The Labor Day music festival is a reminder that The Nation
is neither gone nor forgotten.
The article below was submitted to the QUAD RIVER NEWS by Bonnie Welch, who said she did not know the author. It is datelined Bethany, Mo., Jan. 22, 1938, and identified as a "Special to the News-Press", presumably of St. Joseph.
"Famed within a radius of many miles from its vague location in the north edge of Missouri and spoken of more frequently than not in good natured derision, lies The Nation (sic).
The Nation grew to be thought of a-far as the deepest of the remote backwoods, where the men went barefoot most of the year and wore their hair long, and got out to civilization only at widely separated intervals.
Thus it always has been difficult to define the location of The Nation, which lies somewhere between Allendale on the west and Hatfield on the east, both small inland town. In general, it is a territory adjacent to Lott's Creek, small stream which rises in Iowa and empties into a branch of the Grand River in Worth County, Mo.
Few, if any of the residents of the neighborhood, themselves, know how it acquired its name. To learn the true story it was necessary to go outside it, to Grant City, Mo., where the facts were learned from K.F. Gregg, now 77 years old, who was raised at the edge of The Nation.
The Nation contained not more than 40 acres when the name first was applied to it by Squire Neal, a Worth County justice of the peace whose home was about 3-1/2 miles east and slightly north of Allendale, Gregg explains.
"Two families lived there, right close together and they racketed a right smart." Said Gregg. "They just had little rackets at home; no court matters. No law was brought into it, because they always settled things themselves. And because there wasn't any outside law, old Squire Neal called it The Nation.
"There was just a little patch. It wasn't five years after Squire Neal named it until he was in it, himself. It kept a-spreading until it took in Allendale and Hatfield, and all that country over there.
"Everybody over there, if you would ask them, they would deny it, and would say, 'No, it is just over there.' The families where it started were in Worth County. I lived just over in Harrison, and I would tell them that it was in Worth. The 40 acres was just at the edge of Worth County, with lots of brush. Now it is all farmed.
Hostile rivalries and jealousies grew up among groups of young men from the three communities proper--the Allendale boys, the Nationites and the Redburst boys. The last were from about Hatfield and were so called after some white oak covered ridges near where they lived, which turned a blazing red after frosts.
"They would bat at each other pretty lively, but nobody cared," relates Gregg. "They would smack each other with clubs, too, but nobody ever was killed".