All Posts By

Travis Holt

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A Hard Line Ozark Man

I sit here, watching the fading sun over the Ozarks hills, not too far from where I was raised. Last night, we had an annual birthday bash for an old family friend, and I got the opportunity to sit and visit with many of the older generation that I grew up around. The most notable, a long visit with a…
Travis Holt
July 22, 2022
Blog

Marking the Wolf

'Yates Standridge, who recently escaped from the state convict farm, where he was serving what practically amounts to a life sentence for murder, declared that he never will return to the penitentiary, according to residents of the sparsley settled hills of Newton County, where Standridge makes his home. These hill people say Standridge recently spent two weeks in that section…
Travis Holt
July 1, 2022
Blog

Moonshine

Moonshine, though often associated with Appalachia, is also an integral part of the Ozarks culture. Growing up in the hills of Newton County, Arkansas, I lived a privileged life. I got to know a good amount of my ancestors, and hear their stories and experiences. Though most of them were straight laced, hard-working and proud folks, I would occasionally hear…
Travis Holt
June 15, 2022
Blog

This Land is Ours

It’s hell, sittin’ here. I grew up in the hills of Newton County, Arkansas, the place that my direct line had hacked out and settled in the 1850s, when the first white settlers moved in. Being a native Ozarker has its advantages and disadvantages. When I married and moved one county north, it almost seemed like sacrilege. The next phase…
Travis Holt
May 24, 2022
Blog

The Shadow of Red Rock

Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with time and place. As far as time goes, I’m mainly concerned with what happened before me - those who came before and their lives in this beautiful, rural and untouched county that we call home. Time has brought changes, as it always does, and some of it is even good. However,…
Travis Holt
March 9, 2022
Blog

Requiem for Grandma

Growing up on ‘Holt Hill’ in Vendor, Arkansas, I was truly blessed. I had a touch of the ‘Old South’ that I now have oft read of; a true, closed community of my own people who endured hardship, drought and war, and came out stronger as a result. Of the many giants who walked through my childhood, there is one…
Travis Holt
December 30, 2021
Blog

Windy

Of all the giants that strode through my childhood, some loom larger than others: Some due to their innate kindness or acts towards me, some for the wisdom they imparted or their willingness to share life experiences, and some simply due to the fact of just how damn likeable they were. But there are a few who loom large for…
Travis Holt
November 26, 2021
Blog

Steppin Back

The locusts descend upon the land. Not the literal ones, but a kind much worse, in my estimation. The urbanites, long disenchanted with the social upheaval of late, have begun to migrate to the country. My home county, Newton County, Arkansas, is sadly not immune, though we are largely blessed. Rugged and in the remote mountains of northwest Arkansas, my…
Travis Holt
October 7, 2021
Blog

The Voices

We’ve all heard some cliché joke about ‘voices in our head’, usually posted over and over again on Facebook or quoted by someone who hasn’t quite figured out just how tired that concept is. But this isn’t about some comic concept of ‘voices in one’s head’, but rather something that has haunted me for some time. I long ago accepted…
Travis Holt
September 23, 2021
Blog

The Wild Man

At the top of the hill where my great-grandparents lived, there was a dusty, black and white picture on a shelf. It could’ve been my grandpa or great-uncle, but it didn’t look quite like them. It was a dapper dressed young man leaning over the fender of a ’59 Ford car, posing. I never asked about this picture but it…
Travis Holt
July 30, 2021
Blog

The Happy Land of Cannan

The happy land of Caannan may be a Biblical story, but for some of us, it truly was fact. Growing up on the land my ancestors settled in the 1850s was a true blessing. It gave me common ground, a heritage, a place and, most importantly, a history. My people were among the first white settlers in the 1850s in…
Travis Holt
July 9, 2021
Blog

Requiem for a Hell Raiser

We all, as we go through life, encounter people that who deserve to be remembered. Everyone does, in a sense. But all these people, their good and bad characteristics, are more personal when you have a familial connection to them. My Grandfather, Lewis Charles ‘Mecky’ Freeman, was a man who surely deserves to be remembered, for weal or woe. Lewis…
Travis Holt
June 25, 2021
Blog

Time

“How time changes everything.” This quote came from the lips of a fairly surprised man of around 80, my dear great-uncle Carl Ray, as we descended into the valley of his childhood.It  had been some four decades or better since he had been around the old home places where he grew into a man. The people who own it now…
Travis Holt
May 28, 2021
Blog

The Lord Gives

It was a late night in Boone County, Arkansas when me and my newly married wife attended a party not far from our home in Lead Hill. The ol' boy that invited us had built a fire and we were all sitting around, drinking and telling stories, feeding the fire and enjoying the camaraderie, when his granddaughter walked out with…
Travis Holt
March 3, 2021
Blog

The Wind

I find myself sitting on the bank of a lake, not far from where I grew up. Being in an extremely rural and poor area of Arkansas, we hang on to things quite a bit longer than most, both literally and figuratively. In the 1960s, there was a thriving vacation destination in my home county, known as the ‘Wildlife Club.’…
Travis Holt
January 25, 2021
Blog

A Grandfather’s Love

Most all of us who were fortunate enough to know our Grandfather has experienced his love. It may be expressed in many ways, whether it be a spoken ‘Well done’ or an ‘I love you’, or by a physical ‘pat on the back’ or a hug. But most expressions of our Grandfather’s love are something we hold close, and will…
Travis Holt
December 15, 2020
Blog

Less Than Five Miles

The life of a man is something that runs deep in all history. Before the war on gender roles, man and woman had a clear, defined boundary that all recognized and respected. Man was the provider, and woman, the nurturer and homemaker. A story and role as old as time. But, what of the physical boundaries of a man? My…
Travis Holt
November 30, 2020
Blog

Hank Williams Was Their Prophet and Tradition Was Their King

The story I’m about to tell is one of the many coming from the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Hardscrabble existence was a way of life with our pioneers, and it was no different in my own bloodline. The Holts, James Simpson, and sons settled on a land grant in Newton County, Arkansas in the 1850s. They were some of the…
Travis Holt
October 21, 2020
Blog

The Eyes of Our Fathers

Coming from a small, truly united community, I have many places that are dear to me that I often visit. One of these is a small city, located in the town where I grew up. But this is no ordinary city: it’s a resting place for people who have gone on before us. As I walk through Smith Cemetery at…
Travis Holt
October 2, 2020
Blog

Thirty Pieces of Silver

“Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O'Hara, that Tara, that land, doesn't mean anything to you? Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because it's the only thing that lasts.” Once there was a common theme among our ancestors, and it was a simple one: land is…
Travis Holt
September 21, 2020
Blog

Requiem For A Quiet Man

Growing up in the Arkansas Ozarks, I early on found out I had a love for history; the history of my people. It was passed down to me in short snippets, in stories told between the older generations that revolved around love, tragedy, learning experiences, or sometimes just comedic encounters or sayings. My Grandfather would often quote an older man…
Travis Holt
September 1, 2020
Blog

The Simple Things

I was raised in one of the poorest counties in North West Arkansas, where my ancestors settled in the 1850s and scratched a living out of poor, rocky hillsides. They raised their families, fought in the war, battled famine and drought and came out ahead, leaving their children small, improved farms. They taught them the joy of being independent, finding…
Travis Holt
August 18, 2020