Ozarks Studies Symposium Schedule
15th Annual Ozarks Studies Symposium
September 22-24, 2022
Theme: Cultural Encounters in the Ozarks
Entrance to the symposium is free and pre-registration is not required. Those who
attend will be invited to register on site when they arrive.
All presenters are found in the Full Conference Program.
Thursday, September 22, 2022, On the Mezzanine, West Plains Civic Center
5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
West Plains Council on the Arts, Bob Cunningham, "Photography Around the World"
An art exhibit titled “Photography Around the World,” by photographer Bob Cunningham
will be featured during the opening reception. Cunningham will present nature and
landscape photos taken during his many travels, bringing a bit of “from away” culture
to our area in a beautiful exhibit. Cunningham’s wonderful photos will take us to
places we can recognize and those we’ve only heard of.
Refreshments will be served, and the artists will be available to discuss their works.
Friday, September 23, 2022, Magnolia Room, West Plains Civic Center
Welcome: Dr. Dennis Lancaster, Chancellor, Missouri State University-West Plains
Alison Overcash, Park University
Presentation: Made in Missouri: Pollution and Politics at the Lake of the Ozarks
In the book Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, Terry Tempest Williams defines “politics“ as a combination of people and place.
My creative nonfiction essay uses this equation to explore the political landscape
at the Lake of the Ozarks, which has long favored big business and tourism over the
environment. I argue that the Lake of the Ozarks is facing an environmental crisis
related to water pollution, and it is our responsibility to change the way we interact
with the land.
Wastewater management has always been a concern—and years of unregulated development
for the sake of tourism has only exaggerated the problem. It is not a radical claim
that the water quality of a lake this size can be improved in the long run, but the
hard part is getting people to care enough to change their ways. My presentation will
consider several approaches to modernizing sewage treatment and regulating shoreline
development at the Lake of the Ozarks, culminating in a call-to-action for all attendees
to protect the land we love.
9:40 - 9:45 a.m.
Dr. Craig Albin, Professor of English, Missouri State University-West Plains
Presentation: Principles of Alignment
“Principles of Alignment“ is set in the contemporary Ozarks of north Arkansas and
concerns the conflicts encountered by protagonist Cliff Murchison, a widower and retired
school superintendent, when he lends support to Orie Fairchild, a community college
student from a somewhat notorious local family. Murchison endures resistance from
his own daughter, herself a teacher, as well as members of Orie’s family. Complicating
these tensions is the mystery of a missing pistol, a gun rumored to have been fired
a week earlier at an altercation between Orie’s family members. In providing support
for Orie Fairchild, Murchison struggles to honor the memory of his late wife while
proving to himself that faith in the young Fairchild is justified rather than foolhardy.
10:15 - 10:20 a.m.
Dr. Mara W. Cohen Ioannides, Department of English, Missouri State University
Presentation: Joseph Sondheimer and his Interaction with the Cherokee
Joseph Sondheimer, a German Jew, was one of the original founders of Muskogee, Oklahoma,
but he was there before the town existed. As the largest fur and pecan trader in the
West, he had much interaction with the Cherokee. Rumors included a liaison with a
Cherokee woman. This talk will consider the interactions that Joseph had with his
Cherokee neighbors that are based on reliable information. I will explain why these
rumors of a Cherokee wife are part of a colonizer script and debunk the story through
documents. This reading will start with a poem cycle, Mountain Airs, about the marriage
of an Ozarks couple between the two world wars. After that will come poems on such
topics as a rural highway anchored at one end by the Arkansas-Missouri border; the
search for common ground between an academic and a maintenance worker; and the image
of an unknown person, maybe distant relative or neighbor, in a shoebox assortment
11:00 - 11:05 a.m.
Jo Van Arkel, Professor of English, Drury University
Presentation: Women and Ozark Folklore and the Making of Historical Flash Fiction: Awakening Old
Stories with New Fictional Forms
Van Arkel’s presentation involves discussing the use of Ozark folklore in the writing
of historical flash fiction. Van Arkel draws references from Vance Randolph’s research
in Ozark Magic and Folklore, as well as references to Legends and Lore of Missouri, by Earl A. Collins, and discusses tales from adjacent cultural contexts in The Doctor to the Dead, Grotesque Legends and Folktales of Old Charleston, by John Bennett, and As Old as the Moon, Cuban Legends: Folktales of the Antillas, by Florence Stoddard. In closing, she will read from her own works of historical
flash fiction, with stories that depict female characters and their identity in early-twentieth-century
Ozark culture, when belief in magic and folk wisdom still influenced women’s ways
of understanding themselves and their life experiences.
11:35 - 11:40 a.m.
John C. Fisher, Independent Researcher, Kennet, Missouri
Presentation: French Settlement in the Eastern Missouri Ozarks
Settlers of European descent first entered Missouri’s eastern Ozarks in the late 1600s
or early 1700s as the French traveled down the Mississippi River from Canada and the
Great Lakes region. The fur trade, search for mineral wealth, and the need for agricultural
land drove them to build settlements first on the east bank of the Mississippi River
such as Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Prairie du Rocher. Widening exploration brought them
to the west bank of the Mississippi, establishing Ste. Genevieve then pushing westward
into the Ozarks in search of minerals. They found silver and gold lacking but discovered
vast reserves of lead. Mining operations were established in Washington and Madison
counties which brought about the settlements of Old Mines, Mine á Breton, both near
present day Potosi, and St. Michael near Fredericktown.
French culture became firmly established in this part of Missouri by the late 1700s.
When American settlers reached the middle Mississippi Valley at the beginning of nineteenth
century, they encountered a well established and functioning French society. Even
as France abandoned her North American colonies in 1765 following the French and Indian
War, Missouri remained French in language and culture. French language, foodways,
music, and architecture persisted in areas such as Old Mines and Ste. Genevieve. Old
Mines in particular became a stronghold for a French dialect referred to as Pawpaw
French even into the twentieth century.
French culture became diluted since the vast majority of new immigrants were Anglo-American.
Even so, elements of French culture are still celebrated in parts of the eastern Ozarks
with various festivals throughout the year. Attendees can still sample French colonial
foods, music, and clothing.
12:10 - 12:15 p.m.
Dr. John J. Han, Professor of English and Creative Writing, Missouri Baptist University
Presentation: Nature Meets Civilization: The Arcadian Myth in Harold Bell Wright’s Ozarks Novels
In Back to Nature: The Arcadian Myth in Urban America (1969), Peter J. Schmitt discusses the back-to-nature movement led by middle-class
urbanites from the turn of the twentieth century to shortly after World War I. While
the movement leaders viewed nature as a healer and restorer for humanity, they embraced
a romanticized conception of nature—nature removed from the toughness of country living.
The pastoral impulse also spawned what Schmitt calls wilderness fiction by authors
such as Gene Stratton Porter, Dallas Sharp, and Harold Bell Wright. The heroes of
wilderness fiction ”were not primitive woodsmen but sophisticated intellectuals who
valued nature’s ancient grandeur and a simple life denied to most Americans” (126).
Indeed, Wright’s Ozarks novels reflect the Arcadian myth of the country in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. An outdoor enthusiast, Wright sees the Ozarks
as a place where the Creator resides and ecotherapy takes place. At the same time,
he adopts an Arcadian view of the countryside as a backward, ignorant, and even degenerate
place that needs to be enlightened and cultivated through education and mentoring.
Unfortunately, Schmitt offers only cursory remarks on Wright as a wilderness fiction
Meanwhile, in Shepherd of the Hills Country: Tourism Transforms the Ozarks, 1880s-1930s (1999), Lynn Morrow and Linda Myers-Phinney discuss Wright’s Shepherd of the Hills (1907) as an Arcadian novel instrumental to the rise of the Ozark Mountains as a
popular tourist destination, which is true. However, their observation that ”[t]he
presumption of the Arcadian myth, that rurality was intrinsically superior to urbanity,
was the foundation of Wright’s story” (28) is only half-true. Wright admires the Ozarks
but still retains an outsider’s view of the region: despite its beauty, nature lacks
Based on Schmitt’s balanced view of the Arcadian myth in Wright’s time, this paper
analyzes The Shepherd of the Hills, The Re-Creation of Brian Kent (1919), and Ma Cinderella (1932), contending that Wright is an Arcadian novelist who both loves and otherizes
2:25 - 2:30 p.m.
J. Brett Adams, Collin College-Celina Campus
Presentation: A History of the Ouachita National Forest
First established by President Theodore Roosevelt in December 1907 the then Arkansas
National Forest was in western Arkansas south of the Arkansas River. In the second
decade of the twentieth century the Forest Service began buying land in Oklahoma to
add to the Arkansas National Forest. In 1926 President Calvin Coolidge officially
changed the name of the forest to the Ouachita National Forest. Today the Ouachita
National Forest is the largest and oldest national forest in the American South. My
presentation will recount the years from establishment of the National Forest through
It was in the opening years of the twentieth century that people at the state and
federal level began the push for the establishment of national forests in Arkansas.
As mentioned above their efforts came to fruition in 1907. By the 1920s the addition
of land in Oklahoma to the Arkansas National Forest, set the stage for President Coolidge
to change the name. During the Great Depression, the Ouachita National Forest was
the site of multiple Civilian Conservation Corp Camps and projects. My presentation
will attempt to describe these early years of the Ouachita National Forest by examining
both how the Ouachita National Forest fit into the larger narrative of conservation
and forest policy in the Progressive Era, the 1920s, and the Great Depression, and
how the local population experienced the creation of the Ouachita National Forest
and the Forest Service policies and regulations that often-challenged local customs.
3:00 - 3:05 p.m.
Dave Malone, Poet/Screenwriter, West Plains
Presentation: Poetry Reading: Glory Days, Train Rides, and Restless Cashiers
In keeping with the conference’s theme, I will read poems from my book Tornado Drill (Aldrich Press, 2022) and a new manuscript, Hymn, that feature cultural encounters in the Ozarks. The poems relate narratives of youth
culture vs adult, local culture vs. the tourism machine, local religious culture vs.
mysticism, and family culture vs. poverty.
3:35 - 3:40 p.m.
Denise Henderson Vaughn, Journalist and Independent Media Consultant
Presentation: Controversy in Cave Country: An Endangered Fish, Landowners, and the Feds
An hour's drive south of St. Louis along the Ozarks' eastern edge is Perry County,
Mo., land of 700-plus caves and thousands of sinkholes. There, a county-wide controversy
erupted over efforts to designate a small fish as endangered. But this dispute turned
into good news when the community cooperated to creatively resolve the problem. Federal,
state, and city government, plus landowners, cavers, and other individuals all played
roles, helping to save the cave-dwelling grotto sculpin.
Over the course of five years Vaughn followed this story, conducting interviews, collecting
data, and slogging through cave streams, while shooting video and photos. The project
culminated in an 18-minute documentary that highlights the county’s many karst features:
caves, springs, sinkholes, and sink basins. This video has been shown at the National
Karst and Cave Management Symposium (10/2019), the Mo. Natural Resources Conference
(2/2020), the national Natural Areas Association conference (10/2020), and on the
PBS affiliate in Cape Girardeau (6/2021). This documentary will comprise most of Vaughn's
4:10 - 4:15 p.m.
Faith Collins, Missouri State University-West Plains
Presentation:Historical Logging in the Ozarks
Made possible by the advent of the railroad, followed by hardship after its end, creating
the situation which led to conservation in the Ozarks, the wholesale historical logging
experienced in the Ozarks between the 1880s and 1920s had far-reaching consequences.
The logging companies harvested the native short-leaf pine forests and intermixed
hardwood, and then they left. Afterwards, wildlife populations fell dramatically and
heavy erosion took place. Conservation efforts were made, but were they the perfect
answer? This presentation attempts to show what the consequences of the logging were
but also to explore the cure of conservation.
Missouri State University-West Plains Alumni and Friends Keynote Address: Dr. Blake
Perkins, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academics and an Associate Professor of History
Arkansas State University-Beebe
Presentation: Hillbilly Hellraisers: A Closer Look at Rural Ozarkers’ Damn-Government Defiance in
The nationally circulated media photo of 61-year-old Gravette, Arkansas, resident
Richard “Bigo” Barnett occupying Nancy Pelosi’s office chair with his foot propped
on the House Speaker’s desk during the January 6 Capitol Riot seemed to reinforce
longstanding images of the Ozarks as an exceptional bastion of anti-government—and
especially anti-Washington—sentiments that date at least to dramatic tales of gun-toting
moonshiners resisting the feds in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Is there something
special in the Ozarks waters, or otherwise some unique mountaineer heritage in the
hills and hollers that explains this “damn guv’ment” defiance? Just how much do the
likes of “Bigo” Barnett today and those belligerent Ozarkers of yesteryear have in
common? Not nearly as much as you might imagine. Historian Blake Perkins’s book HILLBILLY
HELLRAISERS: FEDERAL POWER AND POPULIST DEFIANCE IN THE OZARKS probes deep into real-life
stories of white working-class Ozarkers who clashed with the federal government and
its authorities in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It finds far more
complexity—and surprises—than typical stereotypes suggest, as well as significant
change over time in the ways working-class Ozarkers viewed the proper roles of federal
power. Perkins’s talk will look at several different case studies, ranging from moonshiners
colliding with U.S. marshals, small farmers’ run-ins with federal agricultural officials,
and rural folks resisting the military draft during the First World War, to better
understand the truly local dynamics behind such explosive confrontations. It will
also chart how major economic and social transformations in the region during the
second half of the twentieth century actually shaped new political attitudes about
government among Ozarkers that began forming the more recent roots of today’s widespread
enthusiasm for Donald Trump’s dominance of the Republican Party.
Blake Perkins, PhD, is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academics and an Associate
Professor of History at Arkansas State University-Beebe. He is the author of HILLBILLY
HELLRAISERS: FEDERAL POWER AND POPULIST DEFIANCE IN THE OZARKS, which was published
in the University of Illinois Press’s Working Class in American History series in
2017, and editor of a reprint of YESTERDAY TODAY: LIFE IN THE OZARKS by Catherine
S. Barker in the University of Arkansas Press’s Chronicles of the Ozarks series in
2020. An eighth generation Ozarker, he, his wife Jodie, and their two boys, Maddox
and Rylan, live in Lynn, Arkansas, and raise cattle on the family farm.
Social Hour at Wages Brewing Company
- Please join us for drinks and food at West Plains’ finest microbrewery. Wages Brewing
serves both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. All are invited!
Saturday, September 24, 2022, Magnolia Room, West Plains Civic Center
Dr. Carla Kirchner, Associate Professor, Southwest Baptist University
Presentation: Encounters with Haints and Booger Dogs: Writing Ozarks Ghost Stories
In his 1947 Ozark Superstitions, folklorist Vance Randolph argues that the telling of ghost tales among Ozarkers
is “much more common than it is today,” attributing the loss of the genre to the loss
of “lonesome,” romantic places that breed such stories. While ghost stories are certainly
still a popular form of entertainment for many, most contemporary tales rely on generic
characters, nonspecific settings, and recycled themes. To revive the decaying Ozarks
ghost story, my novel-in-progress pulls events and characters from traditional tales
which themselves draw inspiration from both Native American and European folklore.
In this presentation, I will discuss my process of creating new Ozarks ghost stories
by sharing examples of traditional Ozarks ghost-lore, examining the folkloric roots
of Ozarks ghosts, and reading sections of my own work.
8:55 - 9:00 a.m.
Tim Nutt, Director of the Historical Research Center, University of Arkansas for Medical
Presentation: And……Action! Movies and Television Shows Filmed or Set in the Ozarks
Throughout the years, the Ozarks Mountains have been used as settings in feature films
and television shows. Some have appealed to both critics and the public, while others
have been elevated to cult status because of their awfulness. But, there are some
that have almost been completely forgotten because of bad acting, terrible production,
or a poor script. This presentation will showcase the good, bad, and ugly of those
movies and television shows that have the Ozarks as a common theme.
9:30 - 9:35 a.m.
VVincent S. Anderson, Baxter County Library, Mountain Home, Arkansas
Presentation: Our Buried Past Revealed
Discover the original Ozark cemeteries in the White River Valley prior to the Bull
Shoals Dam construction. Preview the 74-year-old, Army Corps of Engineers’ negatives
brought into vivid color as we uncover Ozark gravesites & burial traditions.
10:05 - 10:10 a.m.
Dr. James Fowler, Professor of English, University of Central Arkansas
Presentation: “Second Growth”
The story "Second Growth," from the collection Field Trip (Cornerpost Press: 2022), takes place in northwest Arkansas in the late 1990s, a
time of significant Hispanic influx in the region. Emmet Hollings, a retired widower,
suddenly finds himself a neighbor to one such family that has moved from Texas to
start a Mexican restaurant in town. Though comfortable with the culture he's known
all his life, Emmet is not as reactionary as some of the old guard and gradually gets
drawn into the extended circle of the outgoing, dynamic Rodriguez family.
10:55 - 11:00 a.m.
Larry M. David, Certified Wildlife Biologist
Presentation: Wildlife Conservation from the Perspective of One Ozark Family
I’m a professional wildlife biologist, but I descended from a family of poachers.
It is often common for the poaching tradition to be transmitted from generation to
generation. So our family may be a rare exception.
I will link the wildlife conservation story in Missouri to my family’s story.
Before 1937 the state fish and game agency was controlled by state politics. Wildlife
habitat and wildlife populations had declined sharply. Even in the Ozarks the ravages
of timber harvest, woodland burning, and erosive farming had depleted the once ample
I’m here to confess that my paternal grandfather was part of the problem back in those
days. He told me that hunting wild turkeys was easy. He said he shot six on a pond
bank while on horseback. Nothing to it, he said. That was probably in the 1920s.
My maternal grandfather was more of a law-abiding sportsman. He was one of the lucky
400 Missouri hunters who legally killed a deer in 1937, the last year the season was
open for deer until 1945. He shot it with a rifle his Carter County in-laws had used
for market hunting years before. He told me it had 70 notches in the stock representing
the number of deer killed with it.
By about age 14 I was regularly hunting quail with Dad over his bird dogs. He bought
me my first hunting license and taught me about season dates, daily bag limits, and
11:30 - 11:35 a.m.
Joseph Hutchison, Williams Baptist University
Presentation: Vigilante Justice in Northern Arkansas: The Murder of Thurzia Baker, the Rape of Eliza
Morgan, and the Trial of Robert Inness
During the October Term of 1887, a man by the name of Robert Inness stood trial at
the Sharp County courthouse in Evening Shade, Arkansas. The accusations against him
were the murder of Thurzia Baker and the rape of Eliza Morgan. At first glance, this
case seems like an unfortunate, yet rather common, affair in a small, southern town,
populated by an influx of new people due to the railroad industry. However, if one
looks past the singular case brought against Inness, one will find one of the most
elaborate and unique crimes in the history of Sharp County, if not the state of Arkansas.
Williford, the scene of the crime, was a fast-growing timber and railroad town. Booming
towns such as Williford often brought an influx of new people, which often lead to
violence and an uptake in crime. The case brought against Robert Inness spanned several
years as the search for Inness lingered on. Inness had been in trouble before and
was known as an interesting character, giving the trial a sense of popularity and
importance. While Inness’ case (the only existing legal documentation regarding the
ordeal) provides the best insight to the crimes of 1887, several newspaper articles
from papers in Evening Shade to Arkadelphia show that the overall case was much deeper.
A band of nine men took part in the rape and murder, all motivated by a bounty delivered
by Eliza Kellett, a widow residing in Williford at the time. The reason for Mrs. Kellett’s
actions remains unknown, but ancestral information, including a potential familial
connection between several key figures in the case, provides room for theorization.
When the legal proceedings regarding the various crimes were finished, several trials
had occurred and several men had gone to jail for their involvement in the case, including
Inness. This case is not only interesting by itself, it could also prove useful in
the historiography of vigilante justice in the American South. Several vigilante groups,
such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Bald Knobbers, and the Graybacks, ruled the backwoods
of the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the gang involved
in the events of July 8th, 1887 still proves unique. None of the clan’s actions were
racial in nature; in fact, one of its members was an African-American man named Ned
May. Also, the whole series of events was set off by a widowed woman, seemingly inspired
by jealousy. This case is also massive, spanning several people, separate trials,
and various areas. The seemingly simple case of Robert Inness, found at the Northeast
Arkansas Regional Archives, uncovers a much deeper occurrence in the now-desolate
town of Williford, Arkansas.
12:05 - 12:10 p.m.
Dr. Elisabeth George, Independent Researcher and K-12 Educator/Administrator
Presentation: Lesbian and Gay Life in Southern Missouri in the Twentieth Century
Lesbian and gay life in southern Missouri in the second half of the twentieth century
was largely characterized by coalition building, the creation of shared identities,
and the development of a myriad of tactics for everyday survival and political activism.
In this presentation, I build on recent midwestern and southern lesbian and gay scholarship
outside of major cities by moving beyond the traditional narratives of homonormativity
and metronormativity that place coastal metropoles like New York and San Francisco
at the center of lesbian and gay politics and activism. Oftentimes, places like southern
Missouri have been glossed over or completely erased as potential centers of gay and
lesbian community building and political activism. In order to combat such erasure,
I situate this talk within a context where people traveled between the rural hinterland
and semi-urban landscapes. While the New Christian Right had a stronghold in the “buckle
of the biblebelt,” the region’s lesbian and gay population pushed back in several
ways. They formed service organizations, created new ways to traverse the sexual landscape,
and met outspoken critics of homosexuality with equally fiery resistance. Ultimately,
I will show how lesbians and gays in southwest Missouri developed a sense of belonging
in the communities in which they lived in the latter half of the twentieth century
in order to navigate complicated relationships in their lives, extreme loss during
the AIDS crisis, and their engagement with an ongoing public debate over the morality
1:55 - 2:00 p.m.
Bob Cunningham, Norfork Natural Resources Consulting
Presentation: Exploring Turn-of-the-Century Logging Railroads in the Missouri Ozarks
During the later portion of the 19th and early 20th centuries, some of the nation’s
largest lumber companies operated in southern Missouri. Extensive railroads, called
trams, transported logs, equipment, and crews between the logging camps and the sawmills.
All have been abandoned for over 100 years. Today, the use of LiDAR imagery provides
insight into the hidden locations of trams and their construction techniques.
2:30 - 2:35 p.m.
Dr. Sean Rost, The State Historical Society of Missouri
Presentation: The African American Heritage in the Ozarks Project: An Overview
In 2021, The State Historical Society of Missouri was awarded an American Rescue Plan
Act grant through the National Endowment for the Humanities and Missouri Humanities
for a project titled “African American Heritage in the Ozarks.” This project aims
to gather and organize an ample collection of primary and secondary sources related
to African American life, provide public programming in multiple communities in the
Ozarks, develop physical and digital exhibits, and preserve the voices and memories
related to traditions, genealogy, and firsthand accounts of the people who have lived
in the region. The Missouri Ozarks, as defined in this project, cover roughly 1/3
of the state of Missouri, and are bordered by the St. Francois Mountains to the east,
the Lake of the Ozarks to the north, the Osage Plains to the west, and the state border
of Arkansas to the south.
In this presentation, project members will discuss several key components of the project,
including excerpts from audio/video oral histories, the creation of the “Emancipation
Day in the Missouri Ozarks” interactive map and “The Thunderbird Spirit” episode of
the Our Missouri Podcast, and the developing of the upcoming “African American Heritage
in the Ozarks” exhibit that will premiere in 2023.
Mariah E. Marsden, The Ohio State University
Presentation: Textual Encounters in the Ozarks
Growing up in the rural Missouri Ozarks, we often had piles of paper around the house:
clippings of local news sent over by my grandmother; pamphlets from the neighboring
Mennonite church left inside our mailbox; bulletins my father had saved from his visits
to the nearby agricultural experiment station. My mother still adds to her collection
of magazines from our electric cooperative, which she saves for the recipes and weather
lore that preface each issue. When I returned to the region as a folklorist and graduate
student, I was struck by how people turned again and again to print materials when
talking about their traditions and sense of place. They shared books of family histories,
xeroxed copies of old newspaper articles they’d pulled from local archives, and collections
of proverbs that were typed and printed on their home computer. These observations
inform my current project, which traces a topic that has yet to receive focused critical
attention: rural print culture.
I propose a connection between print culture and folklore studies that can offer new
insights into the communicative and cultural resources of a region shaped by its rurality.
Rather than centering popular publications with broad circulation, I take a folkloristic
approach to explore how Ozarkers create, collect, and share news, traditions, and
knowledge through everyday genres of print that are often imagined on the periphery
of media networks. By examining specific case studies of Ozark print culture, I demonstrate
how people make use of print, both as a technology and as a modality tied to history
and tradition, to envision and negotiate regional narratives in creative and unexpected
3:40 - 3:45 p.m.
Lou Wehmer, Independent Scholar, West Plains
Presentation: Southern Missouri’s Most Hated Man
Colonel William Monks played an outsized role in the partisan clashes of the Civil
War and Reconstruction eras. Lou Wehmer guides the audience through his tumultuous
life as “Southern Missouri’s Most Hated Man.”
4:15 - 4:20 p.m.
Prof. Mark Spitzer, Associate Professor of Creative Writing, University of Central
Tall tales and embellished narratives of supernatural creatures are signature conventions
of “cultural encounters in the Ozarks” that contain rich, colorful backstories. Though
apocryphal in nature, this tradition has historically supplied the communal imagination
with a lot of highly debatable material to recycle while also suggesting psycho- and
sociological motives for inventing fabulous cryptozoological fabrications. My forthcoming
collection Cryptozarkia explores such im/possibilities through the mode of “investigative poetics,” which
is a postmodern collaging of scholarship, history, folklore, science, excerpts from
various texts, and imagery. In a PowerPoint presentation that focuses on the making
of modern regional monster-mythologies, I will talk about and present research on
“Crab Tick” conspiracies, the Nixa Hellhound, Big Al the murderous mutant alligator
gar, and more.
4:50 - 4:55 p.m.
Dr. Tom Kersen, Associate Professor of Sociology, Jackson State University
Presentation: Dr. Tom Kersen, Associate Professor of Sociology, Jackson State University
As a region, the Ozarks offers many things to fascinate a scholar. Focusing on the
creative side of the Ozarks, I wish to look at one person, Columba Krebs, who lived
on the margins of American culture and created alternative worlds through her art
and worldview as a “Spiritual Saucerian.” It is this marginal or liminal space, as
anthropologist Victor Turner wrote is filled with men and women such as “Prophets
and artists […] strive with a passionate sincerity to rid themselves of the clichés…”
such as those posed by mainstream society. I first learned about Krebs from Kat Yronwode,
founder of the intentional community called Garden Joy Blues in Shannon. Kat told
me that Columba was like a godmother to many of the countercultural folks around the
country and even in the Ozarks. Her father was a celebrated circuit lecturer who exposed
paranormal charlatans even though he held paranormal beliefs. He would later marry
Margorie Main, of Ma Kettle fame. Columba was a devoted theosophist who later was
connected to the “I AM,” Unarians, and other UFO cults. She had her own outer space
comic book in the 1930s filled with little elf like people who escape their dying
planet to find a new home on Earth. In the early 1960s, she was the editor of The
Clarion Call!, a paranormal newsletter out of Arizona. She attended Buck Nelson’s
Flying Saucer conference for several years. After leading a very colorful and well-traveled
life, she moved to Willow Springs. She even sought to build a “cosmic art shrine”
near Buck’s homestead.
5:25 - 5:30 p.m.
Alex T. Primm, Community and Oral Historian, Springfield, Missouri
Presentation: A Visit to Ginny and Leaonard Hall
This paper will focus on the work of Leonard Hall and his wife Virginna of Caledonia,
MO. The couple was involved in environmental issues of the late twentieth century.
My parents had a cabin near their Possum Trot Farm in the Belleview Valley, so I had
a chance to know them well. Leonard wrote a half-dozen books and Ginny danced in the
Broadway theater. Their enthusiasm for their community and the Ozarks needs to be
forwarded into the future.
6:00 - 6:05 p.m.