The Ozarks: Homesteading in Northwest Arkansas

Paula Thompson talks with homesteaders who moved to northwest Arkansas to begin a new life in the country, and discuss their shared experiences living in the rural Ozarks.

| September/October 1986


Bottom land is cherished . . .right on up to the house's porch.


They set out in search of a new beginning in rural America.  

Many people now in their 30s and early 40s came to northwest Arkansas 10 to 15 years ago, following a dream or escaping a nightmare. Like other waves of immigrants before them, they set out in search of inexpensive land and a new beginning in the Ozarks.

Why They Came to the Ozarks

Despite his degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, Bob Jordan chose to live in the country. He found Vermont winters too hard on southern bones, and according to the map he consulted, Arkansas had less population per square mile anyway. In 1974, at age 29, Bob came to the Ozarks "to settle down."

Barbara Jordan wanted to live someplace warmer and prettier than the south side of Chicago, where she grew up. In 1971, at age 21, she discovered rural Arkansas and "fell in love." She stayed.

After a 1972 visit to friends here, Wyit and Lillian Wright bought 40 isolated acres. Two more years at their Tucson jobs, teaching and managing a satellite tracking station, paid for their land: "When we moved onto it at last, in search of freedom and tranquility, we felt like a retired couple in our late 20s."

Bill Brown, a corporate headhunter in Memphis, read Future Shock the year he turned 30. He experienced it the morning after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. That day, Bill and his wife, Jeannette, began planning their family's flight from the city.

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