The Swamp Road Chronicles

"Vigilantes"

 

As related to the editor by Jon Appleton, September 12, 2021

 

My Daddy lived on Cherry Lane; he was very familiar with the local history and he was very active in the community, so he knew about things that had gone on in the past as well as the opinions of the local folks about some of those events.

 

I asked him one day what ever happened to the St. Jude church. The cemetery was there and you could tell where the church once stood because the foundation was still visible. He told me the following story:

 

About 1940 a boy had been found dead in the church. Apparently he had died from exposure, according to the coroner, there were no signs of violence to his body. He had run away from home and had taken shelter in the church, which had been boarded up. The boy found a way in though. Daddy said that there were lots of rumors that the boy had been "scared to death" and a piece of animal skin had been found in his teeth.

 

People became concerned that something dangerous might be living in the church and, of course, the death alone was reason for people to give the church a wide berth when passing.

 

Daddy said that people began reporting that they heard strange noises coming from inside that church building when they went by it at night. Moaning, grunts, and on rare occasions, a low-pitched growl. The Sheriff was called and careful searches were made of the building, even at night, but no cause for the sounds was found.

 

At the township meetings many people insisted that the church was an eyesore and a public hazard and should be taken down. The trustees refused, they said the building had historic value. Perhaps superstition had a lot to do with it, but locals were adamant and the meetings became heated, but the township trustees would not relent. The sounds from the church grew louder and more frequent. The citizens became more and more concerned.

 

A few months after the final trustee meeting on the matter, during a violent thunderstorm with lots of lightning, that church burned down. Completely. It was assumed that the lightning did it, of course, but Daddy said there were whispers that someone had burned it down that night using the lightning storm as cover. Daddy thought that arson was the probable reason, but we will probably never know. The noises stopped.

 

As submitted by Jon Appleton September 12, 2021 Homer, Ohio

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