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Birdle Mannon Collection

Collection Number: M008
Volume: 3.5 linear feet

A sampling of this collection has been digitized and is available online in our Digital Collections.


The collection was acquired in 2002. Leslie Dingman processed the collection in 2003, with assistance from Todd Hubbs. An addition to the collection was acquired in 2003 and was incorporated with the original collection.


This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).


The collection is unrestricted. Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be obtained from the Department of Special Collections and Archives. Citations should be as follows: Identification of the item, box and folder number, Birdle Mannon Collection (M008), Department of Special Collections and Archives, Missouri State University.

Biographical/Historical Sketch

Birdle was born Birdle Hilda Rosalie Mannon on April 15, 1909. In 1916, at the age of seven, Birdle moved from North Platte, Nebraska, to the Ozark Mountains near Brownbranch, Taney County, Missouri, along with her mother, father, two brothers, and a sister.

Birdle was an educated woman who chose a simpler way of living. She attended school in Brownbranch and graduated from Ava High School. She spent four summers in the 1940s studying at Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University).

Miss Mannon resided at the family's homestead her entire life. The Mannon cabin had no electricity or running water. Following her sister's death, a phone was installed in the 1970s for Birdle's safety. She owned a truck for a few years. Birdle did not stray far from home; Kansas City was the farthest she ever traveled besides her initial trip from Nebraska. She was a school teacher, Sunday school teacher, and a newspaper correspondent for local newspapers. She was a deeply religious woman and attended Caney General Baptist Church in Brownbranch. Her life became a point of interest in the 1990s when USA Today and the Springfield News-Leader wrote stories about her rugged lifestyle choice. An excerpt from a short biography of Birdle within the collection expressed what many people wondered of Birdle Mannon:

The curiosity is how an intelligent and apparently [emotionally] stable [person] who has been exposed to the 'outside' world, can be so contented living alone in this little hollow so far away from her nearest neighbor. Just asking the question admits an assumption that 'happiness' requires the presence of other people as well as modern conveniences…. We [should] try to learn whatever it is that allows her to be so happy with so little. After all, so many of our problems are related either to our efforts to obtain more, or to keep from losing what we already have. She has neither of those worries (1/44).

Birdle passed away October 26, 1999, at the age of 90. A few years following her passing, the Mannon cabin became the property of Silver Dollar City. The amusement park uses the cabin along with reproductions of material from this collection as an interpretive exhibit for visitors.

Note: Information from above was taken from the following:
1/44 Family History: Birdle Mannon Biography (Unknown Author)
1/45 Family History: Mannon Family
M008 Birdle Mannon Collection Case File Information

Scope and Content

The material within the collection is predominantly a product of Samuel W. (S. W.) Mannon (Birdle's father), Birdle Mannon, and Elnora Mannon (Birdle's sister). The collection consists of 9 small series of records and artifacts.

Series I: Artwork and Poetry
The series consists of artwork and poetry by S. W. Mannon. S. W. had an affinity for creating art relating to nature and religion. The sketches, drawings, and paintings are of animals, plants, and a few human images. There are many pieces of poetry about S. W.'s mother when he cared for her before her death.

Series II: Correspondence
This includes general letters from friends and family. The letters include a postcard from Samuel to his father, correspondence to Thea (Birdle's mother), and a letter from an individual who had read the published articles about Birdle.

Series III: Education / Teaching
Birdle was a teacher and received portions of her education at Southwest Missouri State College. This series contains material from her coursework along with materials possibly used in her classroom when she taught. The series also includes religious correspondence coursework completed by Birdle's sister, Elnora.

Series IV: Miscellaneous Material
Newspaper clippings, family histories, and various other items make up the series. These items were combined under one series since there was little of each item to form its own series. The Mannon family history goes back to Birdle's great-grandfather, S. R. Mannon.

Series V: Records
This series consists of tax, real estate, and miscellaneous records. A few of the records are from the Mannon family's time in Nebraska.

Series VI: Religious Material
Birdle, her sister, and possibly their mother, made many notes about scripture lessons. Most of these notes were found within several Bibles found in the Mannon cabin. Minutes for the Mack Williams Missionary Society, of which Birdle was a member, are included in this series.

Series VII: Photographs
Images from the Mannon's Nebraska homestead are available within the series. Several color photographs of the Mannon cabin near Brownbranch, Missouri, were taken before Birdle's passing in the late 1990s.

Series VIII: Artifacts
A few artifacts were recovered from within the Mannon cabin by the donor and staff members from the Special Collections and Archives Department.

Series IX: Oversized Material
This series consists of oversized record documents and oversized artwork. The art subjects within this series are based on the Mannon family's homesteading time in Nebraska and the surrounding area. Oversized legal documents such as Thea and Samuel's marriage certificate are within this series.

Two scrapbooks were found within the collection. They are named according to their content, Art Scrapbook and Clippings Scrapbook. The Art Scrapbook was kept in its original format with larger and loose items separated from the book. Nothing was actually attached in the Clippings Scrapbook, so it was taken apart and the clippings were photocopied.

Scope and Content

Series I: Artwork and Poetry
Box 1 1 A Walk on the Mountains by S. W. Mannon n.d.
  2 Animal Sketches and Drawings n.d.
  3 Beautiful Night: A Song n.d.
  4 Christmas Greeting n.d.
  5 Floral Sketches and Drawings n.d.
  6 Growing Older / He Sets Us Free (Music) n.d.
  7 Homemade Calendar by Birdle Mannon 1926
  8 Landscape Sketches and Drawings n.d.
  9 Poem / Journal Writings n.d.
  10 Poetry n.d.
  11 Sketchbook of S. W. Mannon's 1 of 3 n.d.
  12 Sketchbook of S. W. Mannon's 2 of 3 n.d.
  13 Sketchbook of S. W. Mannon's 3 of 3 n.d.
  14 Sketches and Drawings n.d.
  15 Sketches and Poetry n.d.
  16 Sketches and Template n.d.
  17 S. W. Mannon Poetry n.d.
  18 Woman Portrait with Home-made Frame n.d.
Series II: Correspondence      
  19 Correspondence 1910, n.d.
  20 Ernest Redfearn, Superintendent of Schools n.d.
  21 Mannon Family n.d.
  22 S. W. Mannon and Family 1864, 1912 - 1954
  23 S. W. Mannon Concerning Land Records 1913
  24 Thea, Elnora, and Birdle Mannon 1956 - 1997
Series III: Education / Teaching      
  25 [Birdle] Hilda Mannon's American Problems Lesson 27 n.d.
  26 Birdle Mannon's Certificates of Registration at Southwest Missouri State College, Miscellaneous Spring 1949, Summer 1949, n.d.
  27 Birdle Mannon's Coursework for American Literature Spring 1949
  28 Birdle Mannon's Coursework for Childrens Literature Summer 1949
  29 Birdle Mannon's Coursework for Composition Spring 1944
  30 Birdle Mannon's Coursework for English Composition Summer 1945
  31 Birdle Mannon's Coursework for General Agriculture May 1944
  32 Birdle Mannon's Coursework for Student Teaching Summer 1949
  33 Daily Program Notes for Teaching n.d.
  34 Easel Instructions n.d.
  35 Elnora Mannon: Christian Pilot's Certificate from God's Bible School 1942
  36 Elnora Mannon: God's Bible School and Missionary Training Home 1942 - 1943
  37 Elnora Mannon: God's Bible School and Missionary Training Home 1943 - 1944
  38 Foot Exercises n.d.
  39 Georgia Mae Smith's Grade One "My Speller" n.d.
  40 Handwriting: Cursive n.d.
  41 Lesson for Dr. Claxton n.d.
  42 Pupils Reading Circle Order Booklet 1943
  43 Swift and Company Educational Bulletins n.d.
Series IV: Miscellaneous Material      
  44 Addresses n.d.
  45 Award Certificates to Birdle Mannon from Missouri Newswriters' Association, Inc. 1959, 1962, 1964
  46 Cure Recipes for Cholera and Diarrhea n.d.
  47 Family History: Birdle Mannon Biography (Unknown Author) n.d.
  48 Family History: Mannon Family n.d.
  49 Family History: Woodruffs n.d.
  50 Funeral Program for William (Art) Guthery 1966
  51 Home Tanning by S. W. Mannon n.d.
  52 Mannon Family Information from Margie (Mannon) Hammons 1900, 1990s
  53 Memorial Funeral Book for Mrs. Aurelia M. Burkey 1959
  54 News Clippings: The Song of the Lazy Farmer, Reverand John W. Holland, D.D. Articles n.d.
  55 Newspaper Clippings 1909, 1929, 1996, n.d.
56 Notes on Local News n.d.
  57 Pacific Express Company Money Order 1899
  58 Peterson, George H., "My Walk Toward Death's Door" 1981
  59 Untitled Manuscript n.d.
  60 William Mannon's "Reward of Merit" Card n.d.
Series V: Records      
  61 Abstract of Title 1916
  62 Bank of Bradleyville Documents 1913, 1916, 1917
  63 Bill of Sale, Lincoln County, Nebraska (S. W. Mannon) 1916
  64 Birdle Mannon's Teaching Contracts with Taney County 1943 - 1944
  65 Chattel Mortgage (Nebraska) (S. W. Mannon) 1916
  66 Conveyance for States, Counties, Townships or Shop Rights Document (S. W. Mannon and Hide Tanning) 1920
  67 Correspondence - Department of the Interior,United States Land Office
  68 County Treasurer, Statement of Interest (S. W. Mannon) 1917
  69 Credit Receipt (S. W. Mannon) 1916
  70 Property Tax Documents 1985
  71 Real Estate and Personal Property Assessment List, Taney County 1923
  72 School Fund Mortgage / School Fund Bond 1912
  73 Tax Receipts for Lincoln County, Nebraska (S. W. Mannon) 1901 - 1915
  74 Tax Records 1899, 1901 - 1920
  75 Tax Records 1971 - 1993
  76 Warranty Deeds, Taney County, Missouri 1916, 1945, 1972
Series VI: Religious Material      
  77 Bookmarks 1941, 1955, n.d.
  78 Certificates to Mr. and Mrs. Fred E. Burkey for Lutheran Hour Bible Correspondence Course 1949
  79 Dated Notes 1978 - 1991
  80 Elnora Mannon: Sermon Notebook 1925 - 1950
  81 Hymns of Love n.d.
  82 Mack Williams Missionary Society Minutes 1973 - 1978
  83 Notebook n.d.
  84 Notes n.d.
  85 Offering Envelopes n.d.
  86 Prayer n.d.
  87 Publications, Pamphlets, Brochures n.d.
  88 S-G-C High School Notebook with Religious Notes n.d.
  89 "The Garden Series" by Helen A. Maxfield, Cutouts for Expressional Activity n.d.
  90 "The Watchman" April 1930
Series VII: Photographs      
Box 2 1 Album n.d.
  2 Birdle and Elnora Mannon n.d.
  3 Birdle Mannon and Property 1987, 1996, 2000, n.d.
  4 Dr. M. E. Eastland and Family 1918
  5 East Protection Blair Bridge 1913
  6 "Korn's-A-Krackin'" KWTO Production, Cast Photograph 1948
  7 Mannon Family on Nebraska Homestead n.d.
  8 Negatives of Birdle Mannon Home n.d.
  9 9 Peace Geraldine McCasland n.d.
  10 Photographs (Unidentified) 1994, n.d.
  11 Students' School Photographs 1932 - 1958, n.d.
  12 Unknown Family Photograph n.d.
Series VIII: Artifacts      
Box 3   Bennie's hair  
    Rag doll  
    Small homemade wooden box  
    "Brown Herb Tablets" metal box  
    Wooden ruler  
    2 wooden pencils  
    File with wooden handle  
    Leather pouch  
Series IX: Oversized Material      
Box 4 1 Clippings Scrapbook: Loose Articles 1950s, n.d.
  2 Art Scrapbook: Loose Documents 1901, 1919, n.d.
  3 Art Scrapbook n.d.
Box 5 1 Tax Records 1922 - 1970
  2 Photographs: Birdle Mannon 1998, n.d.
  3 Art Scrapbook: Loose Artwork n.d.
  4 Clippings Scrapbook: Loose Artwork n.d.
  5 Artwork: Elnora School Girl n.d.
  6 Artwork: Weather n.d.
  7 Artwork: Untitled [Landscape] n.d.
  8 Artwork: "I am the rose of sharon and the lily of the valley" n.d.
  9 Artwork: Untitled [Landscape Sketch] n.d.
  10 Artwork: Lovelands n.d.
  11 Artwork: Hauling Fodder, Kansas n.d.
  12 Artwork: Pulling Out "Goodbye Old Home" n.d.
  13 Artwork: Untitled [Man and cat-like animal] n.d.
  14 Artwork: Untitled [Army of the Children] n.d.
  15 Artwork: The Night Herder n.d.
  16 Artwork: Picnic, Mannon Grove, Kansas n.d.
  17 Artwork: Iowa n.d.
  18 Artwork: Honeycuts n.d.
  19 Artwork: A Night in the Sandhills n.d.
  20 Samuel W. Mannon and Thea K. McKelvey Marriage Certificate April 5, 1893
  21 21 Township School Land Patent, Taney County, Missouri (H. M. Herrold) 1910
  22 Township School Land Patent, Taney County, Missouri (George W. Wright) 1912
  23 Township School Land Patent, Taney County, Missouri (John H. Wood) 1912
  24 U.S. Homestead Certificate, No. 6851, Nebraska 1908