Those prairies and hollows have names

Wes Franklin
Guest Columnist

I love local geography. 

I think it adds an element of pride of place, pride of home. When you’re from a place, and you’re familiar with the names of the local landmarks - something that people not from that place wouldn’t know - that’s a special thing. It gives one a sense of belonging, and hopefully a sense of loyalty to home. 

These may include man-made landmarks or just natural topography. Regarding the latter, I think it interesting how many separate prairies Newton County has, and the fact that most, or all, of them have names. The list includes, but is probably not limited, to: Brock Prairie, Burkhart Prairie, Carver Prairie, Cedar Prairie, Diamond Grove Prairie, Hewitt’s Prairie, Jackson Prairie, Joy’s Prairie, Mud Prairie, Oliver’s Prairie, Pool’s Prairie, Sarcoxie Prairie, Silver Creek Prairie, Sparling’s Prairie and Spurgeon Prairie. 

I’m sure I inadvertently left out a few. Most are named after people, such as Lunsford Oliver, the first white settler of what would become Newton County. I live on Joy’s Prairie, which is purportedly dubbed for a family named either Joy or Joyce, though I have yet to find them for a certainty in the records. I have found surnames, but I don’t know which is the right family. 

I would love to learn the background behind each and every one of our prairie names. If I ever do, maybe I’ll write a multi-part series. 

McDonald County is the same way, except there they also have a lot of hollows, which all have names, of course. These include: Akehurst Hollow, Arch Cave Hollow, Barker Hollow, Bear Hollow, Beaver Hollow, Beeman Hollow, Big Branch Hollow, Big Cedar Hollow, Big Rail Hollow, Blackfoot Hollow, Blackjack Hollow, Blacksmith Hollow, Blakenship Hollow, Blowing Spring Hollow, Bone Cave Hollow, Boone Hollow, Boyd Hollow, Bushyhead Hollow, Cedar Hollow, Cheerbottom Hollow, Chinquapin Hollow, Claycomb Hollow, Colburn Hollow, Coonfoot Hollow, Day Hollow, Dobb’s Hollow, Dock’s Hollow, Dog Hollow, Dungeon Hollow, Ealy Hollow, Ed Walls Hollow, Eunice Hollow, Fannie Williams Hollow, Fibbie Jones Hollow, Flat Hollow, Goodwin Hollow, Gordon Hollow, Grandaddy’s Cedar Hollow, Green Hollow, Hacker Hollow, Hambrick Hollow, Hay Hollow, Hazel Hollow, Honey Lake Hollow, Hoot Owl Hollow, Huckleberry Hollow, Indian Hollow, Jackpot Hollow, James Hollow, King’s Hollow, Lanegan Hollow, Layton Hollow, Lime Kiln Hollow, Little Bridge Hollow, Little Cedar Hollow, Little Rail Hollow, Mail Hollow, Man Hollow, Mill Hollow, Miller Hollow, Miser Hollow, Panther Hollow, Pasley Hollow, Pigeon Roost Hollow, Possum Trot Hollow, Prairie Hollow, Pumpkin Hollow, Racetrack Hollow, Rattlesnake Hollow, Reunion Hollow, Ridenour Hollow, Robinson Hollow, Rock Quarry Hollow, Rocky Hollow, Rose Hollow, Rough Hollow, Sawmill Hollow, Schoolhouse Hollow, Shanghai Hollow, Shingle Hollow, Skaggs Hollow, Smith Hollow, Spillard Hollow, Stogden Hollow, Sullivan Hollow, Thief Hollow, Thomas Hollow, Timber Hollow, Toga Hollow, Turkey Pen Hollow, Vaughn Hollow, Walnut Hollow, Water Pour Off Hollow, Water Fork Hollow, Watson Hollow, White Oak Hollow, Wildcat Hollow, Wolf Pen Hollow, and Woodward Hollow, among others no doubt. 

I was raised in Beeman Hollow, named for settler James Beeman, who came here in the early 1840s from the State of New York. 

There is a story behind the names of each and every one of these local prairies, hollows, hills, bluffs, caves and creeks. All together it makes up our story - yours and mine and everyone else’s who calls our corner of the Ozarks home.