Julia Kraus
Up Here on the Mountain

During college, I drove through the Ozarks to see my family in Tulsa. The drive still takes my breath away with the beauty of the forest and the mountains. It’s the only time I feel like I’m driving home, no matter which direction I’m going. And one of the most distinctive and beautiful aspects of driving through the Arkansas Ozarks is the presence of mixed-masonry homes up in the hills. With a combination of sandstone facades and brick trim, the houses hold their own while feeling like organic parts of the landscape. Silas Owens, Sr. of the historically Black community Twin Groves built the most perfect of these homes. He arranged the stones of his facades at 45-degree angles into rough herringbone patterns or stacked them at 90-degree angles in geometric designs. In return for his trade, Silas Owens, Sr. became well-off, and he invested his earnings back into the community: providing jobs for men, land for the school, and serving as a deacon at church. I interviewed his descendants who followed him into masonry, a local historian, and an architectural historian about his legacy.

Julia wearing a plaid shirt

Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Julia Kraus developed a love for Southern Studies while receiving her B.A. in Philosophy from Hendrix College in Conway, AR. During her time at Hendrix, Julia wrote for The Hendrix Profile and participated in the AV Arkansas project, producing multimedia pieces on the lives of rural Arkansans. As an M.A. student in Southern Studies, she would like to continue this work of getting to know the South through the stories of individuals.