Narratives are personal stories that help enrich the reader’s understanding of a time period, person, place, or event. These are first-person views of history taken from personal recollections, memoirs, diaries, and oral histories.

Information included in this section is not fact checked by the Encyclopedia staff. The author of the Narrative is entirely responsible for its content.

I was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1948. My 85-year-old mother used to sing for the Hartford Music Company in the late 1930s and into the war years. Ellen Evalena Sampson (now Stogner) sang with the Panama Harmonetts, a young women’s gospel quartet from Panama, Oklahoma. They traveled for singing conventions and revivals around eastern Oklahoma and into Arkansas. Moma recalls the accommodations for the singers, e.g., “Baptist pallets,” laid out on the floor for the girls. Mother tells how the Harmonetts were once singing in a country schoolhouse near Pocola, when, after dinner, an old chicken came strutting down the center aisle toward altar call with a wishbone in her beak. Moma broke out laughing in the middle of the song, and everybody else did, too.

The Harmonetts mostly sang the Hartford Music Co. songs; Moma and I have a lot of old song books (what a treasure!). The Harmonetts also sang from Fort Smith on KFPW, “each Friday afternoon at 4:15,” and they sang from the Goldman Hotel.

Moma remembers working with Mr. McClung at Hartford. She attended his funeral, where Wynema Long—maybe the eldest, but certainly the tallest, Harmonett—walked down the aisle and placed a rose in his coffin, while they were singing his song “Just a Rose Will Do.” Everybody cried.

Moma has a handbill of the Harmonetts from that period with all their photos (Wynema Long, Ruby Corn, La Jean Cureton, and Evalena Sampson, manager, O. E. Long).

My Uncle Jess and Aunt Bea were ministers in Arkansas most of their lives. I have a recording of them singing Albert Brumley’s “I Will Meet You in the Morning.” It is a window into our own history to hear these songs, especially sung by those who went before us.

James Michael Stogner
Concord, CA

As a teen, in June of 1945, I attended the Hartford Music School held at Oaklawn Baptist Church in Hot Springs (Garland County). A few years ago, I was passing through that area and took time to look for the site where the school was held. I finally found the location and on its spot now stands a new Oaklawn Baptist Church. I will never forgot those three weeks I spent, boarding in someone's home and attending the school as a fourteen year old.
Rev. George Lee
Goldsboro, NC