The Hanging of Cal Logston

 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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.                    

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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.

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         Cal’s body rests in a grave marked with a simple sandstone marker that reads “Cal Logston hanged 1872”.

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 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. 

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Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Some of the Native Americans had several uses for the Bloodroot plant. They would use the bright red dye made from the root as war paint and dyeing baskets and clothing.

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   It was a custom for a bachelor of the Ponca Tribe to rub the bright red root into the palm of his hand and then try to scheme a plan to shake the hand of the woman he desired to marry. By doing this he would color her hand as well. This was meant to be a type of love spell.

(Be very careful this plant can be toxic to ingest!)

The Mystery of Fiddler’s Rock by Backwoods Adventures

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This past falI I set out on a quest to find a place called Fiddler’s Rock. After a lot of research, some map reading, and a little time in the forest near the Tennessee - Kentucky State line; I found the rock and took these pictures.

    There are many legends about Fiddler’s Rock, too many actually to mention them all. These are the ones I found the most interesting. 

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     #1   According to one local lore, there was an old man who came through this area with a fiddle. He would stop at houses to play for them in hopes that they would feed him. One day, he supposedly walked into a cave and was to never be seen again. The story goes that the locals could still hear him playing but never were able to find where the sound was coming from. Some say on a still night, you can occasionally  hear a fiddle playing near Fiddler’s Rock even after all these years.

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    #2   Another legend is that there was a moonshiner who lived nearby who played the fiddle. This legend explains that the carvings on the rock were a secret sign to let people know the direction to his cabin if they wanted to buy his moonshine.

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     #3 This story says that the rifle is pointing in the direction of Johnathan Swifts’ long lost silver mine. Most people who know this story all agree the long lost mine has never been found and  is most likely in Kentucky, Tennessee, or South West Virginia.

     #4  This local lore is the one that I believe more and seems to be the most true.

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According to some this was a place members of the surrounding communities from both Tennessee and Kentucky would gather for dances and to court much like a barn dance without the barn.

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The old road itself served as the dance floor. Evidence of the old road bed can still be seen by the rock today. The fiddler would stand on the rock facing the crowd. This would explain why so many names, dates, and initials are etched into the stone.   Among these is a nearly full size outline of a man wearing cowboy boots, a rifle, and a fiddle with its bow. All of which could play a part in any of these legends.

 The mystery of Fiddler’s Rock may never be solved. But at least now we know the place is real ! 

The Pearl Harbor Tree

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Hidden away off trail inside Cades Cove in what  was once Golman Myers front yard, stands a Sweet Gum Tree, known as the “Pearl Harbor Tree”. Today one could easily walk past the old homesite unaware there was even a home that once stood there. 

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  On December 7, 1941, the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor made its’ way into the Cove.   

     While mourning the loss of life in Hawaii and dreading the impending war that would surely pull his draft age sons from the family farm, Gorman Myers made his way into the mountains to return to his home with a small Sweet Gum seedling.

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    As Mr Myers planted the small tree in his front yard, he told his family “We will remember this day forever.” 

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 Today the Sweet Gum has grown into a very large and mighty tree.

   Mr Myers was right. We will remember that day forever.

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