At the end of the nineteenth century, the rugged landscape of the Courtois Hills in the Missouri Ozarks was host to an isolated society of tenacious inhabitants, who subsisted almost entirely on the resources of its rich forests. It was this same valuable timber that drew the Missouri Lumber and Mining Company to the area, and sparked an enduring cultural and environmental struggle. Author David Benac has composed a riveting history through his careful look at government documents, company records, local newspapers, and oral histories. This work examines more than sixty years of major social and economic changes for the fiercely independent residents and for the forest itself. In less than a century, the Courtois Hills saw the end of a near hunter-gatherer existence, the rise and fall of the profitable but devastating timber industry, and the beginning of a new era of conservation and environmental awareness.
Benac applies research and detective work skills in reconstructing cultural attitudes, both among the area's impoverished rural residents and the more landed and wealthy who had the potential to benefit from turning land into enclosed pasture.... a superb addition to Missouri state history shelves, highly recommended especially for college library -- January 2011 "Midwest Book Review"