Conflict in the Ozarks: Hill Folk, Industrialists, and Government in Missouri’s Courtois Hills

David Benac

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This work examines more than sixty years of major social and economic changes for the fiercely independent residents of the Courtois Hills in the Missouri Ozarks.

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Description

At the end of the nineteenth century, the rugged landscape of the Courtois Hills in the Missouri Ozarks was host to an isolated society of tenacious inhabitants, who subsisted almost entirely on the resources of its rich forests. It was this same valuable timber that drew the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company to the area and sparked an enduring cultural and environmental struggle. David Benac examines the struggle between residents and outsiders through government documents, company records, local newspapers, and oral histories. He reviews more than sixty years of major social and economic changes for the hill folk and for the forest itself. In less than a century, the Courtois Hills saw the end of a near hunter-gatherer existence, the rise and fall of the profitable but devastating timber industry, and the beginning of a new era of conservation and environmental awareness.

David Benac’s Conflict in the Ozarks is an extraordinary account by a resourceful detective who has tackled the tedious details in the archives to create a readable story of company towns, how they functioned, and what happened when the company left. Benac shows how Scotch-Irish Ozarks culture accommodated modernity and then returned to traditional ways to survive a grueling economic depression. As the first scholarly overview on the development of Missouri’s modern forestry institutions, this book is a welcome and original contribution that will challenge researchers to compare the Courtois Hills to other Ozarks sub-regions.

Lynn Morrow, Historian, Missouri State Archives

Contents

Figures
Acknowledgments

Chapter 1 The Hills and Their Inhabitants
Chapter 2 The Missouri Lumber and Mining Company and the Timber Industry
Chapter 3 The Means of Control and Resistance
Chapter 4 Resistance to Governmental Involvement in the Ozarks, 1905 to 1931
Chapter 5 A Governmental Foothold, 1931 to 1946
Chapter 6 A Twentieth-Century Epilogue

Works Cited
About the Author
Index

Authors

David Benac is associate professor of history at Western Michigan University.

Visit his website.

Reviews

Conflict in the Ozarks: Hill Folk, Industrialists, and Government in Missouri’s Courtois Hills is a studious and heavily researched history of the Scotch-Irish Ozark culture and conflicts with governmental policy concerning environmental stewardship, particularly during the first half of the twentieth century. Author David Benac applies research and detective work skills in reconstructing cultural attitudes, both among the area's impoverished rural residents and the more landed and wealthy who had the potential to benefit from turning land into enclosed pasture. Conflict in the Ozarks is a superb addition to Missouri state history shelves, highly recommended especially for college library collections.

Midwest Book Review, January 2011

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