Arkansas Living Treasures

Violet Hensley, known as the “Whittling Fiddler,” “Stradivarius of the Ozarks,” or more simply, the “Fiddle Maker,” has always been resourceful. Her mother died when she was 11, forcing her to learn the many skills needed for daily life on her family’s farm in Mt. Ida, Ark., like canning, quilting, soap-making, tanning, blacksmithing and carving tool handles and wagon parts. At age 15 she told her father, who also made fiddles, that she wanted to make her own fiddle. “There’s the tools and there’s the wood. Go at it,” he told her. Since then, Hensley, who lives in Yellville, has made 74 fiddles, many of which she played at Silver Dollar City, where she demonstrated for nearly four decades. Hensley has also appeared on numerous television shows, including “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Captain Kangaroo,” and “Live with Regis and Kathy Lee.”

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