Tourist misidentifies character from Shepherd of the Hills saga

Garber was a “flag stop” on the Missouri Pacific line, not far from Branson. The train would stop when there were railroad ties to pick up or deliveries for the post office, which also sold groceries, patent medicine and tobacco. Old Matt and Aunt Molly (the Rosses) welcomed tourists and would sign postcards and entertain them with stories of the old days in the White River hills, even though they were themselves relatively recent arrivals themselves from back East.


This extremely sharp real photo postcard, circa 1918, has an X over the man with a hat and goatee on the far right. On the back is typed, “I saw Uncle Ike as we passed on the train. He is exactly as this picture shows him. Near here is the wonderful cave, but something like 15 or 20 miles from Hollister.” 

The man with the X is not Uncle Ike in Harold Bell Wright’s novel. Across the front of the store is painted, “J.K. Ross General Store.” 

The man on the porch with the X above him is, in fact, J. K. Ross, who was reputed to be Harold Bell Wright’s model for the title character of his melodramatic novel, which launched tourism in the Branson area. 
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Uncle Ike, a minor character in the book, was said to be based on Levi Morrell, who also was accessible to tourists at his post office at Notch, about five miles from Garber.

Levi was stockier than J.K. Ross and had a full beard. Wright spent seven summers in the Branson area but denied that he had explicitly based any characters on locals. 

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