Monday, April 8, 2024

History of Branson--or It All Started with a Cabin

Old Matt's Cabin in Branson, MO
Image by Martha Hutchens
How many people here have visited Branson, Missouri?

Branson has dinosaur exhibits, multiple live shows, multiple theaters, zip lines, rock wall climbing, horseback rides, shopping centers, an aquarium, a zoo, roller coasters, a theme park . . . The list goes on and on. But do you know how it started? Let me tell you a story.

That Printer of Udell's by Harold Bell Wright
Image by Martha Hutchens

Once upon a time, there was a pastor who accidently wrote a book. His name was Harold Bell Wright, and he intended that this story, That Printer of Udell’s, be read to his congregation on Sunday evenings. However, it was picked up by his denomination’s magazine and published as a serial. This was published in 1902.

Wright traveled to the Ozarks for his health. There he met John and Anna Ross, who he frequently stayed with. Sometimes he camped near their home at a place that would become known as Inspiration Point.

Why Inspiration Point, you might ask? Well, it was here that he developed another story based on the people in the area. This story was called The Shepherd of the Hills.

The Shepherd of the Hills
Image by Martha Hutchens

To say this story became a fantastic success would be understating things more than a little. More than 18 million copies of this book were sold. It has been translated into seven languages. There are many other statistics that I can’t confirm, such as it was the first book to earn a million dollars, and that it was the second best-selling book in the twentieth century—second only to the Bible.

But I think that looking around Branson, Missouri is the easiest way to see the impact of this book. You see, not long after this book was published, people started visiting this area of the Ozarks to enjoy the setting of their favorite book. This was the beginning of Branson, Missouri.

But what about the impact of that other book, the one that Wright accidentally wrote? (And frankly, a book well worth reading—in my opinion, of course.)

Statue of Ronald Reagan in Warsaw, Poland
Image by fightbegin, Deposit Photos
Well, an eleven-year-old boy picked it up and read it. Later in life, he credited it with shaping his own moral sense, a sense of the abiding triumph of good over evil. This man would later tell Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” even though all his speechwriters told him to remove that phrase from his speech.

Yes, Ronald Reagan credited this book with his decision to become a Christian and with influencing his entire world view, which in turn, changed the world.

Martha Hutchens is a transplanted southerner who lives in Los Alamos, NM where she is surrounded by history so unbelievable it can only be true. She won the 2019 Golden Heart for Romance with Religious and Spiritual Elements. A former analytical chemist and retired homeschool mom, Martha is frequently found working on her latest knitting project when she isn’t writing.

Martha’s current novella is set in southeast Missouri during World War II. It is free to her newsletter subscribers. You can subscribe to my newsletter at my website,

After saving for years, Dot Finley's brother finally paid a down payment for his own land—only to be drafted into World War II. Now it is up to her to ensure that he doesn't lose his dream while fighting for everyone else's. No one is likely to help a sharecropper's family.

Nate Armstrong has all the land he can manage, especially if he wants any time to spend with his four-year-old daughter. Still, he can't stand by and watch the Finley family lose their dream. Especially after he learns that the banker's nephew has arranged to have their loan called.

Necessity forces them to work together. Can love grow along with crops?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today. I enjoyed learning about the beginnings of Branson and of the books of Mr. Wright.