McDonald County, 540 sq. miles of Ozark grandeur in Missouri's extreme southwest, was called Seneca when it was formed in 1847. Fully organized in 1849, it was named for Rev. War soldier Alexander McDonald.
Pineville, the county seat, was laid out by Nathan Richardson, 1847, and first called Maryville. The judicial seat, first located at Rutledge (Elk Springs), was moved there in 1857 after a bitter dispute. Pineville at the headwaters of lovely Elk River, was a lively trading post for reservation Indians from what is now Okla., and settlers in 1860. A Jesse James movie was made there in 1938.
The county's first settlers were Valentine Miller and family, 1827. Pioneers were from Ky. and Tenn. The 1840's brought the "Pine War" between settlers and U.S. Marshals over cutting trees on public land. In the 1850's, bands of "Slickers" briefly tried to stop land sales. In War Between the States, this pro-Southern county on Ark. and Okla. borders, saw heavy troop movement, sharp skirmishes, guerrilla raids. Over the border, in Ark., is historic Pea Ridge Battlefield, site of decisive Union victory, March 7-8, 1862.
Resort county in the Ozark Playgrounds Region, McDonald lies in a dairy, livestock, poultry, fruit, and timber area. Processing plants are at Noel and Anderson,
Back Sidelargest town in the county, founded 1887. Near there is site of Splitlog, once a boom town where Mathias Splitlog, wealthy Wyandotte Indian, and others went broke mining fool's gold. There Splitlog began the county's first railroad. The Kansas City & Southern was built through the county in the 1890's.
At Southwest City, settled in 1840's, is the Missouri—Arkansas—Oklahoma tri-state boundary marker bearing the dates of when each state was admitted into the Union: Mo., 1821; Ark., 1836; Okla., 1907. Noel, named for Bridge Noel, founded 1891, gives cancellation on Christmas mail. Other towns in the county include Rocky Comfort, Tiff City, Goodman, Powell, Jane, and Lanagan.
In the county are handsome Jacob's, Bluff Dwellers, Shira, and Ozark Wonder caves. Ancient Bluff Dweller sites, Indian mounds and trails are in the area a part of 1825 Osage Indian land cession. Only Confederate Indian General, Stan Watie, a Cherokee, is buried in Okla., near Southwest City, Mo.