Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


On the second rise above the Des Moines River, Theo Fellows built a home on Prospect Hill in 1904. The Fellows family homestead was below him on the first rise, and the Fred Fellows farm was located on the ridge above Theo’s farm. Theo’s father built a large, three-story frame house for his large family that overlooked the river, a mile west of Kerr’s Ford.

From Leando, a road followed the river down to Kerr’s Ford, then turned south. Just below the Fellows farms, another road turned south off the river road, went up past Prospect Hill and the Fred Fellows place, continued south for two miles, then made its way southeastward, joining the road from Kerr’s Ford, eventually entering Pittsburg from the north.

Across from Theo’s house on Prospect Hill, a road went west, connecting with another road that turned south from the river at (what was known as) the Kirkendall place. Swiers School was located less than a mile west on this road, and it was attended by Fellows children for several generations until Douds-Leando Consolidated took in country schools around 1920.

An old country church called Zion Methodist across from Theo’s house was packed by members of the Fellows family each Sunday morning, as well as other neighbors that lived in close range. Bob Pedrick recently gave me several old hymnals and Sunday School song books that came from that old church. He does not remember how he came into possession of them, but thought they would be of interest to me, since my family had provided the main membership for the little church.

Apparently, people who regularly attended felt an ownership to their hymnals, as names were written inside them. The names of William Fellows and Lizzie Fellows appear in these books, and in one it says "Asa L. Fellows, this is his book."

Someone years ago had cut poems and interesting sayings out of newspapers and magazines, and had tucked these away in one of the song books. There is a discourse on what to eat, and sonnets dedicated to young Americans. There is "The Housekeeper’s Song" from a Texas paper, and poems from the Burlington Hawkeye as well as the Congregationalist Magazine. There is some fascinating advice against the use of slang words by women.

Girls, don’t use slang. When we hear a girl say she was "rattled" instead of embarrassed, that her new hat is "just dandy," or that her recent acquaintance is a "new mash," we decide that she is either ignorant or vulgar--though it would perhaps be more charitable to consider her heedless only. But it is better to be a little bit prim, if there is no medium; we doubt whether we should use slang words at all, if we fully knew their origin.

Part of the fun of being a teenager or young adult is using slang, a language that is reserved for teen ears only, and is so secretive that adults can’t "get with it" and understand the meaning. If the word or expression ever falls into general use by adults, then kids think it is "old hat," and have dropped it for another catch word or phrase!

But the clipping that fascinates me most is called "Mother Shipton’s Prophecy." According to the article, it was first published in 1488, then republished in 1611. All of the events "of the future" came to pass except the last one. The clipping was probably saved in amusement, as the date for the world’s passing had already come and gone!

"Carriages without horses shall go, and accidents fill the world with woe.

Around the world thoughts shall fly in the twinkling of an eye.

Waters yet shall more wonders do; Now strange, yet shall be true,

the world upside down shall be, and gold be found at root of tree.

Through hills men shall ride, and no horse or mule be at his side.

Under water men shall walk; shall ride, shall sleep, shall talk.

In the air men shall be seen, in white, in black, and in green.

Iron in the water shall float as easy as a wooden boat.

Gold shall be found and found in a land that is not now known.

Fire and water shall wonders do, England shall at last admit a Jew.

The world to and end shall come in eighteen hundred and ninety-one."

- -
Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick