Ozark County Tidbits
- Ozark County is the only county in the United States with this name.
- Ozark County was organized in 1841. For a brief time, the name was changed to Decatur, but soon, because of a petition by residents, it was changed back to Ozark permanently.
- Rockbridge was the first county seat, prior to the Civil War. The location of the village was near the confluence of Spring and Bryant Creeks, farther downstream that today’s location.
- Until 1857, Ozark County was much larger than its present size. Before then, it comprised all of present-day Douglas and a large portion of present-day Howell Counties. In November of that year, when those counties were created, Ozark County attained its current boundaries.
- Gainesville, named and laid out in 1860, became the new county seat, its location being a more central location for government and business.
- The Civil War was an occasion for many atrocities in Ozark County, with many inhabitants leaving for safety concerns.
- The post-Civil War years and into the twentieth century saw a time of population growth, with many small communities springing up all around the county. Most of those have vanished from maps but still remain in memory, such as Osta, Dillia, Dormis, Prestonia, Igo, Benners, Dimock, Ella, Trail, Toccoa and many others.
- Conservation of natural resources is of prime importance in Ozark County. Starker Leopold, son of the great Aldo Leopold (considered to be the first modern environmentalist) spent time at the newly established Caney Mountain Wildlife Refuge in the 1940s, helping to develop a wild turkey restoration project. Eventually, Ozark County turkeys and deer were used to restock the entire state of Missouri, where these species had been wiped out due to over hunting.
- Five historic grist mills remain in Ozark County, at Hammond, Dawt, Rockbridge, Zanoni and Hodgson Mill at Sycamore. In the 1800s, numerous similar mills dotted the county’s landscape. They were located on streams of water providing power for their operation. Today the remaining mills are a popular destination for travelers to the area.
- The damming of the White River at Norfork and Bull Shoals created opportunities for tourism in the mid-1950s that continue to positively affect the county today.
- Ozark County’s fall festival, Hootin an Hollarin, is the second oldest such festival in the state of Missouri. In September, 2010, the festival was celebrated for the 50th time.
- Ozark County has four high schools: Gainesville, Dora, Bakersfield and Lutie. Thornfield, once boasting its own high school, still has a strong K-8 school system.