Black Oak Ridge, Missouri Ozarks

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Every week, we celebrate the Ozarks with a brand-new issue of State of the Ozarks Weekly, cram packed with articles and topped off with a traditional recipe.

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These old hills are home to a people. A people defined by a region — a people who have come to define that region. It is easy to understand plateaus and highlands, rivers, boundaries. It is not so easy to understand a people, a culture, a sensibility. These old hills are rugged. Long ago, they attracted the desperate, the independent. The foolish.

Frenchman from New Orleans. Early British pioneers. Poor Irish immigrants, then black-dirt farmers from Indiana and Illinois. Southerners to establish Missouri as a slave state. Unionists from Ohio and Iowa. German immigrants by the scores, with high-minded sensibilities, organizational skills and a desire to escape political persecution in Europe. The foolish died quickly or moved away. The independent flourished.

The foolish died quickly or moved away.

The depraved found safety — and often became more depraved.

In the 19th century, the Ozarks were a lonely, dangerous place. And what little law and order existed before the ravages of war, there was none after. Stories of deadly bushwhackers, baldknobbers and just plain-out-and-out-coldblooded killers make for romantic legends today. It wasn’t too romantic at the time.

How would you like to walk to school one morning and find the body of a neighbor hanging from a tree? Or work from dawn ’till dusk for months, only to see locust clouds descend over the hills, eating crops, grass, even fenceposts?

Life in these hills was hard.

Out of that hardness was bred a people — a people defined as stalwart, laconic, distrustful. A people self-reliant. To define the Ozark region by its culture? Some would say these peoples are a microcosm of all that makes the United States what it is. This State of the Ozarks.

— Joshua Heston, editor April 26, 2009

State of the Ozarks is one of the definitive websites of the Ozarks.

Not a government sponsored travel site nor a local advertisement page, StateoftheOzarks is privately owned and dedicated to the history, culture and the people of the Ozarks.

The Ozarks region has long been a respected place where the American Heartland still has a voice. Where time runs a little slower, the folks are friendlier, and rivers a bit cleaner. A place that stands in book end answer to elite Eastern sensibilities and the flash of LA culture.

The Ozarks are still here. And we’re still proud of that.

10/5/08, Black Oak Ridge. Photo credit, Joshua Heston. Location: Stone County, Missouri

From Shepherd of the Hills

“And this way runs the trail that lies along the higher, sunlit hills where those who journey see afar and the light lingers even when the day is done.”

— Harold Bell Wright, 1907

Check out these Recent Articles:

Ozark County Fairs

Goin’ to the County Fair. Growin up in rural Crawford County Missouri, one of things we youngin’s looked forward to was fair time....” To read more, Click Here!

Chamber Music

Opening for the Name Band. New-grass bluegrass merged with old-time gospel and bluegrass in Kansas City on July 20, presenting a charged opening show for Doyle Lawson...” To read more, Click Here!

Ozark River Mussels

Ozarks’ River Mussels. Early records suggest as many as two million pounds — and an estimated eight million of these little critters — were pulled from the White River each year...” To read more, Click Here!

Ozark Knife Making

Knife Making. “Like fire and ice, the beauty of a hand-crafted knife captivates the imagination. An age-old art, knife making hearkens of generations past...” To read more, Click Here!

Firework Artwork

Summer Firework Art. “Brilliant colors, the tension of a sputtering fuse, booming explosions, the threat of danger. No wonder fireworks are so popular....” To read more, Click Here!

Ozark Magic & Hoodoo

Ozark Magic & Hoodoo. “Our rational, scientific world filled with textbook knowledge and an overabundance of electronic equipment has little room for the unknown or inexplicable....” To read more, Click Here!

Independence Day

The Roads to Bonniebrook. “ A mysterious place too, a small family cemetery lay nearby, holding the bones of an Irish immigrant family made good in the New World. And the house was lost forever......” To read more, Click Here!

Chinkapin Oak The Williamsons Southern Gospel Quartet

Plate A. From left to right, Darin Hebert, Karl Rice, Lisa Williamson, Donnie Williamson (Parch Corn Holler, Missouri, August 31, 2014).

Interview with Donnie Williamson, The Williamsons Southern Gospel Quartet:

(Parch Corn Holler, MO) We are excited to introduce The Williamsons Southern Gospel Quartet to you all. Here, group founder Donnie talks about the elemental qualities of Southern Gospel, introduces the group, and invites listeners to share in some free music on their website.

For more information, be sure to visit Williamsons

September 7, 2014

KIIC Thunder Country 96.7 FM!

Beth Hunter & Josh Heston

Beth Hunter and Josh Heston, hamming it up on the Classic Café!

At noon every third Friday of the month, StateoftheOzarks editor Joshua Heston is guest on the Classic Café Radio Show with none other than the talented and energetic Beth Hunter of KIIC Thunder Country (96.7FM) broadcasting from beautiful, historic downtown Albia, Iowa.

KIIC is a powerful local radio station broadcasting over an immense swath of southern Iowa and into downtown Des Moines. With a strong focus on classic country, great sports coverage and live weather reports, KIIC is the radio station southern Iowans turn to on a daily basis.

Listen live to this great, local radio station showcasing the best in truly classic country music! Click here now!

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Baldknobber Vigilantes

(Kirbyville, MO) The early spring day [believed to be April 5, 1885] dawned bright and clear. The meeting grounds were on top of Snapp's Bald, a great treeless peak located about two miles northwest of Kirbyville, a village of approximately five miles southwest of Forsyth and not far from the Kinney home.

"Barren of timber and underbrush, the spot had been selected because sentries could insure the secrecy and security of the proceedings. This particular peak commanded a view of the countryside that discouraged interlopers from drawing nearer than a half mile."

From Baldknobbers: Vigilantes on the Ozark Frontier, 1988.

State of the Ozarks

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Celebrating & Preserving the Ozarks