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.

Neal Lopinot
Scott Harvey / KSMU

Neal Lopinot is pointing to artifacts associated with Delaware Indian Village, often called Delaware Town, that date back to the 1820s. 

“These are British gun flints, pipe fragments, square nails, scissors.  This is probably part of a stove; from a stove. This is probably part of a utensil; spoon/knife,” he says.

Through a treaty, a group of Delaware moved from Indiana to southwest Missouri and for a short time occupied land along the James River Basin and part of what would later become Springfield.  

Matt Campanelli / KSMU

Cars race by along Glenstone Avenue along the cemetery’s eastern boundary. Half a block to the west, where Seminole Street intersects Glenstone, you’ll find the cemetery’s main entrance. When closed, its two black gates read “U.S. National Cemetery.”

Inside, hundreds of Union and Confederate soldiers, many of whom were killed during the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, are buried here. Many of these soldiers share the same name: Unknown.

Richard Crabtree
Ryan Welch / KSMU

So you’re in the market for a new home, or just bought one, and curious about its history. When was it built? Who were its previous occupants? Most sellers would have some of this information, but would that tell the whole story? Richard Crabtree is a realtor with Murney Associates in Springfield who, in addition to his day job, spends countless hours digging up historical data on properties. In fact, the back of his business card reads “Realtor – Historian – Restorer.”

Michele Skalicky

A monument, installed nearly 100 years ago and marking explorer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s journey in the 19th Century to the area that’s now Springfield, is now accessible to the public.  

When explorer, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, arrived at what is now Springfield in early January, 1818, the land was yet unspoiled.  He described prairie grass so tall that a man could ride a horse through it without being seen.

Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

KSMU Producer Mike Smith:  “As the KSMU Sense of Community continues to celebrate the Centennial Year of the National Park Service, we travel a little over 140 miles east of Springfield to Van Buren Missouri, where the Headquarters of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways is located.  ONSR was created by an act of Congress in 1964 to protect and preserve the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers.”

Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

Audio:  As we enter the building a large wooden door closes, followed by the voice of Holly Baker: 

“We are in what used to be the 2nd Infantry Barracks, but right now is serving as our museum and theater.  And this is where we have our brand new exhibit The Fight Over Freedom, the story of Ft. Scott during The Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War periods”

Scott Harvey / KSMU

This once popular road, as described by Troy Banzhaf, was equivalent to modern-day highways as it connected several states and was highly traveled. A portion of this road is also infamous in the role it played in a dark time in history. Banzhaf is the chief of interpretation at Pea Ridge National Military Park in Garfield, Arkansas. This site is best known for its Civil War history and the battle that occurred there in 1862.

Kathryn Eutsler/KSMU

From the street, it doesn’t look like much. On one side, a privacy fence contains overgrown weeds that resemble mounds of green and yellow spaghetti. On the other side, rows of white and grey houses. Cars whoosh by.

"There’s an old railroad bed that runs through there.”

That’s Terry Waley, executive director of Ozark Greenways. He says the organization first acquired this land years ago, and figured:

“Someday we’ll turn it into a trail.”

Scott Harvey / KSMU

“You’re looking at about two-thirds of the battlefield from up on top of this vantage point up here,” says Troy Banzhaf.  

Atop the East Overlook at Pea Ridge National Military Park in northwestern Arkansas, you get a sense of the scope of this battlefield, where roughly 2,000 Union and Confederate soldiers lost their lives in March 1862. I’m standing alongside Troy Banzhaf, chief of interpretation at the park, as he describes the capabilities of the cannons scattered across the grass below.

Scott Harvey / KSMU

Along a shallow creek in the woods of rural southwest Missouri sits a bronze statue resting atop a large limestone rock. It’s of a young boy, who sits upright, shirtless, with his right hand resting upon his knee, his left supporting a small plant.   

The nine-foot high sculpture pays homage to George Washington Carver, who was born a slave on this land, the Moses and Susan Carver farm, in 1864.

“He’s often seen in kind of this one-dimensional way as the wise and affable peanut guy and his 300 uses of the peanut. The real Carver is much more multi-dimensional.”

Michele Skalicky / KSMU

Complete with waterfalls, bluffs, a free flowing stream, valleys, historical sites and more, the Buffalo National River is a destination for many.  KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more about the park.

The Buffalo National River brings in thousands of visitors to northern Arkansas each year for a variety of activities.  On the river itself, people kayak, canoe, raft and use johnboats, according to park superintendent Kevin Cheri.  And the land in the park’s boundaries is popular, too.

Michele Skalicky / KSMU

The Buffalo National River in Arkansas was established 44 years ago as the first national river in the National Park Service system.  Remnants of the period before the park came to be can still be seen today.  KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more on the history of the Buffalo National River.

The Buffalo in Arkansas is one of the few undammed rivers in the lower 48 states.  It was the looming potential of dams that started the fight to keep the river in its natural state.

(Randy Stewart)

Situated on some 2000 acres in southwestern Greene County, just outside the city limits of Republic, is the site of one of the most important early battles of the Civil War: the Battle of Wilson's Creek, August 10, 1861. It was, in fact, the first important Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi, in the so-called "Trans-Mississippi Theater" of operations.  On this Sense of Community program we're visiting the National Park Service site at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.

National Park Service
Courtesy National Park Service

As stated on their website, the National Park Service, "a bureau of the U.S.

Lee Ann Meador Norman

For KSMU’s Sense of Community Series, I’m Mike Smith.

We wind down our week long series of reports on historic preservation in the Ozarks, in West Plains Missouri where what’s become that city’s signature event took place June 19th and 20th.  The annual Old Time Music-Ozark Heritage Festival.  (SOUND: Voices singing I’ll Fly Away)

Todd Shanks is the Community Marketing Director for the City of West Plains, and a member of the 

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