WALLACE, JEAN - Barry County, Missouri | JEAN WALLACE - Missouri Gravestone Photos


Seligman aka Frost Cemetery
Barry County,

Mountain Maid of the Ozarks

Born: May 17, 1851
On a pier at the foot of Canal Street
in New York City, New York

Died: Feb 26, 1940
in a tragic fire that destroyed her cabin

One of the most enchanting realities in this area would be the life story of the "Mountain Maid." This mystery maiden, whose name was Jean Wallace, lived alone for 48 years, high atop a mountain overlooking this beautiful valley now known as Roaring River State Park.

This light haired bright blue-eyed girl was born on a New York City pier at the foot of Canal Street on May 17, 1851. Even during her childhood years, her parents knew she was a peculiar girl. Jean discovered at the age of seven that she had the same "sixth sense" that her great-grandfather had. They called this mysterious power, clairvoyance. Jean's great-grandfather also had bright blue eyes and light hair; they were the only two in the family.

When Jean became a young woman, she found that she would never be able to marry. She had said on one occasion, "What husband would want a wife who knows his every secret and thoughts?" For a short time, Jean was a nurse for a New York hospital. This job ended soon after because she couldn't stand the strain of knowing what was going to happen to her patients.

Finally in 1892, Jean came to Roaring River near Cassville, Missouri, and homesteaded a 160-acre tract of land. Soon after her arrival, curious people came to her home. After having heard of her "sixth sense," some would ask to have their fortunes told. Over time, many thousands came to seek help with lost items or strayed animals. She could see into anyone's past or their future, as told by the old-timers, usually instantaneously and without effort. Whatever prompted this energetic capable woman to retire from society and live in seclusion for the rest of her life will probably always be a mystery, as she remained almost completely reticent about her own life except for frequent mention of her experiences as a nurse. The men at the Roaring River CCC Camp were about her only friends except for her constant companions - black cats.

Miss Wallace's cabin was built mostly by donated labor. She walked 3 1/2 miles to get her mail and 5 1/2 miles to Eagle Rock for many of her supplies, carrying her groceries in a 25 lb. flour sack. Her needs were minimal for she had a small peach orchard, raised chickens from which she had egg and pigs which she butchered for meat.

Her longest period ever being away from her Roaring River home was when World War I broke out. Going to Long Island, New York, she served as a nurse at Camp Upton, acting as "Mother" for a soldier's cottage. Following this five-year span, she returned after the signing of the Armistice, to the little log cabin in the Ozarks. It was a favorite outing for the young folks to "go see Miss Wallace." They went on horseback, rode in buggies, or walked up the winding trail to her home. Often, the girls in the group would take food for a picnic under the trees. Often, also, the baskets contained food which was not meant for their own use. The girls would pretend they had it left over and would give it to Miss Wallace, because she would not accept anything that hinted of charity. The young men in the group would usually take turns at cutting firewood which Miss Wallace used in her small King heater when winter came.

Mrs. Grant Aldridge, who was the daughter of Westley Reed whose family lived near Miss Wallace's cabin, recalls spending a night with the Mountain Maid when she was only a girl. Mrs. Aldridge asked to have her fortune told. She was told that Grant Aldridge was working "out west" and that they would be married in the future. As she had not heard from the young man who was supposed to be her future husband for some time, she expressed her concern. Miss Wallace said that she would hear from him in a few days and that she mustn't be worried as it was not possible for him to post a letter but every thirty days. Also she indicated that she saw white things moving about him slowly, and something lying across his lap, none of which made much sense. But it was learned sometime later that Mr. Aldridge was herding sheep in the western mountains and was only able to get to the post office once a month. The slow moving white objects were of course the sheep and he said he always kept a gun lying across his lab to protect his woolly charges. This fortune was told in the fall before the Aldridges were married in February.

Troy Cornell, the rural mail carrier out of Seligman, delivered Miss Wallace's mail. He told of being surprised one morning to find her waiting at the box for him. She said she was awakened at 4:00 that morning and "knew" that Mr. Reed had died at that time. Mr. Cornell said he hadn't heard anything about it and felt that it probably wasn't true. But later in the morning he found that Mr. Reed had indeed died that morning at 4:00.The stories are legion. Hundreds can relate similar memories. Miss Wallace had found a firm place in the hearts of her neighbors and friends; not one of those who remembered her spoke unadmiringly.

For a time a CCC Camp was located in the park and all the boys heard of the "old maid of the mountains," whom some called irreverently the "old witch," some believing, some not. One boy, in despair at not finding a lost wallet containing papers which he hoped would get him a good job, went to the aged woman as a last resort. Miss Wallace was not overly cordial at first because she knew he had been a "Doubting Thomas." She relented however, assuring her young caller that the wallet was in plain view on the trail where it had been lost. "But I have gone over the trail three times and it is not in plain sight," he protested, somewhat disconcerted. "That’s what you think," she replied. "You should have covered the trail the way you went the first time but you back-tracked. Still you were all right until you came to that high ledge at the creek. From there you could see the spring and a short cut but that was not the way you went the first time. “The boy could not recall any change in route, so she jogged his memory. “Don’t you remember a fallen tree, with branches you had to squeeze through? Well, it is still there and that is where you will find your wallet. You also will get your job," she promised him, and he did.

James Woods, an MFA insurance agent in Cassville, was in the Civilian Conservation Corps at Roaring River in 1939 and made several visits to the home of the Mountain Maid. A visit to the mysterious woman was on the "must" list for every boy at the CCC camp, Woods recalls, and her renown spread as they came and went from the camp. The boys more or less adopted the strange old woman, taking food and supplies when they went for counsel, and in general, seeing that she had what she needed. He says he is sure the boys would have fought for Miss Wallace, and probably she for them, so mutual was the affection.

Several people in telling of visits to the Mountain Maid remembered that she didn't waste time with unbelievers. Mr. Woods recalls a visit made by him and several friends to have their fortunes told. When he went in, she greeted him with, "You don't believe in me, do you?" He honestly replied that he had never believed in this kind of power or sense, and she stated emphatically that no information would he get. However, as he turned to leave she said, "But one thing I will tell you, you will have an automobile accident when you are fifty years old." He said that although he thought of this prediction many times through the years, he had never confided it to anyone. But the automobile accident, a bad one for Woods, did occur and another prediction came true.

Said Woods, "I thought, that's a long time away, I'm not going to worry about it," said Woods. "I started to leave again and then I turned back to her and I asked, 'Will I be killed?'" Wallace told Woods that he would not be killed, but he would be hurt badly. When Woods left Wallace's cabin, his friend went in to talk with the Mountain Maid. The two friends never discussed what Wallace told either of them. When Woods turned 50 in January of 1969 he had completely forgotten about Wallace's warning. On Sept. 5, 1969, when he was headed back to Cassville from Washburn, a woman crossed the centerline on of the highway and struck Woods' vehicle head-on. "I pulled my car to the right, but I got hit anyway," said Woods. "I had a punctured lung and seven broken ribs. I was unconscious for 11 days. "I hadn't thought anymore about what she said until I woke up in the hospital after that wreck," said Woods. "I was still 50 years old."

They tell of another CCC boy who had also lost something, but scoffingly replied to the suggestion that he ask her to help him. "That old fool can't tell me anything," but finally he was prevailed upon to go to her. He returned quickly, out of breath and so upset he had trouble speaking. "Oh, Gosh!" he gasped. "It was awful. I approached the hut, thinking up a nice speech to please the old girl, and a whole mob of cats came out of a hole near the front. I didn't get a chance to ask her anything. The minute I knocked on the door, she threw it open and snapped at me, 'This old fool can, but will not tell you anything.' Then she slammed the door in my face before I could say anything, all those cats jumped me, spitting, howling, and biting at my legs. Gee! I didn't know you could sic cats on a man like that, so I ran away as fast as I could! “The story spread until one of her neighbors asked Miss Wallace what had really happened. She said it was true, except that the part about the cats wasn't quite right. Startled at having his mind read and the door slammed, the youth had stepped back and trod a cat's tail. The cat had "sort of exploded" which made him jump and step on another. That was all. But she did have a lot of cats.

Since Miss Wallace considered gambling an evil thing and her clairvoyant powers were to be used only for the best purposes, the following incident believed by all her neighbors, is especially interesting. A woman visiting the park heard of the celebrity on the mountain and like many others, paid her a call. What she really wanted to know was which horse to bet on at the horse race the next day. Instead of putting the question frankly, the visitor asked which name of the various horses the old one thought prettiest. A strange smile appeared on Miss Wallace's aged face as she replied, "Butterfly, that's the prettiest. And butterfly is the fastest, too. “Did you know that the woman won $1250 on your tip?" asked an incredulous friend, when the story got around. “Yes," admitted the recluse, "and if you knew what the woman is going to use the money for, you would understand why I let her think she fooled me.

"Boy nature in the Ozarks is no different than elsewhere and though somewhat in terror of her witch-like powers, a pair of youngsters could not resist testing them with a little prank. Removing the saddle from their horses and hiding them some distance from the cabin, they rode up on their horses and asked Jean if she could tell them who had stolen their saddles. As it happened the joke was on the jokers. But they were good boys, sons of good friends of hers, so she shook her finger and snapped a sharp command, "Yes, you young rascals, you stole them yourselves. Get back as fast as you can to where you hid them because wild pigs are chewing them up." The boys obeyed, but already the pigs had done so much damage that they had to tell their fathers how it happened.

Others who learned to their sorrow of her powers were hunters who invaded her 160 acres. She always knew they were coming and told them that nothing on her land was to be killed, not even a snake. She refused to have any timber cut from her land... her firewood had to be cut from trees already dead or dying. The "old maid of the mountains" described her faculty as a feeling just like memory, but it applied to anyone and ran into the future as well as the past. “It is like walking along a road," she explained. "You can see quite a distance behind you and quite a distance ahead, but far away thing begin to get dim, in either direction.

"She prophesied almost to a day, when Hitler would invade Poland. But, she also said that in the end, all the plots would come to naught and he would be assassinated.

Many a person was so impressed with her prophetic ability as to ask why she did not go to Washington and guide the Government in avoiding blunders. “There are two reasons," she would reply. "In the first place nobody would listen to an old witch. But, if by any chance they did start to follow guidance, I am sure my powers would be taken from me because otherwise they would be almost certain to interfere with the course of destiny. It is all very well for me to tell people where to find lost pocketbooks and strayed cows, even to warn a businessman against a bad investment or tell a woman how to escape a love entanglement. Such little things in no way affect the great predestined tide of human events, but if the world knew the big events that are to come and tried to forestall disasters, such as the rise of Hitler and Stalin, it would confuse destiny, and that, of course, will never be permitted.

"Ed Banister, a rich lumber executive, who owned a cabin in Roaring River, was not backward in admitting that he got many a valuable business tips from the old lady. She always insisted that God or perhaps some inhibition blinded her prophetic eye when she sought to see her own coming events. For instance, is she asked herself when and where she was going to die or even where she would be the following noon, the picture in her mind was nothing but a think fog. Yet often she caught a glimpse of her own future by accident or indirection. Obligingly "gazing up the future" of some friend, she said she was frequently surprised to see the friend talking to her own self at some place she had not thought of visiting.

Though for years her failing eyesight prevented her reading the books that filled her cabin shelves, apparently the sight of her "sixth sense" remained as sharp as ever.

Although those who knew her in the earlier years remember her not only as intelligent and well-read, kind and physically strong, and thinking nothing of walking to visit friends five or ten miles away, they also remember her neatness and cleanliness. But time takes its toll; her health and her eyesight failed. Water had to be carried from a spring 200 yards down a steep path from her cabin. As she grew older, Miss Wallace became careless about her personal appearance. She had a multitude of cats which shared her home with her and they did not contribute to either the cleanliness or orderliness of the cabin.

Hugh and Norma Brixey, during the 1930's when Mr. Brixey was superintendent of Roaring River State Park, frequently took groceries to her, making sure she had food and wood. Once, when Miss Wallace was quite ill, Mrs. Brixey went to the cabin, stripped her bed, and took the laundry back to the park where she washed it; the washing was long, long overdue to put it nicely. As her health failed, her cabin home was a scene of disorder, filth and squalor. Her only income in the years before her death had been her old-age pension.

The tragic end was near. Two boys hunting in the woods on Monday morning in February in 1940, saw smoke in the direction of the cabin and on investigation, they found the cabin burned to the ground. The strange and kind little woman had perished in the flames at the age of 88 years.

County Coroner Floyd Callaway and Sheriff Troy Wilson pieced together the story of what had happened. A kerosene can was found near the small stove and it was believed she had poured oil on live coals in trying to kindle a fire. A few fragments of bones found in the ashes established the presence of Miss Wallace in the cabin when it burned.

In the Bank of Seligman was found her safe deposit box containing $226.00, money which was to be used, "to pay for a funeral in keeping with my means and position in life." Her homestead was bequeathed to "my true and long time friend, Rev. Samuel Kent of Clearwater, Florida." Reverend Kent was an Episcopalian minister; she had no known relatives. Funeral services were held in the Union Church of Seligman, with Reverend Charles Vanzandt officiating. Burial was in the Seligman Cemetery under the direction of the Horine-Culver Funeral Home of Cassville. Her obituary stated that she was a very zealous believer in the Bible and of the Episcopal faith.

Ironically, during the last winter of her life, and during a time she was quite ill, Miss Wallace gave permission to F.O. (Pa) Fields of Fields Photo Shop in Cassville, to take her picture. They, better than any words, tell of Miss Wallace's state of health and living condition near the end of her life. No longer does a loving public follow the trail to her door, but in the Roaring River area, there will undoubtedly always be tales of Jean Wallace, the mysterious "Mountain Maid" of Roaring River.

Cassville Democrat
Thursday, October 5, 2006
By Lindsay Reed
The Barry County Genealogical and Historical Society honored Jean Wallace, the Ozark Mountain Maid, during a special memorial service at the Seligman Cemetery on Sept. 30. Recently, the Historical Society worked with Wommack Monument Company to design a new monument for Wallace's burial site. The new stone was unveiled on Saturday. "I had been to the cemetery several times to see Jean Wallace's stone," said Brandon Burns, Historical Society member. "I knew that so many Barry County citizens knew about the Mountain Maid, but visitors are not going to get who the Mountain Maid was from that little stone." Wallace's previous stone only had her name, the year of her birth and the year of her death. Burns approached the Historical Society and suggested the organization purchase a new stone. The organization worked with Wommack Monument Company to design the new monument, which lists Wallace's date of birth, date of death and a brief history of the Mountain Maid legend. The old stone was moved to the foot of Wallace's grave. "Jean Wallace came to Barry County as a young woman," said Burns. "Many people say she was a very attractive woman, but she never married." Wallace left a career as a nurse and moved from New York City to Barry County in 1892. According to legend, Wallace was born with the same sixth sense abilities that her father, William M. Wallace, had possessed. From the time she was a child, Wallace's father told her that her abilities were a special God-given power that she should use carefully, only for good and never for money. Although Wallace didn't want to be called a fortune teller, many people walked the dirt road to her cabin to ask about their futures, where lost articles could be found and what other people were thinking.

"I belong to a race of people that can see... My great-grandfather, a Wallace, was the greatest seer in Scotland. He could describe exactly how a man was dressed, even if he was as far off as India. The gift was handed down to me. All my family was dark, but he was fair. And when I was born they said it was as if it were him born all over again. It is a sixth sense." Jean Wallace, quoted in Roaring River Heritage by Irene Horner, Litho Printers, 1978'
Editor's Note: History informs us that her great-great-?-grandfather, the 13th century Scottish patriot William Wallace of "Braveheart" fame, also had fair features. Is it possible that he too had this gift of Second Sight? If so, that could offer a whole new perspective toward explaining his remarkable victories leading his fellow Scots against King Edward and the mighty English army. Jean Wallace - 1851-1940 Information from the pamphlet Roaring River Heritage and various articles from the archive collection at the Nature Center at Roaring River State Park. Edited by Larry Cater, January, 2008 Jean Wallace was born April 17, 1851 on a pier in New York City. Her father, William M. Wallace, a Scotsman, was a sea captain and her mother was an American. She was a direct descendent of William Wallace, the 13-14th century patriot who led a resistance against the English occupation of Scotland as portrayed in the film "Braveheart." (As noted in the opening quotation, her "sixth sense" was characterized among the Wallaces by being fair-featured whereas the rest of her family had dark features. Interestingly, William Wallace was also noted for having fair features. Could he also have been born with the second sight? If so, that would go a long way toward explaining his extraordinary victory at Stirling Bridge.)

Jean Wallace lived the first 40 years of her life in New York City, never marrying and working as a nurse. When she turned 40, she did something quite extraordinary even by today's standards, let alone by the expectations for a single woman in 1892. She left her previous life entirely behind and headed west, homesteading 160 acres in southwest Missouri, a place we now call Roaring River State Park. In 1892, this must have been one of the most gorgeous spots on the planet - a river that come gushing up from a cave beneath a mountain, a water-driven mill where area residents (many of them fellow Scots) would gather to celebrate the harvest, and gently rolling Ozark hills with abundant wildlife. Rather than choosing land in the valley, she homesteaded on top of a mountain overlooking Roaring River. There she built a cabin, planted her beloved peach trees, and lived for the next 48 years. Jean Wallace inherited a gift from her Wallace side that some call the "second sight" or the "sixth sense." It was the ability to see into anyone's past or future. Here's how she described her method, according to Ms. Horner: (She) described her facility as a feeling just like memory, but it applied to anyone and ran into the future as well as the past. "It is like walking along a road," she explained. "You can see quite a distance behind you and quite a distance ahead, but far away things begin to get dim in either direction." ...The process was usually instantaneous and without effort. There was no crystal-gazing or any impressive hocus-pocus, perhaps because she never accepted any compensation for her mysterious services. She did often shut her eyes for a moment. Those eyes... were the bluest blue that had ever been seen in this part of the Ozarks. She was once a comely blonde, with honey-colored hair, yet she died an old maid, and she vowed she knew she would. Who would want a wife who not only knew everything her husband had done, but also everything he was going to do, or thinking of doing? During those 48 years, literally thousands of people made their way up that Ozark trail to seek the advice of the one they called the "Mountain Maid." Many times, of course, the questions came from neighbors - "Where has my cow wandered off to now?" Other times they were from complete strangers - "Should I marry this man?" She would never charge for her advice - but if, come harvest, you had far more apples than you could possibly eat, she would be happy to take some off your hands. Or if you made a picnic out of visiting her and you just happened to have lots of food left over, she'd be willing to help you out so you wouldn't have to carry it back down the mountain. She lived like this for 48 years, using her gift to help people and accepting their generosity. Ms. Horner's pamphlet relates many stories of how Jean Wallace used her gift. As she put it, "The road up to her cabin door was well worn by worried folks who had lost something or were at their wit's end about some personal problem. She delighted in greeting the stranger with the answer to his problem before he had time to state it...
The stories are legion. Hundreds can relate similar memories."

`.¸.*.♥.´´*`•.¸° ...♥. °

Jean Wallace On a mountain,
far from the crowds
A woman dances alone in the moonlight

As the whip-poor-will cries
in the twilight
Seer of what is to be,
seer can you see me?

Wise Woman, living alone,
can you hear me?
Though I'm not of your time,
you are near me.

Near to my heart
when you're dancing.

I'm the owl calling deep in the night
When the moon is silver and bright.

Jean Wallace, both maiden and crone,
I am calling.
By the owl in the night, I am calling.

When the full moon is bright,
I am calling.

By all you know to be true Jean Wallace,
I'm calling to you.

`.¸.*.♥.´´*`•.¸° ...♥. °

Dance of the Mountain Maid
Mountain Maid,
Mountain Maid Come dance in the moonlight,
Mountain Maid.
Dance to the tune the fiddler plays...
Can you hear me singing to you,
Mountain Maid?
Ozark Mountain Maid.

Great Horned Owl,
what do you see Sitting in the top
of the tall pine tree?

I see a lassie,
and she's looking at me.
Ozark maiden, blessed be.

Grandmother Moon,
what do you see
Shining through the top
of the tall pine tree?

I see a Seer,
and she's looking at me.
Scotland's Seers,
blessed be.

Contributed on 2/25/13 by silver-b
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Record #: 737985

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Submitted: 2/25/13 • Approved: 2/26/13 • Last Updated: 3/31/18 • R737985-G0-S3

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