Well, I’ve told my share of stories and I’ve heard a lot too. I’d say most of what I’m about to tell you is true and the rest... well, I’m going to pass along as it was told to me.
Cal Logston was the last man in Fentress County, Tennessee to be hung by the court system. He was accused of murder.
In 1872 a horse drawn wagon carrying Cal’s coffin pulled up in front of the old Fentress County jail. Cal and a Rev. Wright came out and climbed into the wagon and sat on Cal’s coffin to ride to the site of the hanging. At 1:30 pm they reached the gallows. A large crowd had gathered. Men and women wore their Sunday best on this beautiful, sunny day for the big event.
Cal was able to shake hands with family and friends. Once standing on the hanging platform, Cal requested to make one final statement.
“I’m innocent and to prove this I will be hung three times as the rope will break twice”. The rope was then placed and tightened around his neck. The trap door was released and Cal dropped straight to the ground because the rope broke instantly. The crowd hushed as a new rope was placed around Cal’s neck. This time when the trap door released the rope held for 30 seconds before breaking. A third time, a weak and groggy Cal Logston was lead to the platform and he weakly raised his hand to silence the crowd. He had something else to say. Cal warned the crowd that he was in fact innocent of this crime. He also added. “ If I’m hung for a third time, you will know you have hanged an innocent man, as there will be three days and three nights of rain as never seen before in this county. Tomorrow will be the biggest flood that has been on the Obey River. Also, 100 years after my hanging, on the site of my burial a multitude of poisonous snakes will emerge. If I’m quilty , these things will not be.”
Cal was then hung for the third time. After the trap door was released Cal hung suspended for 27 minutes before he finally met he’s death.
Immediately after his death on this sunny day, it started to rain. The crowd panicked and ran to their buggies and horse drawn wagons as the rain came out of nowhere.
It rained for three days and three nights straight and the Obey River was transformed by this flood.
One hundred years after Cal was buried, venomous snakes came in multitudes near his graveite. In 1972 professionals from the University of Tennessee were called in to help with the removal of so many snakes in the area behind York Elementry school near Cal’s grave here in Jamestown, Tennessee.
Cal’s body rests in a grave marked with a simple sandstone marker that reads “Cal Logston hanged 1872”.
I’d also like to add what we discovered on our recent visit to Cal’s grave.
Although most people will tell you a Red Fern does not exist, there’s a Native American legend that says that only an angel can plant a Red Fern, so wherever a Red Fern grows it marks something very admirable and special.