Harvey Coffee said that McDonald County was a good place to raise honeybees. We called him when a swarm gathered in the backyard. It was a simple task for him to collect them as he said, “A swarm of bees in May makes honey worth a load of hay, a swarm in June makes honey worth a silver spoon and a swarm of bees in July ain’t worth a fly.” Harvey said his honey would make your biscuit worth four dollars!


Harvey Coffee said that McDonald County was a good place to raise honeybees. We called him when a swarm gathered in the backyard. It was a simple task for him to collect them as he said, “A swarm of bees in May makes honey worth a load of hay, a swarm in June makes honey worth a silver spoon and a swarm of bees in July ain’t worth a fly.” Harvey said his honey would make your biscuit worth four dollars!

Harvey made his home in McDonald County as did Oscar Talley, who bought a used pair of boots and spent a month finding the guy who accidentally sold it with $100 in it.

Harvey and Oscar are no longer with us but they were typical of the beloved characters from this unique neighborhood. Five hundred square miles, something over 20,000 residents sheltered, this time of year, under a canopy of leaves. Lounging beside the creeks and rivers, canoeing from creek to river and a working population commuting to Walmart in Jane, Neosho, and Bentonville Ark., in order to gain the wherewithal to allow them, when it’s their turn to lounge on the creek bank or sit on the front porch for a neighborly visit.

There are a few of us left who can remember sitting in the big dining room at Ginger Blue, watching a harvest moon come over the trees, boats loaded with campers, gliding softly down the Big Elk.  Today, instead, you will find a bed and breakfast at Ginger Blue (very, very nice) and camp grounds, many to choose from, Sugar Creek, Big Elk, camp and canoe rentals, Cowskin, Eagles Nest, Elk River floats, Indian Creek, Kozy Kamp, River Ranch, Shady Beach, Sugar Island Park, Sycamore Landing, all these and more taking the place of the old time Ginger Blue and Mount Shira who are currently serving other purposes.

If camping is not your cup of tea, you’d prefer, instead, to have your meal brought to you there is the Pineville Bowling Alley, Pineville Grill, Burger Time on old Hwy 71, and if what you want is good country cookin’ and plenty of it, you won’t want to miss Longview Café out at Rocky Comfort, Coopers in Anderson or the great barbecue in Noel, Cotton Eyed Joe’s.

Not visible, in the miles of timber and by-ways is Doug Hall’s  (the very famous artist of our local scenes and much more) black powder retreats, welcoming those who like to remember when men survived by their wits and brawn and how well they kept their firearms oiled.

From this area, also, the famous singing Brumleys from Powell (inspired artists who created the never to be forgotten “I’ll Fly Away”).

 Interesting names like Cyclone, Boske Dell, Shadow Lake, Thieves Hollow, Crag ‘O Lea, Bluff Dwellers Caves, as well as Truitt’s Cave which was written up in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. You can say that about most of McDonald County, the startled deer at the rivers’ edge, squirrels, chipmunk, opossum, raccoon and the recently introduced armadillos, all can be seen in the edge of town, believe it or not!

Bird watchers will enjoy the great blue heron, the scarlet cardinal, indigo budgie, blue jays and the whippoorwill, hawk and American bald eagle as well as the lonesome sound of the turtle dove and night owls.

Described to me by visiting friends as “The Best Kept Secret In The World,” it is not surprising that the Osage Indians, native to the area, called McDonald County “The Land Where The Heart Returns.”

“Whether it be a Technicolor autumn, a pastel spring, a winter silhouetted with snowscapes and icicles or a green, green summer, to visit McDonald County is to forever carry deep in your heart the memories of this special place.
If your thing is to explore history, you won’t want to miss the McDonald County Historical Meeting in July at the McDonald County Courthouse on W Hwy in Pineville this Sunday afternoon at 2 in the afternoon – Join us for a presentation and update of the latest happenings, or go to info@mcdonaldcohistory.org for an update on progress as we refurbish the grand old court house on the square.

While you’re in the area watch for the local honey — the nectar of life.

Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.