Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oronogo

In my previous post about the Reunion Community, I mentioned that it was located in Jasper County about two miles northwest of Oronogo. Like the Reunion Community, Oronogo, too, has an interesting history. Founded as a lead mining camp prior to the Civil War, it was called Minersville until some years after the war.
The story of how the name change came about is a fascinating sidelight in itself. During the early mining days, it was common for miners to barter for goods and services when they didn't have cash, with lead ore being the principal medium of exchange. One day, a miner supposedly offered a merchant at Minersville something other than ore as trade for the merchant's goods, and the merchant refused the offer, saying it was "Ore or no go." The name stuck, got contracted to Oronogo, and eventually was adopted as the official name of the town.
Oronogo was a booming little town during the heyday of the Tri-State Mining District from late 1800s until the middle part of the twentieth century, and it witnessed its share of notorious incidents over the years. For instance, the Bank of Oronogo was robbed by infamous characters on at least a couple of different occasions, once by Roy "Arkansas Tom" Daugherty and another time by Clyde Barrow. The last I knew, the old bank building was still standing, although it was sitting vacant and in a somewhat dilapidated condition.
During the latter half of the twentieth century, Oronogo became almost a ghost town, but in recent years it has made a comeback. It is home to a relatively new elementary school (part of the Webb City School District), and a building boom has turned it into a thriving bedroom community for Joplin, Webb City, and other surrounding towns.

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