Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE
PART NINE: This installment draws to a close the opening era of Fool Killer lore but we have much, much more to go after this. (At left is the figure riding a train’s cowcatcher like he often did to get around.)
This part exhausts the era of the Fool Killer Letters, seven of which survived from the Milton Chronicle newspaper, with a fragment of an 8th being quoted in the Southern Literary Messenger, and now we have this ninth (imitation) Fool Killer Letter from the Oxford Torch-Light.
Torch-Light Editor A.W. Davis is the assumed author of this letter which seems to have been written as an homage to Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans’ original Fool Killer Letters. The letter is much shorter than the usual correspondence from the fictional Jesse Holmes, as the Fool Killer claimed was his real name.
To make it clear that he wasn’t trying to steal Evans’ creation, A.W. Davis wryly claimed the author of this letter was the Son of the Fool Killer aka Jesse Holmes, Jr aka the Fool Slayer. Over time the actions in this letter became conflated with the Fool Killer’s own butcher’s bill of slayings.
For a quick comparison in other types of folklore and mythology, sometimes the Hawaiian god Lono is credited with fishing up the sun and moon and setting them in motion while at other times it is his father the sky god. Similarly, in Fijian lore sometimes the god Ndauthina sells fishes in enemy villages with each fish sold representing one of the dead in the next battle, while at other times it is his son Mbutakoivalu who supposedly peddles those fish.
Point being in those fictional universes, tales of either the father or the son performing those deeds are equally accepted as valid, so I will use that same reasoning for incorporating this 9th letter’s killings into the elder Fool Killer’s saga. If individual readers prefer to instead assign them to his “son’s” one and only appearance, feel free to.
August 13th, 1878. Location: “A roadside near Oxford, NC”
After opening with praise for the morning dew in North Carolina, this letter went on to recount a stroll through Oxford itself. Victim number one was a defeated candidate for Clerk of the Superior Court who petulantly refused to reconcile himself to his electoral loss. (An ancestor of Hillary Clinton, apparently.)
Victim number two was a longtime bachelor who had finally married but had taken to staying out many a night drunkenly carousing. Our homicidal vigilante intervened when the lush was arguing with his worried wife, claiming his nose was red not because of drinking but because he had looked at the recent eclipse through smoked glass which had burned his nose.
As usual siding with the wife over the husband in a domestic dispute, Jesse used his club/ walking stick/ cudgel on the lying, drunken husband.
The third and final victim in this brief letter was found “inland from Oxford” but the name of the town was not specified. Our correspondent checked out a printing press in the burg while passing through and unleashed his wrath – non-fatally in this instance – on a foolish young man who thought the letters used on the press were magnetic lodestones.
Next time we’ll look at the very first surviving Fool Killer tale from a state OTHER THAN North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky.
FOR PART TEN CLICK HERE
I WILL EXAMINE MORE FOOL KILLER LORE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
FOR MY LOOK AT JOE MAGARAC, THE STEEL MILL VERSION OF JOHN HENRY AND PAUL BUNYAN, CLICK HERE
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