Sunday, November 1, 2015

Civil War Tales by Silas C. Turnbo.

"Death in a cruel manner." 

These are the words that often came to my mind as I assembled and narrated 100 Ozark Civil War stories by Silas C. Turnbo. This project has become one of my most treasured endeavors thus far, and it has only increased my appreciation of the struggled endured by the pioneers of the Ozarks.

This project took longer than I estimated, but it is an experience I will not long forget. Before this project began, I went to look at the documents & stories that were donated from the College of the Ozarks and given to the Arkansas History Commission in Little Rock. Additionally, I went through numerous rolls of microfilm which retold many of these stories. Furthermore, I compared these stories to the Springfield Greene County Library's Turnbo Manuscripts.

Editing was slow and meticulous due to Mr. Turnbo's sentence structure was sometimes a little tough and long. Some sentences were enormous and were up to 9 -11 lines long. In order for me to read aloud and breathe (and not pass out), I had to add a few commas and brake up some of his sentences in order for them to sound correct. As I assembled these stories, I endeavored to maintain the integrity of the names, phrasing, and pronunciation true to its Ozark heritage. I even pronounced "Missouree" as "Missouruh."

Once I began this project, I thought I could complete it in just a few months. Unfortunately, that was not the case. As time progressed, it seemed like I became acquainted with the subjects of the stories. Many times before I began to narrate a particular story, I endeavored to do some genealogical research on the people and families mentioned in order to get to know them. Sometimes after narrating their ordeal of trials and tribulations, I would turn off the recording equipment and simply walk away in awe of what was endured. At other times, I just had to walk away due to, "Death in a cruel manner."  On most of the stories that detailed torture, I recorded alone...not wanting anyone in the house to overhear the encounters of agony explained. As a solace, I would take walks on the White River where some of these incidents occurred. Sometimes, I would go visit the graves of those the stories detailed. Though I knew my visit could not help them, it was always encouraging to see the old memorial stones that loved ones left behind. As I left each area or gravesite, many times I would sing the refrain of old penned after the Civil War by Joseph P. Webster and S. Fillmore Bennett.1

  "In the Sweet By and By."

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

I believe the second verse holds a wealth of meaning for those in that era of war.

We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blessed;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest. those who would like to hear these Ozark Civil War stories, they are now available on Google Play. In all, this project contains 7 hours & 10 minutes of narration. Each album contains at least 33 stories, and they are priced at $4.99 each.  If you would like to listen to a portion of each story, simply click on the Google Play icon or the albums below.

 Below are the Titles & Times of the 1st Volume.
 Viewing the Steamboat Going up the Missouri River

. 4:31
 The Alph Cook Cave. 

 A Cold Swim Across White River

. 11:19
 A Little Scare in the Big War.

. Picked Up Her Husband's Brains. 

. The Last Hours of Mike Yocum.

. Stirring Scenes in the Early Days of Yellville, Arkansas

. 4:53
 Riding into the Federal Lines for Salt

. 3:11
. The Commander of the Company Refused to Prefer Charges Against Them. 

 Dragged a Dead Man from the Road. 

. A Terrible Experience in the Civil War

. 1:37
. A Little Incident of War Times. 

. Oh, Boys, Shoot Me Again

. 4:17
. War and its Victims. 

. Hot Words Pass Between Two Officers Unequal in Rank. 

. Reading the Bible by the Reflection of Light from a Burning Town

. 1:59
. Captured in the Night Time

. 2:14
. A Man Escapes Death by Leaping Up and Running

. 2:33
. How a Soldier Exchanged Hats with a Small Boy. 

. A Party of Southern Soldiers Refuse to Appropriate a Pair of Federal Gloves

. 3:27
. The Killing of Wilse Brown

. 4:59
. Substituting Pieces of Plank and a Door Shutter for a Coffin

. 2:27
. How I Was Befriended Once in War Times. 

. Ex governor Elias N. Conway

. 1:10
. Sacrificed His Life Foolishly

. 3:57
. Opposed to Civil War. 

. Joyful Meeting Between Father and Son. 

. A Solemn Scene. 

. A War Time Incident in Douglas County, Missouri.

. Love and War. 

. A Pathetic Scene on the Battlefield.

. Sad and Serious Recollections of Wardays.

. Wounding an Inoffensive Man. 0:57

Enjoy your Ozarks' History.

1.  Webster, Joseph P., and S. Fillmore Bennett. "In the Sweet By and By." In the Sweet By and By. 1868. Accessed October 31, 2015.

Monday, October 26, 2015

White River History, 1888

Sharing Ozarks’ History is something I love to do.

Tuesday, October the 27th at 6 pm, I will be sharing some of the research I have been doing for the past 2½ years on the White River. This is part of a special series for the library patrons of the Gassville & Cotter area. The event we had last month, with Dianna Roller on the "Ghost Towns of Arkansas," was a full house, and we ran out of chairs. Fortunately, some people brought their lawn-chairs.

 In 2013, I had an opportunity to go to Little Rock at the U. S. Corps of Engineer’s Archives and digitally scan these one of a kind maps. These digital scans will be included in this presentation.
505 Miles
The 1888 White River Maps are enumerated for 505 miles. The first plate begins in Forsyth, Missouri, and the series runs to the mouth of the river that empties into the Mississippi River. The cartographer labeled the mile markers in red ink. Additionally, the geographic features, landmarks, entities, and landowners are enumerated on these specific set of maps. These may not be the original landowner, but the current owners at the time of the survey from 1885 – 1887. Additionally, some maps have been annotated by hand after original production; these notes and figures were inscribed lightly in pencil.
The following is a list of features detailed on these 42 historical maps/plates:
•Cities, Towns & Villages
•Cotton Gins
•Grist Mills
•River Channels
•River Depth Soundings
•Saw Mills
•Steamboat Landings
•Steamboat Wrecks

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Repairing Fallen Stones

When visiting Ozark cemeteries, I occasionally come across large old tombstones that have been broken at the base and fractured a few times. These stones are sometimes the only visage of our past. Deterioration of these stones are further compounded by three agents.

1st. Lawnmowers & weed-eaters: Every time a lawnmower runs over the top of  a stone, the stone's integrity is compromised.
D / 2
2nd. Chemicals: Weedkiller or any substance to clean or whiten the stone, such as: Bleach, Vinegar, Ajax, Comet, Muriatic Acid, Lime Away, Bon Ami or Bar Keeper's Friend. These detergents have salts & chemicals that will breakdown and degenerate the stone prematurely. Keep in mind, it will also erode the engraving etched in the stone. The only recommended cleaner that will not harm a stone is called D2. You can order it by clicking on the D/2 bottle.

3rd: Wicking: One unseen problem that causes these stones to further fracture is due to the stone being porous. Therefore, the small spaces or holes in the stone adsorbs the rain or draws up moisture form the ground. This process is called "wicking." The problem is in the winter time, as the temperature drops below freezing, and the stones will freeze and crack.

I've had people ask me quite a few times if there is a way to mend these fractured tablet stones back together inexpensively.

Inexpensively?   No.

But, there is a simple & inexpensive method to ensure the stones will endure longer by eliminating the wicking process. I learned this method two years ago from Rusty who owns the Texas Cemetery Restoration.
                                                                                             Check out their Facebook page.

First, gently remove the stone sections.

Next, add a layer of pea gravel of 2 - 3 inches in the imprint of the ground. Also, excess dirt and debris may need to be removed. Level out bed of gravel and replace stone fragments.

Finished stone in 15 minutes.

Another quick fix in 15 minutes.

Enjoy your Ozarks' History.

Friday, June 26, 2015

"Finding Bigfoot" in the Ozarks.

Well the secret is finally out. Animal Planet network has made a visit to the Ozarks this past winter, and it will be featured on season seven of “Finding Bigfoot.” The premier will be airing Sunday, June the 28th, at 9 p.m., Central Time.

I have always enjoyed the adventures & tales of the Ozarks since I was a kid. I have had the unique & uncommon pleasure the past 6 months to participate & put some things into action. I know it wasn't just me pulling the load. To the point, it seems that I have had the opportunity to watch circumstances orchestrate in beautiful synchronicity.

Last November I had a surprising phone call & head's up from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) concerning a project coming up in the Ozarks. I was asked it I would be willing to talk to a couple of producers from Ping-Pong Productions, a company that produces programing for the Animal Planet. I consented, and in a few days I received a phone call from an associate producer, Nick Crow, concerning an article I had written in March of 2011, “Ozark Sasquatch, Part 1  & Part 2.”

In February of this year, 2015, I had a chance to set down with associate producers Sean Mantooth & Colin Peeples in Branson, Missouri, to look over the script of historical events to be filmed. In our meeting, it was to my joy & surprise to see a preliminary script on paper of the historical events that were well laid out. I was asked if I would be interested in being in the show & gathering local actors to help do the reenacting of two Sasquatch incidents. One scene would be taking place in the 1865 era, and the other scene would be portrayed in the 1911 time setting. Unfortunately, not everything we shot made it into the final cut of the episode. This included the 1911 reenactment when a group of men explored an Ozark cave with torches & discovered the bones and  bloody pelts of some stolen lambs believed to be taken by the "Blue Man" of the Ozarks.

Actors, costumes & props were the next thing on my agenda, but how was I going to do this? Well, I prayed for a few minuets, and an idea came to me. While I was still in Branson, I decided to drop by an acquaintance of two people I had met in the filming of the upcoming  Bald Knobber: The Movie in Harrison, Arkansas. (The official website is here.) These great people are “Rattlesnake Eddie” Wood & his wife Debbie. Eddie & Debbie are also the owners & managers of the Crooked Sky Trading Post at the Branson Mill Craft Village.

Debbie & Rattlesnake Eddie
I asked them if they would be interested in assisting in the historical reproduction. Specifically, they were the key players in the 1865 portion. By 2:30 of that same day, Eddie, Debbie, the producers & myself had the actors and a plan for the upcoming production. In the upcoming episode,  Rattlesnake Eddie portrays old Solomon Collins or “Old Blue Sol.”
Rattlesnake Eddie portraying
Solomon Collins or “Old Blue Sol”

When I made my return to Mountain Home, I started making phone calls, and Bashan Bradbury was the first to take up my offer in assisting in the 1911 re-enactment. He also made a few calls & contacts. A few days later, Mark Sheaner, Mike Chrenko came on board.

Here is a list of the actors for the two time periods. If I miss somebody in this list, please email me.

Rattlesnake Eddie Wood
Debbie Wood
Hoss Braden
Jerry Roberts
David Franciskato
Lane Joy
Clayton Curtis
Randy Freeman
Bashan Bradbury
Mark Sheaner
Mike Chrenko
Mark Sheaner, Bashan Bradbury, Mike Chrenko 
& myself the day of the 1911 re-enactment
On the first day I had filming on the show, I had the opportunity to met the cast & crew at the Twin Bridges on the North Fork River. We had access to a really great cabin nearby on Spring Creek; it was a perfect place to film the show and welcome them to the Ozarks. The cast was down to earth and included Cliff Barackman, James "Bobo" Fay, Ranae Holland, and Matt Moneymaker. Then, I had the opportunity to talk about the sightings of the Ozark Sasquatch, also called the “Blue Man,” in the Ozarks. This was really a great production team and they were great to work with. I’ll admit I felt a few nerves the first moments of shooting the program, but the cast quickly set me at ease, and it was a pleasure to work with them.
A few days later, it was time to do the historical re-enacting. As the scenes progressed, I would just step back in wonderment at how so many things came together.

Mtn. Home boys posing with one of the stars of "Finding Bigfoot," Ranae Holland.
From Left to right: Mark Sheaner, Ranae Holland, Bashan Bradbury, Mike Chrenko
Mark Sheaner and Mike Chrenko  in overalls
preparing for the "Cave Discovery" scene.
For the record, this secne never made it in the finial Cut.

Debbie Wood & David Franciskato
Hoss Braden...also from “The Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Play”
Hoss Braden & Debbie Wood (Don't mess with a lady with a shotgun.)
Rattlesnake Eddie , Hoss Braden, Jerry Roberts & Bashan Bradbury

David Franciskat, Rattlesnake Eddie, Hoss Braden, Bashan Bradbury & Lane Joy
I know there are those who don’t believe in the unexplained & demand empirical evidence. But for a  few weeks, I had a chance to participate in something that amazed this boy from the Ozarks. I had a chance to see a couple of stories I researched a few years earlier come to life. To me, it doesn’t really matter how much is chopped & left on the edition floor. I experience an unexpected answer to a prayer I never prayed or payed for.

Wow, the Lord is good & I love history.

"Did you find Bigfoot & do you believe in him?"

Over the past six months, I’ve had quite a few people ask me these questions. 
I recently told a a few friend this:

There are some people that will argue the facts, if it's not attainable through the five senses, and many people will relegate it as nonsense. But, there are somethings out there that are experienced. Some moments, experiences, and things are only known in our heart, though our mind has a way of muddying the water with statistics.
I have never seen a Sasquatch personally. 
I have interviewed quite a few people lately.
Some stories may be only from a God given imagination. If so, God bless them.
But, I do not fully discount everything.
There are a few people & their stories I cannot discount in the least.
I believe their stories, and their encounters have been life changing.
For me...Seeing is not the only format for me to believe.

Whatever is placed in your heart, and you know it's from the Father in Heaven...never give up.

For me, it is way more than "Finding Bigfoot."

It's about "Finding My Way."

Enjoy your Ozarks' History.

I would like to give special thanks to Debbie Wood & Bashan Bradbury for permission to use some of their pictures.