Monday, October 3, 2011

Spirit of the Ozark Madonna - The Ozark Mountains - South Eastern Missouri

In the 1930s deep in the Ozark Mountains, there lived a young woman named Laurie May Maumsey.  She and her husband lived in a mountain shack along with their new baby. One dark night, her husband who was in a drunken stupor, was angry at her for some reason.  Perhaps the baby was crying and would not stop.  Some speculate that it was over money.  Whatever the cause of his irritation, he threatened to kill her and the baby. A struggle broke out between the two of them.  

In the ensuing battle Laurie May and her husband, her baby dropped to the ground striking it's head on the stone floor.  A short while later, the baby died.  For days afterwards, Laurie May wandered the hill sides and ridge tops in a grief stricken state trying to cope with the loss of her child.  She could not handle the grief and eventually killed herself.  Some speculate that she may have thrown herself off of a rock face.  Others say her husband killed her. No matter what happened, the childless mother was dead.

Many visitors and hikers in the Ozark Mountains over the years have claimed to see a young woman roaming the hills and ridge tops of the Ozarks. Sometimes sitting calmly on the rocks, but seemed to disappear when anyone got close. What distinguished her from any other woman is that she was wearing turn of the century clothing and she was carrying a baby.  Many believe this is the spirit of
Laurie May Maumsey.

In the late 1920's some of the Daughter's of the Revolution in Misssouri lobbied to have markers placed along the Santa Fe Trail to memorialize the pioneer mothers of the covered wagon days who struggled to keep their families alive and well on the trail west.  The Santa Fe Trail passes through the northern part of Missouri.  This motion was passed by congress in 1928 and 12 monuments of a mother holding her children were erected in cities along the each of the states on the trail including Bethesda, Maryland; Beallsville, Pennsylvania; Wheeling, West Virginia; Springfield, Ohio; Richmond, Indiana; Vandalia, Illinois; Lexington, Missouri; Council Grove, Kansas; Lamar, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Springerville, Arizona; and Upland, California. These statues are all identical and are known as Madonna of the Trail.

Madonna of the Trail, Lexington, Missouri

Whether it was coincidental or just the timing of the placement of these monuments, locals chose to give the name Ozark Madonna to the spirit of Laurie May Maumsey who roamed the Ozark ridge tops.  A trail that passes through the Ozarks along the ridge line was named the Ozark-Madonna trail.  Most of the trail remains passable to this day.  Who knows, if you choose to venture into the Ozarks and travel the trail, you may catch a glimpse of the Ozark Madonna.

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