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Harold Bell Wright


category : Famous People
Harold Bell Wright

Many know that Harold Bell Wright's, "Shepherd of the Hills" was the most widely read book of fiction in the history of publishing! Few know, however, that many of the places, events, and characters are based on actual models. There really was an "old shepherd of Mutton Hollow," whose identity was blended with that of Wright himself into the central character of the book.

Harold Bell Wright moved to this area in 1896, where he lived south of Marionville with an uncle. His cousin, George Pollard, taught at the Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Academy, on College Street, and Harold moved to Mt. Vernon the next year. He lived in the house at 631 McCanse St. (corner of E. Sloan) and also at 707 S. Main. During this time he operated an art and decorating shop on the east side of the square (about where the First National Bank is now). He was known to have studied and lectured at the academy also.

Mt. Vernon native, James Marion Wood moved to Mutton Hollow for a two-year period in 1900, at which time Mr. Wright was a frequent visitor, and Wood tended sheep at the farm of "Old Matt," J.K. Ross. When Wright finally published his book in 1907, the world was introduced to the warm people and enchanted hills soon to be known as the "Branson" area. Harold Bell Wright's frail health demanded that he later mover to California, but he left behind a legacy, which included some endearing characters from Mt. Vernon and Lawrence County as well as from "Mutton Hollow."


Come visit us in Mt. Vernon, Missouri

Attractions and Upcoming Events

Lawrence County Courthouse

Built in 1900 of native limestone, this is the third courthouse on this site. A statue of Justice graces the top of this historic landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The first courthouse was built of wood in 1846

Mt. Vernon, MO Historic Courthouses

The 2nd "Old Jail"

The county's first log jail burned in 1854, and a brick structure was built on Walter Street a block west of the square. It is presently undergoing reconstruction for historical preservation. It was used until 1868, and had an original cost of $3,500.

Mt. Vernon, MO Pioneer Life

Frisco Caboose and Visitor Center

Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce operates an office and visitor center at the start of the Ozark Mountain Parkway (Route 265)

Mt. Vernon, MO Railroad History

Big Spring

When the Moore family first settled there, there were Indian camps all along the bottom land. This spring puts out up to 13 million gallons of water a day, and has been a popular family picnic site for over a hundred years. It is located just beyond Rebel's Bluff and Old Shepherd'

Mt. Vernon, MO Archaeology

Grave of the Old Shepherd

In his book, "Old Matt's View of It," J.K. Ross wrote about the death of the Old Shepherd from Mutton Hollow. He was gored to death by a bull. A Civil War tombstone marks the grave of James Marion Wood, who met this untimely fate in 1910

Mt. Vernon, MO Cemeteries

Things to do Famous People near Mt. Vernon, MO