This 1960 case on Kevin Underhill’s Blog caught my eye because I am from Missouri. You can get a divorce in Missouri for “general indignities”, a term that means the same thing as “irreconcilable differences” in some states.

It seems that Mr. Moore filed for divorce against Mrs. Moore based on the following general indignities:

  • The turkey shoot
  • The houseboat incident
  • Another anti-fishing incident
  • Late return from Shrine parade
  • The pasture incident
  • The cow sales incidents
  • The quail hunting incident
  • The telephone incident
  • Calling his family “hillbillies”

The Trial Court granted the divorce but the Court of Appeals in Springfield reversed, addressing each of the above complaints. Regarding use of the term “hillbillies” the Court said that was usually meant as a compliment in Southern Missouri, adding:

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.

Moore v. Moore, 337 S.W.2d 781 (Mo. Ct. App. 1960) (PDF copy of opinion)