CHRISTIAN COUNTY, Mo. – Christian County has a rich history dating all the way back to 1859 when it became the 113th county in Missouri.
Every city in the county has its own personality. From Nixa, Ozark, Clever, Billings and Sparta, Ozarksfirst.com took a look at why these cities were named they what they were named.
Brian Grubbs, local history and genealogy manager for the Springfield-Greene County Library, went through his archives to find the origins of some Christian County city names. Here are his findings:
According to Wayne Glenn, noted author and local historian, the town was named after Nicholas Alexander Inman, a local blacksmith, church elder, and Civil War veteran. The City of Nixa’s website noted that Inman was one of the town’s earlier civic leaders who moved from Tennessee in 1852. The website states,
“As the community continued to grow and new settlers and businesses opened in this ‘crossroads’ site, a post office was opened. At a town meeting held to select a name for the community and post office, it was suggested that the town be named after Inman because of his years of service to the community. Another suggestion that ‘nix’ best described the community, as it was “nothing but a crossroads” (Collins, 1989). An ‘a’, Inman’s middle initial, was added to ‘nix,’ arriving at the community’s name — Nixa.
Nixa officially incorporated as a village on June 10, 1902.” Glenn added that the word “nix” is German slang for “nothing;” such as “nothing but a crossroads.”
Ozark received its name from the French “aux arcs.” Glenn noted the French phrase meant “to or towards Arkansas” or specifically to the Arkansas fur trading post. The term was used by early French explorers. Others attribute the “arcs” to mean “bend,” and the name was given due to the town’s placement at the bend of the Finley River.
Similarly, William Neville Collier, author of “Ozark and Vicinity in the Nineteenth Century” for the White River Valley Historical Quarterly, wrote, “The name Ozark’ is from the French term ‘Aux Arcs,’ meaning ‘at the bends,’ and was given so because the rivers in the Ozark Mountains wind about in a crooked fashion. The region was probably named by the French hunters and trappers from the old French settlements in the Mississippi River in what is now eastern Missouri.”
Glenn wrote in his book Christian County, Missouri, “One of the main roads leading to Billings crossed the ‘Old Wire Road.’ It was at this intersection that Clever actually came into existence. This location was about three blocks north of the present business section on Clever. About 1896 a post office was established in the Netzer store. The name Mr. Netzer requested for the post office turned out to be one used by another post office in the state, and the post office department asked that another name be chosen. Several customers in the store, were consulted about a name. After several suggestions failed to get unanimous approval, Tom Lentz suggested Clever, since the people here are clever, meaning friendly and accommodating. The name was sent in, accepted, and adopted when the town of Clever was platted.”
Glenn wrote in his book Christian County, Missouri, “As early as 1835 Western migrants were in the region [the very tip of Christian County’s panhandle]. In the spring of 1860 – barely a year after Christian County was formed – the community had grown to the point that it needed a post office. One was established and formally named Elba, Missouri.” Glenn continued, “The community’s growth continued apace, and by 1871 the St. Louis & San Francisco railway had extended its line to what is now Billings. One of the Frisco officials was named John Billings. A generous soul, he contributed $1,000 to the erection of a Union Church. The community, wishing to bestow every possible honor on their benefactor, adopted the name of Billings in 1871.”
Glenn wrote in his book Christian County, Missouri, “There appears to be no written records of why, when or by whom the town was named Sparta. However, here as elsewhere in the county, many of the early settlers came from Tennessee. It is known that J.J. Bruton’s mother came from Sparta, Tennessee, and it is believed that Sparta was named for her home town.”