Have you ever heard of Booger County?
Well I’m here to tell you this is not McDonald County! I have heard people joking, referring to McDonald County as Booger County, it is for this reason when I happened on “Searching For Booger County – Ozark Folk Histories” by Sandy Ray Chapin, I couldn’t resist bringing it home with me.
While Sandy isn’t referring to McDonald County, she does mention some areas with which our people are familiar. She suggests looking for Douglas County (Booger County) in south-central Missouri, deep in the Ozarks, where Ava is the small county seat as the only town. References are made to Indian Creek and Brush Creek and Twin Bridges, names and some other areas McDonald Countians will recognize as neighbors. She is guiding bike riders with maps and states,“The North Fork bottoms deep in the Mark Twain National Forest are the destination of today’s ride….” Traveling along, “You’ll hear the river before you see it.
“Osborn Crossing is a popular canoe launch for the float to Twin Bridges; in the high water of late spring and early summer, the area can be a tourist zoo. But back in November 1818 when Henry Schoolcraft, the first person to write about Booger County, passed through, it was wilderness. An unlikely prospector, the straitlaced New Yorker thought he could find El Dorado on the North Fork drainage.
“At the time, Missouri was much in the news. St. Louis was the world’s foremost fur market. Trappers, traders, and Native Americans exchanged pelts for goods or squandered hard-earned dollars among the saloons, brothels, and slave pens along the riverfront.
“In mid-channel Bloody Island, notorious as the site of murders and criminal activity, rose forlornly from the mud, a no-man’s-land outside the jurisdiction of both Missouri and Illinois. Cargo was loaded onto steamboats for faraway Santa Fe, where cloth, tools, guns, and luxury goods could be traded for Spanish gold and silver. Huge profits were possible, but many lost their lives on the high plains to the Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Arapaho before they could enjoy them.
“Just a few years before Schoolcraft’s journey, the most powerful earthquake in U. S. history shook southeastern Missouri along the New Madrid Fault. The Mississippi River ran backwards, and church bells rang in Philadelphia. Over the winter of 1811-1812, hundreds of powerful aftershocks liquefied the soil in low-lying areas and swallowed forests, houses, livestock, and entire families. ‘Sand boils’ poured out of the ground like lava and covered many acres. Terrified refugees fled north across the landscape.
“Washington, Mo., was about to be admitted to the Union as a slave state. Emotions ran high as Northern and Southern legislators acrimoniously debated the details of the Missouri Compromise….”
I hope you found this as interesting as I did. Go to Boogeyman Books, P. O. Box 184, Mountain Grove, Mo., 65711, if you are interested in reading more about the search for Booger County.
If you are looking for local history, please include the McDonald County Historical Museum on the square in Pineville. Volunteers met some interesting visitors at the museum this past weekend. Open Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday afternoon as volunteers are available. You can go to www.mcdonaldcohistory.org or write P.O. Box 572, Pineville, 64856 (phone 223-7700). These Ozarks are a unique area. If you have memoirs you would like preserved, something you would like to share, please stop in.
Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.