Monday, November 22, 2010

The Thanksgiving Miracle

For those who read my blog, I will divert to an older history than I usually write about. But, if it were not for the story that I am about to share, there would be no Ozarks’ History.

While working in a library, I have the opportunity to see, view, and critique thousands of books. It seems over the past few years, I have been more discerning about my personal collection of books in my home.  Personally, I think some books are not worth the paper they are written on…others priceless. Therefore, my personal library at home is dwindling. I’m getting picky.
I have one book that I believe The Father in Heaven has placed in my temporary possession which is a history book of North & South America written in 1849. It is not a politically correct, dumbed-down, white-washed bleached version of history that spins events to ones liking. At times, it reveals facets of the past that we have never been told.  In its’ pages lie a wonderful chain events that prefaces the origin and reason we celebrate Thanksgiving.  

I have a common affinity to this particular story I am about to share, since it was written by Thomas Robbins, D. D. who is my 5th great-grandfather. It’s funny…I have never heard this story before; I wonder why? 
Thomas Robbins, D. D.
August 11, 1777-September 13, 1856

 “The present year proved to be a year of suffering, in consequence to the scarcity of food. The following affecting account is given by Bradford:  ‘But by the time our corn is planted our victuals do spent, not knowing at night where to have a bite in the morning; we have neither bread nor corn for three or four months together, yet bear our wants with cheerfulness, and rest on Providence. Having but one boat left, we divide the men into several companies, six or seven each, what take their turns to go out with a net, and fish, and return not till they get some, though they be five or six days out; knowing there is nothing at home, and to return empty would be a great discouragement. When they stay long, or get but little, the rest go a digging shellfish, and thus we live the summer; only sending one or two to range the woods for deer, they get now and then one, which we divide among the company; and in the winter are helped with fowl and ground-nuts.’  It is recorded that, after a drought of six weeks, the government set apart a solemn day of humiliation and prayer, which was almost immediately followed by copious supply of rain. In the language of the chronicles of the times, it is thus spoken of:  ‘Though in the morning, when we assembled together, the heavens were clear, and the drought as like to continue as it ever was. Yet (our exercise continuing eight or nine hours) before our departure, the weather was overcast, the clouds gathered together on both sides on all sides, and, in the morning, distilled such soft, sweet, and moderate showers of rain, continuing some fourteen days, and mixed with such sweet seasonable weather, as it is hard to say, whether our withered corn or dropping affections were most quickened or revived, such was the bounty and goodness of our God.’ Soon after, in grateful acknowledgment of the blessing, a day of public thanksgiving was observed. This, by judicious historian, Thomas Robbins, D. D. is believed to be the origin of the annual thanksgiving of New England.”

It is commonly taught today that Thanksgiving was modeled after harvest festivals that were commonplace in Europe at the time. It is rarely, if ever known, taught that Thanksgiving is commemorated because our forefathers humbled, fasted, and prayed for the breaking of a drought. Their answer to prayer was a gentle and mild shower for 14 days off the East Coast…that did not damage crops. To me, that is miraculous. 

Our ancestors knew how to be resilient and yet humble. They were tough old knots with hearts bent toward Heaven.

And to you my dear reader, are there dry places in your life? Honestly, I can see my fellow man’s parched land before I see my own wilderness. But as I pause and look at my accomplishments against my shortcomings, I fail. I know I cannot live without The Lord’s salvation, guidance, and provision. 

Do I still carry my ancestor’s traditions that will increase the faith of my children and the next generation?

Do you?

I ask this one request of you, dear reader. Print off this old story and share it with someone. Let’s dig out and dust off our foundations and prepare for rain.

Work Cited:
Goodrich, Charles A. Great Events in the History of North and South America. Hartfort: House & Brown, 1949.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What a Dollar Can Do.

I couldn't help it.
I just had to throw this on the Blog.
This advertisement was from an old Baxter Bulletin from 1932.
Just think about this the next time you walk into you small town mercantile...or China-Mart.
 Work Cited:
“What a Dollar Can Do.” Baxter Bulletin 31.27 (10 Jun., 1932) 4. Baxter County Microfilm Archive. Donald W. Reynolds Library, Mountain Home, AR. 15 Nov., 2010.

Monday, November 8, 2010

When in Trouble, Head for the Hills.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. (KJV) Psalm 121:1

The hills of the Ozarks have been my companion throughout my life. They are part of the cypher and symbols that always call me back home. It usually doesn’t take over an hour to scale its’ crags and hollers; but, they can forever capture a my mind when I'm far from home or sitting on the front porch in the evening.
In the following article, an Ozark native also considered the Ozark hills as a haven during times of national peril. 
Washington, March 7
The removal of the capital of the United States to the Ozark Mountains in Southwestern Missouri is the startling proposal and in a memorial introduced in the House of Representatives this week by Mr. Shartel of Missouri. The communication comes from the editor of small Missouri paper located at a microscopically undiscovered point and instructs the Representatives in Congress of the “show me” state to introduce bill for the transference of the seat of government as proposed “for sanitary, economic, and other reasons. The Honorable Mr. Elliott, who is responsible for the petition urges the change especially for sanitary reasons, suggesting that a great deal of the inefficiency and crookedness at Washington is possibly attributable to the malarial condition of the atmosphere. Furthermore, he does not like the capital located on one edge of the country, open to the attack of what he calls “the unfriendly powers of the old world” adding that if it were located in the Ozarks such an attack and the consequent destruction would be impossible. Germany might bombard Washington with her war ships, but never a city buried in the mountains of Missouri. Congressman have been quick to appreciate Mr. Elliott’s thoughtful and sympathetic fears for their health and bodily safety but at the same time they seem to prefer the depressing conditions and dangers of Washington to the attractions of Missouri.  The petition has been buried in a convenient cubby hole of the Committee, and it seems to assume that the government will continue to do business at the old stand for a few years more at least. 

Work Cited:
“Our Washington Letter.”  The Bourbon News. Paris, Kentucky 26.20 (09 Mar., 1906) 3. Chronicling America. Library of Congress, Washington D. C. 1 Nov. 2010.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ozark Resource Survey

Question: What was the Ozarks like in the 1870's?
Answer: Rocks & Trees

When I was a kid growing up in Ozark County, we always had a fresh cop of rocks every year to harvest out of our garden. Oh the dread of hearing dad grabbing buckets, with a readiness in his voice, in offering me the opportunity to pick up rocks. But, my respite would be at the end of the day...climbing one of my favorite trees in the back field in the evening hours and watching the setting sun. 

Rocks...I did not love. Give me a tree any day.

Nevertheless, our rocks have brought attention to this area.  Not only have our rocks brought us to the international spectrum, our forests have also garnered value and beckoned as a ready resource for the Ozark Pioneer. I found this article about the Ozarks from a newspaper called The Anglo American Times, in London, Middlesex, with the date from 1874. This may show a little light and as small survey of our Ozark's History. Though the article may seem a bit dry or dull, The Ozarks had an optimistic view for the people across the pond in England.


We have had so many inquiries about the character of the lands in Southern Missouri, that we publish the following from Dr. L. D. Morris, of Kirkwood, Mo., written to the Western Mural:—

Phelps county is remarkable for numerous and valuable deposits of iron ore, and new developments
of great value are continually being made. Simmon's Iron Mountain, in Dent county, is an immense deposit of specular ore, and considerable ore has been mined at Salem and other points between there and Steelville, to be ready for shipment as soon as reached by the railroad.  
Texas County, adjoining Phelps on the South, is a large county; the surface varying from rolling to hilly and broken. In small prairie-valleys, in the valley of the streams, and on a considerable portion of the ridges, is excellent farming land. There is a large quantity of public land, chiefly in the south part of the county, some of it fair for farming purposes, but most of it stony ridges, only valuable for grazing purposes, for timber, or for minerals. There is some pine-land in the interior of the county, of fair quality, still vacant. There is a good deal of iron ore in various parts of the county, some of it promising to yield well, of good quality, chiefly hematite. The St. Lawrence, Salem, and Little Bock Bead, when continued beyond Salem, will enter this county near the north-east corner, and, following a dividing ridge southward, will pass out of it near the middle of the south end. For half the distance or more, it will run through a very good farming region, of clay soil timbered with varieties of oak and hickory. Toward the south end of the county the soil is not so good for cultivation. Doubtless considerable iron ore will be developed along the line. Lead and zinc have been found in the southwest part of the county.  
Howell county has the reputation of being the best in this portion of the State. There is in it a large amount of superior farming lands in the valleys, and a large amount of poor stony ridges. There is a large amount of public land in the county from which may be selected good tracts for farming purposes. It is an excellent grazing region, the whole face of the country, both in prairie and forest, being covered with a luxuriant growth of wild grasses. It is very well watered except in portions of the interior. In the northern part of the county is the best pinery in the State, about 40,000 acres within the county, extending also into Douglas, well watered by springs and clear running streams of water. Hutton Valley, where there are large improved farms, heads at this pinery. There is an urgent demand at that point now for a steam flouring-mill and sawmill. Any one starting a good mill there now would be sure of a good business and might expect an outlet by railroad in a reasonable time. Iron ore is found in many parts of the country, including the pineries, in considerable quantities. In the northwest part some lead has been found, and also a good surface show of a good quality of manganese iron ore.
Douglas County, joining Howell on the west, contains 70,000 acres of good pinery and a large quantity
of public land, much of it of good quality. Large colonies might be located there, even on public land. Iron and lead are found in several localities.  
Ozark county, on the south of Douglas, contains a large amount of public land, about 15,000 acres of good pinery, and a good deal of iron and lead ores. The most important sources of wealth in this portion of the State are its fitness for stock raising, the pineries and minerals. With the rapidity with which railroads are being pushed forward, the time for their development is certainly close at hand. A large part, at least 70,000 acres, of the pineries is owned by the State, for the benefit of the Agricultural College and the School of Mines and Metallurgy, the latter located at Rolla, in Phelps County. The soil is much better than one would expect to find in a pine region. The timber is large, and is a mixture of pine, white oak, black oak, Spanish oak, hickory, and along the streams walnut, hackberry, elm, and sycamore. The proportion of pine varies from one-third to two-thirds. The trees will probably average two and a half feet in diameter; many of them will measure ten feet in circumference and 130 feet in height. An upturned pine tree occasionally shows a depth of the tap root of five feet, and a large ball of gravely clay loam, in colour varying from drab to reddish brown. Farmers say that the pine land will produce better wheat than the best bottom land, and stand drought hotter, which is easy to believe, when the depth of the soil is considered. A considerable portion of the pine lands, however, is too rocky for cultivation, but it is all good fur grass. The college lands are valued at about $1.50 per acre, and may be had, except mineral land, for cash, or on eight years' time. If taken on time by lease, they are exempt from State and county taxes, thus affording a good opportunity for a man who wishes to use his means for improvement, or for one who wishes to lay by something for his children. It is a better investment than life insurance. The timber on these lands can scarcely be worth less than $20 an acre when an outlet is afforded for lumber by railroads. When the late Prof. Shumard was connected) with the State Geological Survey, he made an examination of what was then Ozark county, comprising now Ozark, Douglas, and a portion of Howell. He noted iron ore in eight or ten localities, and lead in three or four. I found iron ore in considerable quantities in a dozen or more localities in the same limits; also manganese of the quality called pyrolusite. Flint, conglomerate and quartz rocks, also crystallized quartz prevail extensively. Buhr-stone, quite like and equal to that imported from France for millstones, is found abundant in the pine regions of Douglas and Howell, and will doubtless be worked with profit at some time in the future. Among the variety of farm crops that are raised in these southern counties may be mentioned cotton as not unimportant. A small patch of half an acre or more has heretofore been raised by nearly every farmer and worked into clothing by hand. About a year and a half ago a cotton gin was put up in connection with a water mill in the south-east part of Douglas County, and many farmers were intending to plant cotton quite extensively, believing that it would become one of their most remunerative crops. They stated that they could raise about 300 to 400 pounds of ginned cotton to the acre. Having been employed in selecting, classifying and appraising Agricultural College lands, I have carefully examined a large portion of the country herein treated of. As a region where desirable lands may now be obtained at extremely low prices and on easy terms, and where a very important rise in value must occur within a very few years, it is certainly well worthy of attention; and especially so on account of its valuable pine timber, iron ore and other minerals. The climate is mild and healthful, and the water pure."

Work Cited:
“Character and Resources of South Central Missouri.”  Anglo American Times, London, Middlesex. 16. 396 (24 May, 1873) 14, 15.  Access Newspaper Archive.   Donald W. Reynolds Library, Mountain Home, AR. 2 Nov. 2010.