Thursday, October 31, 2013

Haunted Lights Of The Great Swamp

The Great Swamp lies just west of the famous Christmas Place. Large parts have been turned to cropland and cut with roads now so that it is not the impenetrable swamp it once was but the remaining parts are dark and full of mystery.  Here, the Haunted Lights of the Great Swamp are still feared by the locals.
In 1885 the civil war was over and the people of the delta were still trying to rebuild their lives by farming. Small farmers ruled the day on small 50-100 acre farms and no one here had the ability or money to have the vast farms that had thrived before the War. Even so, a new bank for these small farmers was built in Tchula. Trade on the river was good and cotton prices were rising. It looked like the beginning of a new and better time for everyone, except that there is always someone willing to try to take what others have worked so hard to acquire.

Three men with fast horses had planned the robbery of the Citizens Bank of Tchula on a late fall Halloween day when a large amount of new money was in the bank to pay the farmers for their meager cotton crop. Entering the bank and filling their saddle bags with cash, the robbers fled south after a brief gunfight that left one bank guard dead and another wounded.  They crossed the South Bridge and the railroad headed towards Yazoo City. Just north of Thornton, they turned into the Great Swamp and headed for their little hideout and a boat on the Black River that would take them downriver under the cover of night, hopefully to disappear forever. The only problem with their plan was the rain.
At the turnoff, a storm hit that had sprang out of the West. Rain hammered down and at first it helped them by covering their tracks and keeping people off the roads, but it did not let up as they wound deeper and deeper into the dark swamp. By the time they reached their camp it was dark and the water in the river was quickly rising. Leaving their horses, they climbed aboard the john-boat, lit a lantern, and headed downstream toward the Yazoo River.
In an hour they were completely lost. The swiftly rising water pushed them into places away from the river and their lantern had been extinguished by the driving rain. All they could do was ride the currents and hope to find way out, then through the blinding rain they saw a light.
They could go no further and headed in that direction until they came to a high spot in the flooded bottom and pulled their boat ashore.  Carefully they moved toward the light and it disappeared. It reappeared moments later and they kept working toward it as it seemed to move just outside of their reach. Deeper and deeper they went with the siren sight of the flickering lights leading them. Their eyes began to glow, they lost all sight and sound, and still they blindly struggled and pulled themselves through the muddy swamp following the deceiving lights, totally lost and condemned to a hellish death.
The boat finally washed away and the money was lost to the great Swamp.  The search party found the horses but the three men were never seen alive again.  The rumor is told that on Rainy Halloween nights, and you are deep in the swamp coming out after hunting,  the rotting, skeletal corpses of the three men can be seen wandering the Great Swamp still following the ghostly haunted lights. Be careful that you don’t join them.

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