Ozark County History
MOGenWeb Site, Johnna Quick -- Coordinator
Economic Development and Population Growth
The White River was of great importance to the development of the Ozark Highland center during the nineteenth century, because it served as a route for immigration and as an artery of trade. Many of the early settlers of the isolated regions of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, as well as some of the settlers of the great plains further west, used the circuitous route of the White River, traveling in pirogues, keelboats, or French bateaux, to reach their destinations. Many of the settlers of the Springfield area used this route, traveling to the mouth of the James River and up that river to Findley’s Fork. As early as 1819 when Schoolcraft made his visit to the region, the White River and its tributaries were being used as avenues of trade. These rivers and streams, which formed a natural transportation network, connected the isolated world of the hunter and trapper with that of the merchants of the cities and towns of the Mississippi River Valley. The frontiersmen chose to settle along the banks of the waterways where there was good timber, all-weather springs, fertile soil, and where they had access to the best means of travel. In Ozark County, the valleys of the Big North Fork, Little North Fork, and White rivers, as well as the valleys of Bryant and Big Creeks, were choice locations for home sites.
In 1834 George Featherstonbaugh predicted that the White River would soon become the avenue of trade for southern Missouri, and as early as the 1840s it appeared that the prediction was approaching fulfillment. Small steamers, which used wood for fuel (preferably pine knots), were then being brought upstream to the river-port town of Forsyth in Taney County, loaded with heavy cargoes of salt, sugar, tobacco, and molasses from the South. This heavy freight was unloaded and stored in big warehouses on the river front until it could be shipped out by wagons. The steamers were then reloaded with wheat, corn, wool, hides, and cotton and taken back down the river to Memphis and other Mississippi Valley towns. The river was the most important medium for the shipment of heavy freight. Stern-wheelers of 50 to 200 tons could haul from 75 to 500 bales of cotton, and light barges could carry about 50 bales.
Only light barges could run the river during the summer when the water was low. During the winter and spring the river was deep and free from ice, but travel even then was not easy and not without its dangers. There were rapids, especially hazardous during dry seasons, that could only be passed by steamers equipped with a donkey engine and winch. This special equipment, which could be attached by a tow line to a tree at the top of the rapids, enabled the steamers to force their way through the swift current. The White River needed improvements, to make it safer and easier to navigate, and promoters of southwest Missouri began a campaign to acquire government aid for that purpose.
The businessmen of Springfield took an early interest in the improvement of the White River. Springfield, located on the James River, a tributary of the White, and incorporated in 1839 with a population of 300, grew considerably during the 1840s. As Kansas City was still a small town, Springfield promoters dreamed of establishing trade with the South and of watching their city become the metropolis of the middle west. Some Springfield businessmen were trading in Forsyth at this time, but most of them were compelled to trade with Boonville or Jefferson City, a 160 mile journey overland to either place. Between 1840 and 1844 some goods began to be shipped overland to Springfield from St. Louis in freight wagons, but the roundtrip took one month to complete. Sometimes goods were shipped up the Missouri River to the mouth of the Osage and then up that stream, which like the White River needed improvements, to Warsaw. The goods were hauled by teams of horses or oxen the eighty mile distance on to Springfield. The White River was closer to the “Queen City” than was the Osage, and city merchants felt that with a little improvement it could be made entirely safe for travel. The river had not been known to freeze in winter, and the promoters felt that they would be able to get their products to markets in the South before the exports of Iowa, Illinois, and upper Missouri were shipped.
In July of 1844 the Springfield Advertiser published a plea for the improvement of the White River:
“The importance of the improvement of the White River is felt by every person in the southwest. We think it nothing more than right that the Legislature should appropriate a portion of the proceeds of the 500,000 acres of land granted to this state by the Government towards its improvement. It will take but a small amount of funds, in comparison to the great advantage to the people of the southwest to make it a navigable stream. Those well acquainted with the river have informed us that $40,000 or $50,000 would make it navigable for steamboats the greater part of the year…. Friends of the measure should take an active part in circulating petitions asking for an appropriation from the next legislature for that purpose. White River can be made navigable and we see no reason why it should not be.”
Seven years later, in March of 1851, the Missouri legislature passed a law appropriating a sum for White River improvements; and during the same session, it passed a law incorporating the White River Steamboat Company, a company founded by Greene County businessmen. In the same year Barry County, Missouri, appropriated a sum for the improvement of the river.
As early as 1838 the Federal government was thinking in terms of improvements for the White River. In that year President Martin Van Buren approved a bill calling for a survey of the needed improvements in the White and Black rivers. The surveyors found obstructions to be of two characters--those which were temporary, such as small rafts and snags and over-hanging trees, and those which consisted of shoals--making it necessary to build locks and wing-dams or some other expedient for opening the channel. It was estimated that $27,000 would be needed to make necessary improvement to both rivers.
In August of 1852 a bill was introduced into the Senate calling for appropriations for the improvement of the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas rivers. At that time the senators from Arkansas and Missouri took up the battle on the Senate floor to have the bill amended to include the White and Black rivers. In presenting the amendment to have the rivers included, Senator John Borland of Arkansas stated:
“I am desirous of having the White River inserted in this clause. The Senator from Missouri will admit that it is a very important river. It runs a considerable distance within the limits of his State; it runs also within the limits of Arkansas, almost without obstruction for navigable boats of considerable size, all the year, for a distance of four hundred miles to the town of Jackson Port, and to the mouth of the Black River. Then, I suppose, taking its meandering, it runs something like a hundred miles before it enters the State of Missouri, and in that State it runs a considerable distance. I believe boats have been as high as the town of Springfield. Between that place, however, and the Black River, there are some obstructions which need removal, and it would then become a most valuable river for the purposes of navigation to all that region of the country. From the mouth of the White River up to the town that I have mentioned, Jackson Port, there are no obstructions but snags. It is a most beautiful river, and will adapt for the purposes of commerce up to that point, being obstructed here and there by a snag; and it is of importance that these obstructions should be removed, and though the country through which it runs is but recently settled, it is now being rapidly filled up with one of the finest classes of population on the Continent of America. Above that point, the country is equally valuable and interesting, and is now tending rapidly to settlement, but the river is still obstructed at the mouths of a few small streams which flow into it. From those obstructions it might be freed by the expenditure of the small amount of money which I intend to indicate, and then the navigation would be rendered perfectly safe during the whole year, for a distance of seven hundred miles for boats of a large size. I am anxious to include the White River in this clause; and I must say I am astonished to find that it has heretofore been excluded from all plans for river improvement.”
Senator Borland continued his speech, pointing out that the White River would serve as a communication link with Indian Territory and that the river was unnecessary as a highway to the military defenses on the frontier. Stating that improvements could make the commercial value of the White and Black rivers equal to those of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, Senator Borland proposed that $28,000 be appropriated to the cause, an amount equal to that proposed for the improvement of the Missouri and Arkansas rivers.
During heated debate over the amendment, the objections of other senators were brought to view. They argued that the river improvements bill would fail to pass with the additional appropriation needed to improve the White and Black rivers added to it. It was stated that if the amendment were accepted, “there would then be appropriations for rivers of all the colors of the rainbow.” Senator George Bright of Indiana remarked that he had never heard of the White River. Senator Borland replied curtly that black and white were not colors in the rainbow and that he was sorry to find that Senator Bright was “so defective in geography”.
Despite the efforts of the senators from Missouri and Arkansas to have the White and Black rivers included in the river improvements bill of 1852, the proposed amendment was defeated. The Senate did not refer the survey of the Black and White rivers to any committee for examination or investigation.
After the Civil War, Congress passed a bill providing for the building of a series of dams and locks to preserve the channel of the White River and to maintain a water depth that would provide passage for small steamboats as far as Forsyth. Four dams were built at points above Batesville, Arkansas.
As Forsyth and other White River towns had become important trade outlets for Missouri towns to the north by the 1840s, the Federal Congress and the General Assembly of Missouri established roads to encourage this trade and to provide more efficient postal service. The first of these roads to enter Ozark County was established as a result or an act passed by Congress on August 31, 1842. It led from the Meramec Iron Works to Forsyth by way of the Bendine residence on Bryant Fork and Grigsby on Little North Fork. This road gave the county a direct route to St. Louis. It bisected the Old Salt Trail at Bauff in Taney County, the Linn Creek road at Vera Cruz, and the Old Rockbridge Road at Ava.
The Old Salt Trail was established about the same time and led from Springfield, Missouri, to the river-port town of Norfork, Arkansas, via Kenton (located near Ozark), Bauff, and Isabella. This trail, which was named for the large amount of salt that was hauled over it into Missouri from the South, crossed the state line at approximately the point where State Highway 5 crosses today. It was a journey of several days to Springfield from Norfork. The trail was ungraded and crossed steep, mountainous terrain. Oxen were more important than horses as a means of travel prior to the Civil War, and the traveler who used the ox-wagon only averaged about two miles an hour.
The Linn Creek road, which was established by Congress on August 31, 1842, led from Cave Spring, a small village located a few miles south of Lebanon, to Forsyth, via Hartville, Selden, Vera Cruz, Rockbridge (the post office at Rockbridge was established on July 16, 1842), and Isabella. This road gave the county connections with Lebanon, Linn Creek (located on the Osage River), and even Jefferson City and Boonville further north. Many of the pine logs sawed in Ozark and Douglas counties during the mid-nineteenth century were hauled over this road by teams of oxen to Linn Creek, and much of the merchandise purchased in Ozark County was shipped over this road from Linn Creek.
The Old Rockbridge Road, which led from Grand Avenue in Springfield, to Turners, Henderson, Zenar, Dogwood, present-day Ava, Squires, and Rockbridge, was blazed by a man named Andy Turner during the mid-nineteenth century. Turner, who owned a freighting business, consisting of a yoke of oxen and a strong wagon, blazed the trail because he wanted to capitalized on the pine lumber that was then being shipped out of Arkansas and southern Missouri. The pine lumber was being used to build the new homes and business houses of Springfield and was in heavy demand. Once established, Turner’s business was successful; and the freighting of pine lumber continued until the disruption of the Civil War called a halt. The business was resumed after the war, mules replacing oxen as beasts of burden because they were then available and could pull just as heavy a load and travel faster. It was a two to three day journey from Rockbridge to Springfield. After the war Will Elam built a camp cabin, located about midway, to give the freighters a place to spend one night with some degree of comfort. It was a small log cabin with a fireplace and a large window in one end that could be closed with a shutter during bad weather. When the railroad reached Springfield in 1870, long caravans of wagons began to haul cotton over this road from Arkansas and southern Missouri to the “Queen City” where it was shipped by rail to mills in the East. It was a long, difficult trip by mule team. Although an exceptional team of mules could pull four bales of cotton the standard load was only three. When the Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Memphis Railroad reached Memphis in 1882, the importance of the Old Rockbridge Road as a trade artery was diminished. Cotton could be hauled to the railroad at nearer points. Also, by that time the deforestation of the pine timber was almost complete.
On February 17, 1853, the General Assembly approved a bill making the county road which led from Hartville to Rockbridge and the state line, by way of Bryant’s Fork, a state road. The bill stipulated that “It shall be the duty of the court of the counties of Wright and Ozark to cause said road to be opened and improved as other state roads are required to be opened and improved by law.” This road followed closely the present route of State Highway 5, except that it did not lead to Rapp’s Barren (Mountain Home) but turned slightly west, south of the state line, crossing the White River near the present site of Cotter, Arkansas, and continuing on to Yellville.
In 1856 provision was made for the county to acquire its second state road. In that year the General Assembly appointed William Whitker of Wright County and Jeremiah Coats and Isaac Howard, a physician from St. Ledger (Udall), of Ozark County as commissioners to view and mark out a state road “from at or near” Andrew J. Wamack’s in Wright County to Rockbridge and from there to the Job Teberbaugh’s residence at St. Ledger. The commissioners were to have “due regard to private interest, as well as to the ground over which said road may pass.” The sum of two hundred dollars was appropriated from Ozark County’s road and canal fund, to be used on the road at that time. A continuation of this road led from St. Ledger to Salem, Arkansas, by way of the Bennett’s River post office which had postal connections with West Plains.
Among the travelers of the early roads in Ozark County, were the United States mail carriers. The mailman of the mid-nineteenth century was equipped only with a fast horse and locked saddle baggage, but he could travel as far as sixty miles a day if he had to do so. The carrier who delivered mail between Springfield and Rockbridge, for example, made the trip to Rockbridge in one day and returned to Springfield on the next. Although mail delivery was generally fast enough, considering the circumstance, the regularity of delivery was not all that might be desired. Bad roads, rains, snows, and swollen rivers often delayed the mail for days and even weeks; and on bitterly cold days, it was not unusual for the mail carrier’s boots to be frozen to the stirrups.
One of the early-day mail carriers of Ozark County was William Monks, the same man who wrote A History of Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas and A History of Southeast Missouri, mostly reminiscences of the Civil War period. Monks was employed in the summer of 1844 to carry the mail from Salem, Arkansas, county seat of Fulton County, to Rockbridge. Besides the mail route to Salem, another connected Isabella with Yellville by way of Oakland. This was a forty mile trip, and the White River had to be crossed by ferry boat.
Postage paid on mail then would be considered expensive in present-day terms. The following postage rates were in effect during the early 1840s:
Distance Carried Cost in Cents Up to 30 mi. 6 30 to 80 mi. 10 80 to 150 mi. 12 ½ 150 to 400 mi. 18 ½ Over 400 mi. 25
In 1845 Congress fixed a rate of five cents for every single letter (not exceeding an half an ounce in weight) for any distance under three hundred miles and ten cents for any distance over that.
Although post roads and other roads vital to the commerce of the Ozark Highland center and Ozark County were built before the Civil War, railroads were not to make their entrance for some time after the war. When the railroads did penetrate the Ozarks, Springfield was presented with new trading opportunities in St. Louis and Kansas City and a direct route to Memphis. The White River lost its position of importance to the city as a trade artery, and the traffic on the river became primarily of a local nature. The chief market for the farmers of Ozark County and the Ozark Highland center continued to be located in Arkansas for some time, and the river maintained its importance for them. The cotton planters in the South, who raised only the one cash crop, created a demand for the surplus products of the Ozarks. The St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad was completed to Rolla before the Civil War, and Springfield merchants turned their attention toward it. This railroad reached Springfield in October, 1870, giving the “Queen City” direct contact with St. Louis. The Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Memphis Railroad was finished to Springfield in 1881, giving the city a direct trade route to Kansas City. By 1882 this railroad had been completed, via Mansfield, through West Plains. One branch line of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad later reached Cotter, Arkansas, and another was built to Chadwick, Missouri, in Christian County. A stage line was established between the railway station at Chadwick and Forsyth. When the construction of the branch line to Cotter began in 1901, steamboats had virtually abandoned the upper White River. In that year a steamer named the Ozark Queen, with Captain William C. Shipp at the wheel, made the last run from Batesville to Cotter. The Ozark Queen carried railroad materials. Unfortunately, Ozark County was never to receive a railroad; and as far as transportation media was concerned, the county was only a little better endowed at the turn of the century than in 1844 when William Monks was carrying the mail between Rockbridge and Salem.
When Congress provided for the two post roads for Ozark County in 1842, the area was still very sparsely settled. Settlements were confined to the rivers and creeks where a transportation medium was available and where water could conveniently be obtained. It was stated that “no place was thought worth settling unless it had a spring on it.”
The need for a convenient water supply was one motivating factor which led the early settlers to locate in the valleys, but there was another important consideration involved. That consideration was that the walnut, red and white oaks, large elm, dogwood, and other forest trees found in the valleys were recognized as indicators of good soil. Black jack-oak land was not believed to be so good, and the post-oak ridges and prairies were thought to be unfit for cultivation. Luxuriant, nutritious blue stem grass, which grew as high as the head of a man on horseback, covered the post-oak ridges and prairies at the time of settlement, but since the lands were thought to be worthless, they were left for open range.
Grazing was instituted on the wild prairie lands at an early date, and fires were set regularly in the fall to replenish and extend the grazing lands. It was a free range, and the prairie grasses provided a nutritious food for livestock. It was stated that “a man could raise all the stock in the way of horses and cattle that he could possibly look after; the only expense was salting and caring for them.” Some cattlemen drove their herds to the canebrakes of Arkansas during the winter to avoid the cost of feeding. Although hogs were more difficult to market, they adapted well to the environment, fattening on the acorn meat of the oak forests. Wolves were the only real menace to livestock raising, and hogs and sheep had to be penned up at night for protection. Although horses and mules were driven all the way to Louisiana, Mississippi, and southern Arkansas to market, the other kinds of livestock were usually driven to the river port town of Jacksonport, Arkansas, on the White River, and shipped from there by steamboat to New Orleans. Around 1866 cattle began to be driven north to Iowa, Illinois, St. Louis, and other parts of Missouri.
Other types of native forest found in Ozark County which attracted the attention of the settlers of the 1840s, for reasons other than soil considerations, were the extensive yellow and white pines. One of the pineries, located in the north-eastern part of the county, embraced not less than 130 square miles, and another, located in the north-central part, encompassed about 90 square miles. A portion of the interior hill section was said to have yielded logs 80 to 90 feet in length, and with a maximum diameter of four feet, during the 1840s; and during the 1860s it was claimed that the trees would compare in size and quality with those of the forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Shumard’s geological map of the region, made around 1857 before Douglas and Howell counties were formed, show that there were five saw mills then in operation in the county. According to the government census reports for 1860, compiled after Douglas and Howell counties were organized, there were four saw mills then in operation in the county with a total capital investment worth $6,700. The census reports also reveal the following:
Cost of raw materials $2,640 No. of hands employed 12 Annual cost of labor 1,944 Annual value of product 5,750
A large portion of the lumber sawed by those mills was conveyed by ox teams to Springfield, Bolivar, and Linn Creek. Although most of the pines had been deforested by the 1880s, the oaks and other trees had hardly been touched; and it was written as late as 1881 that the county was well-timbered and that “the supply can never run short.”
The federal census reports for 1850 and 1860 reveal five important facts about the economic growth of the county: (1) saw milling and grist milling were the only industries in operation; (2) very few townspeople had yet entered the county; (3) farming and livestock raising were the chief means of livelihood; (4) sheep and hogs were the principal kinds of livestock raised; and (5) corn and wheat were the chief crops grown. The census reports for 1850, the first available federal census, listed the occupation of nearly every resident as “farmer”. Only sixteen people were placed in other categories. Those occupations and the number of people employed in each were listed as follows:
Occupation Number Employed Blacksmith 2 Minister 1 (Baptist) Miner 1 Miller 5 Mail Carrier 1 Shoemaker 1 Merchant 2 Carpenter 2 Teacher 1
As very few townspeople entered the county during the 1850s, this picture had not changed much by 1860. The only town in the county listed by the Missouri State Gazetteer, published in 1860, was St. Ledger (sometimes spelled “Legar” and sometimes spelled “Leger”). Located on the Big North Fork near the mouth of Lick Creek, St. Ledger (Udall) had a population of only 50, and most of those people were farmers. St. Ledger’s business directory was published as follows:
Name Occupation Bean, Enoch planter Birdsong, Mildy water saw mill Buley, William planter Cain, C. D. planter Campbell, R.D. planter Clark, B.F. attorney at law Foster, J.M. physician and surgeon Harris, Rev. L.M. Meth. Episcopal, (South) Harry, L.M. attorney, physician, surgeon Howard, Tevebaugh & Co. general store Howard, Isaac physician and surgeon Howard, Benjamin H. carpenter and builder Parker, D.S. constable Parker, D.R. justice of the peace Price, Hiram planter Sloan, Rev. William Baptist Tevebaugh, R.D. planter Pumphry, William G. planter and stock dealer Tevebaugh, Job planter, stock dealer, postmaster Vrellett, J. planter
It may have been that data on towns other than St. Ledger were not made available to the compilers of the Missouri State Gazetteer, but the book did name the other post office locations in the county. Post offices were then established in Falling Spring, Forest’s Store, Isabella, Louisa, Melissa, Red Bud, Rockbridge, and Selden. The publishers of this gazetteer must have compiled this data before Gainesville received its post office on June 12, 1860. No post office was listed for Waterville (Bakersfield) or Gainesville.
Although hunting and trapping were still profitable occupations during the 1850s, farming and livestock raising were the chief means of livelihood. The census reports for 1850 and 1860 show this to be the case:
1850 1860 Cash value of farms $74,904 $8,143 Value of farming implements and machinery 7,424 5,127 Value of livestock 69,884 109,164 Value of animals slaughtered 8,488 7,030 Value of orchard products -- 100
More hogs, sheep, and dairy cattle were raised than any other kinds of livestock:
1850 1860 Swine 7,340 6,656 Sheep 1,690 2,350 Milk cows 1,426 1,386 Working oxen 1,050 948 Horses 571 939 Asses and mules -- 83 Other cattle 2,036 2,189
Corn and wheat were the principal crops grown, and tobacco, wool, and potatoes were also major products. Cotton was not grown at this time. It became an important product of the county later near the turn of the century. It is not known how much of the farm production of the county was exported. Turnbo stated that the early farmers of the county “raised just enough to carry them through from crop to crop, nothing more was asked, or even thought of.” In periods of drouth wild game and food were scarce. It was reported that in 1857 the May meeting of the circuit court at Rockbridge had to be adjourned because of the scarcity of food.
Enumeration of Production Product Quantity 1850 1860 Indian Corn bu. 115,670 111,610 Wheat bu. 5,090 9,174 Oats bu. -- 1,367 Rye bu. 208 267 Peas and Beans bu. 424 90 Irish potatoes bu. 2,977 2,099 Sweet potatoes bu. 2,967 1,761 Flaxseed bu. -- 2 Orchard products bu. 2,266 -- Tobacco lbs. 6,151 7,915 Wool lbs. 4,218 4,024 Butter lbs. -- 29,465 Cheese products lbs. -- 335 Maple sugar lbs. -- 20 Beeswax lbs. -- 47 Honey lbs. -- 853 Flax lbs. -- 120 Hay tons -- 23 Sorghum molasses gal. -- 3,010
Assuming the census reports were accurate, it can be stated that a very small amount of land had been entered before 1870. The reports gave the following land information:
Type of land occupied in acres 1850 1860 1870 Improved farms 7,191 8,143 7,792 Unimproved farms 1,284 10,076 --
The census reports also show that the population of the county more than doubled between 1850 and 1880 but grew very slowly between 1850 and 1860. The population figures are show below:
1850 1860 1870 1880 Free 2,279 2,447 3,363 5,618 Slave 15 43 -- -- Families 361 406 -- --
It was impossible to determine the birthplace of the people living in the county in 1840, because that information was not contained in the census reports. In 1850, however, the census takers recorded the place of birth for each entry made, and it is possible to form an opinion as to where the people came from. The census reports for 1850 show that a large percentage of people living in the county in that year was born in Missouri, and that almost half of the residents were born in the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, or South Carolina. Few people were born in the deep South, and excepting Iowa, few people were born in the North. The reports show that, excepting Missouri, more people were born in Iowa that any other state. [Note from the webmaster Johnna Quick: the author mistakenly believed the IA designation for birthplace in 1850 stood for Iowa, in reality this abbreviation designated Indiana as the birthplace. Iowa was admitted as a state in 1846.] This fact indicated that there was a southward movement of people in the settlement of the frontier. It has been a common premise, instituted by Frederick Jackson Turner, in his thesis The Significance of the Frontier in American History, and his followers, that the settlement of the United States was a westward movement. Turner wrote: “The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward, explain American development.” The fact that many people living in Ozark County in 1850 were born in Iowa bore out the theory that this was not always the case. Here was an example of a southward movement.
Using Federal census reports which contain birthplace information, it is possible to trace the earlier movements of families living in any given area for any given period. Using the reports of Ozark County for 1860, it was found that by that time immigrants were entering the area from most every direction. The following families living in the county in 1860 are cited as examples:
The reports show that Joseph Gardner was born in Pennsylvania in 1799. His wife Susan was born in Ohio in 1810. Between 1799 and 1836, they both had moved to Michigan; for it was there in 1836 that their first child, Lewis, was born. The census indicates that in 1844 a second child, Rebecca, was born; and two years later Harriet was added to the family. By 1848 the Gardner family had moved to Missouri; for a fourth child, Ellen, was born there in that year. Elmina, born in 1851, and Manda, born in 1853, became new additions to the family there, also.
Robert Miller was born in South Carolina in 1813; his wife Mary was born in North Carolina in the same year. By 1842 they had married and were living in Alabama; for their first child, William, was born in that state in that year. The census indicates that three other children were born there: Mary, in 1845; Margaret, in 1847; and Manda, in 1850. Between 1850 and 1855 the family moved to Missouri; for in 1855 a son, Pery, was born in that state.
William P. Cobb was born in Tennessee in 1818 and his wife Mary was born in the same state in 1827. In 1860 they had six children: William, Lurlleen, Mary, and Richard, all born in Kentucky; Nancy, born in Arkansas in 1852; and Polly born in Missouri in 1854. The census reports reveal that the family moved to Missouri sometime between 1852 and 1854.
Moses C. Martin was born in Kentucky in 1811; his wife Evaline was born in Tennessee in 1827. Their first child, William, was born in Illinois in 1842; and their four other children were born in Missouri, indicating that the family arrived in the state sometime between 1842 and 1844 when their second child, Elizabeth, was born.
The reports reveal that Green C. McSpadden, merchant and former county representative, was born in Kentucky in 1809. His wife Almartha was born in Georgia in 1821; and their first two children, Oliver and William, were born in Georgia, also. Their third child, Moses, was born in Missouri in 1847. Five other children were added to the family later.
Analyzing the Federal census reports further, the following chart was compiled to show the place of birth of all people living in Ozark County from 1850 through 1880:
Place of Birth 1850 1860 1870 1880 Missouri 973 944 1,895 3,653 Iowa 313 2 16 18 Tennessee 300 480 424 584 Kentucky 232 155 215 251 Arkansas 92 174 -- -- N. Carolina 90 90 -- -- Illinois 31 64 135 175 Virginia 60 52 43 51 S. Carolina 39 19 -- -- Ohio 26 18 23 43 Georgia 27 18 -- -- Alabama 13 38 -- -- Indiana -- -- -- 164 Others 6 -- -- 19 Foreign Born 1 6 6 17 Unknown 38 -- -- --
Monks stated that the immigration of the mid-nineteenth century was chiefly from the middle states. He wrote that there were some settlers from the southern states and “very few from the Northeastern States.” In 1883 the Ozark County News commented that the population of the county was “principally of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia.”
The population of the county continued to increase; and after the railroads began penetrating the Ozarks and during the mining boom of the 1890s, it reached its peak. During the 1890s lead and zinc were being mined, and in 1894 gold assayed at $80 per ton was discovered in the county. Lured by the prospects of the mining industry and by the railroad advertisements of the lands in the area, many new settlers entered and took up lands that earlier had been though worthless. In 1900 the population reached 12,145, but around 1910 a gradual depopulation began. This depopulation movement continued (except during the depression when there was an increase in population) until by 1960 the 1900 census figure was almost cut in half.
To summerize the chapter in a few words, the White River served as a route for immigration and as an artery of trade during the early period of the county’s history. With time, both federal and state governments made appropriations for the river’s improvement and established roads to connect the river-port towns with the major cities and towns to the north. Among those roads, established during the early 1840s, were the Old Salt Trail, the Old Rockbridge Road, and the Linn Creek Road, all of which passed through Ozark County. With the building of the roads, postal routes were established between the major towns of the county. Railroads did not enter the Ozark Highland center until the 1880s.
As late as the 1840s Ozark County was still sparsely settled, and residents depended upon farming, hunting, forestry, and livestock raising as primary sources of livelihood. Sheep and hogs were the principal kinds of livestock raised, and wheat and corn were the chief crops grown. When the Civil War began, saw milling and grist milling were the only industries in the county. Few townspeople had yet immigrated.
The census reports show that the population grew very slowly during the decade of the 1850s. The reports also show that almost half of the people living in the county in 1850 were from the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Virginia, and North and South Carolina. At the same time, more people were from the state of Iowa than from any other state, revealing an example of a southward movement in the settlement of the Trans-Mississippi West.
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