Dr. Brooks Blevins, ’92, will speak at the Mabee-Simpson Library at noon April 2 about his latest book, Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South. A brown bag lunch will be provided.
The book is about the 1929 murder of drifter Connie Franklin and the rape of his teenaged fianceé in Stone County. The ensuing arrest of five local men for both crimes and the confusion and superstition surrounding the trial and conviction gave Stone County a dubious and short-lived notoriety.
Closely examining how the story and its regional setting were interpreted by the media, Blevins recounts the gripping events of the murder investigation and trial, where a man claiming to be the murder victim, the “ghost” of the Ozarks, appeared to testify. Local conditions in Stone County, which had no electricity and only one long-distance telephone line, frustrated the dozen or more reporters who found their way to the rural Ozarks, and the developments following the arrests often prompted reporters’ caricatures of the region: accusations of imposture and insanity, revelations of hidden pasts and assumed names, and threats of widespread violence.
Blevins, a native of the Ozarks, is the Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University. His other books include Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol’ Boys Defined a State; Hill Folks: A History of Arkansas Ozarkers and Their Image; and Lyon College 1872-2002: The Perseverance and Promise of an Arkansas College.