Rural Missouri - October 2013 - (Page 40)

N E I G H B O R S Linn’S HISTORY Connection Retired electric co-op manager Walt Ryan brings history to life as a writer piqued Walt’s interest. “Hollywood makes it seem all the history happened out West, but there’s a lot of history that began here,” says Walt. or a man so enamored with the “Missouri was the beginning for the Lewpast, Walt Ryan is quite comfortis and Clark Expedition, the beginning of able with modern methods of the Santa Fe Trail, the start of the Oregon communication. He’s editing his Trail, the origin of the Pony Express. latest historical fiction book via Skype “Sedalia was the terminus of the first with his daughter, Marti, who lives cattle trail drives. Wyatt Earp was the city in Nashville, Tenn. He’s savvy on the marshal of Lamar, probably before he’d cell phone, doesn’t hesitate to email, ever heard of Tombstone, Ariz. William F. is active on Facebook and Twitter, and “Buffalo Bill” Cody first joined the Union writes a blog called Sundown Trail. Army at Jefferson City,” adds the history “Yeah, I think we’re probably going buff. the e-book route,” the 74-year-old says, Another source of history Walt enjoys referring to his latest yet-to-be titled writing about comes from his own life. work. “Seems the way things are going His career in the cooperative world and, well, it’s more affordable, too.” began with a local farm co-op in El DoraFor all his modern methods, the Linn do Springs after graduating high school. man is someone who lives in the past He did everything from working the feed and loves it — something he attributes counter to serving on a combining crew. to his maternal grandfather, John W. Walt wanted to serve his country as Cole, and an old buffalo rifle. well as see the world, so he signed up for “My grandfather found this 1864 the Army, but a deaf ear held him back. Tower rifle near his New Mexico homeHe joined the National Guard instead stead around 1910,” says Walt, running and over the years worked his way up to his hand down the smooth, pear-wood sergeant, meeting his wife along the way. gunstock. “He discovered it under a large “That turned out perfectly because rock overhang along with the skeletons I’d met Denny and didn’t want to leave of a man and a horse.” for several years right then,” recalls Walt, The name “Joseph Wilson” is with a twinkle in his eye. The couple celstamped in faint, but neat, block letters ebrated 50 years of marriage in July. behind the rifle’s trigger guard. The gun In 1967, he went to work for Sac has slight traces of red paint on the barOsage Electric Cooperative and the rest, rel, too, and both the man’s name and as they say, is history. the paint intrigue Walt to this day. For nearly the next four decades, “Grandfather believed he had found a Walt’s electric co-op career traversed Misprospector who perished in a storm,” he souri. He worked for Sac Osage Electric says. “But is it a possibility he stumbled in El Dorado Springs, Black River Electric onto an Indian burial site? If so, did Former Missouri electric cooperative employee and manager Walt Ryan poses in Fredericktown, Howard Electric in Joseph Wilson give up his rifle willingly? here with an 1864 Tower buffalo rifle that once belonged to his grandfather, Fayette and Three Rivers Electric in Linn, Was it taken from him in one of the John W. Cole. The rifle’s origin helped spark Walt’s interest in frontier history. where he retired in 2005. His significant many tribal wars that occurred in the contributions to Missouri’s cooperatives area? Indians used red paint . . . earned Walt induction into the prestigious MisWe’ll probably never know.” shares them online in his blog, Sundown Trail. souri Institute of Cooperatives Hall of Fame earWalt, former manager of Three For Walt, blogging is about memories from lier this year. Rivers Electric Cooperative, says the good ol’ days and sharing moments “Technology has been the biggest change I’ve that make up history. “I write about what he’s had the rifle since childhood, Linn • seen in my life,” he says. “But you see, cooperaand the mystery of its origin sparked I know,” he says, “And that’s history and tives were on the cutting edge of technology from his lifelong interest in history. things I’ve experienced.” the very beginning. They brought us from the Those reading Walt’s blog will learn “I’m really just a student of the lantern to electric lights, from blocks of ice to about the days he played mumblety past,” he says. “For me, I reckon it’s refrigeration in the home. They’ve always been peg with boys outside a one-room just interesting to learn about the hisa leader when it came to helping rural members tory we’re part of, where we came from.” schoolhouse he attended on the western better their lives and continue to do so today.” plains of Kansas and the importance of always His paternal grandfather, John Ryan, headed Since retirement, Walt has wrapped up one carrying a sharp pocketknife for this and other west from Kentucky to seek his fortune around book, “Tales From Clear Creek” and has another purposes. In another tale, Walt recalls a memo1900, stopping to break horses and mules for a historical fiction work about done. A prequel to rable encounter with a diamondback rattlesnake Kansas farmer and staying to marry the farmer’s his latest book was lost in a computer crash, but when he was about 6 years old and the rogue cow daughter, Walt’s Quaker grandmother. Walt’s sure he can “reconstitute it” in time. that led him there. Another account recalls a blizHis grandfather John Cole always came back “I’ve met some amazing people on my jourzard and the special Christmas memories enjoyed east to stay on the farm with Walt’s family every ney,” says Walt. “And I’ve got more stories to tell.” with the ranch neighbors who invited young Walt summer, so he heard history from a source who’d and his family in from the storm. lived much of it himself. You may contact Walt via email at waltryan@ Other tales, such as “The Burning of Osceola, Eventually, with his older relatives gone, Walt osagenet.com or follow his blog at sundowntrail.wordMissouri and The Battle of Clear Creek” dig deep started recounting bits and pieces of those stopress.com. into segments of state history that have always ries, as well as tales from his own experiences. He F 40 by Heather Berry hberry@ruralmissouri.coop WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://sundowntrail.wordpress.com http://sundowntrail.wordpress.com http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2013

Rural Missouri - October 2013
Contents
Comments
Columns
Schooled on sailing
A deer dilemma
Outdoors
Therapy for the heart & soul
Out of the Way Eats
Gone RVing
Charge of the Iron Brigade
Hearth and Home
Underwater fun
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - October 2013

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