Volume 5, Number 7, Spring 1975
Miss Mary Hemphill, Crane, gives the background of her relationship with Mr. and Mrs. J. K. Ross and of the book "Old Matts View of it" She says:
I am delighted that you will use the material about my adopted Grandparents. J. K. and Mrs. Ross. I lost my own Grandfather, James M. Wood, when I was six and my Grandmother, Mary Jane White when I was nine and I have always been one that liked to be with older people so I adopted some one as time went along.
My parents, Samuel and Clara Wood, and Grandpa Wood, moved to Muttow Hollow in the spring of 1900 right after Mom and Dad were married April 4, 1900. They herded sheep in Mutton Hollow and surrounding hills. That is located, as you know, just down the hill aways from where the Rosses lived. So, they became good neighbors and friends. They lived there when Harold Bell Wright spent the summer there writing a book. (I dont know which one). Grandpa Wood spent many hours visiting with Harold Bell Wright and that is why Grandpa Ross thought he was the character the author depicted in "Shepherd of the Hills" as the "Old Shepherd"
After my family left Mutton Hollow they returned to Mt. Vernon, Mo. in Lawrence County which was where they had originally lived. I was born there in 1903. My Dad went to work for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, first as surveyor and later as fireman and engineer. He was away from home a lot and Mother had most of the responsibility of raising her family of four by herself. So, she often took us to visit Grandpa and Grandma Ross after they had moved to Garber, Mo. and Grandpa Ross was postmaster. As I was the oldest Grandpa Ross took a special interest in me and I always looked forward to helping him run the post office when I visited there.
A clipping of Grandmas obituary says:
"Shepherd Of The Hills Character Passes Away" Aunt Molly", of Garber, Mo., one of the characters in Harold Bell Wrights "Shepherd of the Hills", was laid to rest in Evergreen cemetery, at Notch, Mo., last Sunday in her seventy-seventh year. Forty-one years ago she married 2. K. Ross of Indiana, who was "Old Matt" in the Wright book. The couple lived before moving to Garber on Dewey Bald in the now famous log cabin overlooking Mutton Hollow, where Wright came 16 years ago to board for the summer. Most of his inspiration for his first great book was obtained from the couple. Mr. Ross is still postmaster at Garber." Mother attended Grandmas funeral but I didnt so I dont have the date of her death.
The White River Valley Historical Quarterly helped me to establish, approximately, the date Grandpa Ross published the booklet. This is taken from the Summer issue of 1963.
Names and Faces from the Past
(Fifty Years Ago)
From Taney County Republican
Forsyth, Missouri, October 30. J. K. Ross, postmaster and merchant at Garber, but probably more widely known as "Old Matt"., one of the principal characters in Harold Bell Wrights famous book, "The Shepherd of the Hills," was transacting business at the county seat this week. Mr. Ross is the author of a very interesting little book entitled "Old Matts View of It", which is meeting with a ready sale amoung the readers of the best story of the hill country yet written. Mr. Ross is now, and has been for a number of years one of the most valued of the Republicans staff of county correspondents, and it is very seldom that this paper goes to press without a good news letter from Garber."
After reading John W. Rulketters article in the Fall, 1974 White River Quarterly, I realized what a wonderful relationship and memories I had to share about these wonderful people. I am happy that it is to be shared through the White River Valley Historical Quarterly.
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