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.

An Osage Holy Site Bears Testimony to Ozark’s Past

Dec 5, 2018
Claire Kidwell / KSMU News

Smallin Civil War Cave outside of Ozark, Missouri, has more history to it than its name would suggest. KSMU’s Claire Kidwell went there to explore its ancient past—which includes a fascinating element surrounding the winter solstice.

While hiking on the trail leading up to Smallin Civil War Cave, there’s a quiet atmosphere broken only by birdsong as you make your way to the cave.

KSMU Archives

Although much of the culture of native tribes has been lost in translation, scholars and archeologists have pieced together a retelling of the Midwest’s native people. They’ve done so though artifacts, journals and a sheer motivation to know more. 

Missouri may not seem like that big of a place, but William Meadows can list over ten historical tribes of Missouri with ease. 

Meadows is an anthropology professor at MSU. And he says the state has a rich record of Native American tribes.

Left photo: Gage Skidmore, Flickr / Right photo: Jennifer Moore, KSMU / Flickr via Creative Commons

On a cold winter week in 1925, two babies were born in a hospital in West Plains, Missouri. They shared the same doctor and even the same first name.  But one would grow up to stroll the red carpets of Hollywood, and the other would retire as a horse farmer in one of the most rural places in the Ozarks. 

Michele Skalicky

Tucked away off Highway 76 just north of the entrance to Silver Dollar City is an old one-room clapboard building. Next to it, a two-story house, which must have been quite grand in its day, sits abandoned.  The roof of the porch has caved in, and ragged curtains hang at the windows.  There’s also an old smokehouse on the property, a building that was constructed several years after the other structures and the remains of a trail ride that operated there in the 1980s and 1990s.

Bank Robbers and Bandits Befriended Families in Dora

Oct 4, 2018
Rick Gunter / Dora Public Library

A tiny town in south-central Missouri was once a refuge for bank robbers and outlaws.  92-year-old Dick Deupree remembers when Dora had its fair share of bandits. 

Dick Deupree recalls how, when he was a child, his father worked in the general store in Dora as the assistant postmaster. While life may have seemed normal in the shop front, there was a lot of drama in the background as his father dealt with notorious bank robbers.

Michele Skalicky

The Ritchey Mansion, east of Neosho in Ritchie, MO, stands tall some 168 years after it was built.  The two-story brick house is in a bucolic setting not far from Newtonia, surrounded by fields and farm roads.  But the area hasn’t always been peaceful.  During the Civil War, the house, built by Matthew E. Ritchey, served as a hospital for casualties of two Civil War battles that raged nearby.  And both Unions and Confederates used the house as their headquarters at different times during the conflict.   

Claire Kidwell / KSMU

Timmons Temple, was once a place where Springfield’s African American community gathered to worship and socialize.  Now known as Timmons Hall, it rests in a new location after it was moved to Silver Springs Park in 2015.  Today, it’s used as an events venue for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. 

As a part of Silver Springs Park Days, historical Timmons Temple held an open house Sunday for people to gather and remember the old church.

Betty Ransom is playing hymns on an old, donated piano as people wander in.

Michele Skalicky

Anyone who’s been to the Buffalo National River can attest to the beauty of the area, with its massive cliffs, cool, clear water, abundant wildlife and many diverse hiking trails.  But some may not realize the effort it took to create the park and the impact that had on landowners.

Remembering Ozarks One-Room Schoolhouses

Jul 1, 2018
Claire Kidwell / KSMU

As people meander through Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, they can wander into what looks like a set for Little House on the Prairie.

This is the Gray/Campbell Farmstead, and on this property is preserved Liberty School, an old one room school house from the north of Springfield. While the school is no longer in operation, there are still those who remember going to class there.

“I attended as a five year old. In 1947 they didn’t have Kindergarten, but they let me go.”

Missouri Digital Heritage / Springfield Greene County Public Library

During World War One, one of southwest Missouri’s main contributions to the Allied forces was supplying mules and horses for work in the trenches. KSMU went back in time to gain a better understanding about these hardy animals for our Sense of Place series on local history.

Michael Price might be sitting behind a desk, but this man knows a lot more about mules than you might think.

Images courtesy of the Springfield-Greene County Library District


Today, the City of Joplin is a thriving hub for health care and transportation. But there was a time when it was no more than a collection of tents huddled around a series of mines.

Walking into the Joplin History Museum, you’re greeted by the two resident cats who watch over the building—and an entire wing designed to look like an old mine.  

Springfield-Greene County Library District

  One the most influential people in Springfield’s history was a civic trailblazer during the first half of the 20th century.


John T. Woodruff moved to the Springfield area in 1904 and went on a 40-year spree of civic projects and expansion across the Ozarks.


But today, most people don’t know who he was or the impact he had on the community, says Missouri State University Library Dean Thomas Peters.


Johnson Family Collection

Drive by Phelps Grove Park in central Springfield and you'll likely see people walking their dogs, playing Frisbee, or having a picnic. This park is over 100 years old, and we explored its past as part of our ongoing Sense of Place series looking at local history.

According to Richard Crabtree, a local realtor and Springfield historian, the land for Phelps Grove Park was purchased during the Civil War, but it did not become a park until 1914 when it became both a park and a neighborhood.

The Story Behind the Gillioz Chandelier

Apr 17, 2018
Megan Burke/ KSMU

There’s a new showstopper in town—but it’s not really new at all.  In fact, it’s a very old chandelier—over seven feet tall and carrying 70 pounds worth of hand cut crystal.  It’s hanging on the second floor of the Gillioz Theatre in downtown Springfield.

  The chandelier is the first thing visitors see when they enter the Gillioz. It’s positioned perfectly between two pillars on the second floor and radiates its newly restored LED lights throughout.

Sarah Teague / KSMU

In Drury University’s oldest stone building, the 1906 Chalfant Pipe Organ can be heard. The Stone Chapel stained glass casts a pastel glow about the sanctuary, illuminating the dust throughout the room, which lands softly on the pews. Dr. Earline Moulder sits on the organ’s stool, her hands and feet methodically pumping rhythm through the pipes.