To a child, she was a scary woman with her wild unkempt hair, and I often wondered what kind of person would live among a bunch of goats in a shack along Arkansas Highway 7. I remember hearing stories that she had been a famous concert musician, who ran away and became a recluse.
Although not entirely accurate, it turns out that story has an element of truth. Rhena Salome Miller Meyer performed in the Barnum and Bailey Circus, playing seven instruments as a one-woman band.
When the circus folded after a performance in Camden at the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929, she and her husband Charles Meyer drove their 1915 Model-T circus show truck to nearby Smackover. There they settled, living in the truck, and she began to raise pet goats, which she thought of as her children.
One article that I read said that she liked to perform for the local children from the back of the circus truck, and even included her goats in the act. The circus truck has been restored and is now on display at the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover.