Saturday, June 25, 2011


The election for the name of the town yielded surprising results.  The name that would be placed on the charter and sent to Jefferson City would be that of Flanders, Missouri.  A lot of Flanders kin lived in Clancy's Corner and the Clancy Corner People who had no family relationship to either the Petry's or the Flanders had sided with their neighbors by choosing Flanders as the name.  This upset the Petry lan and they began toplan for a recount until the committee offered a possible solution to the problem.

First the committee would divide the town into four sections.  Each section would have two council members and then the town as a whole would elect a mayor.  Two of the sections would be located in Petry Valley as it was now called with the other two being up in the town proper know as Clancy's Corner.  As expected the new council was divided between the Petry's and the Clancy people.  It would come down to the mayors race.

The Clancy Corner General Store was being run now by Gary Petry and Gary held a lot of informal get togethers in the store on Friday nights.  The two men running for Mayor were Howard Jackson from Petry Valley and Gerald Houseman from the Clancy Corner area.  As the debates among the citizenry continued, it became clear that perhaps Jackson may pull one out for the Petry Valley people.  Houseman was an old man with a lot of favors owed to others in town.  This would be just another favor he owed if he won the election for first mayor of Flanders, Missouri.

The election was finally held and to no one surprise, Howard Jackson won.  His first action was to build a combination City Hall and Couthouse.  Everyone in town would be expected to either donate money or labor to the construction of these two very important buildings.  The Mayor needed an office after all.

The council then put put the word that they were looking for a police chief to be sure things did not get out of control in the new town of Flanders.  Not that there had really been a lot of trouble in the past, just a few shootings and fist fights, but the council felt like they needed a lawful presence in the town.  They chose Harold Petry as the chief and Harold began the process of hiring two deputies to help him in his work.  Both of his hires were from Petry Valley.  The city was beginning to have a decidedly Petry look to it in spite of the name of Flanders.  There were fears at first but soon it became clear that the council, the mayor and the law enforcement were for all the people of Flanders and did not show favoritism toward the Clancy Corner people or the Petry Valley people.  The town was off to a good start.

In the mid fifties a flue epidemic raced through town.  It was devastating.   The town had grown to four thousand people by this time and almost a fourth of them died in the flue of 1957.  The flue epidemic prompted the building of a modern Hospital that was built between Clancy Corner and Petry Valley..  Everyone would have quick access to the hospital and it brought five additional doctors and numerous nurses to the small town.

By 1970 both the Petry name and the Flanders name were starting to fade away.  New comers who were looking for a quiet and safe town in which to live had found Flanders to be just the place.  The police force grew and anytime a law was broken, justice was dealt out swiftly and fairly.  They built three schools.  Petry Valley Elementary and Clancy Corner Elementary along with the jewel of the school system Flanders High School.

As more and more people moved into the area and the population grew to seven thousand, the census of 1980 showed only 4 families carrying the Petry name and two with the Flanders name.  Over the next twenty years all of the Petrys would be gone and there would be one family left with the Flanders name.

The head of the last Flanders family was Joseph Jeremiah. He had a family of three sons and two daughters and lived in the main house in Petry Valley when the first major crime in the history of Flanders happened.  Some strangers came into Petry Valley one night and broke into the Main House.  They are still not sure what the motive was or who the people were, but by the way they talked they were not from Flanders.  The gathered up all of the family and marched them outside.  They then went in and trashed the whole of the main house and then attempted to set fire to it.  The fire started in the southeast corner of the house but for some reason died a slow death there and did not bring the house down.

While the fire was burning and things looked as though they were going to the strangers plan the began marching the family into the woods south of Petry Valley.  Joseph Jeremiah did not know what the situation was until one of the men said that by the time they got done walking, the whole family would be dead.  Whoever stopped walking first would be shot and so on and so on.

It was five year old Hannah that fell to her knees first after tripping over a tree root.  The strangers gave no time for explanation shooting Hanna in the head on the spot.  At that second Joseph's wife Sonya fell to her knees in stricken grief wailing over the body of her daughter.  As soon as her knees hit the ground a bullet was fired into her skull killing her instantly.  The rest of the family stood in shock and at the command of their captors began walking once again.

Joseph began trying to make a plan to save what remained of his family but nothing seemed like it would work.  As the marched continued into the next day it became clear that the children would not last much longer, and they didn't.  One by one as they dropped to their knees knowing what awaited them they were killed instantly.  The kids were praying as the bullets entered their heads.

Pretty soon it was only the eldest son John and Joseph still walking.  Somehow they communicated by looking at each other and reading their eyes and head nods.  As they approached a stream they put their silent plan into action.  Joseph bent over to scoop up some water.  The captor pointed his gun at Josephs head waiting for him to fall but instead Joseph scooped up a hand full of water and threw it in the killers face.  While the surprise factor was still in play Joseph went to grab the mans gun and there ensued a tug of war between the two.

Meanwhile John had jumped at his captor knocking the rifle to the ground he began pounding with his fist on the man until the man slowly stopped moving.  John then picked up his gun and fired a shot into the man's head.  John then turned his attention towards his father who was in a struggle for the weapon of the other captor.  John raised the rifle and took aim.  Just as he pulled the trigger, the gun Joseph was in a struggle for discharged.  Both John and the stranger fell to the ground dead.

Joseph mae his way back to Flanders and to the police station where he told his story to the chief.  No one could figure out what it was all about.  Some said that there were Petry's back east who had heard of the Petry land and had heard that a family by the name of Flanders had tricked the Petrys out of the land and they had come back to make things right.  No one really knew though and they never would.  No one recognized the men who had taken the Flanders family captive and had killed them one by one.

The bodies of the Flanders family were brought back to town.  It seemed all seven thousands members of the town had attended the funeral.  Joseph Jeremiah sat by himself as the funeral proceeded and the bodies were laid in the ground inside the Petry Cemetery just behind the Main House.

Men volunteered to fix up the corner of the house that had been burned and women brought food around to Joseph almost every night.  Slowly that began to slow down as people got use to the idea that a crime had been committed long ago and it was never solved..

Now Joseph sits on the front porch, his eyes staring down at Petry creek and still tries to make sense of what happened to his family.  He is an old man now and Clancys Corner Drugstore delivers his foods and medicines every week.

Joseph Jeremiah Flanders - 2008

The town still flourishes and has had a steady population of ten thousand for decades now.  It is still a fairly crime free area with arguments between drunks being about as bad as it gets.  Descendants from either the Petry family or the Flanders family have held the mayors seat over fifty percent of the time.  But there is no one named Petry in the town   Joseph is the only Flanders name in the town.  What started out as a small family place to get away from it all turned into a small Missouri town with a history of both peace and violence.

Now Joseph Flanders sits on his porch watching Petry Creek and waiting for the time when he will finally rejoin his family after all these years.

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