- ABOUT US
A Guthrie couple shares stories of the strange and wonderful.
By Silas Allen
Published September/October 2018
The Cimarron Dove’s ambrotype portraits, like this one of Holly and Jeremy Hall, fit perfectly with the eerie quality of The Most Wonderful Wonder. Ry Dalee/The Cimarron Dove, ambrotype studio
For the past few years, Holly Hall has kept a Pinterest board featuring some of the most gruesome figures in American history—names like Murderous Mary the circus elephant; Floyd Collins, an unfortunate Kentucky cave explorer; and the Old West highwayman Big Nose George Parrott. Any time she comes across a tidbit of a story, she spends hours combing through history websites and other strange corners of the Internet trying to find out more. Though Pinterest has made tracking Holly’s ideas much easier, her list started in a decidedly less high-tech form.
“For the longest time, we had the whole back of a door covered in Post- It notes,” she says.
Holly and her husband, Jeremy Hall, write and record a podcast called The Most Wonderful Wonder from their home in Guthrie. On each episode, they recount dark tales from America’s past. Although the series deals in the historic, calling it a history show doesn’t tell the whole story. Holly describes it as a dark history podcast with a folk-noir soundtrack.
“Because it’s kind of hard to pin down, we decided on the title because we wanted a name that echoed the old-time circus sideshow feeling of the podcast,” Holly says.
The Most Wonderful Wonder grew out of a musical project the two began about seven years ago called Welcome Little Stranger. For that band, Holly and Jeremy wrote and recorded songs recounting morbid stories from American history, like pioneers facing hardship on the frontier and people meeting unusual and untimely ends.
“The darker, the better,” Holly says. “Since I was a child, I’ve sought out the more morbid stories.”
Then, in 2015, the couple decided to launch a podcast where they would share the songs they’d written as well as the stories that inspired them. In July 2016, they released their first episode.
The stories they share are the kinds of tales that became media sensations in their time but never made their way into history books. One of Holly’s favorites is the tale of Collins the cave explorer. On January 30, 1925, while exploring Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave, Collins became trapped when a falling rock pinned his leg. For days, media attention grew as rescuers struggled to free him. Then, on February 4, a cave tunnel collapsed, blocking rescuers from reaching him. It would be days before diggers reached his body and months before they would be able to pull him from the rubble.
For some episodes, the Halls record a song about the incident that was written during the period when the story happened. In cases where they’re unable to find a song, Jeremy writes one, and the two record it together.
At first, the couple released an episode every other week with short breaks between seasons. But Jeremy works a full-time job in Oklahoma City, and Holly is a writer, artist, and homeschool teacher for the couple’s three young children.
“Each minute of an episode represents an hour of research, writing, and recording time,” Holly says. “It became too much.”
In September, the podcast returned from a hiatus, and the Halls plan to release more episodes sporadically in the future. But that doesn’t mean The Most Wonderful Wonder will be ending anytime soon. Holly says she and Jeremy have a healthy backlog of stories, and Holly still has her idea board.
“We work best when we’re excited about the story and can spend time on it and tell it the way we want,” Holly says.
Dedicated listeners can look forward to more episodes of macabre tales and somber songs in the months to come and get their fix by listening to The Most Wonderful Wonder’s past twenty-nine episodes in the meantime.
The Most Wonderful Wonder, themostwonderfulwonder.com or on iTunes, Google, or Stitcher.