The Inman Road Leads to the Ozarks

by Donna Inman
April 14, 1988

The Inmans first stepped foot on American soil in 1593. John Inman sailed from Liverpool on The Falcon which landed in Virginia. He celebrated our country's first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Indians. Not only was an Inman one of the early settlers of this country, but an Inman was one of the early settlers of the Ozarks. In fact the Christian County town of Nixa, Missouri was named after an Inman.

Born December 17, 1831, in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, Nicholas Alexander ("Nick") Inman migrated to Missouri before the Civil War. He established a blacksmith shop with partner, Joe Weaver, in Ozark. Nick freighted his supplies by ox team from St. Louis and made his home site in what was later to be Nixa. He left the Ozarks to serve with the Union forces and burned his tools on his farm. When he returned from the war, he found his shop and equipment in Ozark had disappeared. The burned tools on his farm were undisturbed so he set up shop in his barn.

There was plenty of work to keep Nick busy. Living near the 'cross roads' of the north-south, east-west roads in western Christian County, the area frequently saw many travelers. Transportation of the day generally consisted of a team of horses, oxen, or shank ponies. Nick shoed several horses belonging to the travelers on their way to near-by Springfield (which at that time was a half days journey away). By this time, Nick had also had neighboring farmers who were in need of his smithing services.

In about 1878 Nick's community got its first post office and it became necessary for the community to have a definite, legal name. At this time James, Fought, another Tennessee immigrant, was running a store in a big log building in the corner of his yard. Fought bought a store on the south side of the cross roads from a Peter Edwards and established a Post Office there. In choosing a name for the town, the gentlemen combined Nicholas' "nick" name, Nick, with his middle initial, A., to come up with Nixa. There are still members of the Inman family living in Nixa today. As a matter of fact, it is the town my Grandparents, Burnice Eugene and Molly Velma (Davis) Inman, have chosen to reside in during their retirement.

My Grandpa's stompin' grounds were not in Nixa, but in another Christian County town known as Sparta. Grandpa, born March 26, 1911, grew up on a 300 acre farm with 2 brothers and 3 sisters. He remembers well working on the farm as a young man. Besides working on their own farm, Great-Grandpa Isaiah and the boys would bale hay for neighboring farmers. In those days that way no easy task. They would hook up the hay baler behind a team of four horses (sometimes it would take 6 horses to pull the baler over the rougher Ozark hills) and go to where the work was. Due to the limited modes of transportation, they stayed at the job until the work was finished. Then they would load up and head back home. Because of all the work Grandpa did on the farm, there was not much time in his live for reading, writing and arithmetic.

Grandpa managed to get an 8th grade education, but it took him a while because he was out of school so much of the time to help on the family farm. At age 18 in the year of 1929, when the agricultural communities were already suffering from a depression, Grandpa quit the 9th grade to go to work. Great-Grandpa, who was needing another hand, paid Grandpa a dollar a day to work on the farm. At the time, a dollar a day was good wages and my Grandpa soon managed to buy his first car. He paid $35 for a used 1923 Dodge. He kept that car for a while and traded it for a 1926 Ford Model T Roadster. After the Roadster, Grandpa bought a 1929 Chevy Sports Coup, which had a genuine rumble seat. Whether it was Grandpa's charm and looks or his Sports Coup, judging from the numerous photographs of Grandpa with pretty young ladies, he appeared to be quite a ladies-man.

Grandpa was driving the Sports Coup when he was courting Grandma. The two were set-up by friends. Grandpa says it was a blind date. But, since Grandma had seen Grandpa before she does not consider it a 'real' blind date. Grandma, who had lost her voice because of a cold, tried to get out of going on that first date with Grandpa, but her friend made her go. She says it was some first date, "I couldn't talk and my friend wouldn't talk." But Grandma must have done something right because Grandpa kept on court in' her.

Six months after their first date, on December 3, 1932 Grandma and Grandpa Inman were married. It was a simple ceremony in the home of a Sparta preacher. With the world suffering from the Great Depression, Grandpa said on their wedding day, "I had $60 and a car and she had a cow and a heifer." For the first nine months of their marriage they lived with my Great Grandma and Grandpa Inman on the farm. Ten people lived in the old farm house but Grandma and Grandpa did not seem to mind. As a matter of fact they have fond memories of the days when the whole family lived together. Looking back now they say "We had quite a time." Despite the fact that the majority of the nations population had a pessimistic out look for the future, Grandma and Grandpa did not think they suffered from the Great Depression as bad as others did.

"We didn't know we was poor," my Grandma recalls. She said in those days everyone did without and they managed. Living on the farm they always had plenty of food and managed to get by. Grandma and Grandpa both remember people in town (Springfield) doing without the necessities, but on the farm my Grandparents made it just fine. Granted, they did not live a life of luxury. Farming was a rough life but a good one.

Grandma and Grandpa moved to a farm in Elkhead, Missouri after living with my Great Grandparents. There they had my father and started there family. My Grandparents continued in that fashion until the year of 1969. They moved to other farms in the Ozarks and had three more children. It was not until 1948 when Grandpa bought his first tractor. They did not get electricity until the 1950s, when my father was in high school. Despite these hardships, my Grandparents feel they had a good live on the farm. Looking back Grandma says, "The kids had a nice home, plenty to eat and clothes to wear. Both the boys got cars when they were 16 with the money they had earned on the farm."

The Inman journey from Liverpool, England to the Ozark hills has been a long one. I am certain several of my ancestors encountered many rocky roads along the way, just as my Grandparents did raising a family on the farm. But despite it all, I am certain all my ancestors would look back on their hardships with the same kind of pride my Grandma and Grandpa do. It is with this sort of pride that makes me so proud to be an Inman.