Our History - Original Members

Original Founder - Otto Ernest Rayburn (1891-1960)


  • Founder of the Society of Ozarkian Hillcrofters in 1931
  • Writer, magazine publisher, and collector of Arkansas and Ozarks lore
  • Published his first magazine, Ozark Life: The Mirror of the Ozarks from his home in Kingston, Arkansas in 1925
  • In 1931, he started another magazine, The Arcadian, from Eminence, Missouri
  • In 1940, he wrote “Ozark Country” – very successful – 4 printings
  • In 1943 he started the Ozark Guide magazine
  • His writing style referred to as Ozarks Boosterism

“There is no denying that, in the period between 1925 and 1950, Rayburn did more to arouse popular interest in Ozark folklore than all of the professors put together” 

Vance Randolph

Photo courtesy: College of the Ozarks

Vance Randolph (1892-1980)


  • Foremost Collector of Ozarks Folklore and Folksongs
  • Published Many Volumes of Folklore and Folksongs
  • Known as “Mr. Ozark”
  • Moved from his native Kansas to Pineville, MO in 1920 and spent the remainder of his life in the Ozarks
  • Recorded Ozarks folksongs for the Library of Congress
  • In 1978 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Folklore Society

Photo courtesy: College of the Ozarks

Mary Elizabeth (Prather) Mahnkey (1877-1948)


  • Daughter of Bald Knobber, Newspaper Publisher, Politician and one of the founders of the University of Arkansas– Col. Alonzo Prather
  • Mother of Attorney, Historian and Author – Doug Mahnkey
  • Country newspaper correspondent since age 14
  • Postmistress for Oasis and Mincy, Taney County, Missouri
  • Noted Poet and expert on Ozarks lore
  • Informant for Vance Randolph

Photo by Townsend Godsey

Photo courtesy: College of the Ozarks

Rose (Wilder) Lane (1886 -1968)


  • Daughter of well-known author, Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Published Author
  • Journalist 
  • Travel writer
  • One of the founders of the American Libertarian Movement
  • Also an Informant for Vance Randolph

May Kennedy McCord (1880 – 1979)


  • Known as“Queen of the Hillbillies” and/or “First Lady of the Ozarks”
  • Newspaper Columnist – Ozarks Folklore, Stories, etc
  • Musician/Singer/Recited Ozarks poetry and lore on “Hillbilly Heartbeats” – KWTO radio
  • Recorded 100 ballads for the Library of Congress
  • Director of the National Folklore Federation
  • Board member of the National Folk Festival
  • Vance Randolph Informant

Photo courtesy of White River Valley Historical Quarterly - 1964

Rose O’Neill (1874-1944)


  • World Reknown Artist and Illustrator
  • Women’s Suffragest
  • Author
  • Creator of the Kewpie
  • Vance Randolph Informant

Photo courtesy of the Bonniebrook Historical Society

Our History - Present Day, Reviving the Society


2017 - A New Beginning for the Society of Ozarkian Hillcrofters

On October 20th, 2017, several individuals were invited to a presentation about the Society of Ozarkian Hillcrofters at the Branson Centennial Museum.  A presentation of the history of the original group formed in 1931 was given, as well as the potential missions and purpose of a revived, present-day organization.  Those attending agreed to meet again

soon after the first of 2018 and begin to open the organization to a wider membership of anyone who may be interested in participating.

February 2nd, 2018 - The second meeting of the Society of Ozarkian Hillcrofters

On February 2nd, 2018, at 6:00 PM, at the MSU Library, the Society of Ozarkian Hillcrofters will be holding it's second meeting.  Dr. Robert Kipfer will be giving a presentation on "Missouri Historical Landscape Changes".  There will also be information discussions about the organization, future meetings, and goals.