Coursey's is one of the many restaurants featured in Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley.
I understand why it’s important to change the routes of highways built over Native American paths, postal routes and dirt roads over time to make them safer. But I will never understand why the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department decided to take U.S. 65 and relocate it between Coursey’s Smoked Meats and Ferguson’s Country Store on the south side of St. Joe.
Coursey's Smoked Meats was started by Lynn Coursey -- a gourmet chef who moved back to St. Joe around the end of World War II. He set up shop on the unpaved road that passed through the heart of Searcy County. Mr. Coursey wanted to spend his life engaged in something that would allow him to talk with folks, and to him a good way to do that was to bring in customers traveling through the Ozarks.
Lynn Coursey's famous hams were hung in an old dirt-floored log smokehouse that still stands today. He would tie each ham to a nail in the wall, then place an old dry-goods box around it and let it sit in the hickory smoke for hours. Then he'd pull it down and hang the ham by the string inside his shop -- cutting each down as it was either sold or appropriated for slicing to customers just looking for a pound or so.