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.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nevada, the Bushwhacker Capital

This past weekend I was in Nevada for the town's annual Bushwhacker Days celebration. The idea behind the festival is to commemorate the town's heritage as a bushwhacker stronghold during the Civil War. At least that was the inspiration for the name of the festival, although the annual celebration involves a lot more than Civil War-related activities, just as Mount Vernon's annual Apple Butter Makin' Days celebration, for instance, involves a lot more than apple butter.
To be sure, though, many people around Nevada still identify with and celebrate the town's reputation as a bastion of Confederate sentiment during the war. On Saturday, while I was at the festival, for instance, the public address announcer pointed out, with what seemed like a measure of pride, the fact that in the U. S. presidential election of 1860 Abraham Lincoln received not a single vote in Vernon County. And more than once he joked about running jayhawkers out of town.
While Southern pride, in Nevada and elsewhere, mostly manifests itself nowadays in the same good-natured, lighthearted way that the public address announcer meant his comments, there are, of course, a few Dixie diehards who are still fighting the war. I readily admit there's a part of me that identifies with Southern culture, because virtually all of my ancestors came to Missouri from the South. But to the extent that the war was fought over slavery, I have to say that the right side won the war. Of course, we can argue all day about the extent to which the war was, in fact, fought over slavery. Many claim it had very little to do with it, and I can see their point. However, I find the argument that it had nothing whatsoever to do with it somewhat specious.

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