Volume VII, No. 3, Spring 1980


Compiled by Ellen Massey's Ozarkia classes and edited by Melinda Stewart

Before the days of radio, television and all night discos there were other ways for people to entertain themselves. One of the favorite pastimes for the older menfolk was to go down to the general store after a long day's work and sit around the potbellied stove swapping tales.

Some hard to believe stories were sometimes of the magnitude of Paul Bunyan Most were based on someone's real life experience though stretched somewhat. Always though, they would have an audience, and as the men would sit and chew their tobacco or smoke their pipe they seriously, intently listened.


Back in the old days when they didn't have a regular church or preacherman they would have one come to this little town once every three months. When he arrived they would have a revival and prayer meeting. They would hold the revival in a brush arbor out in the woods.

At one revival the preacher had been trying to get the "Spirit of the Lord" to move the people. However, it had been a hot summer full of lazy nights, and none of the folks had enough gumption to move with the Spirit. They just set around and listened. After six nights of "Amen, Brother" and "Hallelujah" with still no one being inspired by the Holy Spirit, the preacher called a meeting of several of the more religious men and asked how they could get a better response from the people.

They finally decided that if they separated them, maybe the "Spirit" could move on individuals rather than trying to get the whole group at once. So on the seventh and last night before the preacher started, they divided up the people. They were spaced in the brush arbor and outside around it. They placed Long-Legged Charlie about thirty feet from the brush arbor on a tree stump.

After the meeting got going the preacher gave it his all to get the people moved. He preached hellfire and brimstone. He insulted the devil, praised the Spirit and yelled his head off.

Charlie was way in the back of the arbor and as the night wore on, he got all excited and started clapping and stomping his feet. With all his stomping, he disturbed a nest of hornets that were in the stump. Angered, the hornets came flying out of their hole and went straight up his pants legs, and started stinging him.

Charlie jumped up screaming, waving and kicking. He then took off running through the arbor knocking over chairs, yelling and scaring the congregation.

The preacher clasped his hands and shouted, "Praise the Lord! Charlie's got heaven in his soul!"

"I may have heaven in my soul," he shouted back, but I got hell in my britches!"


This incident happened near Competition not too long ago. It was during deer season. In fact, it was the first day of the season. Hal Brown was an experienced hunter, having bagged a deer every year for the last eight years in a row. Hal got his wife interested in the sport, so this year Myrtle decided to try it for the first time.

They walked through the woods before daybreak until they came upon a deer crossing that Hal thought would be a good spot for his wife. He told Myrtle to sit under a tree and be perfectly still, and if a deer came close enough, to shoot at its heart. Hal said he would be in the next holler and would come back if he heard any shooting.

So off he went, but he hadn't even reached his spot until he heard his wife rip off five straight shots, and then she started yelling. Hal went running back thinking that his wife had downed a deer and she was yelling for some help to field dress it.

When he arrived back at the crossing, Myrtle had another hunter backed against a tree, pointing her gun at him yelling, "It is not yours, it's mine! I shot and killed it and it's mine!!"

Finally the poor desperate hunter she had treed said, "Okay, okay, lady, it's yours. Just please let me take my saddle off of it!"



Once there was a large family who lived in a small cabin in the woods near here and they were being troubled by a hungry mother panther. It seems that this panther would come every night and dig under the house.

One night while everyone was in bed asleep, the panther dug a hole in the floor of the cabin and came up through it and carried off one of the children for her kittens to eat.

Every night for a long time the panther would carry off a member of the family until only the grandmother was left. The next night she hid and when the panther left, she stealthily followed it in hopes of shooting it.

She followed the panther through the woods, but it gave her the slip. While she was quietly searching trying to find its trail, a hungry wolf pack attacked her and ate her.


Truth is often stranger than fiction as shown by this story.

After the terror of a tornado had passed, people began searching for bodies of the dead or injured.

One person, his name was never known, was searching beyond town. As he was walking he felt sick because of the massive destruction and death. All of a sudden he heard a faint cry like that of a person, but he thought to himself that nobody could have survived that storm. But again pretty soon he heard the cry, so he followed the sound and, there wrapped in baby clothes, was a little boy.

Accurate accounting was made of every death and possibility of missing persons from the storm. There was no baby unaccounted for in all that area. Where the storm had picked up the child, how far it had carried him, or how he lived through the storm was never known.

A kindly family adopted the baby and gave it a home here in Lebanon. His real name, age or birthdate was never known. It was here that he grew up and he took the name of his foster parents. His friends call him Cyclone Jim, and it was by that name that he grew to manhood.


Once deep in the woods there were two old widow ladies who lived alone in a small cabin. They began to have a nightly visitor. Every night a big black bear would come snooping around the cabin door, trying to get in to the food.

The old ladies had no weapons of any kind with which to kill or scare the beast. There was a large crack under the door through which the bear would stick his nose to try to push open the door. They had boarded up their only window. The old ladies tore up sheets and blankets to push under the door in the crack and set a fire in the fireplace to keep the bear away.

Finally, they persuaded a neighbor man to stay with them at the cabin one night with his shotgun. Pretty soon the bear came prowling around the door in search of food. The man coated the barrel of his gun with honey and stuck it under the crack of the door. The bear immediately engulfed the whole gun barrel in his enormous mouth to get the honey. The man fired his gun and knocked the bear tumbling over backwards. The bear then got up and ran off into the woods, never to be seen again.


Did you ever wonder how that old sink hole got where it is today? Well, let me tell you.

See, a fella by the name of Fred Simpson had a farm there. He had a brother by the name of Hank. Hank, he was a big fella almost 300 pounds. Anyways, this Hank, he come to visit his brother Fred one week, and one day he decided to go a-swimmin' in the big pond next to the barn. Well, old Hank, he was a-runnin' to jump in that old pond, and because he was so big, when that old fella jumped in, he took the whole darn farm in with him! That poor fella never did come out of that pond, and neither did that farm!

Folks say it rained for almost two days after that because of all the water that come out of the pond.

If you go down there to that old sink hole today, you'll still see a little bit of water there.


Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

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