Chick Allen, Root Digger

(reprinted from Chick's 1975 autobiography, courtesy of John Fullerton, Branson historian)

I, Chick Allen, was born November 28, 1905, in Stone County in the Ozarks.

I am the fourth generation, [of] Delaware and Cherokee Indian blood. My home was a log cabin on the James River. The folklore was handed down from my great grandmother, Mary Still Hembree, my grandmother Walden, my grandfather Louis Blair, my father Sylvester Allen and my mother Bid Blair Allen (Liza Jane).

I was born and raised on a farm and we farmed and were timber workers for a livelihood in the Ozarks. I went to school in a log cabin which was called Wilson Creek School and this building is now in Silver Dollar City, Missouri, [now] known as the Wilderness Church.

When I was about 13 years of age, I started making railroad ties in the timber and did logging and farm work until I was a young man.

I grew up as a farmer and I heard a lot of old Civil War veterans telling the early history of Stone County and the Ozarks. My grandfather was Captain William Allen, a Confederate soldier in the Civil War and I am the fourth generation in Stone County and the Ozarks.

This book is true history handed down since about 1840. I was a jack of all trades and a country musician and became a root and herb man of the Ozarks.

I was a public entertainer — old time jig dancer and played the jaw-bone of a mule and worked for Silver Dollar City.

I [at the time of publication, 1975] operate, with my wife Grace, the Free Wash Gibbs Museum on west 76 Highway, Branson, Missouri.

— pages 4-5, Allen, Chick, Autobiography of Chick Allen and Folklore of the Early Ozarks, 1975.

Chick Allen

plate 1. Chick Allen, cover of Ozark Root Digger

Chick Allen

plate 3. Chick Allen, cover of Ozark Root Digger

Chick Allen

plate 4. Replica of gallows at Wash Gibbs Museum (Last hangin' 1937). Photos courtesy of John Fullerton & the Fullerton Family.

This story was first written and published by Chick Allen in 1975. Pictured above, Allen is remembered as an Ozark historian and “root digger,” a founding member of the Baldknobber Music Show, and, perhaps most importantly, as a deeply respected and loved father and grandfather. It is with deep appreciation to John Fullerton — Chick Allen's grandson and Branson historian — that these excerpts are published.

Stories included in the original publication include:

• Autobiography of Chick Allen • Legend Near Pineville • Gold Cache in Cave Near Butterfield • Lost Silver Mine on the White River • Legend of the Yocum Dollars and Breadtray Mountain • Legend of the Baldknobbers (The Story of Nat Kinney) • The End of the Baldknobbers • Legend of Large Fortunes in The Ozarks • Legend of Belle Starr in The Ozarks • True Story of Clude Barrow and Bonnie Parker in The Ozarks • True Story of Wild Bill Hickok in The Ozarks • The True Story of the Fountain of Youth at Ponce De Leon • The Last Hangin' in 1937 at Galena

The legends compiled in this book are true stories of the Early Ozarks as handed down to “Chick” Allen by his four generations.

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