For those of you who were at the monthly meeting of the Historical Society a few weeks ago, this will not be new material, but most of the following has not been published by me previously. And a couple of these I intend to cover more thoroughly at a later date. But I thought to share our main discussion that night for those of you who were unable to attend.
“Urban legends are stories we’ve grown up with about local places – hauntings, rumors, scandals, murders. These legends usually include tragic incidents you sometimes can’t elaborate on to protect the privacy of certain families.
“Among some of those stories I have not featured yet is one I’ll entitle The Truth Behind the Slash Monster, and it is datelined 1949. Stories grew up around the murder of barber Cloyed Cook in the barbershop at the Spottswood Hotel. Mr. Cook was the father of Esca Cook Wilson, aunt of the late Joel Wilson of the Glasgow Daily Times.
“Convicted of the murder was a man who stood well over 6 ft. tall. Suffering from mental problems most of his life, he didn’t take criticism or teasing very well. Cook made an offhand comment about the haircut one of the other barbers (Mr. Furlong) had given the man. The man went home to retrieve his gun and return to the Spottswood. And the rest is history.
“Later in his life, the troubled man lived in a small house out the Old Munfordville Rd- Lexington Drive, not far from the bridge there over Beaver Creek. People would catch glimpses of the wild man lurking in the trees and bushes and the tall grass, and mistake him for some kind of ‘Bigfoot’. As he went barefoot most of the time, people also found large footprints in the dried mud. And those who knew who it was steered away from him. Some of the generation preceding me worked with him there in the fields as teenagers, and said the man never really spoke to them, and was a hard worker. But the spooky stories of his lurking in the shadows was how the Slash Monster came into existence.
“There is also the story of Charlie Bybee, who was returning home with a trunk full of presents for his children and family a few days before Christmas in the 1920s. Bybee came through Westmoreland, TN and Scottsville, KY, on through to near Lucas, where he got on Hwy 1318 to have a shorter ride home. Not far down the road he saw a black man walking. As it was on toward night, and the weather was wet at best, he stopped and offered the man a ride. Charlie Bybee was never seen alive again.
“The black man was looking for a car to impress his girl, it has been said, and the rest is history. A week long frantic search for Bybee ended in locating his remains in the Skaggs Creek at the well-known Buffalo Ford. Will T. Chambers died on 7 March 1924 in Eddyville’s electric chair for the murder of Charlie Bybee. Bybee’s death adds to the spookiness of the area near Buffalo Ford, which is less than a mile from the infamous ‘Green Mansion’. But the story of Bybee and Chambers has remained untold by me until this day out of respect for Bybee’s daughter, who all of us know fondly as the sweet Eleanor Rice.
“Areas such as Buffalo Ford, which is on the Oil Well Road, are pervasive with spookiness and have always drawn the adrenaline junkies. Places labeled as haunted draw a crowd, and then they stay in the minds for many years. As the next generation comes along, they don’t necessarily know why an area is supposed to be haunted, they only have a vague knowledge of the original tale, so they make something up – sometimes right on the spot.
“Sometimes rumors of hauntings can turn out to be dangerous when curious people go seeking answers. The previously mentioned Green Mansion is a perfect example of this. The farm was abandoned in the late 1920s, after Mrs. Johnson died peacefully in her sleep. But wild tales about the place started in the late 1960s, and still persist to this day, even though the house is long gone.
“The farm sits on a spot of land in a bend of Skaggs Creek, and likened to a peninsula, the farm is kind of isolated, even today. Below the old farm is a bowl of land once known as the ‘Cathedral’. Some sort of meetings were held there at night in the ’60s and ’70s, and by torchlight, this could be seen for miles around. Several people tried to break up these parties, or crash them, and would find themselves forcibly ran off. Rumors were rife, and there is even one tale of 2 teenagers wandering into one such meeting, being told to leave, and they died later that evening in a very tragic car accident.
“There’s a small family graveyard near where the house was that has been vandalized several times. It’s a shame really, as only 3 of the graves are marked – a Confederate soldier, his teenaged brother, and their baby sister.
“And then there are handprints. Only 2 places I’ve seen this phenomena in Barren County – Green Mansion and Martha’s Divine Hole on White’s Chapel Rd. at Falling Timber Creek. It is creepy to discover small handprints on your car, about the size of a 3 or 4 year old child, especially if you don’t have any small children in your life.
“For my last tale, I must tell you I am a need to see to believe, or hear to believe in this case. I have been to the farm that once existed behind the New Salem Methodist Church. In the mid-1990s, while my last husband and I were dating, he mentioned a place in a clearing near his grandfather’s old farm, that you could hear disembodied voices mumbling on occasion, and when you walked into the circle of voices, once there, they abruptly stopped. I scoffed, but once I experienced it, several years later, I cannot to this day explain it. The house is now long gone, burned down by some arsonist on Hallowe’en night in 1994.
“I found by research, a newspaper article, with the late JT Pedigo’s help, about JT Lyons taking his own life, in those very woods. After he disappeared his family was distraught because Mr. Lyons wasn’t in the best of health. He was discovered propped against a tree 3 days later, less than 20 yds. from the front door of the house, in this creepy clearing.
“On a final note – the grandfather, who you all know from a previous article about the Dead Wagon as Crawford Davidson, came in early one afternoon from the fields to retrieve something before driving into Glasgow. When he stepped out of the bedroom into the living room, he came face to face with an unknown man dressed in women’s clothes. Mind you, this was the 1940s or early ’50s.
“The man disappeared out the door, and no one else ever saw him. It was thought he may have been an escaped felon from a neighboring county.”