Life Is Simple For Green Hollow Folk's

Bartlett.Iowa----Summer 1933

Omaha World Herald [Oct 199-] interview of Virginia Marguerite Benedict

Transcribed and submitted by Stephanie Pierce:

Bartlett.Iowa----Summer 1933

Barely touched by the hectic life of civilization that has grown up around them.  Thirteen families are living in pioneer simplicity among the cliffs and deep ravines in "Green Holler"

Three miles east of Bartlett, Iowa . Here a visitor, will find log cabins dizzily perched on the edge of cliffs of clay, rough cabins reminiscent of the dwellings of the "Hill Whites" in Tennessee. A road through the center of the "Holler" winds treacherously around straight walls of the deep ravines. Automobile wheels on this road spin dizzily in the loose earth at the edge of the ravine. Fifty feet or more and straight down . So rugged is this "Green Holler" a place of deep ravines and deep gully's slashed by erosion. A place of bare cliffs and sparse grass . Here you will see scrawny cattle and hound dogs., and you will see a horse of two which shy and race in their restricted fields at the approach of a car.

"Green Holler" has sheltered and provided a livelihood for a rugged people for many year's.

Grandpa Pierce known as "Uncle Joe" the oldest resident of the " Holler tells the tale of the coming of the Pierce's to the Bluffs. He was born on the bottom lands just west of the entrance to "Green Holler" His father and mother were pioneer's from "Ohio" These "Ohio" people settled on the river flats where grass grew knee high to a man on horse back. The family had half a section of land. Grandpa Pierce says It was good land and they lived on it and thrived through one Indian scare after another. They moved to the hills and became "Hill people" Here they built homes and barn's.


The Indian scare's died out with the advance of pioneer's into Iowa. The Pierce family then realized another scare, a more serious one, dangerous not to the hardy men and women of the flats, but to their land and all they owned. the Missouri River tore great chunks of farm land from it's banks and swallowed it, acres disappeared. The Pierce''s and their "Ohio" families fought this menace with log's and willow tree mats, but their efforts were feeble. the river ate their logs and their mats and reached into their cornfields, for more. Finally it had us says Grandpa Joe Pierce. Father moved us to the hills. Myself and other's . We have been compared to the "Hill Dwellers" in Tennessee says Grandpa Joe. But as far as I know none of our forebear's ever saw Tennessee Country.

In their log cabins or house's of unpainted boards, the Green Holler dwellers hidden back in the hills and deep ravines away from the world outside . Visitor who wish to find the place will be told, when making inquiries, not a half mile away, ask just how do you get in there? But Glen Pierce can tell you just stop at his place he was born there.


Glen is a farmer on the bottom road south of Pacific Junction. Glen gives you the directions, but says , bat a car going to fast in the Hollow can end up at the bottom of a ravine and if your driving to fast will simply pass up the entrance to the Hollow. People hunt and trap in the hills and woods. Sometimes they range far a field at night with their baying coon and possum hound's and the farmers living closer to the hard pavements and civilization pass the word " The Green Holler Folk are hunting tonight."

We have few needs, Grandpa joe says nobody in the "Holler " ask for charity . We get skins from winter hunting and we make most of our cloth's and sell the skins . The younger folk's tinker with old cars and radio's , for the most part we live a simple life and keep to our selves and let the world outside worry about depression and thing's. Far out on the bottom land's the Missouri river twinkled and shone with false beauty borrowed from the sun. Grandpa Pierce looked in that direction, his eyes narrowed he turned back to the "Holler' as he said we are happy and contented and safe, here in the "holler' Grandpa Pierce has never been forgotten.

Copied from the World Herald Omaha , NE

The following story is a follow up from the one above.

Oct. 1, 199?

It has been over 60 years ago since the first story was written about the "Hill people" who live in a place known as " Green Holler" just east of Bartlett, Iowa. The folks who lived in the "Holler" were as one big family neighbor's helped each other. We were always fed and clothed perhaps not as well as people living outside of the "Holler". The children were happy and satisfied with what they had. Sunday's were a busy day in the afternoon the children would play ball and those who didn't play ball would shoot marbles. The old folks played "pitch" a card game that could be really interesting , or there would be a horse shoe game. Several years later my oldest brothers was the champion horse shoe pitcher of Iowa. My youngest came in second. They are Lyle and Amil Hillhouse. It's true were not aware of what the world was like outside of the Hollow. We were not concerned. Some folks raised chicken's and hogs and had a couple milk cow's . Dear Aunt Mame Keran who lived by "Kings Church" would make butter and folks would buy from her. In the fall the men would butcher hogs and sometimes a beef this meat would be cure and stored for winter. The young ones would learn how to hunt and sell the pelt's , there was rabbit and squirrels;. also coon meat. supplied for food. Sunday evening was a time for all to gather in at "Kings Church" our folks loved to sing the Old Hymn's and hear the sermon. The little country church is where we all learned about Jesus and his saving grace. The land for the little church was donated by the King Family with a stipulation the bldg. would be used only for school, and church service's . The church was known by it' name Kings Church. To my knowledge the little church was used only for school and church services. After folks moved away and there was not enough people to keep it open for services the church was sold and used for a machine shed. Sadly in the early "1990's" the land mark church burned downed. So many memory's we all have of that little church. The children attended Bible school two weeks every summer. Some classes were held out under the tree's as the church would have to many classes . I remember a lady Mrs. Fields would drive her horse and buggy from Tabor to teach and help out with our Bible school. We were taught about how God gave his only son , to die on the cross to save us all from sin. Those teachings were installed in our hearts. There has been ministers, teachers, and business men come from out of the Hollow children. The Hollow children rode on a bus to attend Bartlett school, The bus driven by Mrs. Shade. would turn around at Uncle Joe's place, due to the narrow road. The children would board the bus at this stopping place. The bus would be filled to capacity. I cannot remember any real trouble among us. Our parents settled our troubles, if there was any disagreements we were kept apart with no visiting or playing together for one or two week's . Lamps and Lantern's was the way of life. Our church had refector  lamps. until it was supplied with gas lanterns. Washing on a scrub board once a week was a chore and cloths had to be ironed. Some of our folk could play music. We had guitar, fiddle ,piano and organ player's . No one ever had a lesson. Sometimes on Sat. nights someone would set the furniture outside and there would be a house dance. The young, and the old folks would square dance. Green holler folk made their own entertainment. One summer Omer Pierce made sorghum which was something to see. It was sold to the people around the neighborhood. As the years went by little did we realize how quickly the time would pass. The Pearl Harbor incident came along and the "Hill Folk' made their contribution . Every family was affected by this. Every family was affected by this. My two brother's Lyle an Amil along with cousins and friends. There was Study's, Keran's, Pierce's and Hatcher boys all young men called to serve their country. including Kephart son's. Some of these young men never came back home to Iowa. Those at home prayed day and night for these young men . prayers re answered for some, but for some a sad reality. People began leaving the Hollow . There was a few who lived there life out in their beloved Green Holler. It was hard to adjust to a different life but some how they did and they never went back to the Holler. The years have taken it's toll. The winding road has slid into the deep ravines. The laughter and hollering of all the children are gone. It's hard to believe that such a place existed, but it did and I am happy to say that I was a part of this place known as GREEN HOLLER.

Virginia Marguerite Benedict

For those of you who read this article , just remember your ancestors lived through this period of time.

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