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Local History

Old Matt

 Springfield Leader July 12, 1923, page 14

"'Old Matt' seriouly ill at home of niece."

"J. K. Ross, 71 years old, who is known throughout the Ozarks as "Old Matt" of Harold Bell Wright's novel, The Sheperd of the Hills, is seriouly ill here at the home of his niece, Mrs. A. E. Jennings.  Little hope is entertained for his recovery it was announced today by attending physicians.  Mr. Ross was brought here about May 15 from his home at Garver, Mo by his son Charles R. Ross of Paradise Cal.  He has been in ill health since arriving here.  It was planned to take "Old Matt" to California but his condition grew worse and the trip was abandoned.  Mrs. Ross, known as "Aunt Molly", died a few months ago at Garber.

"A report was issued at Cotter Ark. yesterday to the effect that "Old Matt" had died here last Saturday and was buried Sunday near his home at Garber.

"'Old Matt' recently sold his grocery store at Garber, which he operated for may years.  The Harold Bell Wright character is probably the best know man residing in the White River country.  He still retains the title of postmaster at Garber although he has a substitute handling the mail at that place now."

According to his death certificate John K. Ross, son of John J. Ross, died July 14, 1923 and was to be buried in Reed Springs.  His occupation is listed as retired postmaster.  A longer article can be found in our online Ozarks Watch magazine.  The photograph of Old Matt is from Old Matt's View of It by J. K. Ross.  This autobiographical booklet is in the rare book collection at the Library Center.

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