Josh Young, author of Myths and Mysteries of Missouri
Most folks know Josh Young as the writer of "Dang Near Native," a weekly column that ran for years in several mid-south newspapers, including Carroll County publications. Now, Josh has a new book out, Myths and Mysteries of Missouri: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained, published by Globe Pequot Press, the US's premier publisher of travel and outdoor literature.
"Globe Pequot approached me a couple of years ago," Young said, "to expand on a book I wrote for them back in the '90s, Missouri Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. I was a relatively new resident of Missouri and became captivated by my new State. I found myself exclaiming 'Who knew!' so often I knew I just had to write a book."
In Myths and Mysteries, Young tells 13 stories about people and events in the "Show Me State" that you haven't been shown before, about Jesse James, the Beatles, Ella Ewing, who was one of the tallest women in the world, and about the day in 1811 when the Mississippi River ran backwards and destroyed entire settlements and villages along its banks. Among them is the fascinating "cold case" involving the 1992 disappearance of three young women from Springfield, who set out on a jaunt to nearby Branson--and were never heard from again. Police, forensic experts, and amateur detectives are still trying to solve this troubling mystery.
Young's thoroughly researched material covers historical figures, like Jesse James, and contemporaries, like the Beatles. His Jesse James account sheds new light on how and why that notorious outlaw has remained in our consciousness so long after many other like characters have been dismissed. "James' racism and violence was abhorrent, certainly," Young says. "But seen in the context of how he and his brother were treated by Union sympathizers during the Civil War, it becomes more understandable."
The chapter on the Beatles' visit to Missouri is rather touching, and a lot of fun. The year was 1964, the band wasn't really famous yet, and the boys were, well boys. After a Dallas concert of September 18th, the boys headed to the Pigman Ranch in Alton, Missouri. There, they rode horses, forded rivers, and tried out new cowboy hats, and fired off cap pistols. It was the last time John, Paul, George, and Ringo had a semblance of "normal" life before becoming worldwide celebrities and entertainment icons.
Myths and Mysteries of Missouri is a book you'll want to own if you live in the "Show me State," and you'll want to give to friends and relatives who reside in other places because--well, you need to show them what a spellbinding and mesmerizing place it is. Available on Amazon and better bookstores.