A Living Ozark Legend

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The historic landmarks that dot the roads of Ozark transport residents and visitors back to the 1800's. While these sites are a tribute to the town's rich history, nothing tells the story of the town's past quite like its residents.

Joe Adams has lived in Ozark his entire life, but his family's history spans centuries. In fact, his great-great-great grandfather is buried in the Historic Claybank Cemetery. Reverend Dempy Dowling was in charge of building the church.

“This church was built in 1852 and continued to be a church and serve Methodists until the early 1900’s of course it’s on the national register of historic places and my guess is it is one of the oldest structures in Ozark and Dale County, Coffee County and Houston County,” explained Adams.

In addition to Adams' family connection to the historic Claybank Church and Cemetery, is a strong professional connection to Ozark.

“My newspaper founded by my great grandfather, it was in Newton from 1867 to 1870 and he moved the little newspaper to Ozark in 1870 and were still here.”

For the last 57 years Adams been following in his family's footsteps as editor of “The Southern Star”, but that wasn't always his plan.

“When I went into the army I wasn't sure if I wanted to go and work for a big newspaper but my Dad’s brother died and he had the operation by himself for 5 years so I came back and joined him and became editor in 1957. I think you could say I had a calling.”

As editor, Adams has provided his readers with a variety of news over the years. His favorite stories include the paper's coverage of Dale County becoming a wet county and launching an editorial campaign to help raise money for a local hospital. But like many Ozark landmark, “The Southern Star” finds itself struggling in the new technology era.

“I feel a certain uniqueness having been in this position but like I say now it’s been more of a struggle than it used to be with declining revenue brought on by less advertising brought on by less attention to newspapers in general.”

Despite the struggles, no new technology can achieve what Adams has in Ozark.

“I think I am the only editor publishing also attained a retired military officer status.”

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