Birdle Hilda Rosalie Mannon was born on April 15, 1909. In 1916, at the age of seven, Birdle moved from North Platte, Nebraska, to the Ozark Mountains near Brownbranch, Taney County, Missouri, along with her mother, father, two brothers, and a sister.
Birdle was an educated woman who chose a simpler way of living. She attended school in Brownbranch and graduated from AvaHigh School. She spent four summers in the 1940s studying at Southwest Missouri State College (now MSU).
Miss Mannon resided at the family’s homestead her entire life. The Mannon cabin had no electricity or running water. Following her sister’s death, a phone was installed in the 1970s for Birdle’s safety. She owned a truck for a few years. Birdle did not stray far from home; Kansas City was the farthest she ever traveled besides her initial trip from Nebraska. She was a school teacher, Sunday school teacher, and a newspaper correspondent for local newspapers. She was a deeply religious woman and attended Caney General Baptist Church in Brownbranch. Her life became a point of interest in the 1990s when USA Today and the Springfield News-Leader wrote stories about her rugged lifestyle choice. An excerpt from a short biography of Birdle within the collection expressed what many people wondered of Birdle Mannon:
The curiosity is how an intelligent and apparently [emotionally] stable [person] who has been exposed to the ‘outside’ world, can be so contented living alone in this little hollow so far away from her nearest neighbor. Just asking the question admits an assumption that ‘happiness’ requires the presence of other people as well as modern conveniences…. We [should] try to learn whatever it is that allows her to be so happy with so little. After all, so many of our problems are related either to our efforts to obtain more, or to keep from losing what we already have. She has neither of those worries (1/44).
Birdle passed away October 26, 1999, at the age of 90. A few years following her passing, the Mannon cabin became the property of Silver Dollar City. The amusement park uses the cabin along with reproductions of material from this collection as an interpretive exhibit for visitors.
The material within the collection is predominantly a product of Samuel W. (S. W.) Mannon (Birdle’s father), Birdle Mannon, and Elnora Mannon (Birdle’s sister).
See the collection's finding aid for more information.