year lease to a parcel of land,
which he would clear and fence in return for the lumber he would remove from the land. The
brother of Elizabeth Hill had a similar lease on the Wells property, and this was how she
and Lewis met.
Lewis and Elizabeth remained on the Charles Wells Farm for
about 10 years. During these years, 4 children were born to them: William Lewis Jackson,
Eliza, Ulysses Grant, and Virginia. About 1869 Lewis moved his family from the Charles
Wells farm to a 311-acre farm on the Osage River near Capp's Landing. Only about 100 acres
were farmable, the rest was rough and woodsy. Lewis had purchased the farm with $1,800
saved from the sale of lumber. Lewis farmed and sold cured meat, like his father before
him, to commercial riverboats.
When Lewis lived in Pleasants County, Virginia (since
1863, part of West Virginia), he had co-signed notes of others to help them obtain loans.
About 1873, he was asked to make good on one of these notes. In February of 1874, Lewis
drove some hogs into Tuscumbia to raise the money to pay the note. He returned home about
midnight with pneumonia and died before morning. Elizabeth Hill was left a widow for a
second time. She had 4 children still at home, Nancy 18, Billy 14, Grant 9, and Virginia
7. Eliza had died about 4 years before and the other children were married and on their
About 1877, some 3 years after Lewis's death, Elizabeth
lost the farm on the Osage River. "Cheated out of it," Grant said. And 7 years
of wandering began -- looking for someplace to start over again. Billy took a job driving
a Mr. Diamond and a Mr. King, who owned a Punch and Judy show, to Texas, and the family
lost track of him for several years. The family moved first to Cherokee County, Kansas, to
Northwest Arkansas near Grant's half-brother Mark, then to Joplin, and then to St. Joseph,
Missouri. Finally Elizabeth moved back to Miller County. During the time of wandering
Elizabeth supported herself as a midwife. Grant took whatever came to hand, splitting
cordwood, helping drive cattle to market, or helping a farmer bring in his crops. Grant
said," I was never too little for the big jobs or too big for the little jobs. I
often took jobs that others were too proud to do. We were poor, but I never went hungry or
cold. There is no shame in being poor. The only thing wrong with being poor is the
disadvantages it brings you."
Now I will place the transcription I made of the recording of Grant Jones' memories. I
tried to transcribe faithfully the speech and dialect used by Grant which is typical
Ozarkian in nature. For those who can access the MP3 audio file you can listen and read
Grant's narrative simultaneously. More is on the MP3 file than what I have transcribed.
Click HERE to listen to the MP3 audio file.
When I was born I was born in the day of ox carts, two
wheeled carts pulled by steers with a yoke. When people went traveling if they had a
family more than four they went in these ox carts. You'd see the man walking along side
the cart driving the steers and the woman and children sittin' in the cart. You could hear
them things screechin' for miles; sometimes they'd grease them with salt soap. I remember
one time when they's comin' in to build a house for my half brother who'd just got
married. Back then they did that when you got married. They'd come in and build the house,
build a fence and plow a few acres ground, they'd start from that y'know to housekeepin'
and makin' a livin'.
So it was one cold frost mornin'in the fall, and you could
hear one of 'em comin' to help build m'half brother's house. Some said 'twas old Mike
Ahart, and some said 'twas old Billy Bilyeu. Others said 'twas Cal Gray, others said 'twas
old Bill Calvert, and others made mention that 'twas old Patty Quelen, an old Irishman
that lived o'er there. Come to find out 'twarn't who they thought 'twas 'atall, 'twas a
feller named Barnhart.
Anyhow, as I's a tellin' ya, if they's plannin' to take a
trip, maybe to stay all night, even if 'twas ten miles, maybe fifteen miles, maybe they'd
stay two or three nights. And if they had only one or two children they'd ride horses and
the woman'd hold one child on her lap and the man would follow behind on the other horse
holdin' the other child in his lap and they'd go horseback. If'n they had more'n that
they'd go to these steers liken I's a tellin' ya, and these carts would be sawed off low
to the ground. And I never saw a team of horses and a wagon 'til I's up to ten, 'leven
Well, people's very sociable there, very sociable. And as
I's tellin' ya when people got married they'd come together and they'd start build'n them
a house and they'd live there. The boy's father'd give'm a yoke of steers and a harrow,
and the father of the woman'd give her a cow and her mother'd give her a dozen hens. And
that's how they started up. 'Twarn't like 'tis today.
But like I said, people were more sociable then than they
are now. They didn't have no way of goin' then like they do now, and they stayed longer
for a visit. I've seen our house when it had six beds and a trundle bed under each one of
'em. And it was hard to walk on the floor without stepping on a bed.
And when we butchered in the fall, we butchered
my father did that
.not everybody did
.he'd butcher up as high as
forty or fifty hogs. And then he sugar cured the meat, and he sold the meat out to
.towns like Jefferson City would order so much meat like some store man,
you know; or on down the river he'd ship some to St. Louis, like he did one year. And if I
recollect right they came back to him one year saying he "owed a little on
expenses," the hogs down there didn't bring enough to pay all his expenses. So he
never shipped any more but he paid the money, I can tell you that.
And we had three hundred eleven acres there, one hundred
in the river bottom and the rest in them hills there, they had big bluffs, you know. But
it was right along the river, it was a mile long. Then he had sixty eight acres over there
on the crick and about twenty acres of that was farm land. And that was our home and we
wuz out of debt.
And I have to tell you they's a little experience that
come up. Father had signed a note with his first wife's uncle, way back
I don't know
if it was Virginia or when he lived in Ohio
he'd lived in both places. And I can
recollect now they's this note come ag'in 'im, and we had our land all paid fer and we had
I don't know how many head of cattle. And we had lots of hogs. And the hogs all run out
and the cattle all run out. And it amounted to 2700 and some dollars and father had two
thousand dollars and a man said to him, "Uncle Lewis, that's outlawed and I think you
could beat it if you'd do it." And he said, "No, I signed that to make it good,
and I'll pay it."
So he had to go and borry the money and I'm tellin' ya
this just as straight as I know it
he had to go and and borry the seven hundred
dollars and he took that with the two thousand and he paid the note off. I had it a long
time (the note)
.I don't know what ever went with it. And he took sick on the way
he drove these cattle and hogs twelve miles. They's a deep snow, 'twas in
January and the snow there's slushy, it's not like what we got here (Iowa), and they
didn't have overshoes; that wuz before we had overshoes, and he tuk cold and he had to
stay overnight up there and he come home the next evenin' and the old steer you know he
don't go very fast. And he said to mother, "Well, I got it all paid off now and I've
got a hundred and eighty dollars comin' to me, and they's gonna cancel that mortgage and
bring it to me." Well, my father took "double pneumonia" and he died the
next morning and he had it then, had it when he come. He died the next morning 'bout
Well, Donnely (banker) come back the next morning and said
he didn't have it right, more comin' to 'im yet.
Well, after two years he said, "You let us keep that
sixty old acres over there along the river, along the crick
" and we'd let 'im
have the tie timber off of it. Well now he didn't have no mortgage on that
"atall" and if he could persuade me and my mother to sign over this three
hundred and some acres, together we'd live with his son in law, and then she could move
over here on this sixty acres
.but he never did have nothin' agin all that. Just had
to beat mother out of ever thing we had
.just accept the sixty acres
and he'd take the tie timber off of that. So you see what I had to go up against.
George (Grant's grandson): "How many of you was they
Grant: "Well, they's me and my brother and one own
sister and a half sister at home. And now I'll try to explain a little more to ya
didn't tell ya all. Father married the first time he married a woman by the name of
Baldwin. To them was born seven children, they's seven children. Five boys and two girls.
Then she passed away. And about five or six years later he married a woman by the name of
Custer, a niece of George Washington, Margaret Custer. And to them was five children
they's Mark, Lucy, and Lou, and Margaret and Carol
Margaret wuz named after
her mother (apparently this woman also died).
And then he married my mother.
And my mother'd already been married and had four children
and then they got married and they had their own four children and it made twenty of us
all together. I'm the only one livin'. I's eighty seven last Monday. All of us
my brother died in Oregon a year ago last June, something about the twentieth of
June, twenty eighth of June I forget t'which it was
he was 91, he was older than me.
So I'm gonna tell you now
my half sister got married,
married a feller from Illinois, name of Hathaway. He was a nice man in every way but he
drank. He got drunk and he'd spend the last dollar he had for a glass of whiskey. And then
he'd work again and git a little ahead and then he'd git drunk again.
Well we moved then out to Kansas
.them days you could
enter land, homestead they called it. Well, we went to Kansas
the land wuz there all
right..in Osage County, west of Joplin, just over in
I believe 'twuz second county.
'Course I's just a kid then. So we had to haul wood eighteen to twenty miles, and they
wasn't any coal there
well, they's a bit down there where they chipped it out a bit
on the bank on a crick, but it wouldn't burn hardly a'tall. Well my brother in law and my
mother decided it wuz too far to haul and he said "let's go down tuh Arkansas cuz you
kin get land there and they's all kind of timber there. So we moved down to Arkansas and
they's plenty of timber but 'twas awful poor land.
Well, I worked then at twenty five cents a day. Or a hog's
head and chitlins a day, or a half bushel of corn a day, or four days for a half bushel of
wheat. But yet we never went hungry or cold
always had somethin' to eat. But 'twas
hard goin', hard livin', hard to build up.
So you kin see somethin' about the life I lived.
And then my brother went away to join a show with a man by
the name of Diamond and a feller by the name of King
'twas a Punch and Judy show,
y'know. And when they got down there, down to Texas, the horses took a "Southern
Fever" an' one of 'em died an' he (brother) tuk a fever, kind of a yellow fever they
had there then, and while he's in bed they let another horse out with a rope strapped to
his foot, had a hunerd foot rope on 'im, staked down, and they pulled the bridle off 'im
and he just kicked and whipped about and then he ran out the hunerd feet of rope, turned a
somersault and broke his neck. Killed 'im. But he had this new wagon and harness
he had left. So he sold 'em, and when he come back to where we wuz (in Arkansas) we'd
moved away and 'twarn't nobody seemed to know where'd we went to.
And then he come on back to Miller County and married and
when we'd come back (to Miller County) he wuz married
married a wider (widow) woman.
And never again could I have him to work with like I'd wanted to, I always dearly loved
'im. And never from then on did I have opportunity to be with him. He never hurt me in his
life, he wuz always tryin' to take the rough off of me, always takin' the hardest part to
do, and if ever a brother loved another I loved him. I's denied that privilege with him
gettin' married like that, y'know. And he moved to Kansas a few years after that, and his
wife died there. And he went off to work, had a li'l child, hired a girl to take care of
her. And when this child wuz about three or four years old him and that girl got married.
And her folks wanted to go west, and they went west, and he went with 'em and he had a
team, wagon and harness and he said he had about a hunerd dollars money left. And he got
out there and one of his horses died. And his brother in law come home drunk and him and
his brother in law got into a fight. M'brother tried hard but he had an awful hot temper
and when he got mad he'd fight like a bull saw. And so they all fell out and next
mornin'they unloaded his stuff, they'd been pullin' him too y'know so they left sittin'
. his wagon and his one good horse. And they went on and left 'im.
So he left his wife there and he went on and he went about
forty miles and he come to a place where you'd get work. And they let'im have a horse, go
back and get his wife and children, they'd had one baby (in addition to the girl with his
previously deceased wife)
Well, I'll tell ya one thing, I've worked hard all my life
but I warn't never hungry nor cold, and I'll tell ya one thing George (grandson) if ya's
worth a million dollars you should do something, work at something, you'll be
happier..live longer and be happier. Now that's right. Here I've been, been pretty near
twenty years that I've been blind, nearly blind. And it's awful, it's terrible to be that
way, you can't see to work and you can't do. And sittin' around all day your blood don't
circulate good and now my legs' all paralyzed and numb just sittin' around just as numb as
numb as they can be. Don't sleep good, only get about fifteen minutes an hour sleepin';
sit up part of the time, few nights ago I set up from one o'clock 'til
couldn't get my breath, made it hard for me.
But as I look back I've had a good life
might've been better or worse, I don't know. But my advice to every
man, woman or child: work, do somethin' as long as you live. You'll be better, happier,
and feel better. You'll notice how all these fellers that quit work at forty five or fifty
they don't live longer than five or ten more years
they's out 'n gone.
Their systems don't work right without workin'. If you're workin' you're movin' every part
of your body, your arms and shoulders, your legs and even your stomach's a movin' up and
down. It's jist good for a feller.
George, work as hard as you can
but don't try to
climb too fast. Don't' go hungry or cold. But don't waste it. Don't gamble, git into
drinkin'. Don't git into somethin' that can jerk it away from you. That's my advice to
Vincent Uthoff, the grandson of Grant Jones, who sent me the disc recording of Grant
made in 1950, gave me the following information about Grant's life:
"My grandfather was much loved and respected even
though he had almost no education. He had to work in all his teenage years just to help
support his family. He said he was poor, but he never went hungry or cold. He said there
is no shame in being poor; it is just the disadvantages it brings you. He vowed that he
was going to educate his children and teach them to work, and he did for 11 children. All
but one of his children got at least 2 years of college education and that one, David,
trained to be a blacksmith and did most of the decorative iron work on the Los Angeles
municipal buildings. Many of his children became teachers one got a Ph. D. and became a
college dean, Lonzo. One, Gerald, became the Engineer in Charge of Distribution for the
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. I enjoy just hearing Grandfather's voice again.
In 1950, George Cook was a latest technology freak and got one of the first home wire
recorders. George Cook worked as an engineer for the Gleaner plant in Kansas City. I think
he put the wire recorder to very good use."
One thing that interested me about the recording was that Grant Jones' accent or style
of speech was very similar to what we hear today in the Ozarks. Speech inflections and
variations can change some from one area to another. The speech of those in the Ozarks and
the southern half of Missouri has been analyzed by quite a few experts in dialects over
the years. One of those experts is Michael Patrick, an Eldon native, who wrote the
following article for the Advertiser several years ago:
"Such hill-country expressions as
"newfangled," and "outlandish;" verb forms such as "gotten"
and "boughten," and the common Ozark tendency to pronounce the final
"a" in a word as "y" can be traced back to the 16th century England.
And the staunch independence of the typical Ozarker who doesn't want to "be
beholden" reflects attitudes and values of their Scotch-Irish ancestors of the same
Dr. Michael Patrick, an Eldon native who teaches a course
in Ozark folklore at the University of Missouri-Rolla, says that such speech forms and
intrinsic beliefs link today's hill people with their forebears from the hills of England,
Scotland and Ireland. "The main reason elements of that culture have remained
relatively unchanged for 300 years is the isolation of the hill people, an isolation they
have chosen and cherished," he says. "When they came to this country, they have
always chosen to live in areas that reminded them of home, the Appalachian Mountains in
the 1700's and the Ozarks in the last century."
Patrick says that the Ozarks are rich in folklore. His
working definition of folklore is "those cultural materials that are transmitted by
word of mouth in 'oral tradition' or by customs." And as a folklorist, Patrick is
dedicated to preserving a record of Ozark culture before it dies out or is diluted by
In his folklore classes, students learn to recognize and
appreciate the folklore that is a part of their heritage, and to start collecting folklore
themselves. Armed with notebooks and cassette tape recorders, they visit with older adults
in their hometowns and in homes for senior citizens.
It has turned to be a good experience, both for students
and their interviewees, Patrick says.
"College students in their 20's changed their
attitudes toward the elderly as they came to know them, and the elderly came to realize
that their recollections and values formed a significant contribution in shaping
America," he adds.
Professor and students have found Rolla an ideal place
from which to study Ozark folklore---a relatively untapped source of information. It is
within easy driving distance of a part of Missouri hill country that has been virtually
untouched by commercial tourism.
The more Patrick goes in the Ozarks, he learns more about
what has become one of his major fields of study. He lectures on Ozark folklore in
retirement centers as part of UMR's University of the Third Age, a continuing education
program for older adults. "And I always learn more from them than they do from
me," he says. In his leisure time, you're likely to find him at auctions and sales,
standard Saturday events in the Ozarks, and wherever bluegrass music is being played.
Patrick comes to his interest in Ozark culture naturally.
He grew up with tall tales, bluegrass and country music, and characters straight from the
Ozark hills. He became a student of folklore later, when he noted that authors of the
Victorian period, his major study in literature, drew some of their material from
"In British literature, Robert Browning and Alfred
Tennyson are among those who based some of their poetry on folk tales or songs. In
America, Mark Twain and William Faulkner are two examples of those who made extensive use
of folklore, especially the tall tale. This is one of the staples of Ozark folklore, as
are anecdotes about gullible strangers and stories in which the teller is made the butt of
the joke," he explains.
This is all part of the Ozarks that Patrick knows and
loves, both as a native Ozarker and a folklorist. As current president of the Ozarks
States Folklore Society and past president of the Missouri Folklore Society, he has found
that Missourians in general are interested in preserving their heritage.
He welcomes the resurgence of interest in folk ways
evidenced by the popularity of bluegrass music, handicrafts and interest in the "old
ways" that are still a part of Ozark life. But he fears that much of that way of life
will pass too soon from the American scene. "The late Vance Randolph, Ozark
folklorist and author, predicted a number of years ago that the Ozark way of life would
gradually disappear as better roads were built and people in the backwoods became less
isolated. But television is accelerating the process. Almost everyone who has electricity
and almost everyone does---has a TV set. With it comes urban American culture, with its
emphasis on the "benefits" of modern technology, and, of course, what is
considered to be standard middle class English. Much of the dialect is already
disappearing. In time, we'll all be homogenized," he says. So preservation of the
history and remembering the charm and romance of the Ozark culture is even more important
these days Patrick emphasizes."
Having been born and raised in Tuscumbia "Ozark" speech was all I ever heard
growing up. My mother was born south of the river, where, by the way, I think you are more
likely to hear more "Ozark" dialect than in the north part of the county, and my
father was from the southern Missouri Ozarks. So the way I talked, I found, sounded much
differently to most people I was around when I went to college. In fact, when I was in
medical school, our graduation annual book's caption under my photograph sort of tells it
all (photo 02).
02 Graduation Album Photo
One of the new displays in our newly renovated museum is a restoration of the old
barber shop in Tuscumbia including the original chair and other barber paraphernalia (photo 03) which have been donated by
Tennyson and Sue Jarrett. Tennyson was the last barber in Tuscumbia to have used the
03 Barber Shop
So we were delighted recently when Carl McDonald gave me a photo of his son,
Mike, getting his first haircut in Tuscumbia in September of 1953 (photo 04). Mike is sitting in the same chair we now have in
the museum, the same one in which I also got my first haircut. Also pictured is Dwight
McDonald, Mike's grandfather. Wes Condra was the barber then as well as for me some ten
04 Mike McDonald's First Haircut
Unfortunately, Carl, Mike's father, could not attend this important milestone for
his son since he was out of the country serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean
We were extremely delighted this week to receive as a donation from Helen and Lewis
Wall (photo 05) a portrait painted by
noted Miller County born artist and author, Francesca Wright. The portrait, which is
pictured between Helen and Lewis, is of the mother of Francesca, Lillian, when she was a
05 Helen and Lewis Wall
Francesca painted the portrait based on an old photograph she had of her mother.
Lillian was the grandmother of Helen Wall, so the portrait is very meaningful to her and
we very much appreciate her willingness to give it to us for display in our museum.
Francesca passed away in March of last year at the age of 96. She was buried in the Glover
Chapel cemetery as part of a memorial service in June of last year. She was the daughter
of John Wright, noted Miller County artist, whom I have featured before on this page.
Francesca's autobiography, "Wildwood Days," a copy of which Helen is holding in
the photo, is a must read for anyone who wants to know what life was like for many local
families years ago who had to make a living off the Ozark hills of our area. Francesca's
home place growing up was just over the line in Pulaski County but her life was spent with
activities in Miller as well as Cole counties before she left the area as a young woman.
Her obituary describes many of the important events and facts about her life (photo 06).
06 Francesca Wright Obituary
Click image for larger view
Dr. and Mrs. Clem Haggerty of Lake Ozark (photo
07) were at the museum last week to donate to us a miniature 19th century home
which Mrs. Haggerty meticulously has constructed including very detailed period
furnishings for each room of the house as well as the clothes of its miniature residents.
The home was given in memory of her parents, Helen and Eugene Auer who themselves were
artistic says Mrs. Haggerty and who she feels passed that talent on to her.
07 Dr. and Mrs. Clem Haggerty
The Doll House (photo 08) was
a kit originally, really a "box of wood," according to Mr. Haggerty. Ninety
eight percent of the furniture pieces were handmade. For example, the Kitchen chandelier
was created from a treble hook. In the dining room the food on the table are all handmade
miniature models. Some of the people are of porcelain painted by Mrs. Haggerty herself.
08 Inside of 19th Century Model Home
Mrs. Haggerty grew up in South Side St. Louis. She enjoyed drawing as a child
with her mother. She also has done some oil painting, cross stitching, and needle point.
In addition, she sews clothing occasionally.
We were delighted to receive this gift and have made it the centerpiece of the upper
level of the new addition to the museum.
One of Miller County's most well known natives was Lee Mace (photo 09) who originated the well known Ozark Opry stage show
at Lake Ozark and later at Osage Beach. Lee was born at Brumley and was a son of Lucian
and Clare Mace.
09 Lee Mace
When Lucian was elected sheriff of Miller County in the 1940's the family moved
to Tuscumbia where Lee attended high school. Here is a photo of his graduating class (photo 10).
10 THS Graduates 1945 - Lee Mace
Click image for larger view
After school, Lee joined the Navy and upon return to home was a member of the
Lake of the Ozarks Square Dance Team (photo 11)
which won on the Ted Mack's Amateur Show following which it toured the country for about a
year as well as participated in more than twenty short films with the Grand 'Ol Opry.
11 Lake of the Ozarks Square Dance Team
Shortly after that Lee married his dancing partner, Joyce Williams of Linn Creek,
who became an integral part of his future successful musical and business career (photo 12).
12 Joyce and Lee Mace
Lee continued to follow his interest in country music by forming a country music
band and show which began appearing on the strip in 1952 near Bagnell Dam and later at
Osage Beach where he built his own auditorium. Lee called his group the Ozark Opry (photo 13) which became so popular that
twice nightly shows were required during the summers to accommodate the large crowds which
wanted to attend. During the off season Lee and the group went on tour performing local
shows in many different areas of the Midwest.
13 Ozark Opry
My sister, Pat (Trish) Pryor, was on the show for awhile in the early 1960's and
in the photo of the group above is the blonde standing next to Lee.
Lee had many business interests in the area including Indian Burial Cave which I
discussed a few weeks ago on this website (10 March
2008). Lee gave me a summer job at the cave as a guide when I was in college.
Unfortunately, Lee was killed in a tragic airplane accident in 1985. The show continued
for quite a few more years, however, under the continued management of Joyce until she
decided to retire a couple of years ago.
Because Lee and Joyce were such an important part of the Lake community and also in
honor of Lee who was a native of Tuscumbia and Miller County, we wanted to have a special
place to honor him and Joyce at our museum. We were very excited last week when Cathy
DeGraffenreid and Jim Phinney (photo 14),
both of whom have worked for Lee and Joyce for many years (Cathy was with them from almost
the very beginning) came to the museum to set up the Lee Mace display.
14 Jim Phinney and Cathy DeGraffenreid
The display (photo 15) is
located on the upper floor of the new addition and includes a TV monitor in which we
feature Lee reciting "The Ragged Old Flag," (photo 16), probably the most well known and popular
presentation that Lee ever did on the show. After his death, Joyce always played a DVD of
the recitation before the "live" show began.
15 Lee Mace Display
16 Lee Reciting The Flag Narrative
So we want to express our great appreciation to Joyce for donating, and to Cathy
and Jim for setting up, this wonderful display for our museum.
Finally, I'll end this week's Progress Notes with a few photos taken during our open
house last Saturday, May 17. More than two hundred people signed the visitor's book on
arrival and I suspect quite a few more visitors came who forgot to sign the book or didn't
see it. We were very thrilled that so many visitors and friends came to see our new
addition and the renovation of the old museum. The opening event actually began the day
before when a meeting of friends of Jerry Thompson of Eldon gathered in our events center
to wish her well on the move to Jefferson City she and her husband Dennis are making soon (photo 17). The event was hosted by her good
friend, Sharon Holder (photo 18).
17 Attendees honoring Jerry Thompson
18 Jerry Thompson and Sharon Holder
The next morning, the Moniteau County Historical Society was given a tour of the
new facility just prior to the opening at noon to the general public (photo 19). Near the end of the tour in the reception area
guest had the opportunity to enjoy a piece of cake made especially for the event by Billie
Sue Mahon (photo 20).
19 Moniteau County Historical Society
20 Open House Cake
Then at noon the doors were open to the general public. Guests continued to
arrive the entire afternoon until after four p.m. Next week I will upload some photos of
the new museum to give readers a photographic tour of our new facility.
That's all for this week.