John A Truitt

John A Truitt

Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois, USA
Death 29 Aug 1954 (aged 90)
Noel, McDonald County, Missouri, USA
Burial Anderson, McDonald County, Missouri, USA
Memorial ID 32703277 · View Source
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h/o Lenah; cave operator; DC#31204;

John's nicknames were "J. A.", "Dad", and "The Cave Man of the Ozarks"

J. A. Truitt married Jennie Caroline Tilley on 27 Dec 1888 in Shelby Co IL. They had the following known children: Loche, Alta, Charles Summer and Jennette.

Second marriage was to Lenah LaFaun, 1906 in Cheyenne, CO.

J. A. Truitt is the subject of a book called "From the Cradle to the Cave - The life story of "Dad" Truitt, "Cave Man of the Ozarks" written by Mary R. Pinkham, published 1954 by McDonal County Press, Noel, Missouri.

Pineville Democrat, 2 Sep 1956:

J. A. Truitt, Famed "Cave Man Of The Ozarks" Dies At 90

J. A. (Dad) Truitt, widely known as a discoverer of Ozark caves, died at 9:30 o'clock Sunday night, on his 90th birthday at Fountain hospital in Noel where he had been a patient the greater part of the time since May 30th.

He had expressed a wish many times during the last year that he might live until his ninetieth birthday, and lived to realize the wish.

Funeral service were held at 9:30 o'clock Wednesday morning in the chapel of the Humphrey and Son mortuary at Noel, with the Rev. Buell Buzzard of Pineville in charge. Burial was in Anderson cemetery.

"Dad" Truitt was famed for having opened and developed many of the interesting caves of Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas Ozarks, including Ozark Wonder Cave at Elk Springs, Truitt's Cave and Elk-O-Zar Cave at Lanagan, Bluff Dwellers Cave near Noel and Spanish Treasure Cave south of Sulphur Springs. He has contributed much to the development of this section of the Ozarks for tourists and vacationers.

At the time he became ill, he was directing work of clearing the Cave of the Winds on Highway 88, south of Pineville, near the MO-AR state line, and a cave on Highway 71 north of Noel which he had hoped to have open for the public this summer.

Born in Shelbyville, Ill., in 1864, Mr. Truitt had lived a life of interesting adventure before he came to Noel in 1914, lured by stories of caves and of hidden treasures of early Spanish explorers and of lead for Civil War munitions, believed to be in caves of the region.

A book about the colorful life of Dad Truitt was published last year, written by Mary R. Pinkham.

In his earlier years, Dad had homesteaded land in Kansas and Oregon, and "made the run" in the old Indian Territory when the Cherokee Strip was opened for settlement.

He later journeyed into Old Mexico and was a follower of Diaz in the Mexican revolution. Journeying back into the United States he was employed for a time at "Cave of the Winds" in Colorado. It was there that he heard from tourists of the caves in the Southwest Mo Ozarks.

He was married in Cheyenne, Wyo., to Miss Lenah LaFaun, a school teacher, and in 1914 they moved to Noel. The following year he took over a cabin resort at Elk Springs, then a popular stop for tourists on the Kansas City Southern railroad. It was in the mountain at the rear of his property that Dad Truitt, investigating a current of fresh air which came from a fissure in the rocks, discovered his first cave, "Ozark Wonder Cave." Early day tourists appreciated its 50-degree temperature as a place to keep their fish fresh without ice.

Later, Dad Truitt made his home for several years at the cave which bears his name at Lanagan. In recent years he and Mrs. Truitt have resided at Sulphur Springs.

Surviving besides the widow are a son, Sumner Truitt of Sikeston, Mo., and three daughters, Mrs. Alta Hernon of Pine Lawn, Mo., Mrs. Lashia Tappero of Pana, Ill, and Mrs. Jeanette Nees of St. Louis, Mo.

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  • Maintained by: Grave Hunters
  • Originally Created by: Deb
  • Added: 6 Jan 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 32703277
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John A Truitt (29 Aug 1864–29 Aug 1954), Find a Grave Memorial no. 32703277, citing Anderson Cemetery, Anderson, McDonald County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Grave Hunters (contributor 46978735) .