Still On Cane Hill

Feb 23, 2020

Settle in on your front porch rocking chairs and listen to musical tales of Doc Bean, Cousin Annie's Apple Pie, the Trail of Tears, and JD Wilbur's Pottery—all from the historic Northwest Arkansas town, Cane Hill.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with musicians Kelly and Donna Mulhollan of the musical group Still On The Hill about their musical project Cane Hill -- a historical town with its Main Street, college, fountain on the square, and town doctor. 

It was a town of firsts for the state of Arkansas: the first college, the first public library, the first college to admit women and the first post office.

Cane Hill was the first settlement in Northwest Arkansas in the late 1820’s. The town became a burgeoning center for farming, commerce, and education, with the state's first public school, public library, and Sunday School.

Also, in 1852 it was the first college to admit women for the seminary program, and then in 1875 officially admitted women for degrees.

A town view including The Historic Cane Hill Presbyterian Church, built in 1891 and currently under restoration.
Credit From the Historic Cane Hill Museum collection

Cane Hill College lawn.
Credit From the Historic Cane Hill Museum collection

During the Civil War, it was also the site of several minor engagements, and under Union control, the College became a temporary hospital to care for troops. By the 1920s, the college had moved to Johnson County and eventually became the University of the Ozarks.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Cane Hill lost population and commerce, which now moved towards other areas including Fayetteville and Bentonville,  with easy access to the railroad lines.

Over the last 10 years, there has been considerable activity and investment by the historic commission of Cane Hill to preserve and restore the remaining historic buildings and houses. Each year, the Cane Hill Harvest Festival attracts thousands of visitors to the area.

COMING SOON: Listen to a tour of the Historic Cane Hill Museum  

Still On The Hill is a national and international touring group from Arkansas that has been described as “Ambassadors of the Ozarks” for the work they do to preserve a rich culture that is quickly disappearing.

Donna and Kelly of Still On The Hill

Kelly & Donna of Still on the Hill are award winning ‘story telling-song writers’.  Different than most singer-songwriters, this dynamic duo embellishes their songs with a host of unique instruments from the hills they call home.

Still On The Hill has proved itself a favorite at many prestigious festivals and venues here and abroad, including the Kerrville Folk Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival, and The Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in Winfield, Kansas.

They have released eleven albums. In 2015 they completed Once A River about the history of the Beaver Lake Watershed and the White River to promote good stewardship of this  resource. In 2016, they created and completed a project using the same template as Once A River to develop Still A River about the Buffalo River, our nation’s first historic river. Released in 2018, Cane Hill is their fourth project about the Ozarks.

A special thanks to Lawrence McElroy, Director of Arts and Culture, and Museum Curator Of Historic Cane Hill, Inc., for the photographs, the museum tour, and the all-around good will.

COMING SOON:

Listen to the supplement on Booth Campbell

Thank you to the Four Points by Sheraton Little Rock Midtown for supplying accommodations for guests of Arts & Letters, and thank you to Stickyz Rock 'N' Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas.

Generous funding for this episode was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Executive Producer & Host: J. Bradley Minnick

Producer & Story Editor: Mary Ellen Kubit

Cane Hill Museum Tour Recorded by: Mary Ellen Kubit

Sound Mastering: Simon Sound Services