By: Amber Brother, and Amiaya Washington

Early Settlers: The 1800s

Travelers passing through this country in 1815 encountered people who still had not heard of the War of 1812. There was much land for sale from the federal government, but at $1.25 an acre, no one could afford it. Adjustments to land prices were made in 1854, and more than two million acres of Ozarks land sold for an average price of 12.5 cents per acre.


In early 1884 several traveling salesmen walked across the Ozarks. They came up from Arkansas along the train tracks from Mammoth Springs to West Plains. From West Plains they followed the railroad to Willow Springs, then headed west towards Springfield, through Cabool, Mountain Grove, Norwood and Mansfield. One of them kept a journal describing what he called their "peddling." This journal tells us a little about the land, towns and life of the Ozarks in 1884.

The men bought goods, referred to as "notions," in Arkansas to sell on their trip. They bought the goods with money they earned selling fish they caught in the White River in Arkansas. Notions are things like needles and thread, knives and buttons. Such small, useful items were scarce on the frontier. They were also easy for a peddler to carry

Requirements for Settlement

Speak Spanish

Become Catholic

Good Moral Character

Benefits of settlement

Undeveloped land in the United States land offices cost $1.25 an acre for a minimum of 80 acres ($100) payable in specie at the time of purchase. In Texas each head of a family, male or female, could claim a headright of 4,605 acres (one league-4,428 acres of grazing land and one labor-177 acres of irrigable farm land) at a cost about four cents an acre ($184) payable in six years, a sum later reduced by state authorities.


At first, settlement consisted of isolated farms and small hamlets along rivers and navigable streams. The uplands were settled later, after roads were built. With the arrival of the railroads, settlement increased rapidly, and now there are few areas of the Ozarks where the landscape remains much the same as it was in pre-settlement times.