I spent some part of the 70's in Central West Virginia, Braxton County, to be exact. The area is dotted with small communities. They all seemed to have a history, and those histories were passed down with legends and other "historical facts". attached. Actually, I think most of the the history of West Virginia is based on legends, lullabies and lies. I do not cast aspersions...I think every place has it's underbelly of historical oral tradition. West Virginia just seems to have more of it condensed into a smaller package.
I encountered communities named Duck, Nicut, Frametown Oma, Harold, Dillie, Flatwoods, Copen, Bull Town, Bliss, Sevia, Centralia, German Cutlips, Shock and Strange Creek. They seemed a little over the top for a boy who grew up with Tallassee, Oconee, Onego, Tallulah, Ogechee. You are welcome to make up the folklore for any of the above.
Braxton County was approx. 609 sq. miles and at one time had over 100 schools dotted around a hard to navigate mountainous areas. Braxton County is the dead center of West Virginia, which is probably why spaceships land in Flatwoods, a few miles from the center point, and a ghostly wagon trains pull up the grade near Sutton Reservoir on the now infamous Elk River.
Despite my efforts to stay in bed this morning, I was awaken early. I like it when You're wakened by random thoughts rolling trough the empty streets of a not quite awake brain. It's sorta' like a tottler climbing up on the bed to see what's shaking in you're world this morning.
Strange Creek woke me up. I had heard smatterings of a legend involving a skeleton of a man, a dog, and a rusted old rifle. I never really researched the story while living in West Virginia in the 70's until this morning. It's been twenty years since i thought about it.
Here is was I found on the web... Plagiarized (why do they put cut and paste if they don't want you to use it) for your reading enjoyment:
PRELIMINARY NOTE 1: THE STRANGE CREEK LEGEND: "Some time between 1794 and 1795 William Strange was a young surveyor’s cook, or at least part of a surveyors crew that was taking pack horses to a certain location to rendezvous with the surveyors. They were surveying a large land grant that was commonplace at that time.
During this rendezvous, Strange became lost. Some say Strange became scared and lost due to thinking that he was under attack from Indians [Native Americans], as Indian [Native American] raids were commonplace in this area back then.
Supposedly a skeleton was found somewhere on current day Strange Creek. Some say there was also an old musket and the remains of a dog. Most importantly there was a carving on a tree, which, according to Skip Johnson “the wordings differ in every telling” but is the “heart and soul of the Strange Creek Legend.” The version I like is:
Strange is my name,
And strange the ground,
And strange that I
Cannot be found.
Why, If Hollywood were to find this mysterious place and story, a mini series would certainly be the result. Millions could be made of the plastic figurines in fast food kid's meals. Saturday morning cartoons could perpetuate the super hero "Billy Strange and his dog, Tracker"... brought to you by Garmin.
The mystery is now solved in my mind. Tomorrow morning maybe I'll get the real "truth" from the legend of Scott Hollow Cave and Cora Jones. Ain't West Virginia great!