Volume 4, Number 10 - Winter 1972-73

Three Minute Stories Not in Print

Mary’s Shovel, a War Momento
by Lena Johnson

My grandmother, Adaline Griffith, told this story to me.

Martha Sallee, mother of the Sallee children passed away early in the War. The two older brothers, James H. and Leven, and the father, Aramy, joined the Union army, leaving seven children at home.

Mary the older sister was left in charge. Grandmother Sarah Adeline, the youngest, was seven years old.

Henderson the oldest boy at home was fifteen years old. The guerillas came to the home, ordered Henderson out and shot him.


They then ran their horses over him. Mary grabbed the fireplace shovel and ran into the yard. Brandishing the shovel she said they would have to run over her if they ran over her brother.

The guerillas left without harming her, but took all the food supplies they had.

Captain Jim Sallee returned home, but his father and brother Lev, were wounded in the Battle of Pea Ridge. They died in Christian County and were buried in the National Cemetery in Springfield.

The fire shovel continued a loved momento.


From Illinois to Taney County
by Goldie Rice Moore Thomas

My grandfather, James Bolten Rice, a millwright was born in Kankakee, Illinois. When eighteen years old he joined the Union army to serve in the Civil War.

On the way to the Wilson Creek battlefield near Springfield, James Rice passed through Taney County. He fell in love with the country and vowed to bring his family and return. He did. He brought his wife and their son, Frank Rice, my father. Frank was a then six year old.

In due time James Rice acquired all the land he could homestead in the county including Short Creek Valley located west of the recent Tomahawk Trading Post. He farmed the bottom lands and raised stock in the hills.

Both Grandfather and Grandmother started teaching school in separate districts. Later Grandfather Rice was presiding Judge of the County Court.

When my Grandfather saw the need of a flour mill, he and my father built a three story mill and my father, Frank Rice, engineered a dam across Long Creek, about four miles above the now Table Rock Dam.

Later they added a cotton gin and a blacksmith shop. And my father was justice of the peace.

My mother, Mant Rice, kept the general store and was postmistress of Cedar Valley Missouri. Three sons, Roy, Bernie, and Phil and one daughter, Goldie, (that is I) were born in the upstairs of that two story store building. We all learned to swim in that mill pond.

My father would take several wagons to haul freight to and from Springfield, a week-long trip. I sometimes wanted to tag along. My father would say, "We could hang you on for tar bucket". I remember making the trip a couple of times, camping out along the way. Also shopping in Springfield.

Later my father purchased a farm which is now Clearwater Acres, a development.

You see I was born and bred to love the Ozarks, best place in the nation for year-around living.


Shivarees, Murders and Boy Tricks
Albert Cummings, Col. Ret.

The shivaree of the past was an event expected by all the newly married and there was no way they could reasonably get out of it. Their friends saw to that. I participated in some, of others, I heard the story repeated. When I was quite small my mother and father took me to one. I recall that everyone was slipping up on this house where no lights showed. Individuals carried all types of things and I was curious. All of a sudden some one gave a signal and all heck broke loose.... noise out of this world. Soon the lights came on, eventually the front door opened and a man appeared. He had been expecting, but did not know just when the noise and commotion would arrive. Every one noisely entered the house and were served coffee, cookies, candy, and other good things. Eventually everyone left, but not until it was assured that the newly married couple had been thoroughly inconvenienced with advice offered.

I heard of one couple where the groom disappeared for some three days. Everyone else grinned, but the bride, she was frantic. The groom reappeared and sheepishly admitted that some of his staunch friends had detained him in the county jail, incognito, for the time he was absent.

A trick practiced by more enthusiastic shivareers was as they term it, "cool the groom off," by dumping him in some creek or body of water. This usually results in some verbal language by the groom that is practically unprintable—even today. Needless to say he is usually left alone for he may come out of the water in a violent mood, and there are a lot of rocks in the Ozarks.


I remember the first murder trial I attended when I was small. I did not understand much of it. There is a later story about the convicted individual, whether true or not I do not know. It seems the prison made overalls as part of the work the prisoners did. There arose complaints about the hip pockets being on the inside of the overalls instead of on the outside as they were supposed to be. In the course of checking on why this happened, the mistake came back to this individual. He admitted doing it. When asked why, he stated that he was just helping the bootleggers back home.

Many people today do not know how to swim, but not when I was a boy, then you learned or were taught. I well remember how I learned. Back in the 20’s I could not swim, but I would put my shorts on and hike to the dock area at the foot of Main Street in Branson. In those days they had the old two-decker dance boat called the "Virginia May" which traveled to Rockaway several times a week. The deck was of two levels so that the passengers could board and exit on both levels of the boat. When the boat was out, all the boys in town would gather there and swim in that area. I would splash around in the shallow water near the bank. Tiring of that I would go to the top level of the dock and watch the big boys dive into the river. This was fine until one day the big boys got into a playful mood and began throwing everyone into the river from the top level. I enjoyed this... until it came time for me to be thrown in. Screaming bloody murder, and that I could not swim, made no difference. Those big boys spread eagled me and sent me sailing out into the middle of the river, still protesting that I couldn’t swim. When I came to the surface and could breathe again, I began to thrash around— without any help from shore. Soon I began make some headway toward shore. Before I arrived at the shore I suddenly realized I was swimming, slowly, but swimming. So I learned to swim.

I distinctly remember what it is to be a young boy suddenly uprooted from familiar surroundings and transplanted to a new and hostile situation. I experienced this when in 1921 my mother came back to Branson to live. Bravely I left the house one day to go to town and see what was going on. A little later I returned in tears and torn clothing, dirty, and bloody nosed. This happened because I was a new boy in town. I had made the mistake of going into town and happened to run into a gang of boys who saw fair prey, and proceeded to take advantage of it. When I got away from them after some kindly individual had lit into the gang, I did not go to town for some time. A new problem arose—I had to go to school and that was some blocks away. I usually managed to get to school barely on time and kept away from other boys as much as I could. It was at the end of the day that I encountered my worst difficulty. That gang of boys would wait for me and I had to devise other ways of avoiding them. I did this by leaving by another door and detouring around them until they caught on. I even jumped out the window to get ahead of them. Then it was just a question of being able to out run them, which usually I was able to do, but they chased me all the way home. In the safety of my own porch I would taunt them about various things, which resulted in their remarking, "Wait until we catch you and then we’ll see". And they did just that.

My brother was also on the receiving end of this harassment, and we would take off and run like old Nick himself was after us. We found that usually one or two of the boys could run faster than the others and would catch us. This gave us an idea. We stayed close together and let the leader catch us, and we turned on him and beat the daylights out of him and then departed as the others caught up. With this method we eventually were able to whip most of the gang. Then we became one of the gang. Then woe unto all new arrivals.


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