The Cedar Grove Items column of the December 21, 1933 edition of the Berryville Star Progress announced the marriage of Jack McCall and Vella “Betty” Southerland. It’s interesting that when they applied for the marriage license at the courthouse on December 4th, they are recorded as “Jack McCall, 22, of Eureka Springs” and “Vella Southerland, 18, of Rockhouse”. This article, however, is even more geographically precise by indicating the bride is from Cedar Grove and the groom is from the Walker Settlement.
McKinley Weems remembers as a boy the first time he saw Lola Wolfinbarger. His family was traveling to a burial at the Rockhouse Cemetery and stopped at the Wolfinbarger house. Lola and her sisters were in the yard.
On June 18, 1939, McKinley Weems and Lola Wolfinbarger of Eureka Springs were married. They both come from families where you count your cousins by the dozen. Mac was the eighth of the nine children of Walter and Luella (Pinkley) Weems. He was born and raised on Magnetic Road, except for when the springs were dry during the Great Depression and they lived next door to Aunt Cora Pinkley-Call in town.
Lola was the seventh of ten children born to Arl and Mary Lula (Cordell) Wolfinbarger. She was born and raised near Keels Creek southeast of Eureka Springs.
With the exception of the war years, they’ve always lived on the outskirts of Eureka Springs. They were away during the war when their first home burned down. When they returned they purchased the house at 1 Magnetic for $75 and lived there for almost 20 years. With a small house and a growing family, they built a new home to accommodate their eight children.
With so many mouths to feed, they’ve sometimes had to scramble to make ends meet. McKinley has been fixing and building things since his first job in 1934 at Mac Hussey’s garage on Main Street. He worked on radios and refrigerators for Ray Freeman and Eagle Thomas, before buying a bulldozer.
A farm girl, Lola has always known work. Besides farm work, she ran traps and sold animal skins before marriage. Since then she has raised children and gardens and owned and operated Country Antiques for nearly 40 years.
They’ve continued the tradition of having cousins by the dozen, with about 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren thus far. They’ve enjoyed the benefits of the large family, but they’ve also endured the loss of three children, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Today, they celebrate the 75th anniversary of their marriage. It is called a “Diamond Anniversary.” I looked it up.
Exactly twelve miles from the hollow (by road) in the McIlroy-Madison County Wildlife Management Area is the unique Tea Kettle Falls. Besides being rather high, the waterfall flows through a sizeable hole worn through the limestone bluff.
These two photographs are courtesy of Barbara Mourglia of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Tea Kettle Falls drains Kettle Hollow and then flows into Warm Fork Creek, which then flows into Rockhouse Creek and the Kings River.
This north side of Warm Fork Creek is a long line of massive bluffs offering beautiful views.
This Bing Bird’s Eye View shows the area’s terrain.
The purpose of my expedition into the McIlroy-Madison County Wildlife Management Area was to investigate Keg Hollow.
This is a good time of the year to explore some of the unimproved roads of the WMA because they are locked away behind gates 8 months out of the year. The WMA designated Road 6a takes one into Keg Hollow and it follows streams and the natural contours of the hillside as it drops down about 400 feet in elevation to the bottom of the hollow, where its cumulative waters drain into Rockhouse Creek.
This is a fairly remote part of the Arkansas Ozarks, but I expected to see hunters out as muzzleloader deer season is open. I drove a total of 13 miles through the McIlroy-Madison County Wildlife Management Area on this day and didn’t meet a single vehicle on the roads. (Disclaimer: After leaving Keg Hollow, I did see two men garbed in traditional camouflage with bright orange vests sitting in lawn chairs next to the road by two pickup trucks.)
Despite not seeing another human being in Keg Hollow, I did see signs of recent activity. Besides the tire tracks in the muddy road, I ran across a smoldering fire and a glove hanging from sapling limbs.
The creek beds were mostly dry when first dropping down into Keg Hollow, but after a ways there is a sizeable spring next to the road. After that, the creek beds appeared to hold water year around, at least it seemed to me that is what all the minnows indicated. When I tromped over to where the spring flowed out of the hillside, I scared some creature in the water. At first I thought it was a pale salamander, but it may have been a grayish crawdad the way it darted. Then, gazing down into the small pool of water, waiting for movement, I saw what obviously was the tail of a salamander sticking out. Well, maybe it was the tail of a snake. I was sure it was one or the other. I watched a long time waiting for the tail to twitch but the creature stayed completely still. Finally, I got a long twig to scare the little thing so I could identify it. I felt foolish to discover it was a plant root, not a tail.
Though Road 6a is marked as unimproved on the map, any car could easily use most of it, the road is that good. In fact, most of it is a better, smoother road than the little road into our hollow. But there are some sections of the Keg Hollow road that would be a challenge for 2-wheel drive vehicles.
As with much of the forested land around here, Keg Hollow still showed plenty of damage from the 2009 ice storm. I’ve heard it said more than once that it’ll take trees at least 20 years to recover from the destruction of that winter.