Missouri and Ozarks History

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

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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, February 26, 2014

Missouri Land and Livestock Company

I've been reading The Ozarks: Land and Life by Milton D. Rafferty, former professor of geography and geology at Missouri State University in Springfield. The section I read most recently dealt with the history of the beef cattle industry in the Ozarks. Rafferty mentions that the Missouri Land and Livestock Company, a large Scottish-owned company, played a big role in the early development of the industry, which tended to be centered in southwest Missouri, because the relatively flat lands of the Springfield Plateau were better suited to raising cattle than the more mountainous areas of the Ozarks.
About 1882, the Missouri Land and Livestock Company purchased about 350,000 acres of land near Neosho and began importing purebred Angus and Hereford stock. (In the early days of white settlement in the Ozarks, livestock had often been allowed to range free and intermingle, and there were few purebred cattle.) The company started not only raising high quality livestock but also began selling them to the surrounding small farmers and ranchers, and that, of course, provided an impetus to the development of the industry.
Despite the important influence that the Missouri Land and Livestock Company had on the cattle industry in the Ozarks, there is very little on the Internet about this company, as opposed, for instance, to the Ozark Land and Lumber Company, which had a huge influence on the timber industry in the region and about which you can find a lot on the Internet. However, I did find one interesting item that pertains to the Missouri Land and Livestock Company and that confirms the important role it played in developing the stock industry in the Ozarks. It is a letter written by a resident of Washburn, Missouri, that was published in the National Tribune in 1889. (The National Tribune was a Washington, D.C. newspaper devoted to the interests of former soldiers of the Civil War, especially Union soldiers, and most subscribers were former soldiers.) The Washburn letter was touting Barry County as a good place to live and farm, and part of what the writer said was this: "Every alternate section of land is held by a company known as the Missouri Land and Lumber Company. This company is fencing large tracts and seeding it down to tame grass, and this will, in a few years, be the greatest stock country in the Southwest. For farming I cannot recommend it as a whole, but for fruit and stock raising, good water and good health, the world cannot beat Barry County."

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