Legacy Saved: Harold Bell Wright & “The Shepherd of the Hills” Continue

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When you write your book, you have no clue what kind of legacy you are creating with it.

  • How popular will it be?
  • Will anybody read it at all?
  • Will it have any impact on the world?

These are questions that creatives ask themselves…and anyone else who might listen!

What kind of questions did Harold Bell Wright ask as he was penning his now classic The Shepherd of the Hills? It is a story that has withstood the test of time. As 110 years have passed by its original publication date, it is still a masterful piece of literature.

But I believe he did not struggle with questions and insecurities of this kind in his day. Rather, I believe his writings were the result of and in answer to his inward struggles. That is one of the deepest rewards that springs from your courage to write for real. What’s driving your writing?

Legacy: A Recap

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Harold Bell Wright and his classic book, The Shepherd of the Hills. Take a few minutes to go back and read that post. This one is an update to that one!

That prior post ends with a bit of a cliffhanger because the old Shepherd of the Hills Homestead very recently went up for sale. It was bought by new owners. The big question on everyone’s minds around here, the Branson area, was What’s going to become of this beloved landmark?

I have to be honest with you. As the sale was coming about, I saw just five clear options for its future.

  1. Return as some cheapened version of its formal self
  2. Reappear down the road as a housing development
  3. Be bought out piece by piece, its treasures scattered to various locations
  4. Become another ghost of Branson entertainment history
  5. Come back to life in a fresh renewal of its long-standing legacy

These potential outcomes were the talk of the town as locals and visitors alike speculated on the future of the Homestead. What happens to its icons including Inspiration Point and Old Matt’s Cabin? And of course, what about the outdoor theater production of The Shepherd of the Hills?

Legacy: Where We Are Today

As the conversations and speculations continued, I thought of Harold Bell Wright and his legacy. There is no way he knew as he wrote that manuscript 110 years ago, that in 2017, the city of Branson and all her many promoters and lovers of “The Shepherd’s Homestead” would be making a stir about it.

In writing this particular book, Harold Bell Wright did, indeed, create a very fine legacy that people even today are still enjoying. He wrote from his rich study of those simple Ozark mountain folks he knew and loved. He pulled on his memories to bring the excitement of the story with its morals intact. Come to think of it,  legacy might be too small a word to describe it.

This story wasn’t written in a day or a month, but over enough time to experience and digest a culture, an experience, and the deeper meanings buried beneath the sameness of daily life in that time. This author took the time to mine the gold he discovered in both the people he came to love and the landscape he came to enjoy. From both he drew strength and peace. And all of that saturates the pages of his legacy, The Shepherd of the Hills.

It is interesting to me to now be meeting a whole generation of younger people who have no knowledge of the the shepherd’s story from so long ago. The book is now selling to both new first-time readers as well as to those of us who have worn out our old familiar copies from so much reading. Yes, Mr. Harold Bell Wright, your legacy continues in so many ways today.

Legacy: The Future Is Bright

And so we have collectively waited on the edge of our seats to learn of the future plans for this beloved place. Just late last week the news was shared by the new owners of the projected concepts. I am pretty sure I heard an audible sigh of relief rise above the misty Ozark hills around the Branson area!

The new owners have deep ties to the history and legacy of The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead. In keeping with that, they have decided to keep the old authentic landmarks. And in so doing, they are also adding new aspects to it as well. It is a new family destination with a great future in store!

As you can see from this article, the outdoor play is opening it’s 58th season Friday, July 21–just three days away as I write this. It will continue a new schedule through September. The owners are doing a lot of both renovation work and creating new spaces around the homestead. By the time the 2018 season comes around, it will be like a brand new version of the old…and then some.

Legacy: Back to Harold Bell Wright

Having read the book many times, I imagine Harold living among those mountain folks, learning their ways, noting their speech patterns. How much did the story swirl in his thoughts and memories before he began to write? I think the story, the people, and the mountains took over his heart at the time. From my perspective today, he must have stepped aside from himself and let the story build and flow through him. That’s what happens when writers write well.

Whatever his experience and the circumstances of his authoring The Shepherd of the Hills, I am forever grateful that he did yield to the writer’s call and let this masterful story come forth. He birthed a legacy with his pen and his words. Thank you, Mr. Harold Bell Wright!

Legacy: What about Yours?

If Mr. Wright were here today and I could interview him for you,  he would tell you there is no magic. He wrote a story from his heart, his experience, his life. It might be that he would tell you that he didn’t set out to create a legacy with that book. (Actually, he was trying to answer a question about whether or not he should be in the ministry or be a writer. He wondered which would be more effective.)

But the truth is, we are still enjoying his legacy today. And another piece of truth is, you’ll never leave your writing legacy unless  you write!  What are you doing with your writing? Do you have a vague concept or a bunch of ideas, a mountain of research and the best of intentions? Somewhere in between?

Make a decision for yourself. What are you waiting for? Write your book, your stories, those articles. Just do it! We will never realize the legacy within you if you don’t step up and write. You are the only thing stopping you!


I hope this post sparks something on the inside of you. If you’ve read this far, that tells me you are probably a writer. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog, you’re missing out! Get my free videos about how to write your story! Subscribe in the side bar above or click here now!


Thank you and God bless!

Hi I'am Jane Rucker

Writing is my passion. It consumes me. What a blessing it is to work from my home studio tucked away in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri! I enjoy sharing my life, my faith, and the hidden treasures all around me in these beautiful hills.


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