Log in

Ozark RFD:


I’ll admit I’m not a Buffalo native.

I’m not even a Dallas County native.

I came to Buffalo in 1978 at the ripe old age of 30.

I came to Dallas County in 1957, four months shy of 10.

That calculates to 66 years in Dallas County and 45 in Buffalo, come August.

Either is a lot of years, but I’m still not a native of where I live today. I’m a native of Greene County, born in the Queen City of the Ozarks in 1947, so I reckon I’m inarguably an Ozarks native.

But, I’m not sure I can claim pure Ozarks stock. Both of my parents were born in Greene County, making me a second-generation Ozarkian. My ancestry before that hardly meets the traditional Scots-Irish Appalachian migrant stereotype.

Born in Newburgh, NY in 1881, Grandpa C.L. Daly came from 18th century Irish stock in Canada. Grandma “Stella” (nee Gerhardt) was born in 1881 to a Prussian Immigrant father in Red Wing Minnesota.

On the Hamilton side, my Grandpa Vance’s family came from generations of Indiana farmers, while Grandma Josephine (nee Smith) was reared near Paducah, Kentucky, the daughter of an Ohio riverboat man.

Granted, deeper digging uncovers a plethora of genuine American pioneer roots on both sides of the family, but to lay claim to Ozarks “hillbilly” roots, I can’t.

It’s more complicated than that.

As for the issue of “what’s a native,” it begs the question: “What does it matter?”

The answer depends on whom you ask. For my part, it doesn’t matter at all.

We all came from somewhere else, just some of us more recently than others.

For some folks, though, I sense it matters a lot. Maybe it goes clear back to the Dallas County railroad fiasco of the late 1800s which cost taxpayers dearly before being finally resolved in the early 1940s. Study the history of that scandal and you, too, might come away suspicious of any outsider.

But, I reckon there’s more to it than that. It’s just our nature — arguably even Biblical precedence — to cherish our heritage. I’m sure folks with pioneer roots don’t mean to make the rest of us feel diminished by their bluebood status, but they often make a point of letting us know who was here first.

And in American culture and history, “first” counts for a lot (unless you happen to be of indigenous ancestry).

That said, I’m still OK with my relative “newbie” status. I’ve lived here longer than much of the population has lived anywhere.

Anytime I get started on one of these discussions, I remember an argument between two of my younger brothers on the farm. David, next to the youngest, born while we lived in Nixa, boasted he had lived on the farm longer than Stephen, the younger of the two. “Oh, yeah,” Stephen retorted. “I’ve lived here all my life.”

Even if “All my life,” didn’t start more than a year after our move, it was still “since forever” for Stephen. It’s just a matter of perspective.

After all is said and done, “first” and “longest” don’t matter a whit as long as we’re all kinsman — “Ameri-kin,” if you will, and proud of it.

Copyright 2023, James E. Hamilton; email jhamilton000@centurytel.net. Read more of his works in Ozarks RFD 2010-2015, available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from the author.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here