Memorial Day – A Little History…and a Few Thoughts

As Memorial Day does for so many across this nation, it causes me to take a moment and be thankful.  A moment to say a prayer or raise a toast to those brave souls that stood and said, “I will go.”  A moment to be reflective of the great sacrifice so many have given so that I may sit here and write and share a day with loved ones and friends in a free nation. Throughout history the living have remembered the fallen by decorating graves, but our modern day holiday had its official start in this country during Continue Reading →

Ozark National Scenic Riverways Quarter | Alley Springs

New Ozark National Riverways Quarter

Source: Ozark National Scenic Riverways Quarter | U.S. Mint Representing the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Alley Spring and Mill will be featured on a new quarter from the U.S. Mint.  What a wonderful way to commemorate a great piece of Missouri history.  I was aware Alley Springs was one of the possible choices, but the actual coin looks just great! One of my favorite places in Missouri, Alley Springs has been a destination 44 times since 1937 for annual The Brown Family Reunion.  Alley Spring & Mill  will always be a special place for many of my family members to Continue Reading →

Ozark Moonshine – Alive and Well in the Ozarks

Hillbilly and moonshine

The image of a lazy hillbilly in the shade of an old oak tree, barefoot and sippin from a corn whiskey jug, this is an image forever tied to moonshine in the Ozarks.  Long before the cartoonish image of hillbilly moonshine came along, our Scotch-Irish ancestors were just doing what they had always done, making whiskey. Corn grew well in the Ozarks and the same limestone rich water valued so highly by Kentucky’s bourbon makers, flowed in these hills also.  Corn would replace barley as the main ingredient, but the process would basically remain the same. The word “moonshine” is found in a lot Continue Reading →

Just Released – Born of the Ozarks

Born of the ozarks

Dawn – a faint light brightens the east. The whip-poor-will calls sleepily to his mate. In the distance a crow caws, and owls who –whoo as they slowly fly back to the old dead stub where they sleep away the daytime. A rain crow’s chuckle is heard and a cardinal high in a tree calls loudly to his mate. The light brightens – gold –rose – and lavender colors blend and spread across the sky. The plaintive call of the wood pewee is heard in the old hickory tree. Then a chorus of bird song fills the air. Robins, Continue Reading →

My Little Red Coleman Lantern

Other than my recliner, I do not know of anything I find as comfortable as the warm glow and quiet hiss of a Coleman Lantern.  When I think back, some of my best memories involve the warming glow of a Coleman lantern somewhere on the bank of the Gasconade River.  I remember the bugs buzzing round the lantern globe and the faint smell of lantern fuel as it burns off into the night. Other times I remember making campsites in the Mark Twain National Forest with little more than a tarp and a blanket.  The Coleman lantern was always my beacon Continue Reading →

Ha Ha Tonka – The Castle in the Ozarks

ha ha tonka

Where do you start when you talk about Ha Ha Tonka State Park? This park presents a real contrast, a man-made wonder like no other in Missouri, and a plethora of geological wonders. This area is probably the best example of karst topography (caves, sinkholes, etc.) in the state. The idea of building Ha Ha Tonka mansion was conceived in 1903 by Robert M. Snyder on a visit to the Ha Ha Tonka area.  He fell in love with the spectacular scenery and by 1905, he had purchased 3,500 acres of the surrounding area and began to hire stone Continue Reading →

W. C. Cantrell – A Webster County Original

Woodson Collins Cantrell & son Earl, ca. 1910

The City Marshal in the photo below is my Great Grandfather Woodson Collins Cantrell. Although Collins Cantrell passed away two years before I was born, I was raised with many tales and stories of this stern, yet loving man. Raised in and around Cantrell Creek, he spent most of his life in Webster County, MO. Collins knew most people by their name and the rest he knew by their face or their family. Driven in life by a strong sense of family, he was surrounded by the large Cantrell clan from the beginning. His father John James Cantrell had 17 Continue Reading →

Sunday Best

I love to go to auctions. I do admit that part of the reason I love them so much is the food. But, the discovery of a great photograph in the bottom of a box is what keeps me coming back. You know I just can’t help it…I love these old photographs. Bonnets and bowler hats, it must have been Easter Sunday. The kids are excited. You can tell by all the blurred faces. They did not want to stand still on this day. Which person catches your eye as you look into the past? The little girl in Continue Reading →

If These Walls Could Talk

On June 12, 1990, a former cook walked in to the Missouri State Penitentiary for the first time. Everyone of his senses was assaulted at once. The smell of sweat, urine and hot pavement made him nauseas. The sounds of yelling, cussing and the constant clanging of metal surrounded and trapped him. He looked around and tried to figure out what part of hell he had just stepped into. He wondered to himself if he would ever get out of this place alive. Well, that former cook was me and I was 22 years old, wet behind the ears Continue Reading →

Hunting & Fishing in the Ozarks

  A few times a year I volunteer with The Missouri Department of Conservation to teach Hunter Education. I always enjoy the enthusiasm of the kids (and the adults) as we discuss and learn about the history of hunting and fishing in the Ozarks. For me this is a great time to pass on some of our Ozarks heritage to the next generation. Until then, most of them don’t realize that the Ozarks as we know it would probably be much different if it wasn’t for our unique hunting and fishing heritage. One of the first settlements in what Continue Reading →