Volume 4, Number 2 - Winter 1970-71

There is the Promised Land"
By Harriet Howard Massey

I was born at Billings, Missouri, on July 22, 1903, the fourth child of Andrew Jackson (Jack) and Addie Manlove Howard. My three older brothers-Hugh, Kenneth, and Donald are now deceased; Andrew Howard, of Billings, is a younger brother. One of my earliest recollections is of my father’s love of the out-of-doors and especially of his fondness for the Delaware farm on the James. As often as possible, he spent Sundays there, making the two hour trip by horse and buggy. Occasionally, the family accompanied him and when we did, we went in the carriage. There was a certain place on the road, where we came to the top of a hill and he would say, "Over there is the promised land." Once there we tramped over the farm, with father telling us all the nature lore that he knew so well; about the trees, the birds, and wild flowers, and the animal life-all of which were found in abundance then on that river bottom farm. It is a sad thing that none of us children retained the knowledge he sought to give us and it is only in recent years that I have come to appreciate it. I now have become a bird-watcher, which affords me much pleasure, and I think of the wasted years of unawareness. My older brothers did dig intermittently into the mounds on the bluff overlooking the James River for Indian artifacts, as an Indian chief was supposedly buried in one of them. They also accumulated boxes of arrowheads, found especially after a plowing on the farm land.

After graduating at Drury College, I taught school for two years at Jasper, Mo. and one year in Alexandria, Virginia, before marrying Gordon Massey, who also grew up at Billings, although he was born at Baxter, Mo. His grandfather was Hervey Massey, who reared a family of twelve children on a farm near Galena in Stone County. His father, Jess Massey, was the construction boss on the building of the James River bridge at Delawaretown known as the Delaware Bridge around the turn of the century. At the time we were married, Gordon was prosecuting Attorney of Christian County and I came to Ozak as a bride in 1929. This has been my home since that time except for three years when we lived at Lamar in the late 30’s. Gordon was an ardent fisherman and could be found almost every weekend for many years on the streams in Stone, Taney, or Ozark Counties. Occasionally, the men would tolerate their wives accompanying them, or we would go as a family. I have fond recollections of some of our forays to the James River, Beaver Creek, Lake Taneycomo and White River, and even as far away as Theodosia, Isabella, and Tecumseh. We had our own boat, which Gordon had made, trailer and camping equipment; not nearly as fancy as the gear most fishermen have to have now but probably just as efficient and as much fun.

After my husband’s death in 1956, I


returned to the teaching profession. I attended school during the summers and obtained my Master’s Degree in Education at Drury in 1962 and my counselor’s Certification in 1965. I taught for eleven years before retiring in 1968. Most of that time-eight years was spent in the Sparta High School, with one year each at Lamar, Hollister, and the year 1967-8 in a private school in Utah, where I was working under the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church. Now in 1971 I am enjoying my retirement by keeping pleasantly busy. I am teacher of the Adult Basic Education class here at Ozark, and have various activities in church, club, and civic work. And there are always my bird-watching, walking, golf, and travel for fun.

One of the pleasantest years during my teaching at Sparta was the one with Mr. Ralph McPherson as superintendent. He was retired at that time but came to Sparta to "pinchhit" after the superintendent, Adrian Gott, suffered a stroke late in August. Mr. McPherson did a lot for the Sparta school that year and was delightful to work with. I was happy to have a short visit with him at the Historical Meeting in August 1970; and saddened to learn of his death.

An important part of my life for the past thirty-six years has been our son, Stephen Andrew Massey, who has been a research physicist at Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Livermore, California, for the past ten years. At present, he, his wife Holly, and two year old son Andrew Bradley, are living in Arlington, Mass., while Stephen is studying for his doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is very conscious of his Ozarks heritage and says he wants his son to know that his family has roots down here. (So—we go on and on, in our children and our children’s children. God grant that our land will be preserved for those who come after us.)


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