Volume 8, Number 8, Summer 1984
Miss Jean Wallace, a light-haired, bright blue-eyed girl was born on a New York City pier at the foot of Canal Street. Even during her childhood years, her parents knew that she would be a peculiar girl. Jean discovered this at the age of seven. She had the same "sixth sense" that her great-grandfather had. They called their mysterious power, clairvoyance. Jeans 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 would know his every secret and thoughts." For a short time, Jean was a nurse for a New York City hospital. This job ended soon after because she couldnt stand the strain of knowing what was going to happen to her patients.
Finally in 1892, Jean came to Roaring River near Cassville, MO, and homesteaded a 160-acre tract of land. Soon after her arrival, people came curiously to her home. Some asked to have their fortunes told, having heard of her "sixth sense." She put her fortune telling money in the bank. As her reputation grew, so did the number of people who were cautious of her. Many thought of her as a witch. Children played pranks on her, making her very angry. The men at the Roaring River CCC Camp were about her only friends except for her constant companions, black cats.
Her longest period ever being away from her Roaring River home was a five-year span during the war. She spent this time at Camp Upton, Long Island, acting as "Mother" for a soldiers cottage.
After her return to Roaring River, Jean started to be curious about her own future. She was almost completely blinded and could only see a thick fog. She had always insisted that it was God or some other inhibition that had caused her prophetic eye to be blinded. As Jean became older, she started to be careless about her personal appearance and could no longer walk the mile to the closest grocery store.
In her later years, before her death, townspeople came up to her disorderly, squalid house to make sure that she had fuel and food. They would always say that they were just passing through because Jean hated charity. Finally, her health failed. Her water supply in the house dwindled because she couldnt walk the 200 yards down a steep path to the spring. People coming to her home became fewer and fewer as time progressed and her only source of income was her old-age pension.
One afternoon, February 29, 1940, two boys found Jeans cabin completely burned. County Coroner, Floyd Callaway, and Sheriff Troy Wilson, agreed that the fire started when Jean tried to kindle a fire with kerosene and live coals. Fragments of bones were found in the ashes near her small heating stove.
Jean Wallaces last will and testament was found at the Bank of Seligman in a safety box along with $226.00 from her fortune-telling. Her will stated that her homestead was to go to her best friend, Reverend Samuel Kent, of Clearwater, Florida. He was an Episcopalian minister. The money, the will said, went to her funeral. The will stated, "The money is to pay for a funeral in keeping with my means and position in life."
Jean Wallaces funeral was at the Union Church at Seligman. During her 88 years of life, she spent 48 of them living atop a mountain in Roaring River Park.
Keepsake Stories of the Ozarks, 1978 Litho Printers, Cassville, MO.
Roaring River Heritage; By Irene Homer, Litho Printers, 1978.
NOTE: Connie was the second place winner in the 1984 Historical Essay Contest of our society. She attended Cassville High School and was a student in the College Preparatory English Class of JoAnne Ellis.
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