Sense of Place

Explore the mystery and folklore of the Ozarks region by taking a step back in time. This series focuses on true stories from the vaults and attics of local historians.

Barry County History Museum / Barry County History Museum

As we continue our series “Mysteries of the Hollers,” we now travel to Roaring River State Park, where a so-called Mountain Maid once resided in a cabin tucked away in the woods.

When people usually think of clairvoyants, they envision a woman at a carnival wearing a turban, staring ominously into a crystal ball. Jean Wallace, on the other hand was much more down to earth—though just as mysterious.

Jennifer Moore / KSMU

Near a winding, country highway, an old cemetery is nestled between a pasture of cattle and a corn field a few miles southeast of West Plains, Missouri. The Howell Valley Cemetery, originally known as the Langston Cemetery, dates back to shortly after the Civil War; several relatives of President George Washington are buried beneath these towering Oak trees.

The volunteer caretaker shows up in a rusty, green truck and steps out to greet me.

Around these parts, he’s known as Mike, or as “Dr. Moore,” a family doctor…but to me, he’s always been known as “Dad.”

Lou Wehmer

About 20 years ago, historian Lou Wehmer bought a collection of old negatives from a longtime photographer in Willow Springs.  The negatives were each four-by-five inches, from an antique, large format camera.

And one negative in particular made Wehmer gasp.

“It was a photograph of an older gentleman standing in front of a harp,” Wehmer said.

The historian in Wehmer thought, “Hm. We didn’t have harpists in northern Howell County.”

“We had fiddlers and we had guitar players. But I had never heard of a harpist. So that was a mystery to me,” Wehmer said. 

(courtesy wikipedia.org)

This is the story of a mysterious man, a pianist and music teacher by profession, who showed up in the small Northwest Arkansas town of Cincinnati in Washington County in the 1870s. He went by the name of Edwin Dolgoruki—sometimes reported as “G. Dolgoruki,” but usually as Edwin. But to this day no one is sure of who the man was, where he actually came from, or what was his real story.

(courtesy Minneapolis Star and www.ozarksalive.com)

Former Springfield News-Leader columnist Mike O’Brien wrote in May of 2001 that in 1946, a publishing house in Kansas put out a 32-page booklet called “True Stories of Peculiar People and Unusual Events in the Ozarks.”  It was written by former Kansas City newspaper reporter William R. Draper.

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