The man was driving his team of horses past his neighbor's farm when his horses became upset and reared their heads and started acting up. He pulled back on the reins and stopped them to see what was wrong. Then he heard it. Horses were whinnying and crying in distress. Something was wrong.
The noise was coming from George's barn, which was set a short distance from the road. He clicked his horses and they started forward until they came to the dirt road that turned into the farm. He turned his team into the road, pulled in front of the barn, jumped down and hurried to the barn doors, and opened them. He went inside and to his horror he realized the horses in the stalls were without water on this very hot August day.
He hurried to the well and filled a couple of pails of water and poured them into the water troughs in the stalls. He poured just a little in each trough, then waited a bit before he poured some more. He didn't want the horses to get too much water all of a sudden and get sick. While waiting, he noticed that they had chewed off each other's tails and manes and had chewed on the stall! The poor horses had been without food for several days well as the water! He quickly filled the feed troughs from the feed boxes inside the tack room.
His neighbor, George, was a good man, and a friend. He was sixty-five years old and had lived there for ten years, his wife, Rebecca, having died a few months before. He had earned his freedom by 1849 by working hard and saving his money. He, "a free man of colour" had bought a 30-acre farm from his former master, Peter N. Johnson, on September 19, 1849 for $180. George was well respected in the area, by black people, and white as well. He would never have left his horses without food or water. Something was wrong.
He went to the house and hollered for George. He went inside the side door and checked the house and the back yard, in case he had fallen and hurt himself. There was no sign of him. A chair had been turned over in the kitchen, but he saw no other disturbance. Everything else in the two story log house was neat and clean. He left the house by the front door, and then he saw a bloodstained ax beside the front door and blood on the steps!
He got back on his wagon and hurried to the small community of Sacramento, a couple of miles away, and stopped at the first house. He quickly told them about what he had found at George's. The man sent a couple of his oldest boys to alert the other neighbors. In a short while there were a dozen neighbors there to help search for George, one of them being John Baggett.
They searched up and down the ditches and fields and along the creek. They searched through the woods and along the edge of the crop land. They finally met back at George's to discuss what to do next. They stopped by the well and pulled the bucket up to get some cold water since it was so hot. They stood around the well, and discussed what to do next.
Then one of the men noticed something on the side of the stones that made up the well. He looked closer and recognized what the dark brownish material was! He cried, "Blood! There's blood here!" Sure enough, there was blood, and not a little bit. One of them quickly looked down into the well. There was something in the deep water!
Story to be continued in next week's edition. Original true story researched and written by Landon and Ilene Wills in 1958. Some of the information was given by Lucian Coffman, on July 13, 1953. He was the grandson of Peter N. Johnson. Story is in our files. Landon had given my mother, Louise Sandefur Willis, permission to use the story however she wanted, somewhere around 1985.
The Research Center is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you have not worked on your family tree, we can show you how. Don't wait until all the older folks have passed away and there is nobody left to ask for information! We can also help you to order a DNA test, and it will be shipped to your house.
The Treasure House is open the same times. They have lots of summer clothes for adults and children, and much cheaper than at WalMart. If you need some books to keep you busy during these hot summer days, they have lots of both paperback and hardbacks! You can also stop by and get some craft items such as knitting and crocheting materials to keep you busy.