Friday, May 22, 2015

Mtn. Home Cemetery Historic Tour

 I would like to invite you this Saturday, May 23, at 10 a.m. to a historical cemetery tour I will be giving at the Mountain Home Cemetery. I have been working the past month on the biographies of the pioneers buried here. There is no charge, and the event is graciously sponsored by the Mountain Home Cemetery Board. It will take place...rain or shine. (Have an umbrella handy)

  It will be my pleasure to share stories with you of the pioneers who have settled here in the heart of the Ozarks. It will be a time to honor those who have gone before us and treasure our Ozarks' History.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Legendary Ozark Flying Turtle

There has been a time honored, oral tradition that has been handed down throughout the Ozarks' Region. The legend of this creature, and its magnificent feats of agility, spans from the creation of the earth until now. This agile creature has been rumored to be an absolute Ozark chameleon, blending in with its surrounding. It has also been a conundrum or riddle to those who are not baptized into the Ozarkian frame of mind. To those who are not initiated in the subtle ways of the hills, this creature may look like a common box turtle (Terrapene carolina), but this would be far from the truth.

The newly captured Ozark Flying Turtle - Ozarkus terrapinus aerobaticus

This turtle was given its scientific name, Terrapene ozarkus aerobaticus, by famed Ozark zoologist, Cepheus B. White (1804-1871).Aeschylus, the ancient Greek playwright,  met his death around 456 BC due to a airborne turtle. Valerius Maximus wrote that he was killed outside the city by a turtle dropped by an eagle which had mistook his head for a rock suitable for shattering the shell of the reptile. Today, we know the truth is he was attacked by a an extinct cousin of the Ozark Flying Turtle.

This Ozark turtle has garnered its name due to the fact this small reptile has the ability fly to the height of 4 - 5 feet at the age of 2 years. Not only that, but it has the cognition & ability to work in a group (pod) in order to help launch younger turtles into the air.

The Ozark Flying Turtle preparing to launch itself into a nearby tree.
These hatchling Ozark Flying Turtles do not have a hinged shell that rotates at first, but they develop one after two years. From there, it develops the ability to separate its shell into 6 hexagonal pieces. As these fledgling turtles grow to maturity, a bystander may happen to hear the slow & hypnotic rhythm as these turtles begin to rotate their shells in an attempt to become airborne. Watching these turtles extend their shells, and rotate them in quick manner inspired the traveling French naturalist ,Gustave Ponton d'Amécourt, in 1861, to coin the word hélicoptère, which originates from the Greek helix (ἕλιξ) "helix, spiral, whirl, convolution"[1] and pteron (πτερόν) "wing".

It is also this species of Ozark turtle that inspired Theodor Seuss Geisel,  also known as Dr. Seuss. He was enthralled at the mechanics of this turtle while on a White River fishing exposition on April 1st, 1951. This fascination led him to write the book Yertle the Turtle in April of 1952.

Once in the air, these turtles can escape predators and lodge themselves onto tree limbs & fence posts as they act as guards & sentinels for the rest of their pod.

Lately, there are some nature lovers in the Ozarks who have taken it upon themselves to develop a nurturing training ground for these turtles. They have modified the sheet throwing machine into a unique launching apparatus to encourage & facilitate the natural skills of the Ozark Flying Turtle.

Just the Facts
This turtle is the one Ozark animal I can most identify myself with.


As you might as well know, this Ozark Flying Turtle is legendary, and not all legends are 100% true. Yet, there are many facts that can initiate legends.

There is an Ozark saying I heard many years a go. "I am a turtle on a fence post."

The Ozark Flying Turtle acting
as  a sentential & guard for his pod.
How does a turtle get on a fence post. Well, the truth didn't get there by itself. And didn't disengage and rotate its shell to become air-born at the age of 2 years. Somebody picked it up and sat it there.

To the point: I find myself...a turtle on a fence post.

The turtle's view of the world from the fence post may be breathtaking, but it is a helpless situation to be abandoned on the fence post of life.

As I look back over my life, I realize that I am at certain stations in my life by the grace, mercy &  favor of my Father in Heaven. Secondly, I am positioned due to someone's work or knowledge ahead of me. I realize I did not get to the place I am today without help. The older I get, there more I realize the world is not about me. The fact is...if I were to die today, life on earth would still go on. Life's focus is not to be on the fence post. Our calling is not to focus on ourselves, but we should care for others and launch them ahead of ourselves. This is not easy, but this is legendary. In the words of my Lord,

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12: 30-31

When we look at the big picture of life, there are those who inspire us to do the impossible and launch us to the place that is unobtainable in our own abilities. We also have the same potential to do this for others.

So, are there Ozark Flying Turtles?

I'll let you be the judge of that. But as Spring dawns in the Ozarks, I think I'm starting hear the slow & hypnotic rhythmic pulsations of rotating shells. Excuse me as I go outside to my modified launcher and facilitate my favorite turtles into becoming airborne. I believe I see a fence post at the corner of my yard that's in need of a little decoration.


Have a great April 1st & enjoy your Ozarks' History.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

William A. Ridgeway: Restoring What Was Lost

Every so often, we misplaced things, and we eventually convince ourselves they are lost for good. Other times, things are taken, and the sands of time seem to cover every track of evidence. After taking everything into account, there are seasons to rejoice when the lost has been found. This is what happened today with the Confederate tombstone of William A. Ridgeway.
William Almus Ridgeway 
& his wife Salena "Jones" Ridgeway
Through an interesting set of circumstances, Mr. Ridgeway’s tombstone mysteriously disappeared many years ago without a trace from the Smith Hensley Cemetery, in Baxter County, Arkansas. The tombstone was recently discovered somewhere near Kansas City, Missouri, in a garage next to a house that was being razed.  Since the tombstone’s engraving designated Mr. Ridgeway had served in the Confederacy, a gentleman contacted the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Connections were made to bring the stone back home, and subsequently it was returned to Baxter County. We had the opportunity to reset his monument with the local Sons of Confederate Veterans group, the 27th Arkansas Infantry, Camp 1519.

I recently had the opportunity to see his 98 page biography he dictated in 1906. While digitally scanning its pages, it was a surreal experience as I would stop and read out loud the words of a man who experienced many pivotal points of our nation’s history.  A descendant of W. A. Ridgeway, Royce Jones, has taken the task of transcribing this journal. It will be an interesting read when completed. Below are some of the facts gathered so far. More will be forthcoming.
Rest in Peace Lt. Ridgeway
Visit the grave-site of W. A. Ridgeway on Find A Grave.

Enjoy your Ozarks’ History.

 William Almus "Uncle Billie" Ridgeway
aka    W. A. Ridgeway
Paternal Great Grandfather: Thomas Ridgeway sailed from England to Georgia at age 14. Attacked by a British soldier with a sword which convinced him to fight with Gen. Washington in the Revolutionary War.

Paternal Grandparents: James and Elizabeth Ridgeway.

Maternal Grand Parents:of Jesse and Susan Goodwin

Father: John Ridgeway, was born in Halifax County, Virginia August 8th, 1791. Died in 1872.

Mother:Rebecca "Goodwin" Ridgeway was born in 1802 in Trigg County, Kentucky. Died in Weakley County, Tennessee in 1886.

W. A. Ridgeway had 6 siblings.
Three brothers: Jesse G., James M., and Samuel H. Ridgeway. 
Three sisters: Susan, Elizabeth, and Mary Ann. 

Civil War: Enlisted September 1, 1863 at Cottage Grove, TN, by Capt. Bowman. Brown horse valued at $700. Present on roll for Mar/April 1864 as Private. Present on roll for May/June 1864 as 2nd Lieutenant, "Elected 2nd Bvt. Lieutenant 20th of May, 1864". Wounded at Harrisburg (Tupelo, MS), "lacerated ... of the wrist"; granted 30 days leave July 26, 1864.

W. A. Ridgeway was married 3 times:

1st: Married to Angeline Kennedy: May 7th, 1846. Angeline "Kennedy" Ridgeway September 4th, 1874. She was the mother of fifteen (15) children. Three died in infancy, twelve lived to be grown and had families.

Mr. Ridgeway came to Arkansas in the autumn of 1874.

2nd: Married to a widow Ann Montgomery on November 18th. 1877.  Ann "Montgomery" Ridgeway was born Oct. 20, 1833. She died May 30th, 1883. No children by this woman.

3rd: Married to Salina Jones on March 10th, 1887. Salina "Jones" Ridgeway was born Aug. 20, 1837. She died Dec. 20, 1928. She is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Buford, Baxter County, Arkansas.

His personal claim: He knew David Crockett.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bean Cave Update

Over the past few years the topic of the Bean Cave & the Civil War has held my fascination. I recently had the opportunity to visit the secluded bluffs in where it is hidden. There are many small caves within the vicinity along these bluffs and crevasses of the upper White River. As our journey continued, we had the chance to drag and crawl our way to one cave that was highlighted on an 1888 map from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. Making it to this hidden cavern was no small feat.

After taking our pictures & video, we decided not to return the way we came. It still took an hour to for us to ascend the bluffs. The quick collapsing soil & tumbling rocks on the face of the hill gave us many lessons in the art of thanksgiving to the good Lord in Heaven in making it to the top. There were times we were spread eagle and grabbing any sapling that looked rooted; unfortunately, many of these small trees the were only one to two inches deep. Next time...we're taking a set of good long ropes. I do not plan to be a part of an Ozark Avalanche.
The breathtaking view after the trip up the White River bluffs.

Below is a small video of this adventure. There's more to come as we discover this region and its caves.

Here's a few stories I've put together over the past few years concerning the Bean Cave.

The Bean Cave in Marion County, Arkansas

Enjoy your Ozarks History.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Finding Bigfoot in Unexpected Places

Since I have been posting articles to my blog, there always seems to be a few stories that have been continually read. Of the many topics I choose to write about, the articles on the Ozark Sasquatch have grown in popularity. I briefly covered the subject in 2011 and thought it was concluded. Since that time, it has been read an average of 200 times a month. 

Over the past few months I have gone back and done a little more research on old Solomon Collins or “Ol’ Blue Sol.” It was his first initial sighting just north of the Rockbridge, Missouri, that we have the beginning of this Ozark story.
 Because of this story, I have met some amazing people in doing the background of the Blue Man of the Ozarks. Of those people, I have had the pleasure of meeting one of the most knowledgeable people in the world of Bigfoot. His name is Clifford LaBrecque, and it was an uncanny moment of how I met him. To the point….I do not believe in coincidence.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and visit with him. The man is a wealth of knowledge.

I will be sharing more about my journey & the Blue Man in the future. Needless to say, it’s amazing to see the connections that are orchestrated, even when it’s not expected. This whole process has encouraged me to keep researching & digging. I will leave you for the moment with a few pictures of a life-sized replica of Bigfoot & myself.

Enjoy your Ozarks’ History.