The Famous 1960 Court of Appeals “Hillbilly” Case

5 Feb

I’ve been looking for this for some time and finally ran across it so I thought I would share it with all my hillbilly friends. The definitive for the term “Hillbilly according to the Springfield Court of Appeals, Missouri. Lowell R. MOORE, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Minnie MOORE, Defendant-Appellant. No. 7821. Aug. 24, 1960. It’s a bit long but you get a good wealth of information and wonderful testimonials in the case regarding their life and situations.

In 1960 the Springfield, Missouri, Court of Appeals ruled on a divorce case involving the use of the term “hillbilly.” Judge Justin Ruark, in the case Moore v. Moore (337 S.W. 2d 781) made the following statement in his decision:

In respect to plaintiff’s evidence that Minnie once referred to relatives of the plaintiff as hillbillies: We suggest that to refer to a person as a “hillbilly,” or any other name, for that matter, might or might not be an insult, depending upon the meaning intended to be conveyed, the manner of utterance, and the place where the words are spoken. Webster’s New International Dictionary says that a hillbilly is “a backwoods man or mountaineer of the southern United States;-often used contemptuously.” But without the added implication or inflection which indicates an intention to belittle, we would say that, here in Southern Missouri, the term is often given and accepted as a complimentary expression. An Ozark hillbilly is an individual who has learned the real luxury of doing without the entangling complications of things which the dependent and over-pressured city dweller is required to consider as necessities. The hillbilly foregoes the hard grandeur of high buildings and canyon streets in exchange for wooded hills and verdant valleys. In place of creeping traffic he accepts the rippling flow of the wandering stream. He does not hear the snarl of exhaust, the raucous braying of horns, and the sharp, strident babble of many tense voices. For him instead is the measured beat of the katydid, the lonesome, far-off complaining of the whippoorwill, perhaps even the sound of a falling acorn in the infinite peace of the quiet woods. The hillbilly is often not familiar with new models, soirees, and office politics. But he does have the time and surroundings conducive to sober reflection and honest thought, the opportunity to get closer to his God. No, in Southern Missouri the appellation “hillbilly” is not generally an insult or an indignity; it is an expression of envy.

And here is the full documentation for download. You’ll get a kick out of the testimonies.

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3 Responses to “The Famous 1960 Court of Appeals “Hillbilly” Case”

  1. Stacye February 6, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    Love it!

  2. Ozarksagent Steve Mattison February 7, 2011 at 5:22 am #

    Now that’s some good research!

  3. simeongay March 31, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    You have an excellent sense of humor! Thanks, I really enjoyed this.

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