Eyes of World
Man's a Man
Son of Father
Long Ago Told
To My Sons
I know Him
BSC no numb.
Hall Photo Co.
Matt's Cabn RP
Matt's Cabn tnt
Matt, Mollie, etc
Uncle Ike RP
Uncle Ike Tint
Bennett Sp. Tint
Bennett Spr RP
1925, Son Father
1925. Brian K
1926, Barb W
1935, When Man
1936, The Mine
1936, Wild Brian
1937, West Gold
1937, Out West
1937, Secret Vly
1959, Shep (TV)
Indiana U. Libr.
E Clampus Vitus
Postcards of Characters from The Shepherd
of the Hills
Click on Pictures to Enlarge
Harold Bell Wright--who was a novelist, after all--said there was only
one real person in or near Branson whom he incorporated wholesale into his
1907 novel, The Shepherd of the Hills. That person was "Uncle Ike," the
postmaster at Notch, whose real name was Levi Morrill. In addition, Wright
stated that "Old Matt" and "Aunt Molly" bore some resemblance to J. K.
Ross and his wife, Molly, whom Wright had stayed with during occasional
visits from about 1896 to 1906. In late 1906, a few months before
The Shepherd of the Hills was published, J. K. and Molly moved from
the soon-to-be-famous "Old Matt's Cabin" to Garber, Missouri, about one mile north of
the cabin. Here J. K. ran the general store and post office that had been
built by Joel B. Garber. "Old Matt" and "Aunt Molly," as the tourists and
tour guides called them (and as they sometimes called themselves), lived and worked in Garber until
their deaths in 1923. I believe all the photos of Matt and Molly that
appear on this page were taken in Garber. For more information about Garber...
||1. Garber, Mo. (About 1910. The building has a flat
to left of door is about the 4th of July. Other signs refer to
Marvel Cave and Cardui Woman's Tonic. Old Matt is on right. A short
spur of RR
tracks behind buggy. Building to left is Bob Cantwell's General
Mercantile. Divided back, AZO stamp box.) Photo
Dave Hadsell, information courtesy John Fullerton.
||2. Uncle Matt. AZO stamp box. (Apparently this photo was taken within
minutes of the above photo.) Courtesy
Dave Hadsell. (It seems that some of the people who wrote
captions on the postcards were not familiar with the story. There
was no "Uncle Matt" in The Shepherd of the Hills, but there was an
Old Matt and an Uncle Ike. This is a photo of J.K. Ross, identified
by the people of Branson as the "original" Old Matt.)
||2b. Old Matt's Store, Garber, Mo. 236 Hall Photo
||3. [There is no inscription on the
front of this card. It shows "Old Matt" standing
in front of his store and post office at Garber, about 1-1/2 miles
north of Uncle Ike's post office. Handwriting on the back says:
"August 4, 1921. This is post office at Garber,
MO. The railroad is just in front of this
house." The sign just above his head is for the Fourth
Liberty Loan, which was issued by the U.S. government, October,
1918. In this photo the building has pitched roof instead of the
original flat roof.] gc
||4. "Old Matts" Post Office, Garber, MO. (Burned
1928) Payne, Branson, MO.
John Fullerton informs me the lady holding the mailbag is Ada
Clodfelter, postmistress 1928-1932. Note flagpole and ropes, and room has been added on right.
||5. Old Matt and Aunt Mollie, "Shepherd of the
Hills." (J. K. and Molly Ross) gc
||6. Mo. P. RY. Garber, Mo. [Abbr. for Missouri
Pacific Railway] "Old Matt" (J. K. Ross) is the man
facing the camera, waiting for the train. On the left is a stack of
RR ties, and a post for exchanging U.S. Mail. On right is train
depot, which appears to be part of a RR box car. Man with back to
camera is identified in handwritten note as "Archie."
Someone wrote on card that train is
"northbound passenger," but John Fullerton, Garber expert, says
"the train seen in the photo is actually going south towards
Branson, the photographer is looking west. This section of track
that passes thru Garber runs east to west."
Photo Courtesy Robert McCarty
||7. "Aunt Mollie" 7
Hall Photo Co. gc
||8. "Old Matt" 5 Hall Photo
Co. [This is obviously a companion card to the one
above. They were apparently photographed within minutes of
each other, possibly beside the tent that was
erected near Old Matt's Cabin, said to be the tent in which Harold
Bell Wright wrote The Shepherd of the Hills. But it is at least as
likely it was taken beside their house in Garber. Click
here to see photo of Matt and Mollie sitting together beside
the same tent, wearing the same clothes.] gc
||9. J. K. Ross, "Old Matt" of "The
Shepherd of the Hills," Payne, Branson, MO [This photo
was evidently taken near his store at Garber where he split
railroad ties by the train tracks.] gc The credit on this
photo says it was taken by Payne, who took many Branson area photos
that appear on this site. The next photo, below, is the same photo,
but says it is by Stoner, who also took many photos included on this
site. My guess is that one photographer bought the negative from the
||10. "Old Matt" [at Garber, MO.] Stoner.
Courtesy Dave Hadsell
||11. Aunt Mollie. Uncle
Mat. N4 (J. K. and Molly Ross. Note RR tracks behind them. This photo
must have been taken near the Garber store and post office.) gc
||12. Mrs. J.K. Ross (Aunt Mollie)
of "The Shepherd of the Hills," Payne, Branson, MO. eb
||13. Aunt Molly. AZO.
This photo may have been posed at Old Matt's
Cabin, but it was more likely taken where they actually
lived--at their home in Garber.
||14. Old Matt & Aunt Mollie
Leading characters in Harold Bell Wright's immortal Story Shepherd
of the Hills. Though this card does not say
the photo was by George Hall, the same photo on other, Real Photo,
cards is identified as "3 Hall Photo Company."
Courtesy Dave Hadsell.
||14. "Sammy Lane (Grace Shearer),
the Heroine of "Shepherd Of The Hills" This is a
real photo (Kodak) postcard. Kodak began producing photo
postcards in 1950. gc
||15. Young Matt (Charles Ross).
Hero of -- "Shepherd of the Hills," Artist's Conception. eb
|16. Young Mat and Sammy Lane.
Reverse says, "This picture is of Susie Morrill, and Charley Ross
who were Sammy Lane, and Young Matt. It was made by Harold Bell
Wright in Uncle Ike's (Levi Morrill's) home, to be used on the front
cover of the book, however, Wright would not promise them a royalty
from the book, and for this reason they refused to let him use the
Courtesy Dave Hadsell [The message on the back is
certainly nonsense. The Shepherd of the Hills was a novel, not a
biography, so it didn't need any photos.. Wright resisted any attempts to identify the "real" Sammy
and Matt. They never used photos on the cover of Wright's books, and
this is not a very good photo, anyway. And the covers and the
royalties were determined by the publisher, not the author. --Gerry
||17. "Old Matt and Aunt
Mollie in the Old Cabin. Note--Picture Taken By Young Matt
by Lantern Light While Harold B. Wright Was There."
Kodak Real Photo Postcard. gc [This card
appears to be a snapshot of a previously existing photo. Kodak
postcards first appeared in 1950. Wright died in 1944, and
Matt and Molly (J. K. and Molly Ross) died in 1923. I see nothing that looks like
the inside of "Old Matt's Cabin" and, of course, the people are models,
not the real Rosses. The fireplace appears to be a paper show prop. It is
unlikely Harold Bell Wright or Young Matt were there -- or even
alive when this picture was taken. This may be a
photo of actors on the stage of the Shepherd of the Hills outdoor play.
-- Gerry Chudleigh]
||18. This is not a postcard, but a
2" by 3" photo of Old Matt and Aunt Molly taken by Dow Tate in the
spring of 1919. Nahum Tate, who provided these photos, says,
"The child that Aunt Mollie is holding is my Sister, Sammy Lane Tate
(age 15 months) and the boy holding Uncle Matt's hand is my Brother,
Ewing Stovall Tate (age 3 yrs)." [They appear to be standing next to
the Garber train "depot" seen in photo #6 above.]
||19. This is not a postcard, but a
2" by 3" photo of Old Matt and Aunt Molly (J. K. and Molly Ross), taken by Dow Tate on a
trip to Branson in 1913. Courtesy Nahum Tate.
||20. Garber Post Office as it
appeared in 1956 when it closed. Courtesy John
Fullerton and Captain Trapp.
||21. Ada B. Clodfelter hanging the
mail for the train, Garber, MO., summer 1928.
Courtesy John Fullerton and Captain Trapp.
||22. Fiddlin'Jake of the Shepherd
of the Hills. Courtesy Dave Hadsell
||23. The Ozark Fiddler N7. [There
is nothing on this card that indicates this is from the Branson area
or that the fiddler is Fiddlin' Jake] Courtesy
||24. In the Heart of Harold Bell
Wright's Shepherd of the Hills country. Jim Lane, The Original Jim
Lane Cabin (Bea Deissroth, owner), Sammy Lane. Copyright 1949 Bea
||25. The Old Shepherd's (Truman
Powell) Homestead. Courtesy Dave Hadsell
||26. Front: "Zeke
Wheeler and Sammy Lane at Wash Gibbs Cabin." Back: "This is Zeke
Wheeler or (Oscar R. Morrill), and Sammy Lane or (Susie B. Morrill)
brother and sister at the original Wash Gibb's cabin on Roark Creek.
Notice Sammy's side saddle on the dunn colored mule that was
supposed to be Wash Gibb's mule." Courtesy Dave Hadsell
||27. "Front: Sammy
Lane and Mandy Ford." Back: "Susie B. Morrill and Nettle B. (Sharp)
Morrill who were Sammy Lane, and Mandy Ford in Harold Bell Wright's
novel, The Shepherd of the Hills." Courtesy Dave Hadsell
||28. Front: Just
below the oval photo, in the gray area the following is printed:
"Truman S. Powell -- The Shepherd of the Hills." But just below
that, in the white area it says: "The Old
Shepherd -- Dod Howitt." ("Dod" is a typographical error. In
Wright's book the Shepherd's name was Dad Howitt.) On the back of
the card it says: "Truman S. Powell (The Old Shepherd)
Who discovered the Beautiful Fairy Cave and advised his Son how to
develop it." Courtesy Dave Hadsell
Your Questions and Suggestions are Welcome.
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This Harold Bell Wright web site is written and produced
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Copyright © 2000-December, 2013
by Gerry Chudleigh