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THE NATION

"The Nation" is a rugged, hilly timbered area located Iowa on the Iowa-Missouri border. Originally the area was inhabited by either the Pottawattamie Nation - or the Fox Nation - or the Sac Nation, and later referred to simply as "The Nation."

The heart of the nation is located approximately one and one-half miles south of the Ringgold County line, going into Worth County, Missouri and approximate four miles northeast of Allendale, Missouri. At the center of The Nation is a park which adjoins the Adams country schoolhouse. In 2005, A. C. WILKINSON of Grant City, Missouri owned the land which is still being used for the annual WEDDLE Family Reunion. A yearly music festival was held there from around 1932 to 1995.

The perimeters of The Nation has always been in dispute. Some say that Watterson in Ringgold County was located on the outer edge of The Nation. Others proclaim that Watterson never was part of The Nation because it never extended into Iowa.

In his book The Ghost Town of Caledonia, Holland FOSTER stated that perhaps portions of Lotts Creek, Middle Fork, and Riley Townships could be included in The Nation.

Holland FOSTER recounts tales from the old-timers, alleging that Frank and Jesse JAMES hid out in Caledonia and other parts of The Nation after robbing the Corydon bank in June of 1871. It is interesting to note that I grew up hearing the same stories involving the JAMES "hide-out" located in a cave somewhere between Grand River and Westerville along the Grand River in Richland Township of Decatur County. [SRB]

Probably because of its rugged and timbered terrain, The Nation has allegedly been a safe haven for others who sought refuge from the law. Bootleggers and moonshiners evaded G-Men and T-Men [early F.B.I. agents] by laying low in The Nation. Bonnie and Clyde and the BARROW Gang were in The Nation, headed to Caledonia and on to Dexter, Iowa.

According to a 1986 newspaper article about Leta "Jo" (DAVIS) FARMER WISEMAN ROSS, Jo's third husband was ex-FBI agent Jim ROSS. The FBI thought that John DILLENGER was in the area and believed that he was about to rob the bank at Grant City, Missouri. They kept an eye on The Nation - a perfect place for someone like DILLENGER to lay low as he set his plans in motion. However, the robbery never happened although the FBI proclaimed that DILLENGER was in the area.

Today The Nation is a serene place, inhabited by a few humans here and there with a lot of deer seeking refuge among the timber, as evidenced by the deer tracks left in their wake.

Tedrow Cemetery, northern edge of The Nation, Ringgold County, Iowa
Photograph by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2010

NOTE: Leta "Jo" (DAVIS) FARMER WISEMAN ROSS was born in The Nation, the daughter of O. B. and Hazel DAVIS. O. B. and Hazel were the second-to-last owners of the Watterson Store. At one time, Jo owned the historic brick Ringgold County jail in Mount Ayr. Jo achieved local fame as an artist and aviatrix.

SOURCE: The Mount Ayr Record-News October 6, 2005

Submission by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2010

 

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
1996

'The Nation' has part in
history of Ringgold County

BY DAUGHN REASONER

 

The Nation?, photograph by Sharon R. Becker, 2010

It remains an uncertainty as to where to geographically define the location of the Nation. If you were in Iowa it was across the line in Missouri. Then, if you were in Missouri, it started in Iowa.

For some years this region of the state remained undesignated, unsettled and unsurveyed. The Nation used to be known as the "strip." It was a boundary dispute between Iowa and Missouri. Whether the stones had ever been in place, or were removed and had been discarded, is not known. The disputed area stretched from Bloomfield west.

The first settlers were Charles J. SCHOOLER and his wife in 1844. For two years they were the only white family in what became Ringgold county. They settled near Ringgold City. Several other families came to this area in the next few years. The post office in Ringgold was started in 1851, probably in someone's cabin.

The white settlers were not the only residents of the county at this time. A tribe of Native Americans, the Pottawattamie tribe, was settled here from Wisconsin. They either went to Tama, married white settlers, or found other areas to live. A lot more artifacts have been found in the area called The Nation than anywhere else in the county. It is easy to see why it was desirable to settle here, because it is prime hunting ground, with plenty of timber to build with.

In Civil War times, Missouri was torn up by Bushwackers. They came into Iowa also, but there was no raiding of The Nation area. This is probably due to the fact that Frank and Jesse JAMES had friends and relatives in this area. The area was also very isolated, the closest towns being Ringgold City and Caledonia to the north, and Hatfield and Allendale to the south.

When it came time to build a new school house for the area, Lotts Creek divided the district. The old school was on low ground north of the creek, but those people to the south dreaded crossing the creek during high water. A meeting was called to settle the location. When they arrived, more people arrived from the south side, so those from the bottoms north exclaimed, "Here comes the whole damn nation." Those on the north were out-numbered, so it was decided a frame school house was to be built on the bluff south of Lotts Creek. It was called the Nation school. It is still there, now privately owned, in a beautiful park, well-kept and used for family picnics as well as an annual music festival. In the early times, large crowds attended what they called "Holy Roller" meetings here.

When prohibition came into being several stills sprang up. One gentleman said he sold grain to the operators, and at one time, he knew there were three or four operating. He even knew of people who hid a still in an old well before the sheriff could catch up with them. No evidence, no charges. Another time, the Ringgold county sheriff in hot pursuit shot several holes in a new Dodge coupe of a distributor before he crossed the line into Missouri.

In the early 1930's the up-land had been worn out, and became covered with trees. This made it an excellent place to hide out from the law. Bonnie and Clyde came through and stopped, and another group camped near a cemetery in the area.

Some place between Lamoni, Iowa and Grant City, Missouri, it has been rumored the Nation exists. I don't know anyone that I have talked to ever admit they lived there because the Nation started or ended a half-mile down the road or over the next hill.

Submission by Mike Avitt, May of 2013


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