Arkansas’ Last Pony Express Rider

mounted mail carrier

Sometimes a story carries many surprises, and this one did just that. One never knew who would be on the other end when answering the telephone at the newspaper. And some stories were so surprising I’d actually go mute. An unusual situation for me.

Imogene Norton called one day to say that she had a story about the last mounted mail carrier in Arkansas. I jumped at that for history of the state from any source fascinated me. I was not to know how fascinating until I arrived at her door.

But let’s take that trip. Readers remember I drove a Ford Thunderbird in the early years making my way around the county in search of interviews. It had been a rainy winter and spring so when I took out for Black Oak Road, not the one just a mile away from my home in Winslow, but the one east of Fayetteville near Round Mountain, I was in for a wild ride. Puddles cut large holes in the unpaved road. The only way I could be sure of not falling into a lake was tracks went in and tracks went out on the other side.

I was at the very end of the mud soaked road when I approached a large mobile home surrounded by thick woods. This would be the Norton home unless I was totally lost. A petite graying woman greeted me at the door. I entered and settled with my pad, pen, and recorder, ready for a story from the previous century.

Imogene spoke right away about her husband Silas and his mare Topsy carrying the mail in the Fifties. Confused because this woman could not be that old, I stopped her, something I rarely did. I was sure I had misunderstood something. “The 1850s?”

She smiled in the sweet way she had. “Oh, no, dear. This was the 1950s. He was the last mail carrier in Arkansas to deliver from horseback. It was out of Limestone in Newton County. You know in those days carriers delivered all sort of things besides mail, and he serviced 40 families. He retired from that job in the early sixties and went to work in the log woods.”

Astounded, I launched into the interview, amazed at her story. She told of how he would ride out three days a week, leaving before daylight and not coming home till after dark.  Sometimes on winter days he would return with his boots frozen to the stirrups from crossing five or six creeks. She would have to help thaw him out, so to speak.

“No wheeled vehicle could cover the route so he rode his mare Topsy.” Though he had several different horses, Silas said she was the best he ever had. She would stop at every mail box automatically, whether there was mail or not. Silas didn’t stop with the three day route, the other days he delivered to the Fort Douglas Post Office. Both routes were in the heart of the Ozark National Forest in the Piney River area. There were still 18 families receiving mail there before the routes were abandoned along with several other remote routes in the state.

I’m thinking what a rough life that would have been for this man. Then Imogene tells her story. “I was only a girl when we married in 1946 and had our first child when I was 17. I rode the route with him once.” She stops and laughs. “That was the last time I ever did that.

This tiny lady with shining eyes leans back and studies me a moment, probably realizing how blown-away I am by her story. “I still miss those days. Oh my yes, I do. Even the early morning breakfasts and the late nights. I remember most of the time Silas carried a .30-.30 because there were too many varmints in the woods and snakes too. In the beginning he earned fifty dollars a month and we had five living at home then.”

I can’t speak for a while, but I think she understands. I’m trying to imagine living on fifty dollars a month, even in the early 1950s, even in the hills of Arkansas. I know there was a home garden, bartering with neighbors and a cow for milk. No such thing as electric or phone bills. Still it seems impossible.

A newspaper once referred to Silas Norton as Arkansas’ living link to the Pony Express, and indeed he was. You can read Silas and Imogene’s complete story and many others along with my own, in my book, Wandering In the Shadows of Time, to be re-released by Oghma Creative Medie, to be released soon.

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Really Messed up, go to earlier post for story, nothing I do will fix this

Logan France

Logan spins a yarn

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Stories From Wandering

Above: Logan spins a yarn while Chub reacts

Here’s a bite from a story included in the first book I had published. It was in April, 1994 and I carried the manuscript with me to an OWL meeting where W. C. Jameson asked to read it. He was in the process of opening a publishing company and he wanted stories set in the Ozarks. He read it that same day and approached me asking to publish it, pretty much as it was. To say I was elated is putting it mildly. After writing for nearly ten years, attending conferences, learning my craft with writers like Dusty Richards, Suzann Ledbetter, Lisa Wingate, Delores Cannon, and Cait London to name just a few, I was finally preparing myself for submissions to publishers.

I’d like to share with you a portion of this story about Logan and Chub France, whose family had owned property in the Arkansas Ozarks since the late 1820s, had survived imminent domain when Lake Ft. Smith was built and went on to settle on 500 acres in the Mountainburg Valley. This is only one of the stories which appear in that book published so long ago. Wandering In the Shadows of Time, some claim is my best work. Though I’m proud of it, I’d hate to make that claim, for we should improve over the years.

This book will be published again by Oghma Creative Media. Doing so today and including all the photos from the first edition, will be much easier, what with computers, scanners, etc. In those early days we had a much harder go of it. Each photo had to be taken to be copied and specially prepared, which meant many visits to a business equipped to do just that. Submitting meant mailing hard copy of the manuscript, the numbered copies of photos plus the spot for the placing of each one numbered in the manuscript.

Here’s an excerpt. If you’d like to see the video filmed as a result of the publication of this book, it’s online. It was presented at the Arkansas Film Festival in Batesville. I think you’ll enjoy traveling with me into the Ozarks to meet some of the wonderful settlers I had the privilege to interview.

Here’s a taste of Logan France’s folk stories:

Logan enjoys telling tales. His eyes fill with amusement even before the first words fall from his lips. He has an audience, and likes nothing better.

“I had four brothers and come Saturday night they’d all ride to Chester and get drunk. I’d take out for Bidville and listen to gospel music, or go to a spelling or ciphering match. I was a poor reader but no one could spell against me. At the Kinney and Winfrey match, they brought in outsiders just to whip me and Carl Hutchens. He and me, we could spell every word in the Blue Back Speller, and so we always won.

“There was a schoolhouse down south at Winslow on a rise there just across from Tip-Top, or what they called the Boston Mountain Lodge. The school was named ‘Who’d A Thought It.’ Yeah, that’s right. John L. Collins, John Ridenour, and old man Harrison was on the school board, and that school was going on when ours was out. Dad went to see if me and Carl could go to school there. They said yeah. There was seven or eight about my age, and they’d heard about my spelling, so the very first thing, they decided to have a spelling match. They had this teacher about thirty years old who weighed near 250 pounds. We had to spell gymnasium and gigantic and all the hard words they could find. That teacher, he couldn’t hardly pronounce most of them, but me and Carl, we could spell ‘em. That was the last time they did that with us.”

What was it like to give up the land? To start over again?

“Leaving the old land where you was raised, where your great-grandparents on both sides had lived, naturally it put a bitter taste in your mouth. But they was nothing you could do about it. Chub, now, she just worried it to death. But women ain’t supposed to know as much as a man. If they had a-been, He’d a-made ‘em first. They get excited, you know. I’ve done learned that if something is impossible, there’s no need in worrying it.

“She seen me and she chased me ‘til I finally give in to marry her. But I told her one thing she’d never make me do was live in town. That’s one place we weren’t ever goin’, was to town.”

And they never did. They lived out their colorful lives on that Mountainburg Farm. I can still see Chub standing in her front yard waving a white towel at the train as it passed. They were delightful people and it was an honor to have known them.

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Drums Beat a Challenge

 

Al HouserArkansas Film FestivalWorking for a small weekly newspaper meant I wore several hats. From one day to the next I never knew who I would meet where. We had a receptionist who also set type, our publisher covered most of the night meetings and I did the rest, whatever that might be.

This day was peaceful and calm, but how long would it remain that way? Inside the neat little house lived a Chiricahua Apache. Standing on the porch my Cherokee blood beat a challenge. Blood being blood I readied myself for a battle of words. What was he doing in Fayetteville, Arkansas? How would he relate to me and my questions?

All I knew going in was he was running a business wherein he would translate and tape all the dying Indian languages. I was there to interview him about that business, how it started, who might be assisting him. You know what? That interview, interesting as it was, lasted perhaps fifteen minutes. It was an important quest and one not many could accomplish.

A small man looked up at me when he opened the door. I’m six feet tall so I dwarfed him, something I was accustomed to but had not expected here. He knew I was coming and smiled warmly when I introduced myself.

We sat in the small room and it took a moment for me to begin. My curiosity was not so much about his work, though I thought it extremely important, as it was his history. For years history had been my main interest. I took all the information about his business, which took very little time, then asked him about his heritage.

I had asked the right question, for his demeanor changed and he became more a proud Apache who sat before me. Body language says so much about all of us. Our happiness, fears, desperations, the sadness we’ve experienced, the hurt of someone’s words. This made it very important what subjects I brought up and how.

For in our history lay a brutal war, the takeover of his country by us. We call it Imminent Domain and that’s okay cause everybody does it. Not only that Tribe versus tribe had their share of wars. But hey, other folks we’ve fought with are now our friends. That’s th way the world works.

Al Houser was the first baby born after the Apaches were released from imprisonment at Ft. Sill. They are known as the Fort Sill Apaches. Al has a brother, also known as Al, who is a famous sculptor whose work is exhibited around the world.

This small, soft spoken man with his Apache history behind him fought in WW II as only a warrior would. The same country that had imprisoned his people called and Houser answered. In the Air Force he learned to fly and became the pilot of a B-24 Liberator. He and his ten-man crew were soon singled out for an elite, top-secret strike force.

In the peacefulness of his Arkansas home I sense the echo of war drums behind his words, envision brilliant scrawls of battle paint across his sharp cheekbones and broad forehead. See a warrior mounted on his horse, riding hard and shouting into the night.
“They called us the Lone Wolf Raider. We were like the stealth bomber is now. They painted our plane gray all over, even the tires. No names or numbers showed anywhere..”

I’m pulled into his story as he speaks, gesturing with his hands. “We flew using radar and had only black and white photos taken during daylight hours to navigate by. Sometimes the missions would last ten to twelve hours, leaving us barely enough fuel to get home.”

This Chiricahua Apache did well by his ancestors during the big war receiving two Distinguished Service Crosses, three Air Medals and three Presidential Citations. After thirty-five missions over the skies of Germany, he came home.

The remainder of this exceptional man’s story is in my book, Wandering In The Shadows of Time which will be re-released soon by Oghma Creative Media. It chronicles my return to Arkansas, what I felt and some of the stories I found hiding in the wilderness of the beautiful Ozarks. The video shot in connection with that book is available in the link posted at the beginning of this story.

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There are Storms, then There are Storms

 

On the right is a funnel cloud, two more in the distance, others forming  in clusters above

storm skyvue 1If asked I can tell you what was going on in the west in 1874, but when I recall something in my recent past I can’t remember if it took place last year or the one before. This caveat because of a memory I’m recalling for my blog today. And on thinking about it I can’t recall if it happened last year or the one before. The time doesn’t really matter to the tale. I only know we were in the breathtaking conference building hanging on the side of Winslow Mountain at Sky Vue. We being a gathering of authors, editors, a publisher, and various other members of Oghma Creative Media. It was our annual retreat.

I’m telling this because last night our area experienced a similar weather phenome like we did that day at Sky Vue. Where we’re located we seldom are hit by a full blown tornado. What happens on these Boston Mountains is those threatening tornado clouds love to play tag overhead. This causes some of their playful antics to whirl tree tops viciously, break a few limbs, flatten gardens and rip off a few shingles. It isn’t often one actually plows up the ground, but they do. These are usually wet storms while in Kansas and Oklahoma, they often occur during a dry storm.

Want to talk about wet. Yesterday we recorded 12 inches of rain in less than 12 hours with one more on the way the evening of my tale. And during those vicious storms continuous lightning struck trees on top of the mountains all around us vibrating our eardrums and shaking the ground underfoot.

Now I was brought up in Wichita, which was occasionally actually hit by ground sucking tornadoes that dragged debris around redepositing it elsewhere. Debris such as houses, trailers, trees, etc. So I know a bit about the difference in a storm that demands one take shelter underground and one that allows one to watch out the windows.

I’m getting back to the storm on Winslow Mountain that sky-blue day when everything suddenly turned dark. You know the one. It was a dark and stormy night. So when someone hollered ‘oh look,’ I looked. Having heard nothing, like the roaring of a train I didn’t panic when the small elephant-like clouds swung down out of the wall cloud following the valley below. They‘d play tag a while then move on. So I remained calm while those around me came apart.  Like we are often advised to do. All but the local folks, who played it cool.

“Where’s the storm cellar?” Someone ran in circles hollering.

This set off the usual crowd response.

“It’s okay.” I grabbed my phone and took some pictures as the clouds rushed along outside the wall of windows while behind me mayhem grew.

“Downstairs. We need to go downstairs.” And away they went to miss this show of their lifetime.

Those of us accustomed to these silent storms remained and more than one snapped some great pictures before the wall moved over and away. Mentioning pictures means I have to look for them. Wish me luck. It will take a while. I saw them just the other day. Found them. Just another exciting day in the life of a writer. Like they say, it’s what we do. Experience and write about it.

Now to last night, which reminded me of the earlier experience. This one much wilder than that one last year, or was it year before last? Someone will remind me.

These little buggars decided to drop down for a visit in the midst of one of the hardest rains we’ve experienced in ages. I sat in my living room watching, cheated of a good look at the funnel-producing cloud, because it was a gloomy evening, not like the bright afternoon up on the mountain. But lightning flashed so continuously that the upper limbs of large trees surrounding the front of my house begin a whirling dance, twisting round and round, bowing to the ground. I knew those little trunk like clouds were playing overhead. Not real close cause there was no roaring except from our creek that had grown massive due to the heavy rains.

Twice more the storms raced by, breaking a few limbs in my yard, taking down a tree in my daughter’s yard. Lightning struck so close it made our eardrums vibrate. And finally, as always, the power flickered and went out. A fine finish to an exciting evening. The generator ran till four a.m. I heard it click off and when I climbed out of bed this morning the electricity had been restored.

A power pole was knocked down with the electric wires running through the creek. I give those guys credit for the repair so fast. Our park where ball games are played is destroyed and all is underwater there. My road was washed out a mile or so from here. Big kudos to the guys in the volunteer fire department for being out and about during all this helping those in need for one reason or another. Some were spotted covered in mud moving gravel to clear a drive so a man could get out and go to work this morning. They are fantastic, or as the kids say awesome. Winslow is a terrific small town.

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What’s Real, The Future or Now?

What’s Real and What Isn’t

In a movie I was watching last night the idea of memory regression came up. It took me back a lot of years to a dear friend whose name will remain anonymous for reasons soon to become obvious. We were rooming together at a conference and she spoke of her work. For years she had practiced hypnotic regression. In our late night conversation with the lights out and everything spookily quiet she told me of one of her clients.

Now, no names or dates were mentioned, she was simply using this example to convince me that this was possible. She’d had it happen in her own work. For over a year she’d worked with a young, troubled girl treating her through hypnotism. Suddenly, after long months of the sessions the girl began to tell her she was somewhere unfamiliar.

My friend played the tape of the session without identifying her client in any way, more to let me see what might well be possible. That we could live previous lives. I was so skeptical I guess she thought the tape might open my mind, if not make a believer out of me.

In the dark silence of our room I listened as the girl talked of a life totally unfamiliar to her. She spoke of names and places, then described a man in white that she along with others, was following. Then she started to speak in a tongue vaguely familiar to my friend. She told me it was Aramaic. She also explained to me that this young girl had very little education and could not know the names of the specific locales, which were all in that ancient tongue. My friend explained that she had verified the existence of the area and villages she spoke of

Before the girl finished reciting her experiences I recognized the man in white. She had joined a group following Jesus as he walked and talked to them. Listening to her speak, and to the changes in the inflection of her voice, shivers ran down my spine. If this young woman had not gone back to a previous life, then she was one heck of an actor. Because of her lack of education she certainly could not have known how to speak the language or no way of knowing some of the descriptions of clothing, goods, and experiences in those days.

I came away from that experience with questions in my mind that have never been answered. My friend firmly believed what had occurred and she went on to lecture and carry out these sessions until her death. I’ll admit we don’t know anywhere near all there is to know about an afterlife or the possibilities in this life, and I wonder to this day if she has found the truth.

More and more discoveries in quantum physics make so much possible in our vast universe that we could never have believed. So I’ll hold back my judgment for now.

One thing’s for sure. I’ve had some strange experiences while working for the newspaper, and even more as a writer. The one thing I’ve learned for sure. It’s a wide, wonderful, secretive, strange world and it pays to take it all in not only for enjoyment, but for the fun of it. And of course, we writers can always put those wild experiences in our books.

We can think of it as if using this mirror. The past is what we see reflected  and it’s something we know. Our present is where we are with the mirror, and a future is what we see beyond the mirror. Yet we can only guess what lies where we’re going ib the next world. Sort of a simplification, but hey I’m of a simple person.

Besides I promised to post this photo I took out in New Mexico when I advised someone to take a few scenic shots this way and see what their results. It was a stretch to get it into this post.

future past

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Heroes Aren’t Immortal

beyond the moon cover new

For weeks now I’ve posted blogs relating to my experiences during the years I was an investigative reporter for the Washington County Observer. I’m breaking that protocol today for a good reason. It won’t be long before the long awaited sequel to my novel, Beyond the Moon is released. I wanted to give my readers a small taste of Glen and Katie’s continuing story.

As you know, the story is based on what many women have lived through after welcoming home men from war, some who have changed so much as to be unrecognizable. If you’ve read Beyond the Moon you know that Glen was in a POW camp in Vietnam for more than seven years. That his wife has divorced him and he lives in an evil fantasy world until Katie walks into his hospital room.

Here is an excerpt from a review among many received, all praising the book.

“This book is incredible! After I finished the last page, I just sat there, stunned. This is the true cost of war. For the rest of the day I was quiet, considering Katie and Glen’s struggle and (almost) Katie’s descent into madness. My heart went out to them and to anyone else who has ever dealt with the after effects of fighting a war.”

I did not know this reviewer until she contacted me and we later became email friends. I have still not met her. Another woman who was married to a wounded warrior from Vietnam brought her husband to our writer’s group so they could both meet me after they read Beyond the Moon. She took my hand in hers and said, “You wrote my story. Thank you.” This is the kind of reaction that makes my work worthwhile.

And this is the kind of novel we writers wish could find the readership it deserves. It’s getting an audience that challenges writers because there are so many books of all value on the market. I will probably never write a story like this again. It took all my heart and soul to live through the research alone. The stories I found tore at me until I felt I couldn’t write the sequel. But I was urged to and so Immortal Hero will finish Katie and Glen’s love story.

Here is the opening of Immortal Hero

The shot rings out and I come awake choking on my own heartbeat. Golden eyes shimmer in the night like bourbon struck by moonlight.

It’s dark, the bed I lie in huge and empty. Tears hot on burning cheeks. My fingers wipe them away, but they come back. No sound in the lonely house. Shadows wrap around me cold and silent. The bottom of a gaping black well embraces a lost and lonely heart.

No more sleep. Toes grip the furry rug, hands fumble for a robe to wrap around my shivering nakedness, socks to keep my feet warm. The coffee smells good making but turns to ash on my tongue. I pad into the living room and snap on the light over the painting above the cold fireplace. Each brush stroke, each shadow and highlight harsh reminders of the new, the old. The memorialized figures. Youth to warrior. A man I will always love for his amazing courage. His eyes speak words he cannot say. A sketch pad filled with all manner of depictions until they’re just right, until they express his every emotion. His desires, disappointments, hopes and dreams. His love. My Immortal Hero. Only he isn’t. Immortal, that is.

What I plan has to work, yet how can I be so arrogant? Where he is he might as well be dead. I’m not exactly alive myself. What if this doesn’t work? What if I can’t do it? And if I do, what if he tries to kill me… us… again?

I will stop there. For more stories from vets who have lived through what is depicted in these two books check out this veteran’s link.

And watch my website and Oghma’s release information for the date Immortal Hero will be released. If you haven’t read Beyond the Moon grab a copy at your local bookstore or online.  Available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle.

 

 

 

 

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Between The Devil & the Deep Blue Sea

Looking for yet another excuse for not keeping up my blog posts, I think I found a good one. You’re going to like this. I FORGET.

Between writing two books a year, editing and rewriting and trying to come up with new twists for Poe and romantic novels and westerns, and making doctor appointments I just have to say, blogs sometimes get lost somewhere in the middle of all that. It’s not I don’t have anything to say, it is that I have too much to say.

I’ll tell you about the friendly visit I had last week from a black bear. I think she saw my lights on, which I burn a couple of all night now, and just dropped by to say hi. Believe me, my cat did not take to this visitor. She’s got to where she enjoys friends dropping by, but seeing a bear peering in the window over the bed where we both sleep was just more than she could handle. And she came unwound, slammed her paws on the window, growled ferociously and turned into a fur ball. I raised up, saw the top of lady bear’s head and ears as she dropped down to all fours to go on her way and find a place that didn’t have a wild cat in residence, and I lay back down and went to sleep. The next morning I thought I had imagined the visit till my daughter who lives right close said there were lots of signs of bear visits in the yard.

I for one am happy Mrs. Bear found our existence near her home satisfactory. We live in the White Rock Wildlife Management area of the Ozarks so this is not terribly unusual. I much prefer her visit to one from a wandering thief or noisy traffic.

 

 

 

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Beyond The Moon

This is the product of my attempt to add this image to a sidebar. It added a post from several months ago as current, put this image here and more or less messed up my mind for the day. After three hours i still can’t add images or remove images from the sidebar. So if you see strange posts here the next few days it will be me struggling to get this right. I’m on Google now in an attempt to learn how to ride this thing down when I should be writing. So wish me luck and visit me if they come in and carry me away because I’m banging my head on the wall.

new cover

click here to purchase

click here to purchase

By the way you can’t purchase this book by clicking here, but you can go to my Amazon page and that’s easy. http://www.amazom.com/author/veldabrotherton

The products of my wild brain are all there. At least Amazon knows how to do it.

 

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Cabin In the Land of the Indians

Long CabinOver the years I’ve learned that people aren’t as interested in facts and figures of history as they are about the people who lived the life during those days long past. So I’m trying to stick to that in these writings, but in order to tell their stories I have to put you where they lived. Let you see, feel, hear, taste, and smell their world.

The white haired gentleman, and I call him that for it fits so well, met me in a pickup, parked on a dirt road next to a bridge spanning Greasy Creek. The phone call he made to the newspaper informed me that to give directions might just result in my wandering the lovely Ozark wilderness all day. Or perhaps even lost forever. I wouldn’t so much mind that but after hearing some of his story, I wanted to go where he lived, see it for myself and get in touch with the ghosts of his past.

Thus the clandestine meeting. I followed him onto a narrow dirt road where weeds grew up in the center, slapping the undersides of my Thunderbird. I asked much more of this car than it was built for, but when I bought it I had no idea what was awaiting me just around the corner when I went to work for The Washington County Observer. So, here we were in the back woods of Washington County where other reporters had never gone.

We turned, then we turned some more, driving through virgin timber that canopied the roads and fording churning creeks, often the only sound in the wilderness. The last ford being past a barn of weathered boards and coming to a stop at the cabin. Ancient logs formed the house and it sat perhaps no more than fifty feet from the creek on a rise. The scattering of rocks that made up its bank almost touched the steps of his porch. Around to the side the meandering creek had cut a deep bank, perhaps from recent heavy rains that filled it to overflowing.

It was early spring, but the trees had all leafed out on trees so huge and tall they had to be a century or more in age. I opened the car door and stepped out into a silence filled only with bird song and the creek playing over the rocks. As I looked up through sycamore leaves the size of dinner plates, something cold touched my face and tickled the leaves as if whispering to me. Snowflakes floated down doing a butterfly dance through the leaves and tickling my skin.

I could say or do nothing but close my eyes and stand still, taking it all in. The feel, the sound the touch and smell. Air cleansed of auto exhaust and town living. He must have sensed my awe because he waited beside his truck, not closing the door. To do so would have broken the spiritual silence. It’s times like these I have a real desire to worship the beauty of our world.

Gene and Geneva Long have lived here off and on during their entire marriage. A stint in California brought them running home at last to settle in the home built by his grandfather. They would add rooms to the cabin using only aged logs from old structures so it would not lose its personality. I will soon go inside, but first a short history lesson.

It was 1827 before white men were allowed to move into and build homes in this part of our Ozarks. The four counties in the northwest corner plus a portion of Carroll County then belonged to the Cherokee who had obtained it from the Osage. I won’t go back further for the history becomes confusing when the American Indians fought over land and it passed back and forth. For the sake of our story, we’ll begin when his grandfather built this cabin.

His wife told me the date was 1815, but I was sure she must have said 1850 so she repeated it. Told me I could go to the courthouse and verify the date that the family snuck into Indian lands to settle on this piece of property. It has been in the family ever since. A daughter lives on the hill above the old cabin.

Gene was born there and he took me into the bedroom which had a raised floor for the canopy bed. He told me that design was common back then. Geneva has modernized her kitchen in that it has running water, but other than that all work done is in the style that fits the overall design of the house. He showed me the type of nails used in the original construction and said he had some problems acquiring the same for the addition. Geneva brought us lemonade which we drank sitting on the vast front porch.

I almost hated to bid the couple goodbye. A while later we passed into their lives again when a video was shot of my work. The Longs were included in the interviews that were filmed, but unfortunately there wasn’t room for their story in the final film which was entered in the Arkansas Film Festival held in Batesville that year. The producers gave that portion filmed to the Long family.

Gene called me one more time before he passed away. He was riding around in the wilderness on his four-wheeler when he found the remains of an old water mill which would have been used to grind wheat and other grains to produce flour and cornmeal. We followed him to see his find. He waved goodbye to us and drove away. This would be the last time I saw him this kind man who impressed me with his knowledge and keen wit. Geneva lived in the house until her death and her daughter remains on the property. But don’t go looking for this Eden, because you won’t find it. I probably couldn’t get there myself except in my mind where I visit often.

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