This image of rural indifference to modernity was a cliché before the hillbilly image blossomed in cartoons and mass media in the 1920s and ‘30s.
George Hall costumed some Stone County residents being discovered by two well-dressed visitors (on the right). His real photo postcard, captioned “The Arkansas Traveler,” is circa 1915.
The idea the Ozarks is inhabited by primitives has been perpetuated in books by educated travelers like Schoolcraft, in popular songs like the “Arkansas Traveler,” and in souvenir postcards, like this one by George Hall.
The full-blown hillbilly became a fixture of early Ozark tourism. Most, but not all, locals found it amusing as well as it seemed to be a useful tool to promote tourism.
(This feature is courtesy of Leland and Crystal Payton at Lens & Pen Press, publishers of all-color books on the Ozarks. Their new book, James Fork of the White: Transformation of an Ozark River, 354 all-color pages, has been published and is available at www.beautifulozarks.com ($35, postage paid) and on amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Their earlier river book, Damming the Osage, can be at seen www.dammingtheosage.com.)