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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.
Celebrate the Ozarks in Your Inbox!
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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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:
The Weird, Wonderful Bluegrass Art of Tim Lee Lee’s work is a provocative combination of surrealist curves, whimsical circus art, pop culture references, all with a dark, back-hills feel and a supernaturally macabre edge...” To read more, Click Here!
Homeschool Bluegrass by Maribeth Samenus-Chambers. “‘It’s not about winnings. It’s about connections made.’ So spoke D.A. Callaway in his measured tone to the crowd at the Silver Dollar City Youth in Bluegrass competition back in May....” To read more, Click Here!
Made from Scratch: Black Oak Grill. The mango-habanero buffalo wings’ sauce is surprising in its simplicity: “We grill habanero peppers, take fresh mangos, pulp them, then pureé the peppers and mango pulp together,” details Wallace. To read more, Click Here!
A Songwriter’s Journey by Kelli Kingrey-Courtney. “Our first stop was the Station Inn. We got front-row seats. The Station Inn is a very small venue so front-row seats are a big deal...” To read more, Click Here!
Black Rat Snake by Ben Dalton. “One of my mother’s earliest childhood memories — and one of her most vivid — is of an encounter with a black rat snake...” To read more, Click Here!
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!
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!