This 1921 photo is Emanuel Wood at age 21. He is dressed up in his first suit. He purchased the blue serge suit in a general store in Bradleyville, Missouri. "The first suit of clothes I ever owned was bought with onion sets." Emanuel sold a bushel of sets. He received $10 for the onion sets which was the price of the suit.

His father, Thomas Wilson Wood, a Civil War Union-side veteran originally from Kentucky, was 74 years old when Emanuel was born. Thomas’ Kentucky home was destroyed in the Civil War, and he moved first to Illinois and then to Kansas. Thomas did not care for the flat prairielands though, and finally decided to settle in Taney County, where the terrain was similar to his native Kentucky. He outlived his first wife, Mizzana, and married a second time to Matilda Didamie Essary, who was Emanuel’s mother.

Emanuel recalled that his childhood in Taney County was difficult, and people often relied on hunting for food. He points to his Uncle Jess Essary as a primary influence in his development as a fiddle player: “When I was about 11, 12 years old my uncle came down to our place and sit there. We had us a fiddle made of a cigar box and he’d sit and play that “til midnight, and I’d sit right by him and listen to it and finally I got to where I could play it” (p.11).

Emanuel also points to his grandfather A.J “Pap” Essary, as a musical influence. “Grandad played the fiddle and grandaddy was a jig dancer and he was part Indian and his hair long way down here and twisted up in rolls, one on each side. He was a blacksmith and he done a lot of hunting.” (p. 11). Wood explained that his grandfather would often trick turkeys into thinking he and his horse were a cow by attaching a bell to the horse. In 1922,

The calendar in the photo dates it as February of 1954. Saturday Night on the Ozark Square in Ozark, Missouri. Located in the Emanuel Wood's second-hand store.

Emanuel Wood (1900-1981) was born and raised in the rocky hills of Taney County, Missouri, located on the border of Missouri and Arkansas. He told the producers of the LP album “I’m Old But I’m Awfully Tough”(p.11-12) that his ancestors came from England and initially settled in North Carolina.

Emanuel married Fern Hobbs, and began earning a living in farming, hewing railroad ties, and taking odd jobs. On April 14, 1923 the couple moved north to the town of Ozark in Christian County (he marked that date in his 1923 Farmer’s Almanac) and eventually they had their farm and began delivering bottles of milk to surrounding residents.

This is the storefront where Emanuel and his musical friends gathered every Saturday night for 27 years before moving to another building. Pictured is Emanuel Wood's 1956 International pick-up and Emanuel's brother McKinley Wood's 1957 Chevrolet.  Mack took the photo when he visited Emanuel in 1959

Emanuel Wood, Fiddle

Byron Kelley, Bass Fiddle

Leslie Haguewood, Banjo

Jude Herndon, Guitar (dark wood guitar)

Tom Church, Guitar (light wood guitar)

(Special thanks to Nelson Hermilla (Emanuel's grandson) and to Ozarks Fiddle Music by Gordon McCann and Drew Beisswenger, Mel Bay).


The 30-minute video is a discussion with Emanuel Wood talking about life as he plays the fiddle and the banjo while sitting outside in his cabbage patch.

EMANUEL WOOD and FAMILY: Green Valley Waltz

This short video is a performance of Green Valley Waltz.

EMANUEL WOOD and FAMILY: Music-making at home

This 30-minute video shows the Emanuel Wood family practicing music-making at home.

EMANUEL WOOD and FAMILY: Streak o’Fat and a Streak o’Lean

This short video is a performance of Streak o'Fat and a Streak 0'Lean