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Thread: ROBERT MORRISS: CANNIBAL SLAYER

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  1. #1
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    ROBERT MORRISS: CANNIBAL SLAYER

    These are the authentic statements regarding events in Bedford county in the years of 1820-1822 as told to me by my uncle, Robert Morris, during the second year of the Confederate War, concerning the visit of Thomas J Beale.
    James Beverly Ward-1882
    It was January of 1820 when Thomas J Beale and friends first hired rooms at the Washington Hotel. Beale was six foot and handsome, and the ladies found him charming, but his companions were pale and withdrawn from others, and rarely ate with the other guests.
    It was two weeks later that the mutilated bodies of family dogs and livestock were being found throughout Bedford county. The sheriff claimed it had to be the work of wolves, but Franklin, the local tracker, claimed no wolf tracks were found at any scene of the carnage, but there were several sets of boot tracts, and what appeared to be the marks of a man's knees next to the bodies.
    Morriss noted that Beale's companions now seemed to have a healthy glow, but still never attended the nightly meal.

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    A week later, Reverend Charles Clay joined us for Sunday meal. As we ate, the conversation was consumed with tales about the west. Beale was forthcoming, relating that he, with twenty-nine associates had traveled west to hunt buffalo, then turned to Reverend Clay, and asked a curious question.
    Beale's inquiry concerned whether a Christian could become victim to a curse of the ancient ones.
    All eyes fell on Beale, as he explained that an Indian medicine man had warned him and his men not to enter into a cave next to campsite, that they would be overcome with a hunger that could never be satisfied.
    Reverend Clay informed all that the curses of savages had no effect on those who accepted Jesus.
    Beale never revealed what they found in the cave.

  3. #3
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    Spring came early, so I hitched the buggy and took Sarah on an afternoon jaunt through the countryside. The air had that crisp sweet smell of new growth, and Sarah ad I were both in a jolly mood.
    About a half mile from Buford's, we encountered a curious sight by the side of the road.
    One of Beale's men, named Lister, I believe, was standing over the body of old man Witcher, with Witcher's still beating heart in his mouth, spurting blood covering his face.
    Sarah screamed, Lister lifted his head and slowly came toward us.
    I always carry a shotgun when traveling, which I grabbed, leap from the buggy, slapped the horse's rear, sending Sarah in the buggy to safety, as I faced the approaching Lister.
    I yelled for him to stop, but his mouth was in constant motion in anticipation of another meal.
    I had never killed another, but I gave him both barrels, taking his head clean off.
    Suddenly weakened, I collapsed on my rear by the side of the road, with time out of joint.

  4. #4
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    My senses returned at the sound of beating hooves and wheels.
    Sarah had brought Paschal, who had heard the gunshot. Armed with a musket and sword that he carried during the Battle of New Orleans, Paschal scouted the area for sign of other cannibals that may be lurking in the wood, finding none, he drove Sarah and I back to his Inn.
    Sitting at a table, Paschal handed me an earthen jug of the clear Peaks of Otter liqueur to calm my nerves, an began to speak of the recent strange events that have occurred on the road to Fincastle.

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    Paschal told of mysterious comings and goings of night riders who passed by his Inn, men whose eyes glowed red like a wild beast. One night he was awaken by the sound of a heavy wagon, working its way towards Fincastle.
    The most curious and frightening was what a young Otey girl observed in the forest while gathering mushrooms for the family stew.
    She came upon two men who were ripping a deer apart with their teeth. She dropped her basket of mushrooms and ran home breathless to tell her father. Otey and his older son, armed with musket, entered to wood only to find the dropped basket of mushrooms and the ripped carcass of a freshly killed dear, but no men.
    Also there were reports of hunters who never returned from the wood, missing slaves who just vanished, and tales from the local Indian tribe of braves gone missing or of being found half devoured by an unknown animal.
    The sun was down, and Paschal gave us a room at the Inn.
    Before we retired, Paschal and I made sure the door was barred and the window shutters secured.
    I will confess, Sarah and I had very restless sleep, at times hearing scratching at the door and windows.
    Sunrise could not arrive sooner to calm our growing fear.

  6. #6
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    We all arose with the sun, and Mrs Buford had prepared a hearty breakfast table of eggs, bacon, grits a hotcakes.
    The events of the day before were not fit for morning conversation, so the talk was kept light.
    After the meal, we graciously thank our hosts and took our leave.
    On our ride home, Sarah and I were both silent, holding in our thoughts on all that had occurred.
    As we reached our Washington Hotel, we observed someone on the porch, sitting in the bent wood rocker, holding an iron box on his lap. It was Beale.
    Beale stood up from the rocker as Sarah and I ascended the hotel's steps.
    He reported that he had urgent business to attend to in New Orleans and must depart post haste.
    Handing me the iron box, Beale told me that if he did not return in ten years, that I was to open the box and read the contents contained therein.
    With that, Beale mounted his dapple grey gelding and rode off.
    That was the last time that I ever saw Thomas Beale.

  7. #7
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    1820 became our summer of discontent, with a constant reign of missing folks and livestock mutilations. It came to a head when young Coles was attacked by several of these fiendish men, but escaped by fending them off with his hunting knife, suffering with only a few bite marks and scratches.
    Major Risqué called for a town meeting, and all the men of Bedford county attended.
    Along with the Bufords, were Hutters, Kennerlys, Oteys, Hancocks, Earlys, and several members from the Melungeon settlement. The only woman in attendance was Chloe Delancy, who stood at the rear of the town hall.
    During the meeting, Delancy spoke of Beale coming to her Botetourt county home and taking their son to New Orleans.
    Risqué winced at the mention of Beale, unconsciously rubbing his side in memory of a duel years before.
    It was decided that tomorrow a hunt would set out to end this cannibal threat once and for all.

  8. #8
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    The next morning we gathered at Buford's Inn. The men with their older sons came armed with muskets, pistols, axes, pitchforks, and wood splitters maul. Risqué had two dueling pistols tucked in his belt, along with a sword and knife, with a musket to complete his armament. He divided us into parties of three, and Reverend Charles Clay blessed us with the armour of God, as he too was armed ,saying it was his duty the fight evil.
    I was placed with Paschal, who had military experience. He was well armed with a sword, musket ,four pistols, and a double headed axe. I carried my hunting musket and a hatchet used for splitting wood for the stove.
    The third member of our party was a Melungeon tracker, who carried only a long knife and tomahawk.
    He spoke a mixture of old style English with an Indian dialect, and I never could pronounce this brave warrior's name.
    This most dangerous was on. We were off to the forests of Fincastle.

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    The oppressiveness of the deep wood put me at edge, and I wished that I had not left behind my shotgun with Sarah at the hotel. It was two hours into the hunt, that a gunshot report filled the wood, followed by yelling screaming, and other horrific sounds of carnage.
    Suddenly they were upon us.
    Surrounded on all sides by shredded clothed dirt covered fiends that had lost all signs of humanity. Paschal and I fired our guns, with Paschal's shot true, but I suffered smoke in the eyes from a flash in the pan. As Paschal swung his double headed axe, I was knocked to the ground from behind. Like a hellhound from a whirlwind, the Melungeon dispatched my attacker, and within a few beats of the heart, had killed two other with his knife and tomahawk. Never had I seen a warrior so fierce. I owe him my life.
    The fight was over, with limbs and heads scattered about the forest floor. With his double headed axe, Paschal made sure they would never rise again.

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    On high alert we sorted out a temporary course to settle ourselves.
    A unanimous concession steered us off the trail to Fincastle and towards a chanticleer who's crowing hinted of a dwelling.
    With our arrival at the clearing and cabin he slunk off towards the garden at the sight of us, and not far behind and catching up with him a hen raced out of the cabins open door.
    Ravens, in the barn yard flushing and croaking dismay flew up into the tree's to watch.
    A disagreeable odor haunted the yard.Emanating, indicated by the extended arm of our tracker (still bearing scalps) upon seeing wrinkled noses; from the cabin.
    Last edited by releventchair; Apr 24, 2015 at 08:15 PM.
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    Steeling ourselves, Paschal eased the rest of the door open with his sword,pistol at the ready.
    Putting aside curiosity of the idea of him cleaving about in close quarters I allowed him plenty of advance.
    The floor was a black greasy mess on one half,gore smeared in with it. Gagging Paschal pushed the blankets hanging to screen the bed one at a time, again with the sword, and let them drop back to rest.
    Then passing our guide coming in, he removed himself to the yard.
    I retrieved an old bess from the floor, fired apparently one last time by an occupant. Dropping the ramrod down the bore resulted in a soft tink sound confirming it was empty.
    Grabbing the shooting bag from it's peg on the wall and cherishing the thought of fresher air myself, I joined Paschal.
    Soon our tracker appeared from the cabin with a pillow ticking curtain,iron skillets and a crock of corn. Probably for the chickens and guarded in the house. Ironic.
    All sampled the well,unfouled; and I took my forage cup filled to clean the musket while P. sat and smoked and pondered.
    The Melungeon had a fire up quickly and was crushing corn with the back of his tomahawk. One skillet toasted, sprinkled with some wood ash, and the other received the finished results to cool.( I don't ask him where he learned of nixtamalization, but the desire has to be stymied.)
    With a cleaned and dry bore now charged I looked to prime the pan while the corn was being poured into the center of the ticking ,tied at the corners and hung on the front strap of the natives blanket wool bag. Why he was still around I had no idea. Should he leave I knew we would not know till later and it would not be in our power to catch up, but I was appreciating his senses and skill in a fight. So be it though should a non engagé set out. It would not be the first time. Superstition or dissatisfaction with desired events often saw deserters, though in their eyes they were just going somewhere else. This fellow would be able to eat at a trot for days now, given an occasional shot of water to swallow it with.
    We would go on regardless; as ever.

    P. was back in control of his faculties and suggested pressing on to Fincastle.
    Our guide returned from a quick reconnaissance of the barn and yard with a quick look indicating we did not want to know....
    Heading back to the trail we heard the ravens start up again. Whatever was in the barnyard was theirs now.
    We were headed to sweeter air, and Fincastle.
    Last edited by releventchair; Apr 24, 2015 at 08:28 PM.
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    VERY WELL DONE, ECS! LOL!
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  14. #14
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    At Fincastle, we were joined with Major Risqué and his party, informing us that our day of carnage was done. While several of the Bedford folks showed the wear of battle, bite marks, scratches, a couple of broken limbs, one of the Earlys lost an eye, none were killed, thank God.
    We all retired to Buford's Inn, where Paschal gave all a shot of that hearty drink from the Peak of Otters, and two kegs of Bee Ale, that were soon down to the dregs.
    When I returned home to Sarah, a bit in my cups, I hugged her and told her it was over.

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    Before breakfast, and strong coffee not yet reducing the swelling in my brain, Jeeves coughed politely and stood at the kitchen door.
    "Yes Jeeves?"I asked the blurry figure. "Sir you have visitors" he replied.
    Here skirting around Jeeves was our Melungeon again, accompanied by a short old man with bowed legs, dressed close enough to his companion to indicate a shared association.
    "This man knows of spirits more than all of us and things must be put right. We killed already dead men.The wakened spirits from the cave;not so much.
    "Where is Beale?"
    "Gone" I said. "Gone East."
    The Melungeon thought for a moment. It was the only time I ever saw him smile.
    "He's gone West then" he said. Then departed.
    The old man sat down at the table and looked towards the breakfast being tended by a now very nervous cook. "Will I have coffee?" he asked.
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