Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE
PART FOURTEEN: FACTS FOR THE FOOL-KILLER (1909) by Ridgway Hill.
This rendition of the Fool Killer (I prefer no hyphen) is virtually a reinvention. It not only revises his garb and approach to his mission but it marks the first time the figure is depicted in action outside of the South.
Before I address Facts For The Fool-Killer I want to clarify something. I know that the Joel Chandler Harris tale Flingin’ Jim and His Fool-Killer was published in 1902 as part of The Making of a Statesman and Other Stories. However, that story – set in 1872 Georgia – does not feature the folk figure called the Fool Killer. The title refers to a piece of old grapeshot that Flingin’ Jim throws at people to kill them.
The victims of that “Fool-Killer” are a) William Dukes, an evil former plantation owner spitefully keeping a pair of young lovers separated and b) An unnamed black man who was trying to criminally assault Ann Briscoe, the heroine of the story. William Dukes’ brother receives a non-fatal beating from a hickory walking stick.
Facts For The Fool-Killer finds the fictional character operating from Buffalo, NY and vicinity. The Fool Killer now wears the blue uniform and tall helmet of a turn-of-the-century policeman and wields a police officer’s billy-club in lieu of his usual club/ walking stick/ cudgel. Continue reading