Monday, October 4, 2010
I wonder when the last time the headless horseman was seen at “Cherry Hill” around here? An article published in 1976 said it was 80 years ago, which would have been 1896. Legend has it there was a spooky spot right here in Fayette County.
A little moraine about 15 feet high and 200 feet across on the east side of State Route 38, a mile south of Yatesville used to be called “Cherry Hill.” It was so named for the numerous cherry trees that stood on the hill years ago.
Strange folklore stores were connected to Cherry Hill throughout the years, including murder, ghosts and counterfeiting. One of the first courts was held in a house on Cherry Hill, according to legend.
The first Methodist church in the county was located a short distance south of this historic hill, which hill was later carved away for the gravel it contained.
There used to be an old Inn on the hill, and folklore has it that a land buyer with lots of money stopped at the Inn and during the night he was murdered. His horse was found in the woods a mile away.
Descendants of the innkeeper told that a federal agent was probing counterfeit activities of the famous Funk family, when one of the Funks was the innkeeper. Once the identity of the federal agent was known, he was also murdered. When the murderer’s wife discovered her husband disposing of the body, he threw an axe at her putting a large gash across her breast.
Soon after the murder, ghost stories began circulating that told of a headless horseman seen riding about the hill at night. So lurid were the stories that the place was shunned and people passing at night fearfully galloped their horses to pass the “haunted hill.”
No one would stay in the Inn and it was abandoned. Later lights could be seen through the boards of the roof and it was told that ghosts walked at night and men played poker at the Inn, according to legend.
The Inn was torn down leaving only the large stones and foundation logs which remained for several years.
Little by little, the ghost scare subsided. The last sighting of the headless horseman was told by a man living on the William Selsor farm, a mile east of the hill. He was returning home late one night with a little too much booze in his system. After opening the gate, the man led his horse through and saw the headless man standing with arms outstretched. He yelled, his horse ran away and he ran into the house.
A few days before, some boys had placed a piece of fence rail across the decaying top of a gatepost near the gate through which the man had to pass. The man never believed he saw a gatepost with a fence rail across, but always believed he saw a ghost.