Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Wes Franklin
Neosho Daily News

My dad and much of his family came to live in the Missouri Ozarks in 1976. They were from southeast Texas. I'm a first generation Missourian and Ozarker, and very proud of my native state and region, but the Texas influence was perpetually present in our home when I was growing up.

Texas was always "there." If you have ever lived with a native Texan you know what I'm talking about. My dad still calls southeast Texas "back home" when referencing it for whatever reason, even though he has lived in Missouri for more than 40 years now – over twice as long as he ever lived in Texas.

So naturally I was interested when a friend recently told me that there used to be a "Texas Reunion" in our area for families originally from Texas. Somehow this didn't surprise me.

I found local newspaper articles on the Texas reunion from 1953, 1955, 1956, 1962, and 1963. The reunion was probably held in the years in between as well, and probably after. According to the above reports, it was always held in September, on a Sunday, at Roaring River State Park in Cassville. It was open to all former Texans now living in the Ozarks for the stated purpose of "getting together and visiting for the day." There was a picnic lunch and everyone brought their own dinner baskets. Sometimes there was a program and entertainment, sometimes not. It was mainly just about Texans getting together to be around other Texans for an afternoon. Sounds about right, if you know anything about Texans.

Per the Neosho newspaper articles, the reunion attracted hundreds of transplanted Texans each year, including many Newton County families (and McDonald County families too, I'm sure). Newton County families mentioned by name in the articles included Moss, Allen, Hallman, Orr, Parrish, Truelock and Pitcock. My friend told me the Busseys used to attend as well.

From reading other newspaper accounts, it looks like the Texas Reunion started in 1953, but I don't know when it ended. Kind of a shame that it did end, really. As my friend said, though, all the families just sort of blended in after a while. I suppose the children and grandchildren who were born in Missouri didn't quite "get" it, and maybe we saw a drop in immigration from the Lone Star State.

As of 1940, which is the latest federal census currently available, and 13 years before the annual Texas Reunion began, there were 18 native Texans, spread out among 13 families, living in Newton County. None of the surnames listed above appear on that census of native Texans, so obviously we had an influx of Texans who came to Newton County after 1940.

Incidentally, I've been through most of Texas' many regions and, not to knock it, but in beauty Texas doesn't really compare to the Missouri Ozarks. Don't tell that to a native Texan, though. According to them, God must live there. I don't see it. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course

-Wes Franklin writes a weekly column, That History Guy, for The Neosho Daily News.