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Vegetarians, Communists, and Millennialists: Communal Living in the Old Ozarks

12 Jun 2017 9:28 AM | Anonymous

Now there’s a title you don’t see every day, and this program will be presented at Hobbs State Park by Brooks Blevins, an Arkansas Ozarks native. Blevins is the Noel Boyd Professor of Ozark Studies at Missouri State University in Springfield.  He is the author and editor of seven books, including Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol’ Boys Defined a State and Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South. The Old Ozarks, the first volume in Blevins’s trilogy on the history of the Ozarks, will be released in 2018.

Blevin’s program at Hobbs State Park explores the stories of various communal and cooperative-living groups in the Ozarks, from Benton County’s pre-Civil War Harmonial Vegetarian Society to Rev. John Battenfield’s Incoming Kingdom Missionary Unit in the hills along the Buffalo River.   

There was even an unusual group that made their home on land which is now part of Hobbs State Park.  Edgar Wallace Conable was the founder of this strange health colony.  He bought 8,000 acres of the old Peter Van Winkle property and colonized it with several hundred followers, all of whom believed in his manner of living.  The colonists ate no breakfast. The men did not love their wives, nor did the wives love their husbands. Living in family groups was a “mere matter of form”.

With its cheap land, its relative isolation, and its live-and-let-live population, the Ozark region has long been a magnet for countercultural and off-kilter groups who looked to build their own utopian communities in peace and solitude. The result has been some of the most colorful and unforgettable episodes in the history of the Ozarks.  You won’t want to miss this very thought-provoking program.

When:  2:00 p.m. Sunday June 18, 2017

Where:  Hobbs State Park – Conservation Area’s visitor center located on Hwy 12 just east of the Hwy 12/War Eagle Road intersection.

Cost:  Free – The public is invited

This program is a continuation of the Friends of Hobbs Speaker Series.


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