Ozarks - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The economy of the first generation or two of settlers was essentially Subsistence farming and herding with maize, wheat, tobacco, and hemp the major crops and pigs and sheep the major livestock. By the close of the 1800s, subsistence farming had given way to general farming, which rapidly declined after 1930, being replaced, in part, by more specialized farming such as dairy and fruit farming and livestock raising. Other major industries are mining (iron, lead, zinc, barite), lumbering, recreation, tourism, and various service and transportation industries. Agriculture is now a part-time activity for most Ozark residents who continue to farm. With poverty still a problem in some rural areas and in some cities, government assistance is a source of income for some families.

Industrial Arts. The production and repair of all material objects needed for the family farm was a major activity for both men and women in the past and reflected the core value of self-reliance. Although many of these crafts have fallen into disuse, the methods and designs have been kept alive through organized efforts such as the Bittersweet magazine and book series and regional Ozark cultural centers.

Division of Labor. The division of labor by sex was clearly marked, with much of women's work restricted to women, but men's work open to both sexes. Women's work included most domestic chores as well as employment outside the home. Men's work included planting and harvesting the fields, tending the livestock, cutting and hauling wood and ice, hunting, distilling whiskey, and employment outside the home. Hunting and fishing are important male activities.

Land Tenure. Ownership of land was and remains an important source of Ozark identity and status. Since inmigration has increased, land prices have increased, too, making the sale of land an important source of income for some families.

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