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March 12, 2017

1906 Famous WLS musician Arkansas Woodchopper "Arkie" Luther Ossenbrink born in Knob Noster

Arkansas Woodchopper, or Arkie (b. Luther Ossenbrink, March 2, 1906 - June 23, 1981) was an American country musician. He was born and is buried in Knob Noster, MO.
He was born in Knob Noster, Missouri, to a family who owned a farm and a general store. He taught himself to play guitar and fiddle so he could play at local square dances, and his first job in music was performing on radio in Kansas City on KMBC in 1928. He started at WLS in 1930,  performing on their National Barn Dance, and became one of the show's most popular performers,continuing there until 1959.

 Youtube video link - Arkie

During this time he also released records for Columbia Records and Conqueror Records. Book of sheet music 'THE ARKANSAS WOODCHOPPER'S WORLD'S GREATEST COLLECTION OF COWBOY SONGS WITH YODEL ARRANGEMENT' copyright 1931 published by M.M. Cole Publishing House, Chicago contains 35 songs, 64 pages. He once performed with Al Trace's orchestra with the song "Why Go Home?" and although his recordings for Columbia, Gennett Records, American Record Corporation, Okeh Records sold well, he never established himself as a major musician. 

Arkansas Woodchopper, or Arkie - Luther Ossenbrink

The Arkansas Woodchopper or as he was called "Arkie" was one of the mainstays of WLS' National Barn Dance show. He was a native of the Ozark mountains, near Knob Noster, Missouri and was said to have actually chopped wood. He also worked on his father's farm and at a general store in town and was later a gas station attendant.
The story goes that he used to trap. So, once after selling some skins one day, bought a watch. At the time, he was already calling square dances at parties, but had an itch to play the fiddle at the dances, too. He pawned the watch, bought a fiddle and learned to play. His first job—was playing the guitar and fiddle at at square dance, for $4.00, for SIX hours! Later, when performing, it was usually with his guitar. When he did play the fiddle, it wasn't from the shoulder position, but from the hip, using a sort of cross-cut saw action.
Arkie's singing and radio career started in Kansas City. During the war years they said he had a good reputation as a weather prophet, but that it couldn't be talked about, for military reasons. He was said to be just like some of the fruit cake they made down in the hills: the older it got, the better it was.
Arkansas Woodchopper, or Arkie - Luther Ossenbrink

Arkansas Woodchopper, or Arkie - Luther Ossenbrink

Arkansas Woodchopper, or Arkie - Luther Ossenbrink

Arkansas Woodchopper, or Arkie - Luther and Vera B. Firth Ossenbrink
Arkansas Woodchopper, or Arkie - Luther Ossenbrink
Mary Ann McHugh (l) and Patricia Graham (r) Jan. 30, 1955

Arkie evidently enjoyed to laugh. Early on they said that "...some of the boys found it was a lot of fun to make him laugh in the middle of a song, inventing the most outlandish stunts to accomplish this. Since then, Arkie's laugh has been heard from coast to coast." And they say he never knew what to expect. In another issue, they wrote that no one had ever gone through what he had to go through while performing. Manhandled. Wrapped in bandages. Sheet music set afire. Guitar pulled out of tune. Shoes unlaced. And he laughed and sang right through it all.

Timeline and Trivia Notes
Started on WLS around 1930
Real name was Luther Ossenbrink
Married the former Vera Firth, from Perry County, Illinois in December 1937
Had a dog named Chips, another named Laddie
Was expert trainer of dogs
Had a daily radio show called "Arkie's Coffee Time"
Was a skilled auctioneer
Co-starred with Joe Kelly on Chicago's PBS station WTTW on Totem Club, a children's show
Arkansas Woodchopper, or Arkie - Luther Ossenbrink

Cat. No. Title Date Notes
45058 I'm In the Jailhouse Now / Frankie and Johnny 1929
45192 Old and Only In the Way / Little Green Valley 1930
15463D The Dying Cowboy / The Cowboy's Dream 1928[1]
20444 Arkansas Traveller / Mississippi Sawyer 1941 Also on Okeh 06296
20445 Sallie Goodwin / Soldier’s Joy 1941 Also on Okeh 06297
20446 Walking Up Town / Waggoner 1941 Also on Okeh 06298
20447 My Love Is But A Lassie / Lightfoot Bill 1941 Also on Okeh 06299
7879 Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder / Frankie and Albert 1931 Frankie and Albert originally by Charley Patton
7880 Sweet Sunny South / If I Could Only Blot Out The Past 1931 Sweet Sunny South originally by Charlie Poole
7881 Just Plain Folks / What Is Home Without Love? 1931
7882 The Last Great Roundup / Cowboy Jack 1931 The Last Great Roundup originally by Cliff Carlisle
7883 I'm A Texas Cowboy / The Bronco That Wouldn’t Bust 1931
7884 When It’s Harvest Time, My Sweet Angeline / Little Green Valley 1931
7885 Old Pal / Daddy and Home 1931
7886 Mary Dow / Little Blossom 1931
7887 Little Ah-Sid / Dollar Down And A Dollar A Week With Chicken Pie 1931

Russell, Tony; Pinson, Bob (2004). Country Music Records : A Discography, 1921-1942: A Discography, 1921-1942. Oxford University Press. p. 24-1163. ISBN 0198032048. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
Jones, Loyal (2008). Country Music Humorists and Comedians. University of Illinois Press. pp. 62–409. ISBN 0252033698. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
Sterling, Christopher H. (2004). Encyclopedia of Radio 3-Volume Set. Routledge. pp. 1664–1665. ISBN 1135456496. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
"The Arkansas Woodchopper". The Gettysburg Times. September 14, 1936. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
Goldsmith, Thomas. The Bluegrass Reader. University of Illinois Press. p. 41. ISBN 0252029143. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
"America Folk Tunes". Billboard. 58 (30): 128. July 27, 1946. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
"After 22 years, he's squeezing the last notes of Concertinnotes out". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. March 19, 2002. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Oxford University Press. 2012. pp. 13–186. ISBN 0199920834. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
External links
Arkansas Woodchopper at

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