Little Dixie Missouri


Our Map of Little Dixie


          LITTLE DIXIE

          It's the heart of Missouri, blooded of three,
          Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
          It's a tall spare man on a blue-grass hoss.
          It's sugar-cured ham without raisin sauce.
          It's coon dog, coon, persimmon tree.
          It's son or brother named Robert E. Lee.
          It's tiger stalking a jay-hawk bird.
          It's the best hog-calling that ever you heard.
          It's fiddler fiddlin' you out of your seat,
          Fiddler fiddlin' you off your feet.
          It's bluebird singing in a hawthorn thicket.
          It's vote to a man the Democratic ticket.
          It's crisp brown cracklin's and hot corn pone.
          It's catfish fried clean off the bone.
          It's hominy grits and none of your scrapple.
          It's mellow pawpaws and the Jonathan apple.
          It's sorghum sweetenin' and belly-warming corn.
          It's old Jeff Davis a-blowin' on his horn.
          Unreconstructed it rares and bites
          At touch of a rein that would curb its rights.
          It's come in, stranger, draw up a chair;
          There ain't no hurry and we'll all get there.

Little Dixie refers to the area in Missouri which "culturally there can be but one opinion: Little Dixie is of the very essence of the Old South - 'more Dixie than Dixie.' Throughout The War Between the States its sympathies and more were with the Confederacy; and to this day it remains spiritually 'unreconstructed.' Its speech, its customs, [and] its leisurely gait are southern." (Trombly, p. ix) Though there is little doubt what is Little Dixie and the origin of its name, there is considerable confusion about the geographical locality. Most agree the term "Little Dixie" originated on the political scene during or shortly after The War Between the States. Few agree to the boundaries of Little Dixie.

In futile attempts to map the area, researchers, scholars and debaters of Little Dixie have used various factors including but not limited to architecture, voting habits, diet, social customs and the general appearance of the land. Robert M. Crisler suggests Little Dixie's boundaries are dynamic and thus impossible to define.

The intent here is not to define the boundaries of Little Dixie. Instead, Little Dixie counties will be classified in degrees of "Little Dixie-ness." The classification used here will be: Heart of Little Dixie, Outer Little Dixie and Border Little Dixie.

The Heart of Little Dixie are those counties consistently agreed upon and are not refutable. These six counties are Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Howard, Monroe and Randolph.

There are seven counties which are often referred to as part of Little Dixie but, depending on the factor used for qualification, may be excluded. These counties constitute Outer Little Dixie and include Carroll, Chariton, Cooper, Lafayette, Ralls, Pike, and Saline.

Eleven counties have at one time or another been accepted as part of Little Dixie but have since alluded inclusion in Little Dixie. In their early days, the counties of Border Little Dixie had the same characteristics and were indistinguishable from the counties found in the Heart of Little Dixie. Today, they still possess many of the qualities necessary to be classified as Little Dixie. But, unlike the core counties, they were not immune to the settlement of foreigners, including those born above the Mason-Dixon Line. These outsiders brought with them their own culture and gradually altered the "more Dixie than Dixie" climate. (It is interesting to note that the northern boundary of Little Dixie remarkably coincides with the Mason-Dixon Line). By understanding the existence of these influences and their cultural impact, the existence of Border Little Dixie cannot be disputed. The counties considered as Border Little Dixie are Clay, Cole, Jackson, Lewis, Lincoln (named for a Revolutionary soldier), Macon, Marion, Moniteau, Pike, Platte and Ray.

Today, as the Twentieth Century comes to an end and the Twenty-First Century begins, the traditions of Little Dixie are still alive and well. Outdoorsmen enjoy Little Dixie Lake and Wildlife Area. Children read books loaned by Little Dixie Regional Libraries and high school athletes compete for the Little Dixie Conference Championship. Visitors enjoy the taste of the Little Dixie Smoked Chicken Breast featured at a local restaurant. Bass clubs, fire protection districts and many other organizations call themselves Little Dixie something or another. In all, twenty-four counties in Missouri have been or are "more Dixie than Dixie." There are ninety other counties in Missouri which were part of the indisputable boundaries of the Confederate States of America.

The poem above and below are from Trombly's book entitled "Little Dixie."

          LECTURE

          One of those professors here evening
          Or two ago lecturing us as usual.
          Two three hundred folks to hear him.
          First time he says Missouri's middle west
          The chairman of the league of . . . I forget
          Its dangfool name . . . perched on the platform
          Fans herself, and the mayor runs a finger
          Behind his collar, twisting his head around
          And screwing up his mouth. Second time
          He says it, folks begin to leave the hall;
          And by the time he's winded, can't be more
          Than a couple dozen left - not real folks
          Either; born and raised here all right
          But their families came from north of the Line.

          Middle West! Never did hear
          Of Little Dixie, I reckon . . . blood and bone,
          Innards of Missouri, more Dixie than Dixie!
          Never did hear of Sterling Price
          And Jo Shelby! And what I'm wondering is
          How such an ignoramus can call himself
          Professor. Time was . . . I'd better not speak
          My mind; but if I did, which I won't, I'd say
          Time was when folks were different hereabouts:
          Wouldn't have let "professor" go alone
          But seen him out of town with a parade
          And torches, and him in a special costume
          Tailored on the spot and fitting to a T.
          But Don't you get me wrong and twist my meaning
          Like some folks do and think you know what it was
          Was on my mind if I'd been minded to speak.
          I said I wouldn't say it and I won't.

Our Map of Little Dixie

Sources: Robert M. Crisler, "Missouri's Little Dixie," Missouri Historical Review (Columbia, MO), Volume XLII [April 1948], pp. 130 - 139; Roy E. Coy, editor. Little Dixie and the Mystic Land of Poosey, St. Joseph, MO: St. Joseph Museum, 1954; Albert Edmund Trombly. Little Dixie, Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Studies, 1955. Paul I. Wellman, "Missouri's Little Dixie is Real Although it Appears on No Maps," Kansas City Times, December 5, 1941.


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