Return to Greenville for Answers

Dead tree
The carvings are on this tree.
It is a dead tree.

Dan and I went back to Greenville Recreation Area. There were just too many of my readers who wanted to know the story behind the carvings on the dead tree in the cemetery.

I tried to find out online. However, no one responded to my chat or my post on the Old Greenville Campgrounds Facebook page.

It seemed that the only way I could figure out the mystery was to return to the cemetery in the campground.

So we did.

As a reminder, Dan and I had camped at Greenville Recreation Area in Greenville, Missouri. Located right there in the campground is an old cemetery, and in the cemetery is a tree with three carvings on it. That tree, in the feature photo above, has the following three carvings on it.

Carving on a tree of Jesus
Carving on a tree which is a face wearing an eye mask
Carving on a tree which is of a native American.

Upon our arrival, I asked the campground host about the carvings. According to the campground host, the first carving is of Jesus. The campground host did not know what the second carving represents. The last carving is of a native American.

Now, how did the carvings get there?

Well, every year, the Greenville Recreation Area hosts an event called the “Black Powder Rendezvous.” A man who attended this event regularly made these carvings on the dead tree in the cemetery. He did one carving a year for three years.

With this information, I went to the Wappapello Lake U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Facebook page. This page is administered by the USACE Aff and promotes the “Black Powder Rendezvous” event. I asked if anyone knew anything about the carvings. There, I was told that the carvings were done by Mike Clippard. Mike was a member of the Crowley Ridge Black Powder Club. He did pass away in 2020.

In Mike’s obituary, it says he passed away due to complications from Covid-19. Mike was married for 52 years to his wife, Gail, and he retired after 31 years in music education. Mike was a deacon and a Sunday school teacher. He enjoyed many hobbies, including camping. During his retirement years he became a skilled woodcarver and enjoyed native American folklore. I felt inspired after reading about Mike’s life.

Those wood carvings really do tell a story, a story I am glad to have discovered. Thanks to you, my dear readers, for pressing me with your curiosity. I am glad Dan and I went back and searched for answers.

Now, for full disclosure, I must tell you, Dan and I did return to Greenville, but it wasn’t solely for the purpose of finding out about the carvings.

The back story is that we had decided to leave one day early on our trip, so we wouldn’t have to leave home on a rainy day. It just so happened that the Greenville Recreation Area campground was on the way to our original destination. So it was a convenient place to stop for the night, and it allowed me to resolve the mystery of the carvings sooner rather than later.

Now, as a side note, I did capture some additional information about the Old Greenville Courthouse. So, Suzassippi, you won’t have to wait a year to learn more about that old Greenville courthouse. Now, the jury is still out on when exactly I will write that post, but based on “ChambersontheRoad” precedents, it will likely be when we get back home after this trip.

Where are we going? Well, that’s another mystery you’re just going to have to wait a bit to find out.


  1. I love the research you did to solve the mystery of the carvings, Betty! That kind of thing is right up my alley! Thank you for this! In addition to satisfying the curiosity of your readers, the information you got enriched your own experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Cathy. I was glad the story led me to such a person. It sounds like Mike really lived life to the fullest and was nice and helpful to so many. Enjoy your day!


  2. Fascinating blog post…thank you! It is interesting his obituary noted Covid complications as cause of death. It sadly feels like there are a lot of holes in our lives now from people passing during the pandemic and with everything going on, it doesn’t feel like we’re talking enough among ourselves about who & what we are losing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ray. Yes, you are so right. We have lost so very much. Just look at this one example, here in this story. What we can do is to remember and honor those we have lost. I hope my blog post, in some small way, has honored Mike.


  3. WooHoo, I am [virtually] jumping up and down with excitement! Thank you for digging out the information (or should I say, carving out? the story of the tree carvings. My guess for the center carving is Zorro or Robin Hood, both of whom were suspected to frequent the Greenville area, right? 😁 Safe travels, and I will wave toward the north later today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are more than welcome! I am so glad I pursued the story. If I find out more about who the carvings represent, I will let you know. Enjoy your day, and I am waving south to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I found a photograph of the center carving that shows greater detail, before it became so weathered. It appears to be another of a Native American. Perhaps the “mask” was representative of a type of face paint. It was from the Dexter paper, but has a paywall so I could not see the item. It really is nice these carvings remain of his work.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this post, Betty, and your thorough investigation of the carvings. And good planning to leave a day early, including a return to the cemetery and carvings. Can’t wait for the next trip post! Happy trails to you and Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. It just so happened to have worked out this way. So, of course, the questions about the carvings were in the forefront of my mind. It worked out to leave early; you never know with the weather these days. Happy Trails to you, too!


    • Yes, I was sorry to hear he passed away, also. He wasn’t that old. We really have lost so much because of Covid. His life was an inspiration, and that is a wonderful legacy. Have a good week!


  5. Have you ever considered becoming an investigative reporter for a local paper? I really think you would be great at it. Anyway, a big word of thanks for sticking with this and finding out the answers. Looking forward to where you are finally going to call home for the next week or so. Have a great trip and miles of smiles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fortunately, we live in the age of the internet. So, with a little persistence and a few hints, one can learn a lot without ever leaving the recliner. It was a nice story to discover though, and I’m glad I found it out and could share more about those carvings. One thing about traveling – I get lots of ideas for blog posts. More to come! Miles of Smiles to you and Barb, too!


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