Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46
Living in the Ozark’s can be a hard ordeal when families are trying to make a living. It can bring out the grit of those determined to settle its’ region. In 1907, there were meager rations when it came to rain; 1908 did no better. For those who planted crops, another venue of making money was the only alternative.
The answer: Pearl fishing in the White River.
Besides fishing for pearls in the waters of the White River, the shells were also collected and made into buttons at the button factory in Cotter, Arkansas.
I remember as a child, my Granny Anderson had an ornate tin containing buttons. Inside was a multi-colored array of small & large buttons. Fishing around in its’ contents, there were a few pearl buttons from the White River. In the summer, whenever other cousins were around Granny’s house, we would gather in a circle for a simple & fun game of bluff called, “Button, Button…Who’s Got the Button!” Discovering who had the button or where it was hidden brought squeals of joy & laughter. I don't know who all won in finding the button. Nevertheless, we all won in growing together as a family.
Today, many try to obtain a temporary prize, to only see it fade by the wayside. Yet, all the while, they have discarded other blessings that was once in their hands but never realized its’ value or potential.
I ask you Dear Reader. Look about your circumstances, and you too may find a discarded or hidden treasure of great price. It may seem that you are going through a great drought of your life or you are flooded by circumstances that you no longer able to control or understand. Just as it is in the above parable, a man had given all to obtain the prize; we must also evaluate what we are giving our all & lives for. Life is filled with many buttons & pearls. Just as the Ozark pioneers adapted to every hardship in order to survive, it was their faith in God that gave them stability & wisdom.
Below are a few articles that testify to the resourcefulness of those in our Ozarks’ History.
Pearl Fishing Has Begun on White River.
With the low waters the past two weeks, many have gone to their summer work of pearl fishing and some pretty good pearls have been found. It is doubtful whether this line of work will follow to the extent that it was last year in this county. Last year the drought and poor crops forced many to take up this occupation to make their living and many valuable finds were made. This year, crops are good, with but few exceptions. The largest sale made was reported this week from Norfork where Ed Plant, the depot agent at that place, bought four pearls, paying an aggregate of $132.50 for the four. The largest one brought $106.50.
A Big Pearl.
One of the largest pearls we ever run across taken from the rivers of this section we saw last week at Buffalo. It is owned by Col. Buie of that place and was taken from the White River. This pearl weighs 75 grains and is as big as a medium -size marble. It is almost round but it is rough and will have to be peeled before it goes to market. Buffalo is one of the pearl centers of this section as well as being one of the best zinc camps. C. E. Pond of Buffalo is also showing some fancy pieces in pearls. He is the principal buyer of that place.
“A Big Pearl.” The Baxter Bulletin 8.20 (May 21, 1915) 1. Baxter County Microfilm Archive. Donald W. Reynolds Library, Mountain Home, AR. 15 Nov., 2010.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Messick, Mary A. History of Baxter County: Centennial Edition 1873-1973. 110. Mountain Home, AR: Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce. International Graphics, Inc. Little Rock, AR, 1973.
“Pearl Fishing Has Begun on White River.” The Baxter Bulletin 8.30 (31 July, 1908) 1. Baxter County Microfilm Archive. Donald W. Reynolds Library, Mountain Home, AR. 15 Nov., 2010.