As the Memphis Line was pushing eastward through the virgin Ozark hills, railroad officials realized that watering stations were needed every 8 to 10 miles. One such station was built on the future site of the town of Mansfield. In 1882, F.M. Mansfield and George Nettleton officially established the town. Noted for its rolling hills and abundance of natural water sources, Mansfield became known as the “Gem of the Ozarks.” Early settlers that were drawn to the area established local businesses, including orchards, canning factories, and mines. Farming became an essential way of life for most rural residents. Today, the town is famous as the place where author Laura Ingalls Wilder, who lived here from 1894 until her death in 1957, wrote her renowned Little House books. It was also the boyhood home of Major League Baseball player Carl Mays, who at one point was a teammate of Babe Ruth.
Members of the Mansfield Area Historical Society have long felt a need to preserve the historical significance of this area. The authors, whose families have lived here for generations, have compiled these images and captions from their own collections and from those of local residents.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.