Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South

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University of Illinois Press, Mar 15, 2012 - True Crime - 296 pages
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In 1929, in a remote county of the Arkansas Ozarks, the gruesome murder of harmonica-playing drifter Connie Franklin and the brutal rape of his teenaged fiancé
captured the attention of a nation on the cusp of the Great Depression. National press from coast to coast ran stories of the sensational exploits of night-riding moonshiners, powerful "Barons of the Hills," and a world of feudal oppression in the isolation of the rugged Ozarks. The ensuing arrest of five local men for both crimes and the confusion and superstition surrounding the trial and conviction gave Stone County a dubious and short-lived notoriety. Closely examining how the story and its regional setting were interpreted by the media, Brooks Blevins recounts the gripping events of the murder investigation and trial, where a man claiming to be the murder victim--the "Ghost" of the Ozarks--appeared to testify. Local conditions in Stone County, which had no electricity and only one long-distance telephone line, frustrated the dozen or more reporters who found their way to the rural Ozarks, and the developments following the arrests often prompted reporters' caricatures of the region: accusations of imposture and insanity, revelations of hidden pasts and assumed names, and threats of widespread violence. Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South entertains readers with a dramatic tale of true crime as well as a skilled interpretation of the region. Throughout this narrative, Blevins weaves a sophisticated social history of the Ozarks in the early twentieth century, critically analyzing the stereotypes and imagery inherent in local folklore and embedded in media coverage of the murder and trial. Locating the past of the Upland South squarely within the major currents of American history, Blevins paints a convincing backdrop to a story that, more than 80 years later, remains riddled with mystery and a source of bitter division in the community where some believe Connie Franklin met his end.

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User Review  - GypsyJon - LibraryThing

This was a very interesting book. It deals with a murder that took place in rural Arkansas during the depression. It really is a great read, I could not put it down. If you have any interest in rural history especially during the gritty period of the 1920s and 1930s get this book. Read full review

Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South

User Review  - Krista Bush - Book Verdict

In 1929, the year the Great Depression began, drifters were not uncommon in the Arkansas Ozarks. One such drifter, a man named Connie Franklin, became romantically involved with local 16-year-old ... Read full review


1 Vigilantism and Vengeance
2 Barons of the Hills
3 The Ozarks in the Crosshairs
4 A Ghosts Tale
5 The Backstay of Crick and Charley
6 Is He or Aint He?
Illustrations follow page 136
10 The Farewell Tour of a Ghost
11 Folklore and Fact in the Aftermath
An Essay on Setting
Appendix B A Musical Coda

7 The Man behind the French Harp
8 He Haint My Connie
9 The Identification of a Dead Man
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About the author (2012)

A native of the Arkansas Ozarks, Brooks Blevins is the Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University. His other books include Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol' Boys Defined a State and Hill Folks: A History of Arkansas Ozarkers and Their Image.

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