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Buddy Mondlock’s new album features a song about his Missouri ancestors

Buddy Mondlock will perform Friday, February 10 at Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla and Saturday, February 11 at Focal Point in St. Louis.
Jeff Fasano
Buddy Mondlock will perform Friday at Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla and Saturday at Focal Point in St. Louis.

Veteran singer-songwriter Buddy Mondlock lives in Nashville, but his newest album includes a song based on a true story of one of his ancestors who lived on a farm about 30 miles northeast of Rolla.

His album release tour has Mondlock playing close to where his great-great-grandfather Jackson Petty lived and died.

“The story of Jackson Petty has been in my family for generations, and I actually wrote the song some time ago,” Mondlock said. “But it never seemed to be the right time to record it until now.”

Mondock said his grandmother, Jackson Petty’s granddaughter, told him the story of how Petty used the corn growing on his family’s Missouri farm to save his life.

Petty was 13 at the start of the Civil War, and Mondlock’s grandmother said at that time, soldiers would come through farms like his family’s in Canaan, Missouri, looking for supplies and recruits.

“Jackson Petty’s parents told him ‘if they come and see you, they’re going to recruit you. They are going to force you to join whatever side comes through.’ Because they were looking for anyone taller than a rifle was fair game, I think,” Mondlock said.

So Jackson Petty was told to go out deep into the cornfield and lie down until the soldiers left.

And while he had a good life and became a father himself, according to the family story, Jackson Petty never got over the trauma.

“When World War I started in Europe, and there was a lot of talk here about our side joining in, he just apparently became fixated on this idea that his sons were going to be taken away from him and made to fight in this war, and as my grandmother told me, he just couldn’t handle that thought, and he ended up taking his own life,” Mondlock said.

Jackson Petty died in the same cornfield that saved him from being conscripted when he was a child.

“It’s ironic that everything was about surviving when he was hiding out there in the cornfield. And yet that act is what ended up costing him his life later on,” Mondlock said.

"I’m trying to make the point that everybody suffers in these kinds of situations. As a child he suffered, but as a father he suffered, too,” Mondlock said.

On tour to promote his album “Filament,” Buddy Mondlock will perform Friday night in Rolla at Ozark Actors Theatre and Saturday night at the Focal Point in St. Louis.

“It will be nice to perform this song close to where he lived,” Mondlock said.

Jonathan Ahl is the Newscast Editor and Rolla correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.