All I really wanted to do was look for a grave of an ancestor buried in the hills of central Missouri. Instead, I got Deliverance II.
I had been conducting a genealogy project, tracing my family tree back as far as I could. Thanks to the generous donation of tons of handwritten letters from my single living great grandmother and both of my grandmother, I was having great success putting together the tree. I discovered a strong branch of German ancestry, British ancestry, and Native American ancestry, and was able to actually trace myself back to English aristocracy around the time of George III. Yes, apparently ancestors of mine actually fought on opposite sides in the American Revolutionary War.
Many members of my family were among the earliest pioneers to settle what is now called the Midwest. One ancestor was loosely involved in the slaying of Joseph Smith in the 1840s; another was chiefly responsible for the settlement of Fort Madison and Fort Davenport along the Mississippi River decades before that.
But where things got twisty was with my father's father's mother's father. We were able to discern that he got into some significant legal trouble in Missouri around 1890, and quickly escaped down the Missouri River, taking a steamship up the Mississippi River, and jumping off to lay low in a one-horse town that he stumbled across.
Prior to Henry, however, I could find nothing in the family lineage. Curious to see whether or not I could find anyone of the same family in the approximate region where Henry came from, I began to research the region between Sugar Creek and Howard Creek in central Missouri. The area was somewhat hilly and sparsely populated, so I decided to spend a few days traveling there and visiting the area to see if I could perhaps find grave markers or other genealogical clues.
I pulled into the major metropolis of Stolpe, Missouri, on June 25th, planning to spend a couple of days in the region seeking family ancestry. Stolpe was a no-horse town, literally; the "town" consisted of a grouping of houses and a rusted-out gas station along Stolpe Road, which progressed southward into my region of interest.
The houses were all very dilapidated, looking as if no one had actively cared for any of them in many years. I pulled off the road near the group and decided to stroll up to one of the doors to ask a few questions about the area.
I knocked on the door and was quite literally met with the muzzle of a shotgun. The individual stared down the barrel at me for a moment, and then asked me what I wanted. I almost needed a change of drawers at that point, but I managed to stammer out a question about my great-great-grandfather Henry. He looked at me oddly for a moment, then lowered his gun and invited me in.
The fellow's name was Chet, and after conversing a bit in a very slow, meandering style, we discovered we were distantly related. He dug out some old letters out of a box in the back of a closet, and we pieced together that my ancestor's father was named Joseph; Chet was actually one of Joseph's descendent, as well.
Chet offered me some "grub" and I politely declined, but when I looked out the window and saw a small dog in the yard wrestling with what appeared to be a large domesticated rat, I decided it was time to make my exit. I went back out to my car and drove further south down Stolpe Road, using some hand-scratched directions from Chet which described the approximate region of Joseph's homestead.
When I reached this area, it was slightly hilly and covered with cornfields in the flat regions and trees in the hilly parts. I spotted what appeared to be a family farmhouse in the approximate area where I thought I should be, so I turned into their driveway, and was met by a pack of barking dogs of varying size and ferocity.
Here, I was met at my car by an eight year old boy, who took one look at me and tried to fire some sort of pellet gun at my car. When one shot ricocheted off of the metal frame of my car, he suddenly became afraid and ran for the house, screaming "MAW!!! MMMAAAWWW!!! SOME'UN'S HERE!"
A large woman came out of the house in a panic, with a shotgun in hand. She cautiously approached the car with her gun pointed toward my auto (with me still in it) in an awkward way, and she asked me in a quiet voice what I wanted. I asked her where Joseph's homestead was, and she pointed directly east, across the road, at a large hill. "On top there," she said, "but those Duplissey's live up there; I'd not go up there if I's you."
The lady seemed pleasant enough, so I asked her whether she had a room available for guests. She looked me and my automobile over, and told me that she'd have to talk to Hank about it. "Hank" was out tending to the hogs, so he wouldn't be back for a while.
However, she invited me in and poured me a glass of fresh, though extremely thick, milk. I drank it slowly and sat in their living room reading a book I had brought with me. I began to notice a crew of children slowly appearing out of the corners, all watching me carefully. The oldest of the lot, whose name was Fred, was the boy who had fired at my car earlier.
After a while of being watched by several sets of eyes, Hank returned to the house for the day. Hank and his wife (who I would later know as Lucy) consulted quietly in the kitchen, and then Hank wandered in and shook my hand.
He was an extremely large fellow with a very firm handshake. He eyed me for a while, and then asked me some general questions about what I was doing in the area. I simply said that I was looking for the homestead and perhaps the graves of some of my ancestors, as Chet had hinted that I could perhaps find old graves on the homestead. Hank nodded, and then offered me a place to stay, since they had an empty bedroom now that their oldest had gone.
I moved some of my belongings to the room and booted my laptop. The children followed me into the room and upon seeing the laptop began to crowd around me to look at the device; none of the children had ever seen a computer of any type before, apparently, which was baffling to me. I let them each play with the touchpad a bit, and they watched me play FreeCell for a while. Eventually, they were bored, and I recorded a journal entry.
I dined with the Wilson family, as I had come to know them, and they were loud and boisterous and very talkative. I mostly discussed the region with Hank, who was a font of information.
He told me one ominous thing, however; he told me to "be protected" if I decided to go to the homestead across the road. "I'd not go into those woods if I was you," he told me.
I should have listened.
I woke up in the Wilson's farmhouse and enjoyed a large breakfast with the family at about 6:00 AM. For the first time, I actually got to see all of the nine Wilson children, but the room was strangely quiet. Word had gotten around that I was planning on walking around in the woods across the road, and the children had been trained in some sort of taboo involving that place.
I left my car behind me and walked across the road. Rather than hesitating and thinking about it, I went into the woods and started exploring.
Luckily, within an hour, I actually manged to stumble upon a collection of graves, and some of the crumbling headstones had information that I was able to record; the info collected here, along with Chet and Hank's notes, actually added a lot to my tree; I was able to extend that branch back to at least the 1830s.
As I was writing, though, I heard a twig snap behind me in a very unnatural way. After that, I had a very strong sense that I was being watched.
I kept exploring the property after that, as morning turned into afternoon. I kept sensing that I was being followed, but I was never sure where; I couldn't spot anyone or anything. Lucy had packed a lunch for me in a paper bag, so in the early afternoon, I ate that.
I eventually wound up on the edge of a cornfield I didn't recognize, and when I turned around, I saw a human form moving very quickly right behind me. I hollered out to the person, but whoever it was kept running.
At this point, I was somewhat lost. I wandered back in the direction I came, but the afternoon waned on and gradually turned to evening. Eventually, just as the light was starting to fade, I stumbled upon a very dilapidated house.
I still felt I was being followed, but suddenly the feeling became much more intense. I walked very slowly away from the house, but then I heard the door on the house squeak gently, and in a panic, I began to run.
I was clearly being followed by at least two people. I ran in the direction that I guessed was the Wilson's house, but as the darkness deepened, I became more and more lost.
Eventually, I tripped and fell to the ground. I curled up reflexively and my pursuers, of which there were three, came up to me. They were thin, gaunt looking men, with stringy hair and long unkempt beards. One of them laughed and kicked me.
One of them looked at the one who kicked and asked, "What we do'th h'm?"
The seeming leader grinned, and said, "We'll tak'em back."
The other two grunted and leaned forward to pick me up, guessing that I was injured because of how I fell and was laying. But I wasn't injured.
The closest one was met with a boot to the forehead, and in one swift motion, I grabbed a rather large stick and whacked the back of the neck of the other as he turned to see what was happening.
But the leader was on me like a flash. He got very close to me, and his breath was beyond words. "Bad move," he whispered to me.
I'm not sure of it to this day, but I swear that I felt a large erection in the fellow's pants as he leaned over me and breathed on my neck.
I closed my eyes and expected to be violated in some fashion. But just as suddenly, I heard an amazingly loud and close "thud" sound. I opened my eyes again and saw a great deal of blood begin to run down the man's face. He rolled over slowly.
Before I could even think anything, Hank's voice shouted for me to get up. I scrambled to my feet, and he pointed in a direction and told me to run. I did.
Behind me, I heard the beginnings of a fight between Hank and the other two Duplisseys. I stopped and turned, deciding to help him, but he quickly leveled the first one, then looked back at me and screamed, "This place ain't for you! Run!"
I ran like the hounds of hell were on my ankles.
I ran back across the road and up the Wilson's driveway and into the house. I rushed into the guest room, gathered my things, and ran out of the house. As I was about to drive away madly, I thought of Lucy's kindness to me for preparing meals and providing a warm room and Hank's heroic actions, so I ran back in the house and placed a hundred dollar bill in their icebox.
Forget day three. I got the hell out of Dodge.
This was written as part of a quest conducted by iceowl: iceowl's adventure quest.