In Down on Mahans Creek, Benjamin Rader provides a fascinating look at a neighborhood in the Missouri Ozarks from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. He explores the many ways in which Mahans Creek, though remote, was never completely isolated or self-sufficient. The residents were deeply affected by the Civil War, and the arrival of the railroad and the timber boom in the 1890s propelled the community into modern times, creating a more fast-paced and consumer-oriented way of life and a new moral sensibility. During the Great Depression the creek’s residents returned to some of the older values for survival. After World War II, modern technology changed their lives again, causing a movement away from the countryside and to the nearby small towns.
Down on Mahans Creek tells the dynamic story of this distinctive neighborhood navigating the push and pull of the old and new ways of life.
Long a bastion of antigovernment feeling, the Ozark region today is home to fervent strains of conservative-influenced sentiment. Does rural heritage play an exceptional role in the perpetuation of these attitudes? Have such outlooks been continuous?
J. Blake Perkins searches for the roots of rural defiance in the Ozarks--and discovers how it changed over time. Eschewing generalities, Perkins focuses on the experiences and attitudes of rural people themselves as they interacted with government from the late nineteenth century through the twentieth century.He uncovers the reasons local disputes and uneven access to government power fostered markedly different reactions by hill people as time went by. Resistance in the earlier period sprang from upland small farmers' conflicts with capitalist elites who held the local levers of federal power. But as industry and agribusiness displaced family farms after World War II, a conservative cohort of town business elites, local political officials, and midwestern immigrants arose from the region's new low-wage, union-averse economy. As Perkins argues, this modern antigovernment conservatism bore little resemblance to the backcountry populism of an earlier age but had much in common with the movement elsewhere.
Counterculture flourished nationwide in the 1960s and 1970s, and while the hippies of Haight–Ashbury occupied the public eye, a faction of back to the landers were quietly creating their own haven off the beaten path in the Arkansas Ozarks. In Hipbillies, Jared Phillips combines oral histories and archival resources to weave the story of the Ozarks and its population of country beatniks into the national narrative, showing how the back to the landers engaged in “deep revolution” by sharing their ideas on rural development, small farm economy, and education with the locals—and how they became a fascinating part of a traditional region’s coming to terms with the modern world in the process.
Originally published in 1907 and now reprinted for the first time, this is the only account published by a Union guerrilla in the border region of the central Ozarks, where political and civil violence lasted from the Civil War well into the 1880s.
There were probably many people who wanted to shoot Billy Monks. He was a Union patriot and skilled guerrilla fighter to some, but others called him a bushwhacker, a murderer, and a thief. His was a very personal combat: he commanded, rallied, arrested, killed, quarreled with, and sued people he knew. His life provides a striking example of the cliché that the war did not end in 1865, but continued fiercely on several fronts for another decade as partisan factions settled old scores and battled for local political control.
This memoir was Monks’s last salvo at his old foes, by turns self-defense and an uncompromising affirmation of the Radical Union cause in the Ozarks. The editors include a new biographical sketch of the author, fill in gaps in his narrative, identify all the people and places to which he refers, and offer a detailed index. Monks himself illustrated the volume with staged photographs of key events re-created by aged comrades who appear to have been just barely able to hoist the muskets they hold as props.
Winner of the Missouri History Book Award, from the State Historical Society of Missouri
Winner of the Arkansiana Award, from the Arkansas Library Association
The Ozarks reflect the epic tableau of the American people—the native Osage and would-be colonial conquerors, the determined settlers and on-the-make speculators, the hardscrabble farmers and visionary entrepreneurs. Brooks Blevins begins his three-volume history of the region and its inhabitants in deep prehistory, charting how the highlands came to exist. From there he turns to the political and economic motivations behind the eagerness of many peoples to possess the Ozarks. Blevins places these early proto-Ozarkers within the context of the economic, social, and political forces that drove American history. But he also tells the colorful human stories that fill the region's storied past—and contribute to the powerful myths and misunderstandings that even today distort our views of the Ozarks' places and people.
A monumental history in the grand tradition, A History of the Ozarks, Volume 1: The Old Ozarks is essential reading for anyone who cares about the highland heart of America.
The Ozarks of the mid-1800s was a land of divisions. The uplands and its people inhabited a geographic and cultural borderland straddling Midwest and west, North and South, frontier and civilization, and secessionist and Unionist. As civil war raged across the region, neighbor turned against neighbor, unleashing a generation of animus and violence that lasted long after 1865. The second volume of Brooks Blevins's history begins with the region's distinctive relationship to slavery. Largely unsuitable for plantation farming, the Ozarks used enslaved persons on a smaller scale or, in some places, not at all. Blevins moves on to the devastating Civil War years where the dehumanizing, personal nature of Ozark conflict was made uglier by the predations of marching armies and criminal gangs. Blending personal stories with a wide narrative scope, he examines how civilians and soldiers alike experienced the war, from brutal partisan warfare to ill-advised refugee policies to women's struggles to safeguard farms and stay alive in an atmosphere of constant danger. The war stunted the region's growth, delaying the development of Ozarks society and the processes of physical, economic, and social reconstruction. More and more, striving uplanders dedicated to modernization fought an image of the Ozarks as a land of mountaineers and hillbillies hostile to the idea of progress. Yet the dawn of the twentieth century saw the uplands emerge as an increasingly uniform culture forged, for better and worse, in the tumult of a conflicted era.
Between the world wars, America embraced an image of the Ozarks as a remote land of hills and hollers. The popular imagination stereotyped Ozarkers as ridge runners, hillbillies, and pioneers—a cast of colorful throwbacks hostile to change. But the real Ozarks reflected a more complex reality.
Brooks Blevins tells the cultural history of the Ozarks as a regional variation of an American story. As he shows, the experiences of the Ozarkers have not diverged from the currents of mainstream life as sharply or consistently as the mythmakers would have it. If much of the region seemed to trail behind by a generation, the time lag was rooted more in poverty and geographic barriers than a conscious rejection of the modern world and its progressive spirit. In fact, the minority who clung to the old days seemed exotic largely because their anachronistic ways clashed against the backdrop of the evolving region around them. Blevins explores how these people’s disproportionate influence affected the creation of the idea of the Ozarks, and reveals the truer idea that exists at the intersection of myth and reality.
The conclusion to the acclaimed trilogy, The History of the Ozarks, Volume 3: The Ozarkers offers an authoritative appraisal of the modern Ozarks and its people.
The job of regional literature is twofold: to explore and confront the culture from within, and to help define that culture for outsiders. Taken together, the two centuries of Ozarks literature collected in this ambitious anthology do just that. The fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama presented in The Literature of the Ozarks complicate assumptions about backwoods ignorance, debunk the pastoral myth, expand on the meaning of wilderness, and position the Ozarks as a crossroads of human experience with meaningful ties to national literary movements.
Among the authors presented here are an Osage priest, an early explorer from New York, a native-born farm wife, African American writers who protested attacks on their communities, a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, and an art history professor who created a fictional town and a postmodern parody of the region’s stereotypes.
The Literature of the Ozarks establishes a canon as nuanced and varied as the region’s writers themselves.
Otto Ernest Rayburn University of Arkansas Press, 2021 Library of Congress F417.O9R3 2021 | Dewey Decimal 917.67104
Published just days before America’s entry into World War II, Ozark Country is Otto Ernest Rayburn’s love letter to his adopted region. One of several chronicles of the Ozarks that garnered national attention during the Depression and war years, when many Americans craved stories about people and places seemingly untouched by the difficulties of the times, Rayburn’s colorful tour takes readers from the fictional village of Woodville into the backcountry of a region teeming with storytellers, ballad singers, superstitions, and home remedies.
Rayburn’s tales—fantastical, fun, and unapologetically romantic—portray a world that had already nearly disappeared by the time they were written. Yet Rayburn’s depiction of the Ozarks resonates with notions of the region that have persisted in the American consciousness ever since.
Vance Randolph was perfectly constituted for his role as the chronicler of Ozark folkways. As a self-described “hack writer,” he was as much a figure of the margins as his chosen subjects, even as his essentially romantic identification with the region he first visited as the vacationing child of mainstream parents was encouraged by editors and tempered by his scientific training. In The Ozarks, originally published in 1931, we have Randolph’s first book-length portrait of the people he would spend the next half-century studying. The full range of Randolph’s interests—in language, in hunting and fishing, in folksongs and play parties, in moonshining—is on view in this book that made his name; forever after he was “Mr. Ozark,” the region’s preeminent expert who would, in collection after collection, enlarge and deepen his debut effort. With a new introduction by Robert Cochran, The Ozarks is the second entry in the Chronicles of the Ozarks series, a reprint series that will make available some of the Depression Era’s Ozarks books. An image shaper in its day, a cultural artifact for decades to come, this wonderful book is as entertaining as ever.
Interest in scholarly study of the Ozarks has grown steadily in recent years, and The Ozarks in Missouri History: Discoveries in an American Region will be welcomed by historians and Ozark enthusiasts alike. This lively collection gathers fifteen essays, many of them pioneering efforts in the field, that originally appeared in the Missouri Historical Review, the journal of the State Historical Society.
In his introduction, editor Lynn Morrow gives the reader background on the interest in and the study of the Ozarks. The scope of the collection reflects the diversity of the region. Micro-studies by such well-known contributors as John Bradbury, Roger Grant, Gary Kremer, Stephen Limbaugh Sr., and Milton Rafferty explore the history, culture, and geography of this unique region. They trace the evolution of the Ozarks, examine the sometimes-conflicting influences exerted by St. Louis and Kansas City, and consider the sometimes highly charged struggle by federal, state, and local governments to define conservation and the future of Current River.
Vance Randolph has long been an undeniable presence on the American folklore scholarship scene. His Ozark corpus is "the best known single body of regional folklore in the United States," according to Richard Dorson, director of the Folklore Institute at Indiana University. And Gershon Legman, the world's leading scholar of sexual and scatological humor, has called Randolph "the greatest and most successful field collector and regional folklorist that America ever had." In Legman's estimation, "We have no one else like him. He is a national treasure, like Mark Twain.
Randolph's reputation rests on the massive accumulation of folksong, folktale, and ballad materials he collected during forty years of living and working in the Ozarks. Unfortunately, in the 1950s when Randolph published several collection of Ozark tales, the material in this volume was considered unprintable. Pissing in the Snow departs from the academic prudery that until recently has restricted the amount of bawdy folklore available for study. It presents a body of material that for twenty years has circulated only in manuscript or microfilm under its present title.
When placed in their rightful context alongside Randolph's other collections of folk material, the bawdy tales help provide evidence of what Ozark hill people think about their own lives and language. As Rayna Green writes in her introduction, "The entire body of material . . . offers a picture of expressive behavior unparalleled by any other American region's or group's study." Hoffmann's annotations draw parallels between the erotic narrative tradition of the Ozarks and that in other parts of the country and the world, especially Europe.
Modern tourism in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Arkansas is concentrated around the area's glistening man-made lakes, its fish-filled streams and rivers, and in the entertainment mecca of Branson. But recreational excursions into this part of the country began over one hundred years ago as urban midwesterners, many of them captivated by Harold Bell Wright's novel The Shepherd of the Hills, sought the outdoors for spiritual and physical regeneration.
Morrow and Myers-Phinney excavate the beginnings of commercial tourism in the region and follow it through six decades as the influx of visitors who became familiar with the Ozarks and its investment opportunities also brought capital, new commerce, and additional residents to the hills. Chapters focus on float fishing, game parks, cave exploration, the influence of the railroad, and the men who were instrumental in the region's transformation. The authors discuss traditional lifestyles rooted in "living off the land," with stock-raising and lumbering providing basic subsistence, and how change wrought by tourism affected all classes of people across the White River landscape. They explain the flowering of "Ozarks folklore"—how stories told around gravelbar fishing camps and retold by newspaper journalists translated the hills' oral tradition to mass audiences.
Although the main theme of this study is the development of tourism, it is, as well, a social history of the interior highlands of the Ozarks. We see how the residents and their way of life were discovered, exploited, and changed by new opportunities and the demands of tourism and increasing trade. As such, this book is a valuable new addition to the University of Arkansas Press's Ozarks Collection.
This chronicle of life along the Current and Jacks Fork rivers in the Missouri Ozarks has been called "required reading for everyone interested in the future of America." First published in 1958, it remains unsurpassed as an example of one man's love for the land and rivers around him and of a way of life all too much in danger of being lost to us.
The rivers described in Stars Upstream were designated by Congress in 1964 as the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, creating America's first national river. Granting of national park status has changed the area in many ways--the river system is now heavily used for recreational purposes--yet the concerns presented by Hall about the dangers of commercialism, exploitation, and pollution are still very much with us. Stars Upstream has played an invaluable role in promoting wise use of these rivers and should be read by everyone interested in preserving America's streams and wildlands as a national heritage.
Partly a roman à clef, partly a paradic "novel-within-a-novel," Writing for Love and Money is perhaps best described as a comic odyssey into the world of the bestseller, a tour guide for writing a blockbuster. Playfully weaving literary puns and allusions into an enthralling narrative, Perutz allows Kate, assisted by a host of "real" and fictional authors, to learn page by page the ingredients of popular fiction. While some critics may argue about the genre—is the book a novel? a memoir? an expose?—Perutz's readers will agree that Writing for Love and Money is one of the funniest nonnovels, nonmemoirs, nonexposes they've read.
The emergence into pop culture of quaint and simple Ozarks Mountaineers—through the writings of Vance Randolph, Wayman Hogue, Charles Morrow Wilson, and others—was a comfort and fascination to many Americans in the early twentieth century. Disillusioned with the modernity they felt had contributed to the Great Depression, middle-class Americans admired the Ozarkers’ apparently simple way of life, which they saw as an alternative to an increasingly urban and industrial America.
Catherine S. Barker's 1941 book Yesterday Today: Life in the Ozarks sought to illuminate another side of these “remnants of eighteenth-century life and culture”: poverty and despair. Drawing on her encounters and experiences as a federal social worker in the backwoods of the Ozarks in the 1930s, Barker described the mountaineers as “lovable and pathetic and needy and self-satisfied and valiant,” declaring that the virtuous and independent people of the hills deserved a better way and a more abundant life. Barker was also convinced that there were just as many contemptible facets of life in the Ozarks that needed to be replaced as there were virtues that needed to be preserved.
This reprinting of Yesterday Today—edited and introduced by historian J. Blake Perkins—situates this account among the Great Depression-era chronicles of the Ozarks.
Yonder Mountain, inspired by poet Miller Williams's Ozark, Ozark: A Hillside Reader, is rooted in the literary legacy of the Ozarks while reflecting the diversity and change of the region. Readers will find fresh, creative, honest voices profoundly influenced by the landscape and culture of the Ozark Mountains. Poets, novelists, columnists, and historians are represented--Donald Harington, Sara Burge, Marcus Cafagna, Art Homer, Pattiann Rogers, Miller Williams, Roy Reed, Dan Woodrell, and more.