Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Walkin' Preacher of the Ozarks by Guy Howard

No Cover Available

Walkin' Preacher of the Ozarks
by Guy Howard

Hardback: 273 pages
Publisher: Harper & Brothers
First Released: 1944

Buy from Amazon

Source: A home library

Back Cover Description:
[Referring to the 1940s] Guy Howard is known to thousands of mountain people in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri as the Walkin' Preacher of the Ozarks. For the past ten years, Mr. Howard has walked an average of four thousand miles a year; his salary has averaged fourteen dollars a month. He has served dozens of pastorless communities in the Ozark area as pastor, teacher, music director, confessor, and general adviser on matters of every description. Without thought of recompense, distance or dangers, he is at the beck and call of these mountain people all hours of day and night.

"Layin' away gran'pappy," taking the place of the proverbial shotgun [as in a shotgun wedding], revival meetings, building the schoolhouse--these and other homespun stories are told with forceful simplicity, honest religion and against a setting about which most Americans know little.

Walkin' Preacher of the Ozarks is a missionary memoir. Howard traveled all over southern Missouri and into some parts of northern Arkansas. The main reason I read this book was because I live in the Ozarks in one of the areas he traveled through, and I know some people who lived in this area at the time Brother Howard was here.

It's a fun book with enjoyable stories. It wasn't a typical missionary memoir since he rarely talks about consulting God concerning his decisions on where to work or preach. In fact, at the very end of the book, several of his decisions seemed really odd and he never explained why he made them. But the stories were interesting and often amusing--a look into back-woods Ozark life in the 1930's and early 1940's.

Howard tells his story in a linear fashion. There were black and white photos of some of the churches he mentions. A map of the area and the mentioned towns would have been nice. Overall, it's a good book that would probably interest people who live in the Ozarks or who are interested in "back woods life" stories.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
The creaking cultivator dropped into lagging tempo and the halting movements of the mules warned of nearness to the fences. One more trip completed. One more row nearer harvest.

Corn grows tall in Iowa--after it is cultivated. And before the sun's downing, irrespective of the importance of a Memorial Day speech, all the grayish earth between rows of greening blades must reveal the rich black of fresh-turned loam.

Tomorrow would be Memorial Sunday, and there remained so little time to do so many things. Important things they were too, for farms do not run themselves and become successful, even in Lucas County. And I, the district schoolteacher, wanted more than anything else in the world to be a successful farmer; was willing to slave for the necessary capital with a singleness of purpose in diligent industry--aided, of course, by the span of mules borrowed from Uncle Doras Baker.


Ron Hoover said...

I finished this book recently. My wife's paternal grandmother had a copy from the mid 1940s. It reminded me a bit of the accounts by Laura Ingalls Wilder and her school teaching experiences. I live in Springfield and know some of the places first hand that Mr. Howard wrote about. I have a road map of Missouri from 1938 and that helped me get a better idea of how things were back then. I wonder what ever happened to his daughter. He did not say anything of her after she was left with family in Iowa. Also, I could not relate with his decision to be 'credentialed' with the Discp. of Christ as opposed to being a non-denominational preacher. I did not find any entry on Guy Howard in wikipedia. Thanks for your post. It is the info I found on this man and his book. Regards,

Genre Reviewer said...

Hi, Ron.

I'm also from the Ozarks. I'd heard about the circuit preachers around here, so I thought his memoir would be intriguing since it took place in the area I live. :)

Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

julie said...

Hi Debbie,

My boyfriend went to the Ozarks with his family when he was a youngster. The reason: his father read this book about the traveling preacher and they traced his path.

I wonder if the book is still in print. I know my boyfriend and his mother would like to read the book.

Thanks for reviewing this book.


Genre Reviewer said...


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Hey, even if the book isn't in print, you can probably find a used copy online somewhere. :)