Archive Posts

Kewpie by Joshua Heston

Editor’s note: I was challenged by a good friend to write a “creepy story” involving the nationally recognized Kewpie doll created in the early 20th century by Rose O’Neill, whose Bonniebrook estate lies just a few miles north of Branson near Bear Creek. For the record, I actually find Kewpies to be rather endearing but…

A Journey of Freedom: The Art of Harlan Bonar

PLATE 1. Harlan Bonar in his Knob Noster studio. A Journey of Freedom: The Art of Harlan Bonar BY JOSHUA HESTON The rolling, grass-covered hills west of Sedalia, Missouri, mark a transitional territory where the tall grass prairies converge with the northwestern Ozark Hills. The place is pastoral, but it is here — in an…

Shepherd of the Hills Country (1913-1960)

Shepherd of the Hills Country (1913-1960) by J. Thomas and Joshua Heston As Shepherd of the Hills became a bestselling novel, fans of the book began flocking to the Branson area. The visitors hoped to experience Shepherd of the Hills country for themselves. Locals latched onto the notion of making a living from this newfound…

Eastern Ozarks Rendezvous

Eastern Ozarks Rendezvous, Glen Allen, MO by Clint Lacy, March 16, 2019 Remarkably I had not been able to attend the first and second Eastern Ozarks Rendezvous event at Barks Plantation in Glen Allen, Missouri, so this year I decided to pay them a visit. The first person I interviewed was “Billy” from Cape Girardeau,…

The Harold Bell Wright Era

The Harold Bell Wright Era by J. Thomas with Joshua Heston To understand Branson today, we must harken back to the earlier days of an old-fashioned people and the early steps of those who walked the paths of these White River Hills. With around seven million visitors a year, Branson has become a center for…

Ozark Easter

Ozark Easter by Dale Grubaugh Howdy folks! It’s Easter and this here is my story: Easter was always a big time at our house when I was a youngin’. All the city kinfolk would come for the weekend. There would be lots of food and fun. We kids would help color the boiled eggs and…

Smells Like Rain & Tastes Like Tears: Shepherd the Musical

PLATE 1. “Young Matt” (Caleb Odenthal) fights the Baldknobbers. Photo by Beckie Fairchild. Smells Like Rain & Tastes Like Tears: Shepherd the Musical by Joshua Heston with Caleb Brubaker “Do they think this is the end?” Dave Wallace wondered as he looked over an audience rising to their feet. The applause was long and lasting…

Eureka Springtime

PLATE 1. A Victorian mansion with neighborly — albeit rickety — bridge as seen on Eureka Spring’s West Mountain, framed by the Ozarks’ setting sun. A Eureka Springtime by Joshua Heston It is Thursday and I am on story assignment — this time at the Ozark Mountain UFO Conference. If there’s one thing I’ve learned…

Search for Truth: UFO Conference

UFO Conference’s Search for Truth by Joshua Heston Eureka Springs, Arkansas. A cool April night. Across the valley, the outstretched arms of the “milk-jug” Jesus reaches my way from East Mountain. The castle hotel balcony upon which I am sitting is known for a lady in white who dissolves in green mist as she plummets…

Sweetest of Monsters

PLATE 1. The Centaur Escapes. The Centaur Escapes displays an enraged centaur, half-man and half-horse — muscular back arched, fists clenched — against a troubled sky. From whom is he escaping? What cause is there of this angst? O’Neill, wisely, leaves that answer to the viewer — or, perhaps more personally, simply kept the answer…

The Roads to Bonniebrook

PLATE 1. Winding roads among the rocks and cedars lead to the Bonniebrook Estate five miles north of present-day Branson, Missouri. The Roads to Bonniebrook by Joshua Heston On an early morning in January, 1947, the little Ozark cove and cedar break with a tiny stream leading down to Bear Creek was bleak and barren.…

Shades of Spring

Shades of Spring by Joshua Heston Fleeting moments of astounding beauty. A landscape of browns and grays changed, seemingly overnight, into an artist’s palette of transcending color. The warm gust of a southern breeze. Duck fluff of white oaks, actually small blooms and tender new leaves, suddenly dapple the forest floor in tentative shade. And…

Feature Articles

Summer Firework Art

PLATE 1. Crazy Debbie’s Discount Fireworks take over an old building near Mount Branson on East 76. Summer Firework Art by Joshua Heston An oscillating fan turned, moving humid air from one aisle to another, cement floor smooth and a little dewy in the hot summer night. The glowing Black Cat sign competed with a…

Shades of Spring

Shades of Spring by Joshua Heston Fleeting moments of astounding beauty. A landscape of browns and grays changed, seemingly overnight, into an artist’s palette of transcending color. The warm gust of a southern breeze. Duck fluff of white oaks, actually small blooms and tender new leaves, suddenly dapple the forest floor in tentative shade. And…

Sarvisberry

Sarvisberry by Joshua Heston EDITOR’S NOTE: The small, unassuming sarvisberry tree has a rich history in the Ozark hills, a history which details the important, at-times poetic, relationship between man and nature. The article below is a reprint, permitted from the College of the Ozarks’ Ralph Foster Museum and for that, I am quite grateful.…

Dogwood

Dogwoods by Joshua Heston The flowering dogwood has come to symbolize the Ozarks — as well as the Upper South — which isn’t really a surprise. There are few scenes prettier than an Ozark mountainside in April. The dogwoods — white, pink, and red — mingle with the redbud and wild plum beneath the white…

Mayapple

Mayapple by Joshua Heston Looking like so many foot-tall green umbrellas, mayapple colonies are found throughout the Ozarks in April. A forest understory plant, Podophyllum peltatum spreads primarily by an underground tuber system. The most striking part of the mayapple, however, is rarely seen. Borne on a single, succulent stalk beneath the umbrella is a…

The Celtic World

John Anster Fitzgerald (1823-1906), Titania and Bottom The Celtic World by Joshua Heston “From the cradle to the grave our every move is shadowed by beings not quite of this world.” (1) In the old days, before our inundation of technology, before we could pat ourselves on the back for having discovered every mystery worth finding,…

Irish Games in the Hills

Irish Games in the Hills by Joshua Heston I suspect more than one exasperated hillbilly has — unknowingly — participated in the old Celtic games of strength. The necessary components are at hand. First, there are plenty of stones for throwing. Second, there are a great number of Irish and Scotch families in these hills.…

Toby Show, circa 1985

The Toby Show “Fifty or 60 years ago, actors came to small towns in the Midwest and set up tens. In all the towns where these shows appeared, it was a time of celebration. “Legitimate theater looked down their noses at these shows but to the people, these actors made the world a better place.…

Celebrating Silver Dollar City

PLATE 1. Vintage murals celebrate Silver Dollar City’s unique heritage. Celebrating Silver Dollar City by Jim Barrett (written spring 2000 in conjunction with Silver Dollar City’s 40th anniversary) I got to seriously thinking about the history of Silver Dollar City and a goodly number of old memories began flooding back. I remembered going over to…

Moon Plantin’

Moon Plantin’ by Dale Grubaugh Winter has come to the Ozarks. The ground is white with snow and the temperatures have dipped down to single digits and below to make it bone chillin’ cold. It’s a good time to sit by the fire with a hot cup of coffee and read a favorite book, magazine…

Dutch Oven Cookin’

Dutch Oven Cookin’ by Elias Tucker (Dale Grubaugh) Winter can be a challenge in these Ozark hills. During the last week of January, the hills around here got all dressed for the occasion. Blanketed in sleet, snow and freezing rain, the Ozarks looked a bit like a waiting bride in a veil of ice. Beautiful…

Oak

PLATE 1. Quercus palustris. Oak by Joshua Heston There are so many species of oak in the Ozark Mountain region that identifying them all is a bit daunting. This is only a partial list. White Oak (Q. alba) Black Oak (Q. valutina) Pin Oak (Q. palustris) Bur Oak (Q. macrocarpa) Shingle Oak (Q. imbrecaria) Post…