“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King
Down in the old town of Bennettsville there is a legend of a farmer who was mad and was known to eat the bodies of his victims.
George Henry was a strange old fellow. He grew up in the Mountains of Tennessee and later ventured to Maryland as a teenager.
The story goes like this – while growing up in Tennessee as a youngster he was known to wander the woods now known as the Cherokee National Forest and consort with unseen things in there.
His parents said that they would sometimes not see him for days as he had built himself a small fort that he would basically consider his second home.
George was what many people would call “odd” as compared to other folks in the area. Most kids his age went to school and church, but not George.
It has been stated that George flat-out refused to even step foot on the grounds of the local church. One time when his parents tried to take him into the church forcefully, George ended up biting a chunk of his father’s arm off.
The local’s referred to George as a monster. Perhaps a child of the devil as they saw it. It was no wonder that the locals ended up chasing George and his family out-of-town around 1870 after several children who had played with George went missing over time.
The scene was literally like something you have probably read about or seen in movies.
The locals came to the Henry’s family farmhouse, with pitchforks and torches and demanded that they leave town. The Henry’s were frightened by both their son and the outrage by the townspeople.
They had no choice. They packed up what they could that night and took off in their wagon and headed for Northern Virginia where George’s father Gideon had some relatives.
No one really knows for sure what happened on the trip but Gideon, Lydia (George’s mom) and George never made it to Northern Virginia.
Gideon’s cousin Clara had received a telegraph from Gideon stating they would arrive in Alexandria sometime around May the 5th.
Guess what? They didn’t show up and Clara had no idea what happened until later.
All we know is that George ended up in Bennettsville, Maryland around July – August of 1870. Being a lone teenager, the locals didn’t take kindly to him showing up there.
While passing through Virginia, George met a man who was headed to Maryland to get a job on a farm in Bennettsville. While riding together on the road George decided that the man was not going to make it to Bennettsville.
George did something to his traveling friend that is almost unspeakable. While they were camped out for the night George asked his travel companion if he believed in the Devil.
Being a Christian man he replied, “Well, yes I do George.”
That’s when George pulled out his hunting knife and stuck it in the gut of the man. That wasn’t it though.
George hung the man from a tree and drained him of his blood collecting it in a tub on the ground. Later George carved the man up like a deer and ate him over a hot campfire.
George had to bury the parts of the body he didn’t consume for concern that someone might find out if he was to take it with him on his journey.
So now instead of heading to West Virginia which was George’s original plan, he decided to head for Maryland instead.
For only being sixteen George was a big man. He stood over six feet four inches and weighed nearly 300 pounds. He was a sight to behold. Big, strong, and as mean as they come.
Even though the locals were skittish by this enormous man, it didn’t stop Clay Wallace from hiring him on his farm that summer. Not only did Clay hire him, he also rented him a room above the barn.
Being so big and strong George was a big help to Clay. So much so, eventually Clay ended up selling George over 100 acres of land across the ridge on his property.
George was now in his twenties and the owner of 100 acres of land. He eventually built himself a modest farmhouse on the property and had about 50 workers as well.
George ran a profitable business and did pretty well for himself. But there was still one problem.
George was the spawn of Satan himself. It wasn’t long until people went missing in the town of Bennettsville. No one knew that it was George who was to blame.
When someone went missing it was usually presumed that they headed out West to search for gold or they just got tired of the Country life and moved down town to Baltimore City where all the action and money was.
Most of George’s victims were passerby’s who were looking to make a few bucks before heading on. There were lots of local taverns in the area and that is where George told the owners to send anyone looking for work to come to his farm.
One man named William was the first one to escape from George’s farm still alive. The story goes that one day William was working the farm late that night when he stumbled upon something that frightened him.
While relieving himself behind one of the work sheds he saw what appeared to be a bone. Upon further examination this was not the bone of an animal, but of a man.
It was late October and a bit chilly outside. William feeling leery was ready to get back to the Black Horse Tavern where he was spending the night.
William dropped the bone and went to tell George that he was done for the day. When William knocked on the door of the farm-house he was startled to see that George was walking from the same direction that William had just came from.
William instantly noticed that George was carrying the femur bone in his hand while walking towards the house where William was standing on the front porch.
George walked right up to William and cracked him over the left side of his head knocking him unconscious.
William later woke up, his hands were tied with a piece of rope and he felt a bit dazed and confused with the left side of his head gushing blood.
William wasn’t sure where he was at first, but later realized he was in the cellar of George’s house.
George was just out of William’s sight but he could distinctly make out the sound of a grinding machine.
William noticed the grinding machine stop and heard the loud footsteps of George coming near him.
William pretended to still be unconscious because he knew in his condition he couldn’t out muscle George.
George picked up William from the damp cold floor of the cellar like a sack of potatoes – and hung him on a meat hook hanging from the floor joists using the rope that was tied around his hands.
George was about to slice the jugular vein of William when there was a knock on the door. He went upstairs to see who was at the door. It was a friend of William’s named Milton who was staying with him at the Black Horse Tavern.
Milton asked George if he had seen William. George said, “He ain’t here” and slammed the door in Milton’s face.
While George was making his way back downstairs William managed to free himself from the meat hook and was making for the basement window.
George climbed up the shelf that was used for storing canned goods and reached over for the window to open it. He got the latch open and swung his body from the canning shelf that was to the right of the window.
He pulled himself up and through the window when George came down and reached out for Williams’ leg, but he was too late. William just made it out the window and headed for the long path that would take him to the main road.
William headed for the first house he found and began banging on the door.
Mr. Thomas shockingly answered the door as he saw William’s face was covered with blood. He hurried William in and asked him what happened to his head.
William, in a panicked state told Mr. Thomas the whole story and then he immediately passed out on the sitting chair in Mr. Thomas’s living room.
At this time it was around 10:00 at night and too late to do anything about it.
But the next morning Mr. Thomas went to several of his neighbor’s and told them what happened at George Henry’s farm.
The neighbor’s all agreed that something had to be done for they certainly couldn’t have a murderer living among them.
Their plan was to catch George while he was asleep and take him down to the old well and drop him in there where he couldn’t escape.
The old well was located about a quarter-mile from George’s farm, and hasn’t been used for over fifty years. It was about 25 feet deep and they knew that George being a big man would never be able to get out.
Mr. Thomas and a dozen other men marched on towards Georges’ farm house that night and circled the house. They wanted to be sure that he didn’t escape.
Six of the men went in the house, while six men waited outside the house. George surprisingly didn’t lock his door so the men had no problem gaining access inside.
The crept in the front door one by one and headed for the stairs that led upstairs to George’s bedroom.
There he was, sound asleep in his bed still wearing his overalls and snoring like a banshee. One of the men hit George over his head with a club while the rest of the men tied him up and began carrying him downstairs.
It took four of them just to carry George out to the wagon where they headed for the old well.
Once there, they carried George over to the well and tossed him in where he would never be able to harm anyone again.
The men left the old well that night a bit disturbed by what they had just done, even though they believed it was the right thing to do.
The next day Mr. Thomas woke up earlier than normal and decided he needed to go to the well to give some food and drink to George. As Mr. Thomas walked to the well he felt something in his gut that just wasn’t right.
He peered over the edge of the well and was expecting to see George there. Instead what he saw was an empty well.
Sometime during the night George had escaped.
Mr. Thomas immediately went and gathered the men who were with him that night. They thought they better go to George’s farm house and see if he was there. They carefully went up to the front porch and let themselves in.
They checked every room in the house and George wasn’t there.
One thing they did notice was that George’s horse was missing. Perhaps he took off for another town that night, Perhaps yours.
FYI: Some of the ideas in this story were inspired by one of my favorite horror movie as a kid: Madman.