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Down on Mahans Creek

Benjamin G. Rader

Published Date: February 23, 2017

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A History of an Ozarks Neighborhood
404 pages
21 images
6 × 9


In Down on Mahans Creek, Benjamin Rader provides a fascinating look at a neighborhood in the Missouri Ozarks from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. He explores the many ways in which Mahans Creek, though remote, was never completely isolated or self-sufficient. The residents were deeply affected by the Civil War, and the arrival of the railroad and the timber boom in the 1890s propelled the community into modern times, creating a more fast-paced and consumer-oriented way of life and a new moral sensibility. During the Great Depression the creek’s residents returned to some of the older values for survival. After World War II, modern technology changed their lives again, causing a movement away from the countryside and to the nearby small towns.


Down on Mahans Creek tells the dynamic story of this distinctive neighborhood navigating the push and pull of the old and new ways of life.

About the author

Benjamin G. Rader is James L. Sellers Professor of History emeritus at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and the author of five books. He was born and raised in the Mahans Creek neighborhood and today lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.


“A valuable contribution to the burgeoning field of Ozarks studies, one that presents a very American story of the backcountry but one leavened with the unique physiography of one of the region’s most rugged and remote places. This will be an excellent first volume in the Ozarks Studies series.”

—Lynn Morrow, editor of The Ozarks in Missouri History: Discoveries in an American Region


“As someone who grew up near and returned to the Mahans Creek neighborhood, I can say that Ben Rader knows what he is talking about when it comes to the hollers people.”

—Thomas Akers, retired NASA astronaut


“While the subtitle suggests an emphasis on a neighborhood, this book is really a family history about people for whom place is important. Setting his book in both Kentucky and Missouri, historian Rader (emer., Univ. of Nebraska) recounts details such as the businesses, marriages, and military service of his extended family across generations. These were people for whom scraping together a livelihood in the hollers of remote areas was a lifelong pursuit. Rader supports his story with sources that include local newspapers and oral histories, but there are too many inferences and guesses to make firm conclusions about the actions or emotions of those involved. Readers interested in learning more about these areas will benefit, but there is not enough footing in facts to help those seeking to learn about the personal intricacies of rural life on marginal farmland, nor are there clear explanations for why families migrated from one isolated area to another. The book is well situated in the Ozarks studies series, where scholars looking for content about family relations and industry will enjoy the anecdotes.”

—M. E. Birk, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Choice, 2017

Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.


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The Ozarks Studies series acknowledges the awakening of a scholarly Ozarks studies movement—one that crosses disciplinary boundaries as it approaches regional study from a variety of vantage points—and positions the University of Arkansas Press as the publisher at the forefront of the movement. As the only university press headquartered within the Ozarks region and as a press with a solid background in the publication of books on the region—Rafferty’s The Ozarks, Land and Life, Morrow’s Shepherd of the Hills Country, Harper’s White Man’s Heaven, Sizemore’s Ozark Vernacular Houses, and many more—the University of Arkansas Press is ideally suited for the first series that will level a scholarly eye on the Ozarks and Ozarkers.

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