‘Twelve Corners’ recalls life in Ozarks 100 years ago

The Center for Regional History in collaboration with University Press, both at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, recently published the childhood short stories of Missouri native Ruby Allee Wright in “Twelve Corners – The Refuge of My Youth.”

In “Twelve Corners,” readers will step back in time 100 years to rural Brumley, Mo., in the heart of the Ozarks and experience life with little Ruby Allee and her sister, Millie. 

Posthumously published 16 years after her death, Wright’s accounts come to life in this illustrated edition, featuring watercolor images of the girls’ adventures. 

The book invites readers to join the sisters as they admire Camden County’s famous Ha Ha Tonka Castle, grieve with the loss of a likeable local bootleg whiskey distiller and warmly remember school days along the banks of Brumley Creek. 

They also will learn about Twelve Corners, the surprisingly elaborate church built in a remote glen above Rollins Creek. 

Used by several denominations, it became the small community’s social center before its decline, “…standing bravely alone, abandoned by all but the animals of the forest.”

Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder will find much to enjoy in “Twelve Corners,” said Dr. Adam Criblez, director of the Center for Regional History and associate professor of history and anthropology at Southeast.

Wright played with grandchildren of living Civil War soldiers, visited Uncle Ed and Aunt Sarah Meachum, son and daughter of freed slaves, and even knew an old man, Lige Popplewell, who left for California in the Gold Rush of 1849 and returned with his “…pockets full of gold.”

“Likely no person living today ever crossed paths with such people of history. Ruby Allee Wright has written of them, adding a rich historical dimension to ‘Twelve Corners’,” Criblez said.

Wright, born in 1916, was a lifelong resident of Miller County, living near Eugene and Iberia, but spent several childhood years in Camden, Pulaski and Laclede counties. 

She is the mother of Alan Terry Wright, author of “Murder on Rouse Hill.” Wright died in 2004.

“Twelve Corners” is available at Southeast’s Center for Regional History and on Amazon.

The Gazette-Democrat

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