Sunday, August 7, 2022

Oakland, Arkansas, now under Bull Shoals Lake in 1948.

New video on Ozarks' History. ๐Ÿช“
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What is this small wooden structure below? 

Enjoy Your Ozarks' History.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Cotter, Arkansas, Railroad Colorized, 1948

 The U.S Army Corps of Engineers' created 1000s of photographs to document the construction phase of the Bull Shoals Dam, 1948-1952. Most of the negatives have been in storage up to 74 years. We have the opportunity to digitized and turn them into positive or Black & White photos. We are using AI software to colorize the photos, and then we are going out into the field for color correction. The photos are finished using open source software, GIMP. This short video shows the process we are taking to save the Ozarks' History for future generations. 

Enjoy Your Ozarks' History.

 

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Many more videos to follow!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Our Buried Past Revealed: Bull Shoals Dam Photo Restoration Project ๐ŸŒฟ

We have been working.

We have been working over a year with an amazing cashe of Ozarks' History.

Be prepared to see the preparation for the construction of the Bull Shoals Dam from 1946 to 1952.  We will preview the 74-year-old, Army Corps of Engineers negatives brought into vivid color as we uncover Ozark grave-sites & burial traditions. This video showcases a portion of his restoration project of rare, original black & white negatives. 

The construction of the Bull Shoals Dam was due to the frequent and devastating floods on the White River. In August of 1915, the floodwaters of the White River reached an all-time high even higher than any prediction. The flood caused hundreds of millions of dollars in livestock and property damage. Loss of life was heavy also. In 1927 an even more destructive flood plagued the White River Valley. The United States government recognized the need for Federal action and assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the task of regulating and controlling the stream-flow of the rivers. 

The Corps of Engineers took thousands of pictures during the exploratory & transition phase of the Bull Shoals Dam in the White River Valley. Many of these pictures have not been viewed for over 70 years until now. Along with digital archivist, Christine Schmid, we are currently working to digitally scan the negatives and restore them to black & white images. Additionally, we are using color AI software to bring the digital images back to vivid detail and beauty in select photos. 

Photos include: 

A 13-mile temporary railroad from Cotter, Arkansas, to the dam site 

The original & historic cemeteries surveyed & relocated from 1947 to 1949 

7-mile, world-record conveyor belt from Lee Mountain to the Bull Shoals Dam site 

We will discover former cemeteries containing: 

• Different styles of Ozark burial customs & graves 

• Centerpieces of Ozark communities 

• Neglected cemeteries in the forest riddled with post oak, hickory, and sycamore saplings & trees • Grassy plots scattered with simple field-stones

• River bottom plots choked with river cane 

• Rocky outcrops with graves piled high with stone borders 

• Native stone crypts, stone houses with ledgers & tables, and stone pup tent structures 

• Overgrown corners of fields shadowed by walnut trees & prairie grasses 

 A picture is worth a thousand words. But there are always stories behind each photo. Anderson will be telling those stories in his presentation - Our Buried Past Revealed.


 Enjoy your Ozarks' History

Monday, February 28, 2022

One Spike

 

One Spike.
One, 70-year-old, rusted spike.
It looks worn, neglected, and a little twisted.
This is just one spike from a temporary railroad that ran 18 miles from Cotter, Arkansas, to the Bull Shoals Dam along the White River, 1948-1952.
Only one Spike out of Thousands.
It was only for only a few years.
It was just a momentary purpose in the scale of time: 4 years.
And then, it was discarded & abandoned; or maybe, it was overlooked.
 
But, no longer with a purpose?
It had a designer.
It had a creator.
It was forged in the fire.
It was tempered for strength.
It was molded into perfection.
It was one of many.
It was expertly placed into position.
It was designed for durability.
It was critiqued & judged for endurance.
It was driven deep into the wood for stability.
The pounding it sustained.
The weight it carried.
The stress it withstood.
The twisting it endured.
The achievements it attained.
The accolades it never heard.
The praises it never received.
Yet, it still resonates.
The wisdom it still echoes, though seemingly disregarded.
I thought about leaving it and letting nature continue to fold into its covering.
Maybe, I should let it dissolve into the elements.
 
So, I walked on down the limb-strewn pathway, but I marked its location in the back of my mind. It was a nearby sycamore tree that seemed to guard it with its gnarled roots digging into the rocky river soil. Judging from the tree's size and girth, it sprouted soon after the spike was tossed away seven decades ago.
Seven decades…
 
As I continued walking down the wooded lane, I felt the familiar tug of my curiosity draw me back to the small discovery along the pathway.
On my way back, I looked in the distance to see if I could locate the single sentinel towering over the spike.
 
The location was already hammered into my mind.
And then, I heard it.
I heard the spike.
In my mind, the spike was still resonating.
Could I resist the call?
I couldn't.
Oh, I tried.
Lord knows I tried, kind of.
Knowing I have failed this test so many times before, I smiled.
I knew I couldn't resist.
 
I reasoned to myself that this one spike would fasten and secure my small collection.
Grasping this one steel spike, large flakes of rust started to slough off into my hand. Collecting the brittle fragments onto my shirt pocket, I instantly knew this spike had a new home. knelt down, picked up the spike, and cradled it in my hand. Oh, the pleasure to hold a forgotten fragment of history.
Grasping this one steel spike, large flakes of rust started to sluff off into my hand. Collecting the brittle fragments onto my shirt pocket, I instantly knew this spike had a new home.
 
Driving away from the river that afternoon, I looked at the crimson rust stains in the palm of my hand. I marveled at the glory of small finds and discoveries.
Never despise small beginnings.
Never despise small endings.
There's more worth here than we realize.
 
One Spike.
This one spike.
One rusted spike, 70-years-old.
It has a new purpose now.
It speaks volumes if we only listen.
Maybe, we should all search for our own elusive spike.
Maybe, we should listen to something fallen by the wayside.
They're hidden everywhere.
Maybe, it's lying in an area so gnarled & twisted it overshadows our real treasure.
Let's forget about the twisted landscape.
Let's look for what calls out to us.
Do you remember the location?
You've passed by it before, right?
Has it stained your hands?
Can you hear it?
It's there; just listen.
 
Oftentimes, we identify with this old rusted spike pulled out of history riddled with a forgotten past.
No accolades, no achievements, no glory?
Beaten, stressed, twisted, and neglected.
No, my friend, it's not true.
We have a Creator and Designer.
Maybe, we should surrender ourselves in the palm of His hand once crimsoned stained.
We have been forged in the fire.
We have been tempered for strength.
We have been molded for a purpose.
Your discovery is so close.
It is resonating.
Are you listening?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Looking Through History

Grateful                

Being a native of the Ozarks, the experience has never lost its fascination for me.  Reminiscing about times past, and what was enacted, propels many of us to continually search our treasured past.  This path has led us through many aspects of experience and research.

The love for Ozarks' History will never go away, and I believe it is a foundation stone to reach out and bring in elements of American history, giving us our unique insight and understanding.  Since 2008, we have enjoyed learning and sharing our heritage.  At Ozarks' History, we are gearing up to expand what we offer and what we do. 

Instagram

Joy in the Journey

Over the years, we began our journey searching for the full set of White River maps from 1888.  After making phone calls and trips in Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee, we received a message in 2013 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our elusive search snagged our goal.

Did you ever arrive at a moment,
knowing it was the epiphany of a long quest?    
Well, this was it. 

Walking into the archives of the Corps of Engineers Library, we were surrounded by shelves and crowded stacks of Annual Reports, books, and magazines.  Through our peripheral, we could see engineers working on research concerning lakes & rivers of their region.  We were guided to a table in a small clearing of the library, and group quickly gathered around the table; we were gazing at the object of our search.  Looking around the table at new acquaintances, it felt like being transported to an inner sanctum of time.  We were touching pages preserved for the future, and we had an avenue to preserve history's next stage of access.


When opening up the front cover of the maps, we were not expecting the Title Plate.  It was as if the air was sucked out of the room.  Those in the room gathered tightly around the table and looked at the intricate and stylish style and lettering.  Looking only at the Title Page, we all knew the rest of the maps would not disappoint.


We are Expanding

Since that time, we have been working and rendering the digital scans into workable formats.  In our next phase of expansion, we will be sharing the history & the maps of the White River which extends further than the Ozarks.  Not only will we be sharing the history and stories of the White River, but we will have the opportunity to explore other aspects of American History on our companion website, Looking Through History.

In this next part of our journey today, we will offer the Title Plate we had the opportunity to scan in 2013.

The rewards of our research and work over the years have come to this next phase. Now, we are offering the 1888 White River maps printed on premium, cloth canvas and stretched on a 1½ inch frame.  Costs will vary with the formats & size, and it’s a great way to show friends & family the heritage we celebrate. The upcoming maps will have additional information printed on them as we have transcribed & researched specific locations such as:

  • 1888 River Depth Soundings
  • Location Miles from the Mouth into the Mississippi River
  • Steamboat Landings
  • Locations of Sunken Steamboats
  • Cotton Gins, Grist & Saw Mills
  • White River Ferries & Fords
  • Towns & Cities
  • Landowners
  • Springs, Streams & Tributaries
  • 1880s Construction of Wing Dams
  • Islands & Boulders
  • Roads, Prairies & Hollows
  • Bayous, Rapids, Reaches, Soughs & Swamps
  • River Banks, Bluffs, Caves, Gravel Beds & Fields

This 1888 Title Plate will be a great foundation piece to all the future 42 maps we will publish in the coming years. These maps total 505 river miles, and they display many of our favorite places on the White River in Arkansas & Missouri.

Of course, the larger the print, the greater detail is revealed.

Each order will be shipped directly to you.

Our Looking Through History e-Store is in its final phase, and we are open this week.

 What's Available?

 

Premium Wood
100% cotton canvas, manually stretched on a warp-resistant, 1.25”-deep wooden frame, with a wall mount attached.

12" x 8"      $52
24" x 16"    $158
 

 

The larger the print, the greater detail will be revealed.

We are offering the opportunity to own these beautiful & historical prints. These maps & prints are not only for those of us who enjoy the historical originality once treasured in the past, but these prints will be an inspiration for future generations.

Enjoy Your Ozarks History. 

Looking Through History e-Store

 

Friday, June 18, 2021

A Place of Significance

     A small unobtrusive, jagged field-stone or a sunken plot of ground in a cemetery may not always conjure vivid memories of the past. A vacant plot of ground may seem like a safe place to step as we try to respectfully hopscotch across a cemetery to the familiar tombstone of our destination. Yet underneath the soles of our feet, lie the remains that once housed a soul with ambitions, heartaches, and dreams. 
 
These are the thoughts running through my mind as I visit the Walnut Hill Cemetery in Cotter, Arkansas. It is this cemetery that holds the grave-site of Sam and Alice Mason. While standing at their gravesides, I determined to piece together the historical fragments of their lives. 

    In the past, I have briefly written about Samuel Mason and his wife Mary “Alice” Ridgeway Mason, the only African-American family living in Cotter in 1908. Now, I will connect the remaining fragments of Sam and Alice's life and their connection to the Ozarks.
Baxter Bulletin
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Friday, July 17, 1908 · Page 1


Mary “Alice” Ridgeway Mason
As a small child, Alice was born in slavery and raised near Black Oak in Weakley County, Tennessee.
Weakly County, Tennessee.
     
According to the 1860 U. S. Slave Census, William Alexander "W. A." Ridgeway housed two young and unnamed, black children in Weakly County, Tennessee. Most likely, Alice is the 1st female, slave child, and the boy is probably her brother, Joseph Ridgeway:
 
1860 Weakly County, Tennessee, Slave Census listing W. A. Ridgeway.
4-year-old Female Black
2-year-old Male Black
 
  
  By 1870, Alice and her brother, Joseph, were working as servants on the W. A. Ridgeway farm in Tennessee. 


Eventually, in the 1870s, the Ridgeways moved to the Ozarks. In 1880, Alice and Joseph are working as servants on a farm for Thomas Ridgeway, son of W. A. Ridgeway, in Sharp County, Arkansas.

1880 U. S. Census for Sharp County, Arkansas, listing Thomas Ridgeway farm.
 
Samuel "Sam" Mason
   Samuel "Sam" Mason was about 5 or 6 years older than Alice, and he was also born into slavery in Georgia about 1855. By 1860, Sam was living in La Crosse, Izard County, Arkansas, and he grew up on the Samuel Jefferson Mason farm. In a bit of historical conjecture, the 1860 Slave Census most likely reflects Sam and maybe his mother at age 23 listed below: 

23-year-old Female Black (Sam's Mother?)
14-year-old Female Black
4-year-old Male Black (Sam?)
1860 U. S. Slave Census for Izard County, Arkansas, listing the Samuel Jackson Mason farm.
   
   In the 1860 U. S. Census, Samuel Jefferson Mason is listed as born in 1818, and he is from Jackson County, Tennessee. Eventually, Samuel Jefferson Mason moves to Izard County, Arkansas, after the fall harvest in 1860. After arriving in Izard County with his household, Mr. Masson serves as a Lt. Colonel in the Confederacy, 14th Arkansas Infantry (McCarvers). Lt. Col., Jefferson trained & bivouacked his troops in Pocahontas, Arkansas, and eventually moved his troops into middle Tennessee. This is the same region Lt. Col. Mason had left two years prior. in December of 1862 Lt. Col. Mason fought in the Battle of Stones River, just north of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In the battle, Mason was killed, and he and he is buried among the 24,645 causalities of that bloody engagement in his home state of Tennessee.
Lt. Colonel Samuel Jefferson Mason's Confederate record.
    
   At the moment, I have not found Sam Mason, the Freeman, listed in Izard county in 1870. But in 1880, Sam is boarding with the Garner family in the La Crosse Township, in Izard County. According to the U. S. Census, Sam Mason is listed as a farm laborer, and he can read and write.

1880 U. S. Census of La Crosse, Izard County, Arkansas
 
Making a Family
   On November 30, 1881, Sam and Alice went to the Izard County courthouse in Melbourne, Arkansas, and secured a marriage license. Two days later, Sam married Mary "Alice" Ridgeway on December 2, 1881, in Izard County, Arkansas.

Charles "Charley" Virgel Mason
    Eight years later, while living in Violet Hill, Arkansas, Sam and Alice had their only child who lived to adulthood, Charles "Charley" Virgel Mason, on February 15, 1890. Charley grew up in Violet Hill, Arkansas, and he learned to read and write.

   As Charley grew up, his father, Sam, worked as a carpenter and a shoemaker. Sometime after 1901, and the building of the railroad on the White River, Sam moved his family to Cotter, Arkansas. The week of July the 17th was a memorable time for the Mason family. Many families were experiencing difficulty and financial distress was still on the minds of many people with the U.S. Bank Panic in the prior year of October 1907 which led to a nationwide economic depression. Many people were searching for extra income, and some were using the White River as a resource. Sam Mason was no different as he culled for mussels along the banks of the White River, and he discovered a substantial-sized pearl. Sam proved himself an avid pearl hunter on the banks of the White River. 
 
 Baxter Bulletin
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Fri, Jul 17, 1908 · Page 1
Baxter Bulletin
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Fri, Aug 04, 1911 · Page 3 
 
While the newspaper carried the congratulatory news of Sam's discovery, the same newspaper displayed saddening news for the Mason family.

 Baxter Bulletin
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Fri, Jul 17, 1908 · Page 1

The following day, town ladies prepared Alice's body for burial and a procession made its way to the Walnut Hill Cemetery, and Alice was laid to rest.

Sam remained in Cotter and his son, Charley, age 18.  The next year, in 1909, Sam and Charley move to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

  
Baxter Bulletin
Mountain Home, Arkansas
17 Dec 1909, Fri  •  Page 4
 
In the following year, the 1910 Census records Charley living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, renting a room, and working as a hod carrier for a construction company. Strangely though, Sam is missing from the 1910 Census & the Tulsa City Directory.
Tulsa City Directory 1911
Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. 
 
The Occupation of a Brick Hod

Sam Mason returned to Baxter County and the White River Region to live. We do not know the why or the reasoning behind his decision. In 1918, we find Sam is doing well according to a Baxter County Farm Demonstration Survey, and he is known for feasting on the White River's bounty.
 Baxter Bulletin
Mountain Home, Arkansas
February 22, 1918 · Page 1
 
Eventually, Charlie persuaded his father, Sam, to move to Tulsa and live with him and his wife, Wilma.
 Baxter Bulletin
Mountain Home, Arkansas
March 19, 1920  •  Page 1

 
During World War I, Charlie registered for the draft. On his registration card, we can see Sam is still living with Charlie and his daughter-in-law at 206 North Frankfort in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Once World War I commenced, Charlie was called into active duty, and he was deployed with Company A of the 809th Pioneer Infantry and served in France.
 
National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 308
 
809th Pioneer Infantry in France

   After Charlie served his term in the Army during World War I, he returned to Tulsa, Oklahoma. These next few years would be troubling and pivotal years for the Mason family while living in Tulsa. It was during this time the Tulsa Race Riots commenced. On May 31 to June 1, 1921, White residents attacked Black residents and destroyed homes and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There were as many as 300 deaths in the mayhem violence.

The Mason family from Baxter County lived in the Greenwood District of Tulsa during the Race Riots. Their address: 114 N. Greenwood Street in Tulsa.

Ruins after the race riots, Tulsa, Okla. United States Oklahoma Tulsa, 1921. June.
Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2017679760/. 
Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,https://www.loc.gov/item/2017679766/.
Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2017679764/.
 
Soon after the Riots, Sam Mason can be found back in Baxter County cooking fish on the White River.  Apparently, Sam was well known for his fried fish on the banks of the White River in the Cotter, Arkansas, area.

Baxter Bulletin
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Fri, Aug 12, 1921 · Page 1

 
There are still remnants of the Mason family's lives I have not pieced together yet. Nevertheless, the pieces that remain are beginning to shine a light on their journey, hardships, and joys. As a historian, I have collected these small fragments over the years, and I thought it would be appropriate to tell as much of the story as I know. I have discovered as I research, I do not have all the facts, but others can join the course alongside me. I am still looking for Charley's burial place and more pieces of his life. If anyone has any more information on the Mason's, please post below in the comments.
 
 
 
 
Rest in Peace Sam & Alice Mason.
Rest in Peace.
 
Enjoy Your
Ozarks' History