Entries - Entry Category: Folklore and Folklife - Starting with O

Official State Cooking Vessel

aka: Dutch Oven
The Dutch oven was adopted as the state historic cooking vessel to indicate the significance of the vessel in the Arkansas’s history. Dutch ovens were brought into the state by the explorers and early settlers and were in wide use by the early 1800s. By the time of statehood, most homes probably had Dutch ovens in use on their fireplaces. The Dutch oven is neither a pot nor a kettle. It is a cast iron vessel that has three legs to provide stable support and to provide space under the oven for coals to heat the oven from the bottom. The oven has a flat bottom and a tight-fitting lid to contain the heated pressure in the oven; the lid …

Ohio Club

The Ohio Club at 336 Central Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County) is considered Arkansas’s oldest continually operating bar. It was founded by John “Coffee” Williams and his nephew, Sam Watt, in 1905. It became a popular watering hole and meeting place for notorious figures such as Al Capone, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, as well as local legends like Owen “Owney” Madden and Arkansas gambling czar William Stokley Jacobs. The Ohio Club has never closed its doors despite bans on both gambling and alcohol. The Ohio Club was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Hot Springs Central Avenue Historic District on June 25, 1985. In 1905, Coffee Williams and Sam Watt …

Old Mike

Old Mike is the name given to a traveling salesman who died in 1911 in Prescott (Nevada County). The people of Prescott only knew him by his first name, Mike. He was subsequently embalmed and publicly displayed for over sixty years. Mike visited Prescott about once a month to sell pens, paper, and thread to homes and businesses near the railroad tracks in the center of town. He would arrive on the southbound 3:00 p.m. train and stay overnight. The next day, he would re-board the 3:00 p.m. train and continue his journey. On April 11, 1911, Mike probably attended an outdoor revival in the city park. The next day, his body was found underneath a tree in the park, …

Outhouses

Arkansas, particularly in the mountainous regions, has often been criticized as being the home of the oft-caricatured hillbilly. The hillbilly of lore is lazy, shoeless, and likely has an outhouse rather than modern amenities such as indoor plumbing. Outhouses—otherwise known as the backhouse, privy, or necessary—once dotted the landscape. Originally a time-saving and sanitary invention, it remained a symbol of the poverty that plagued Arkansas citizens for generations. The Greeks and Romans had interior chambers for human waste. The medieval population had garderobes if they could afford them, or troughs and chests. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “outhouse,” used for a toilet, is a distinctly American term, the first recorded occurrence of which is as early as …

Ozark English

A dialect called Ozark English is spoken in the Ozark Mountain region of northwestern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri. It is a close relative of the Scotch-Irish dialect spoken in the Appalachian Mountains, as many settlers migrated from Appalachia to Arkansas beginning in the late 1830s. Scholarship posits that the geographic location and subsequent isolation of the Ozark Mountains allowed for the preservation of select archaic properties of the dialect spoken by Appalachian settlers. This isolation fostered an independent development of the dialect that set Ozark English apart from what is widely considered standard American English. Like its Appalachian cousin, Ozark English is commonly linked to stereotypes that depict the mountain culture as backward and uneducated. Scholars began linking Ozark English …

Ozark Folk Center State Park

The Ozark Folk Center State Park at Mountain View (Stone County) may be the only state park in Arkansas dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Southern mountain folkways and traditions. When opened in 1973, the park was hailed as a home for traditional crafts and music and has since become one of the important institutions preserving this particular way of life. The idea for the folk center grew from the success of the Arkansas Folk Festival, which debuted in April 1963 in Mountain View under the sponsorship of the Ozark Foothills Handicraft Guild (later known as the Arkansas Craft Guild) and the Rackensack Folklore Society. Although the Folk Festival continues to highlight the crafts and music of the area, …

Ozark Folklore Society

aka: Arkansas Folklore Society
The Ozark Folklore Society was founded on April 30, 1949, at an informal meeting convened by poet John Gould Fletcher, who was then serving as artist-in-residence at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), and held in the study of folklorist Vance Randolph in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Fletcher was named president and Randolph vice president. Just over a year later, on May 10, 1950, Fletcher drowned himself in a pond near his house in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Randolph assumed the office of president. In the first issue of its newsletter, Ozark Folklore Society, Randolph stated the mission of the society: “We believe that the Ozark region of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma has a richer store of …

Ozark Folkways

Originally known as the Ozark Native Craft Association, Ozark Folkways—located on Scenic Byway 71 south of Winslow (Washington County)—strives to preserve the past by teaching and exhibiting crafts native to the region. Though its mission has changed somewhat over the years, the basic intent has remained: to teach and share native Ozark skills and provide space in which to market crafts created by members residing in the Ozarks. In 1969, the Ozark Native Craft Association was formed when President Betty Cooley, Vice President June Roberts, and Secretary-Treasurer Elaine Cochran filed non-profit incorporation papers, establishing the organization as an outlet for a dozen founding members to market their crafts. Founders held classes to teach their crafts, and an outlet was located …

Ozark Vernacular Architecture

Vernacular architecture is usually defined as structures that groups of people make for daily use—that is, buildings not designed by professional architects but representative of folk culture, produced by members of the community to meet certain needs or desires and guided by the conventions of locality. Ozark vernacular architecture is, therefore, that which was employed in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas from the early nineteenth-century era of settlement until around 1930, when the internationally popular bungalow home began to be introduced into the region. Geographer Fred Kniffen, folklorist Henry Glassie, and several others have identified the Ozarks as belonging to the Upland South “stream” of vernacular architecture, sharing several characteristics with buildings in the Appalachian region, though there were also …