By Jason Wert
The power and tenaciousness of the Proverbs 31 woman was on display at the Branson Centennial Museum on Tuesday, Aug. 16, as local businesswoman and philanthropist Sherry Herschend gave a presentation titled “Memories of the Ozarks.” Herschend told stories about her mother Fannabelle, who among other things delivered mail from Ike’s Post Office mentioned in the novel “The Shepherd of the Hills.” She said her mother was a perfect example of the Proverbs 31 woman, referring to the chapter in the Bible which describes a woman of noble character, who works hard, cares for her family, and provides for the needs of others around her. “I’ve never known a woman who had more Proverbs 31 qualities than [my mother],” Herschend said.
She talked about how her mother would make her clothes and would trade for other things because supplies could be hard to come by when she was just a child. The trading and swapping of supplies came via the mail. “There’s no Amazon to come and bring things the very next day,” Herschend said. “If you wanted to give something away to your neighbor who was needy, and my parents did this all the time, you would put it on the fence post with their name on it, and the mail carrier would pick it up and take it to them.” Herschend said the trading and making sure both her neighbors had their needs met and her family’s needs met was a perfect example of her mother’s Proverbs 31 qualities.
Sherry Herschend shares stories about her mother at the Branson Centennial Museum. She also talked about her mother becoming the youngest tour guide for Marvel Cave along with delivering the mail. She would pick up visitors from the train that came through once a day, brought them to a tea room owned by the Lynch sisters, who had cabins for rent. She would take the visitors either on a mule or
walking to the cave. Herschend said when her mother would bring visitors to the cave, there was no Highway 76, only a trail that went around Dewey Bald and down past where the Butterfly Palace is today, which gave visitors a view of the valley. She brought a number of items which her mother
used, or were replicas of items her mother used, along with displays of photographs showing her mother and other noted residents of the area during her mother’s life. In addition to speaking about her mother, she told attendees about some of the ways residents of the area would make money in ways many people would never consider, like miners collecting bat guano from inside Marvel Cave, the only item ever mined from the cave. “Mining was huge,” Herschend said. “The bat guano they could get so much more than they could get out of the forest, the trees, there wasn’t anything they were selling that they could get more money than bat guano.” She also talked about her grandfather being a blacksmith, and the items necessary to become a blacksmith, but revealed to the attendees at the talk her mother also knew how to do the craft. The anvil used by the blacksmith at Silver Dollar City is the same anvil used by her mother. Herschend’s talk was part of the monthly special lecture series at the Branson Centennial Museum. More information can be found on the Museum’s Facebook page.