Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE
PART TEN: MELUNGEON VARIATIONS
In the previous installment I wrapped up my review of the various surviving Fool Killer Letters recounting the folk figure’s homicidal adventures in North Carolina, Virginia (including what is now West Virginia) and Kentucky.
Those tales presented the Milton Chronicle‘s Fool Killer from the late 1840s or early 1850s on through the late 1870s or possibly as late as 1880. That figure slew fools with his club/ walking stick/ cudgel and his set of Bowie knives, each blade inscribed with the words “Fool Killer.”
The very first Fool Killer Letter by Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans’ fictional Jesse Holmes has not survived, so if Evans made reference to being inspired by any older Fool Killer traditions we have no way of knowing it.
If he had, one possible source would be the Fool Killer figure from Melungeon folklore in East Tennessee and other Appalachian areas. Or, since we have no way of checking exact dates, Evans’ darkly satirical tales may have influenced the existing Melungeon lore since Melungeons at the time were scattered from Tennessee to North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.
If you’re not familiar with the Melungeon people their origin is shrouded in centuries of folklore. Since I’m covering Fool Killer legends specifically here, I will simplify Melungeon origin tales for the sake of brevity.
The Melungeon origin traditions relevant to Fool Killer lore: a) Pre-Columbian Portuguese sailors became shipwrecked here in the New World and intermarried with Native Americans of the area to produce the Melungeons … b) Ancient Phoenicians arrived in the New World while sailing in search of new lands to colonize, so Melungeons are descendants of those Phoenicians … and c) Satan (“Old Horny” as he’s called in Melungeon folk tales) bred with Native American women to produce the Melungeons. (Only NON-Melungeons told this tale.)
FOOL KILLER VARIATION ONE: I’ll begin with the Melungeon Fool Killer tradition which states that the Devil/ Old Horny coupled with already existing Melungeon women who happened to be witches OR who were victims of his forced affections. One of those women gave birth to his son. Continue reading