Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Red-Headed Man

This post involves a story that was passed on to me by Kurt McCoy, whom some of you may know wrote that great book "White Things: West Virginia's White Monsters" which is available on eBay for a paltry $10. I suggest you pick up a copy. It is a very good read!

This story is one that comes close to home for me, quite literally. Kurt is another WV ghost/monster story collector, and came across this story while working on his current book about WV's water monsters (apparently there are more than the Ogua).

The Red-Headed Man is a story set in the colonial days of WV, way back when it was still known as western Virginia. This story takes place at Fort Cobun, which was located near Dorsey's Knob in Morgantown - which I can see from my backyard. That is why I say it is close to home for me.

Fort Cobun was built in 1770, near Dorsey's Knob (above), and I'm sure that it's foundations lie somewhere beneath the old Morgantown Mall or the Giant Eagle. So much for saving history. Sometime, I'm not sure when, as I have not researched this story thoroughly, the fort was attacked and overrun by a Native American raiding party.

During this raid, many settlers were killed or kidnapped. One of those was to become known as "The Red-Headed Man". I've not found his name, if in fact it was ever known, but he was a soldier. He was kidnapped by the natives and carried to an area near the base of Dorsey's Knob. There, the natives tied him to an "X"-like cross they had staked into the ground. While tied up, the natives also scalped him - and did not stop at the top of his head. Instead, they scalped him down to his neck, and he subsequently bled to death from the wounds.

Since that time, there have been sightings of the "Red-headed Man" near Dorsey's Knob in Morgantown, which is now a local park area. Many people have told stories about being parked up at Dorsey's Knob, which has a reputation for a makeout spot, and encountering the specter. He is clothed in his colonial uniform, and his head is blood-red, with his veiny flesh still unhealed even in death. It is said that the "Red-headed Man" grabs unsuspecting people by the scalp and face, attempting to replace his lost skin with theirs.

There is protection against the "Red-headed Man" however - many visitors, even to this day, carry a small, handmade cross (basically two sticks tied with twine) on their windshields. Apparently, the "Red-headed Man" still fears the apparatus to which he was tied and tortured on - even in a miniature version.

I think of this story every time I look out across the yard, and I wonder if the "Red-headed Man" is still out there, or if somehow he has finally gone to rest.


Granny Sue said...

That is a gruesome tale, Jason. If I were him, I'd be haunting the place too.

Jason Burns said...

I tried leaving this comment on your blog post but the word verification form wouldn't work, (i.e. couldn't see any letters).

I've always heard that the old Fort Cobun was on up the hill from there, near where the Exxon and Home Sales place is on Grafton Road, not on Greenbag Road.

The Mountaineer Mall and Giant Eagle was built on a man-made base on 3 to 1 smectite clay. It used to be old farmland, then a strip mine, then the mall. The fort was on up the hill, and was purposefully located there becasue from the top of Dorsey Knob, you can command a view of the Monongahela River in both directions. It was a favorite watching location by the indians for decades before any white settlement was started there, and the fort was located there because it offered the view, plus it stopped the indians from using this area for surveillance.

For more history, check out the history of Ice's Ferry, near Point Marion, it was the oldest settlement in the area, long before the Morgan bro's settled on Deckers Creek.


Jason Burns said...

GSue - I know its a very bloody story, but in WV we have a lot of those. Many people who've met rather bloody ends - Sid Hatfield, Zona Heaster Shue, etc, have ghost stories attached to them.