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The Jostes Sisters Renfro Valley Photographic and Clippings Collection

Accession Number: 88
The Jostes Sisters Renfro Valley Photographic and Clippings Collection
0.4 Linear Feet
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Box List

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These photographs and clippings are the gift of Mildred and Pauline Jostes, performers on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance and associated radio programs in the 1940s.

Preferred Citation:

The Jostes Sisters Renfro Valley Photographic and Clippings Collection, Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky.

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The collection’s thirty 8 x 10 prints, 99 smaller images (snapshots and postcards) and a small number of newspaper clippings, dating from 1940 to 1958, document Renfro Valley personalities, events, grounds, and structures. They constitute a useful supplement to the photographs and clippings found in the Papers of Renfro Valley’s founder, John Lair (SAA 66).


John Lair started the Renfro Valley Barn Dance radio program while he worked at Cincinnati's WLW. While developing a Renfro Valley radio identity on WLW, Lair set about building his Kentucky country music tourist complex in Rockcastle County, Kentucky, that eventually opened in 1939. It included a barn-like auditorium, the one-room log school of his youth, and a restored, water driven gristmill. There was also a rustic appearing but newly built restaurant, gift shop, U.S. Post Office, and overnight cabins. Later there would a pioneer museum and old fashioned country store.

His radio programs were heavy on comedy, turn-of-the-century sentimental songs, old English ballads, and rural string band music. The two programs he is best known for are the Saturday night Renfro Valley Barn Dance and Sunday morning Renfro Valley Gatherin’. The Barn Dance was heard widely on WLW and later Louisville’s WHAS. The Gatherin’, started in 1943, was carried by WHAS and the CBS Network. The music and Lair’s low key commercial delivery attracted a large radio audience, especially in the Midwest, Northeast and Upper South. On weekends, visitors came from great distances to attend the broadcast stage performances and to enjoy the Valley’s up-to-date facilities and serene atmosphere. His performers were also in great demand for shows at schools, movie theaters, and county fairs. During much of the 1940s he kept a tent show on the road from May to October that ranged all the way from Georgia to upper New York State and parts of New England.

Mildred and Pauline Jostes, of Peoria, Illinois, were among the performers with the Renfro Valley tent shows in the 1940s. They also were part of the Renfro Valley road show cast who performed in theaters and other indoor venues in colder months.

Most of the photos and memorabilia collected by the Jostes sisters comes from the 1940s. However, some postcards and photographs in the collection represent subsequent correspondence or visits with former Renfro Valley associates.

Box List
1 Manuscript Box

Box 1

  1. Baker, Wade [40s-50s]
  2. Behrens, Jerry [40s]
  3. Blakeman, Guy [40s]
  4. Blue Bonnet Girls [1945], Florence?, Lily Holland, Sylvia?
  5. Bradford, Shorty (40s]
  6. Clark, Joe [40s]
  7. Cobb, Gene [40s] - 2
  8. Coon Creek Girls ( Minnie “Black Eyed Susan” Ledford, Charlotte “Rosie” Ledford, Violet, Lily)
  9. Cornelison, Ernest [40s] (“Ernie Lee”)
  10. Covington, Tommy [40s]
  11. Fly, Patty [46]
  12. Furguson, Glenn, and Buddy Nelson (tent shows); Buddy Nelson
  13. Holden Brothers, Jack and Fairly [40s]
  14. Holland, Hank [40s] (road shows)
  15. Jostes Sisters, Pauline and Mildred [40s] (road and tent shows)
  16. Lair, John [50s]
  17. Langdon, Freddy [40s-50s] (worked with Slim King and Jay Neace)
  18. Little Eller Long (Beth Cremer) and Shorty Hobbs [40s]
  19. Martin, Emory [40s]
  20. Miller, Homer “Slim” [30s-40s]
  21. Miller, Homer “Slim” and Granny Harper (Flora Williams) [50s]
  22. Randolph, Mary [40s-50s]
  23. Simmons, Bob [40s]
  24. Steele, Jeanie and Mel (road and tent shows)
  25. Travis Twins (Ruby and Ruth Hilgerson) [40s]
  26. Crusaders Quartet: Ruel and Flossie Thomas, Leslie Andrew, Glenn Pennington [‘76]
  27. Mulligan Brothers: Connie and Curly (road and tent shows)
  28. Sosebee, Tommy [40s] (road and tent shows)
  29. Jostes Sisters and Slim Miller [40s]
  30. Radio broadcast from the Renfro Valley lodge: (standing) Lige Turner, Slim Miller, Brownie Reynolds, Jerry Behrens, Fairly Holden; (seated) Rosie Ledford, Elsie Behrens, Smoky Ward, Bernice Scott, Virginia Sutton, John Lair; (back to camera) Ernie Lee, Susie Ledford, Red Turner, ? Eller Long, Waitress: Sidney Lyons; Engineers: (far corner) Leland “Tut” Flora, unidentified [40s]
  31. Black and white snapshots of the Jostes sisters (including some from road and tent shows), other performers, and Renfro Valley buildings, including a few post cards
  32. Clippings: a few ads for Renfro Valley road shows, ranging from North Carolina to Florida, that included the Jostes sisters

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