Time took a step back to the 1930s on May 13-15 at the Twin Pines Conservation Education Center in Winona through the eyes of Lennis Broadfoot.
Nearly 600 area school children from Van Buren, Neelyville, Willow Springs, Mountain View, Southfork, Richards, Grovesprings and Raymondville attended. Each group rotated through eight sessions in which local Missouri Department of Conservation staff and volunteers brought to life men and women who scraped out a living in the rugged Ozarks Hills.
Pioneers of the Ozarks, first published in 1944, is a collection of portraits and biographies, or character studies as Broadfoot called them, written and sketched by Lennis Broadfoot, a Shannon County native. The thread running throughout the programs was that of wise use: Whether taking only the fish you need or harvesting plants responsibly, always make sure there is enough for the next generation.
Students met many characters:
-John Counts, portrayed by A.J. Hendershott, was a fisherman who used a bow and spike to fish not only for himself but for others in the area.
-Jess Thompson, portrayed by Skyler Bockman, made his living by hunting squirrels with rocks.
-Luther Boxx, portrayed by Alex Primm, Lloyd Rome and Eric Nichols, hacked railroad ties for 10 cents each to make his living.
-Susie Pace, as Kathie Hawkshaw, made beautiful quilts from scraps of cloth and flour sacks.
-Ellen Boxx, portrayed by Valeria Adams, made rugs from strips of old clothes.
-Reta Barkley portrayed the soap maker with help from Joe and Peg Kelly.
-Peg Kelly also portrayed the spinner, Vina Boxx.
-The midwife, Margaret Swiney, was portrayed by P.J. Ralph and Melanie Carden-Jessen.
Students were not just lectured. They were able to test their rock throwing abilities, try their hand at lifting a railroad tie and help stir the pot for the soap maker. The staff and volunteers did their best to stay in character so the students could ask questions and get to know some of the pioneers of the Ozarks a little better.
The original portraits created by Lennis Broadfoot for the Pioneers of the Ozarks are now on display at the Harlin Museum in West Plains.