The Devil in Appalachia – The Bloodthirsty Harpe Brothers

**Warning:  Graphic Depictions of Violence in this post

Have you ever met the devil in Appalachia? Alone in unnerving wooded areas day or night? The devil wears different disguises. For some, he is a brawny satyr with goat legs, bovine horns, and an arrowed pin tail. For others, the devil is more like Percy Shelley’s “gentleman” – polished, strikingly handsome, and impeccably dressed. I would argue two devils walked this mountain earth during and after the Revolutionary War in the form of psychopathic kinsmen. 1)McQueen, Victor. The World’s Worst Psychopaths: The Most Depraved Killers in History. London: Arcturus, 2015.

Most sources state Joshua Harper (aka Micajah “Big” Harpe) and William Harper (aka Wiley “Little” Harpe) were brothers. A few sources say they were cousins. For consistency, I shall refer to them as “brothers.” Whatever their relation, they have been labeled as the first documented serial killers and/or spree killers 2)Toohey, Clare. “Revolutionary Killers: Harpe Brothers, Serial or Spree?” criminal element: mysteries, thriller, and all things killer. Nov 25, 2011. in America. I have sifted through sources and endeavored to represent the Harpes’ doings accurately. To achieve this, I have recorded dates, places, and instances that were verified from three or more sources, though, in most cases, I attribute one source for the sake of my own sanity. Some places mentioned are modern-named while others retain their original name. That being known –

Would you like to meet the devil in Appalachia?

 

 

I.

The Harpe brothers were, by most accounts, born in Scotland and emigrated with their parents to Orange County, North Carolina. 3)Musgrave, Jon. “Frontier Serial Killers: The Harpes.” Southern Illinois History Page. American Weekend. Oct 23, 1998. Most sources agree that Micajah was born around 1768 and Wiley around 1770, just scant years before the American Revolution began. Their parents were Tories and Loyalists. By the war’s end, the Harpe brothers were young teenagers who joined various Loyalist gangs to rape, kill, and destroy. 4)Smith, Marshall T. Legends of the War of Independence, and of the Earlier Settlements in the West. Louisville: J. F. Brennan, 1855. Suffice it to say, the Continental Army had equally horrendous gangs. Near the end of the war, the Harpe brothers’ parents left the scene, voluntarily or not, and the young men were left to fend for themselves. They apparently joined a renegade band of Cherokees, but not before kidnapping two girls, Susannah Wood (aka Susan Roberts) and Maria Davidson (aka Betsy Roberts), and whisking them away to the “Cherokee-Chickamauga town of Nickajack,” 5)Musgrave, Jon. “Frontier Serial Killers: The Harpes.” Southern Illinois History Page. American Weekend. Oct 23, 1998. where they resided anywhere from two 6)Smith, Marshall T. Legends of the War of Independence, and of the Earlier Settlements in the West. Louisville: J. F. Brennan, 1855. to thirteen years. 7)Musgrave, Jon. “Frontier Serial Killers: The Harpes.” Southern Illinois History Page. American Weekend. Oct 23, 1998. Right before the American army crushed Nickajack and its inhabitants, the Harpe gang headed to East Tennessee. Along the way, the Harpe brothers killed their partner, Moses Doss, because he paid too much attention to their women.

 

 

In 1795, the Harpes came to Knox County where they “settled into life at a cabin alongside Beaver Creek, near the Holston River.” 8)Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013. Here, the brothers bred hogs for slaughter and sold pork. 9)Coates, Robert. “”These Terrible Men, the Harpes!”.” In Some Things Dark and Dangerous, edited by Joan Kahn, 217-235. New York: Harper and Row, 1970. Wiley “Little” Harpe met a young woman named Sarah Rice and legally married her in June of 1797. Not to be outdone, Micajah “Big” Harpe legally married Susannah in September of the same year. Both men shared “Betsy,” seemingly as a concubine. As time went on, some of the town’s livestock went missing and barns mysteriously burned. Strangely, the Harpe brothers went to the butcher “more frequently, and had more pork to sell at every trip.” Knox-Countian Edward Tiel’s well-bred horses were stolen from his stable, so a posse was formed. They hunted and captured both brothers, then turned back toward the Knoxville jail. Somehow, the Harpes escaped. 10)Coates, Robert. “”These Terrible Men, the Harpes!”.” In Some Things Dark and Dangerous, edited by Joan Kahn, 217-235. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

II.

The Harpes’ homicidal rampage began in early 1798. The Harpe women said it was “the turning point when their men ‘declared war on all mankind.’” 11)Murder by Gaslight. “Big Harpe and Little Harpe.” Murder by Gaslight. Oct 24, 2010. After their escape, the Harpes hunted for whoever divulged their whereabouts to the posse. They saw a man named Johnson in a “rowdy groggery” just outside Knoxville, dragged him out of the establishment, and killed him. They disemboweled him and filled up the opening with rocks so the corpse would sink to Holston River’s bottom. It was discovered days later drifting along the river. 12)Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013.

The brothers and their women bolted and trekked to Kentucky by way of Cumberland Gap on the Wilderness Road. Along the way, they robbed and murdered a peddler named Peyton in December of 1798. They shot Paca and Bates, two unlucky men from Maryland. Bates died straightaway but Paca tottered and staggered. Big Harpe used his faithful tomahawk and split the poor man’s head open. They subsequently pilfered the dead men’s belongings. 13)Utley, Harold. “The Story of the Harp Brothers.” Webster County. n.d.

The Harpe Brothers hold up a traveler before killing him. Source: The Nashville Tennessean March 6, 1938

The penniless gang of five stopped en voyage at a place for travelers called Pharris’ Inn. A kind man named Stephen Langford offered to bear the cost for food and accommodations. 14)Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013. The Harpes took a sly gander at the man’s finery and the “abundant coinage” in his purse. 15)Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013. In those days, travelers often journeyed in groups as protection against beasts, thieves, and murderers. The Harpes persuaded Langford they should all travel together. Cattle herders found the man’s body a couple of days later. 16)Rothert, Otto A. A History of Muhlenberg County. Louisville: John P. Morgan & Company, 1913. Soon after, a posse was formed and captured the Harpe gang “near the Crab Orchard” on Christmas Day. They were taken to Stanford jail in Lincoln County, Kentucky. The brothers and their now pregnant wives were transported to Danville jail in January, 1799 for trial. 17)Hall, Hon. Judge. Letters from the West; Containing Sketches of Scenery, Manners, and Customs; and Anecdotes Connected with the First Settlements of the Western Sections of the United States. London: Henry Colburn, 1828. 18)Utley, Harold. “The Story of the Harp Brothers.” Webster County. n.d. The men escaped on March 16, 1799 and left the incarcerated women behind, where they were tried and acquitted in April, 1799. All three women gave birth in jail. 19)Utley, Harold. “The Story of the Harp Brothers.” Webster County. n.d.

By all accounts, the women were treated very well. The community rallied and gave them money, items, and an old filly to get to Knoxville – clear of the Harpes. After about thirty miles, the women changed direction from Knoxville to the Green River, “traded the mare for a canoe and started down river” to meet the Harpe brothers at “a prearranged meeting place.” 20)Utley, Harold. “The Story of the Harp Brothers.” Webster County. n.d. Allow me to digress and address the women. Some sources I found considered their cooperation as early evidence of Stockholm Syndrome, 21)McQueen, Victor. The World’s Worst Psychopaths: The Most Depraved Killers in History. London: Arcturus, 2015. which certainly could be true. The Ridleys, however, in their article, “Killing Cousins,” seem to find a “complicating factor” in this “proto” syndrome in that the women never fled when the brothers weren’t around. 22)Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013. These women saw the devil in Appalachia. They were married to him. They witnessed savage murders (even of their own children). If they escaped, these men, who were cunning and efficient woodsmen, could hunt them down on impulse, one by one. A few sources indicate the women tried escaping. I imagine they thought about their families –fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, nieces, nephews – and considered their safety. The Harpes did heinous things with impunity. They wouldn’t think twice about killing a family or two, as we’ll see moving forward.

III.

Kentucky Governor James Garrard Source: Geni.com

The year 1799 was the Harpes’ most unrestrained and bloodthirsty. The brothers headed north toward Cave-in-Rock, Illinois, where the infamous Samuel Mason and his river pirates stayed. An “unprecedented manhunt” met with no success. 23)Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013. Around April, one posse tried to persuade Colonel Daniel Trabue to join their search. While they discussed the possibility, the Harpes killed the Colonel’s thirteen-year-old son, Johnny, for flour and beans. His body was “macerated by their blows, almost dismembered by their knives.” On April 22, Kentucky’s Governor Garrard issued a proclamation with a three-hundred-dollar bounty on each Harpe. The report reached the public around mid-May. By then, the pair had killed a man named Dooley in Metcalfe County, Kentucky. 24)Utley, Harold. “The Story of the Harp Brothers.” Webster County. n.d. They camped out on Barren River across from Frederick Stump, who welcomingly rowed across in his boat with a fiddle and a whole mess of fish. The Harpes stabbed him, disemboweled him, stuffed his body with rocks, and dumped him in the river. 25)Rothert, Otto A. The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1996.

 

The brothers made it to Cave-in-Rock sometime in April and settled in with the other outlaws. Their stay was brief. The Mason Gang captured a flatboat. The brothers took one of the captives, “lashed him naked,” blindfolded him, tied him to a blindfolded horse, hooped and hollered to beat the band and drove the pair one hundred feet off the edge of a cliff. 26)Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013. 27)McQueen, Victor. The World’s Worst Psychopaths: The Most Depraved Killers in History. London: Arcturus, 2015. In his book, The World’s Worst Psychopaths:  The Most Depraved Killers in History, Victor McQueen expresses the criminal gang’s horror at the “sadism, driven by psychopathic lack of empathy for other human beings.” 28)McQueen, Victor. The World’s Worst Psychopaths: The Most Depraved Killers in History. London: Arcturus, 2015. The Harpes were kicked out of the Mason Gang and were once more on the run. They ventured through Kentucky back to Knoxville, Tennessee.

 

 

IV.

An uptick in their murderous spree was further documented. In the month of July, 1799, the brothers killed a farmer named Bradbury and another man named Hardin near Knoxville. 29)Musgrave, Jon. “Frontier Serial Killers: The Harpes.” Southern Illinois History Page. American Weekend. Oct 23, 1998. They murdered a young Coffey boy for his rifle 30)Hall, Hon. Judge. Letters from the West; Containing Sketches of Scenery, Manners, and Customs; and Anecdotes Connected with the First Settlements of the Western Sections of the United States. London: Henry Colburn, 1828. on Black Oak Ridge. 31)Musgrave, Jon. “Frontier Serial Killers: The Harpes.” Southern Illinois History Page. American Weekend. Oct 23, 1998. A few days after this, they murdered William Ballard, disemboweled him, and weighted his body down with stones. 32)Rothert, Otto A. The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1996. On July 29, the Harpes were in what is now Morgan County, Tennessee. They came upon two brothers, James and Robert Brasel. According to the recounting in the Carolina Gazette (September 26, 1799) posted by Palmyra Spencer on Braswell Genealogy, 33)Spencer, Palmyra. “The Murder of James Brasel.” Braswell Genealogy. Oct 19, 2007. the Harpes used a tactic well-known to them. They asked the Brasel brothers to join the hunt for the evil Harpes. The Brasels agreed. Well into the woods, the Harpes accused the Brasel brothers of being the Harpes and ordered one or both to dismount and turn over weapons. One of the Harpes tied James Brasel’s hands while Robert Brasel “jumped off his horse and tried to git James’ gun.” Robert made his escape outrunning Little Harpe who chased and shot at him. 34)Trabue, Daniel. Westward into Kentucky: The Narrative of Daniel Trabue. Edited by Chester Raymond Young. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2004. After ten miles, Robert met Mr. Dale and his group of four travelers, and pleaded for their help. They returned to the spot where the incident occurred (now known as Brasel’s Knob) 35)Todd, Donald. “The Harpe Brothers and the Murder of James Brasel.” Mortan County TNGENWEB. Mar 23, 2015. and were “horrified to find that James was not only dead, but that his body had been ‘much beaten and his throat cut.’” 36)Rothert, Otto A. The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1996..

Map Source: The Nashville Tennessean July 21, 1957

Near the Tennessee-Kentucky border, the Harpes murdered John Tully, then came across and murdered John Graves and his son. 37)Musgrave, Jon. “Frontier Serial Killers: The Harpes.” Southern Illinois History Page. American Weekend. Oct 23, 1998. Around Clay Lick Woods, near today’s Adairville, Kentucky, 38)Musgrave, Jon. “Frontier Serial Killers: The Harpes.” Southern Illinois History Page. American Weekend. Oct 23, 1998. the brothers slaughtered the Trisword family. “At least ten men, women, and children were murdered, their bodies stripped, mangled, and hopelessly disfigured.” 39)Walters, Glenn D. Foundations of Criminal Science. Vol. 1: The Development of Knowledge. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1992. Sometime around August, 1799, the Harpes bashed a young black boy’s head against a tree but took none of the dead boy’s belongings. 40)Murder by Gaslight. “Big Harpe and Little Harpe.” Murder by Gaslight. Oct 24, 2010. 41)Hall, Hon. Judge. Letters from the West; Containing Sketches of Scenery, Manners, and Customs; and Anecdotes Connected with the First Settlements of the Western Sections of the United States. London: Henry Colburn, 1828. They murdered a young girl who, according to an early-1800s letter by Sarah McClendon in Henderson County, Kentucky, “was picking wild berries and wandered further from home” when she met the Harpes. The brothers decapitated her, “cut off one leg to her body, and all the toes on her foot.” 42)McClendon, Sarah. “Letters From Forgotten Ancestors Pre-1920 Letters – TNGenWeb Project.” About Benjamin McClendon – The McClendon Letters – Early 1800s – Henderson County Kentucky. 1999.

Big Harpe even killed his own baby. Several sources report the infanticide occurred in August, 1799. Micajah allegedly said it was the only murder he regretted. The baby was around nine months old and cried incessantly because it was sick. Big Harpe took the child, “slung it by the heels against a large tree . . . and literally bursting its head into a dozen pieces – threw it from him as far as his great strength enabled him into the woods.” 43)Smith, Marshall T. Legends of the War of Independence, and of the Earlier Settlements in the West. Louisville: J. F. Brennan, 1855. Micajah said of the murder, “It cried and I killed it; I had always told the women, I would have no crying about me.” 44)Hall, Hon. Judge. Letters from the West; Containing Sketches of Scenery, Manners, and Customs; and Anecdotes Connected with the First Settlements of the Western Sections of the United States. London: Henry Colburn, 1828. Indeed, sources say the Harpes killed several of their own children. 45)Smith, Marshall T. Legends of the War of Independence, and of the Earlier Settlements in the West. Louisville: J. F. Brennan, 1855. 46)Toohey, Clare. “Revolutionary Killers: Harpe Brothers, Serial or Spree?” criminal element: mysteries, thriller, and all things killer. Nov 25, 2011. 47)Stancil, Kristina. North Mississippi Murder & Mayhem. Charleston: The History Press, 2018. As Clare Toohey says in her criminal element article “Revolutionary Killers:  Harpe Brothers, Serial or Spree?”:  “At least three children are said to have survived their fathers, but the majority of their offspring seem to have been slaughtered for expedience . . .” 48)Toohey, Clare. “Revolutionary Killers: Harpe Brothers, Serial or Spree?” criminal element: mysteries, thriller, and all things killer. Nov 25, 2011.

V.

The Harpes travelled through Kentucky disguised as Methodist preachers. 49)Toohey, Clare. “Revolutionary Killers: Harpe Brothers, Serial or Spree?” criminal element: mysteries, thriller, and all things killer. Nov 25, 2011. They came upon the cabin of Moses Stegall, who wasn’t home. Some sources say the Stegalls and Harpes met before. As was the custom back then, his wife, Mary Stegall, invited the brothers to a hospitable dinner and provided a place to sleep. Fellow traveler, Major William Love, was already there. The Stegalls had a four-month-old baby named James. 50)Geni. “Frontier Justice – the Harpe Brothers.” Geni. 2019. Big Harpe slept in the room with Love but Major Love’s snoring kept him awake so he kindly “smashed a tomahawk through his skull to silence him.” 51)McQueen, Victor. The World’s Worst Psychopaths: The Most Depraved Killers in History. London: Arcturus, 2015. The next morning, the infant Stegall started crying. Big Harpe slit the baby’s throat and, when Mrs. Stegall screamed, she was also murdered. The brothers then burned down the family’s cabin. 52)Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013. They left the Stegall area and noticed the evening campsite of two men, Hudgens and Gilmore. The next morning, Big and Little Harpe apprehended the two men and accused them of the Stegall murder, robbery, and arson. They shot Gilmore who died at the scene. Hudgens broke free but the Harpes caught and killed him. 53)Allen, William B. A History of Kentucky, Embracing Gleanings, Reminiscences, Antiquities, Natural Curiosities, Statistics, and Biographical Sketches of Pioneers, Soldiers, Jurists, Lawyers, Statesmen, Divines, Mechanics, Farmers, Merchants, and other leading men . . . Louisville: Bradley & Gilbert, 1872. When Moses Stegall returned home and found the carnage, he immediately formed a posse. At this time, the population was sparse with miles between and law enforcement was either nonexistent or too long coming. These murders were the last straw for the region and vigilante justice took hold.

The posse found the Harpe camp and pursued the men. Sources differ quite a bit about the details of the following events. What is known for certain is that Little Harpe escaped but Big Harpe was chased into Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where he was shot by a man named Leiper and detained. Once Moses Stegall caught up with Harpe, he “slowly cut off the outlaw’s head” 54)Musgrave, Jon. “Frontier Serial Killers: The Harpes.” Southern Illinois History Page. American Weekend. Oct 23, 1998. supposedly while Big Harpe was alive. 55)Goode, Stephen. Violence in America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984. 56)Hall, Hon. Judge. Letters from the West; Containing Sketches of Scenery, Manners, and Customs; and Anecdotes Connected with the First Settlements of the Western Sections of the United States. London: Henry Colburn, 1828. 57)Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013. The outlaw’s last alleged words were, “You’re a Goddamned rough butcher, but cut on and be damned.” 58)Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013. After Moses decapitated Micajah’s head, he put it on a pike in a tree. The Harpe women were arrested and given a trial in Russellville, Kentucky, where they were acquitted and set free to live their lives sans Harpes. 59)Utley, Harold. “The Story of the Harp Brothers.” Webster County. n.d.

 

 

VI.

Little Harpe escaped to Natchez, Mississippi, then back to the Mason Gang at Cave-in-Rock, with the alias John Setton. 60)Utley, Harold. “The Story of the Harp Brothers.” Webster County. n.d. A bit of information on Samuel Mason:  He was an outlaw with up to a two-thousand-dollar bounty. 61)Stancil, Kristina. North Mississippi Murder & Mayhem. Charleston: The History Press, 2018. Little Harpe wanted that money, so he and another criminal attacked Mason. Harpe decapitated him, preserved the head, and gave it to authorities to collect the bounty. 62)George, Charles and Linda George. The Natchez Trace. New York: Children’s Press, 2001. Little Harpe was recognized, later tried, and hanged in February, 1804. 63)Toohey, Clare. “Revolutionary Killers: Harpe Brothers, Serial or Spree?” criminal element: mysteries, thriller, and all things killer. Nov 25, 2011.

 

So, now you’ve met the devil in Appalachia. But we all know the devil ain’t just in Appalachia. If we take a look at our nation’s history as a whole, we can envision the devil all around us. The next time you’re on your travels and feel that shudder up your spine, think about the Harpes and all the devils like them.

 

 

**Featured Image Source:  Screen grab from Evil KinSomething Wicked in the Woods;” actors Steve Frasier(?) and Raian Stanley

References   [ + ]

1, 21, 27, 28, 51. McQueen, Victor. The World’s Worst Psychopaths: The Most Depraved Killers in History. London: Arcturus, 2015.
2, 46, 48, 49, 63. Toohey, Clare. “Revolutionary Killers: Harpe Brothers, Serial or Spree?” criminal element: mysteries, thriller, and all things killer. Nov 25, 2011.
3, 5, 7, 29, 31, 37, 38, 54. Musgrave, Jon. “Frontier Serial Killers: The Harpes.” Southern Illinois History Page. American Weekend. Oct 23, 1998.
4, 6, 43, 45. Smith, Marshall T. Legends of the War of Independence, and of the Earlier Settlements in the West. Louisville: J. F. Brennan, 1855.
8, 12, 14, 15, 22, 23, 26, 52, 57, 58. Ridley, Jim and Read Ridley. “Killing Cousins: The Terrifying True Story of the Harpes, who Terrorized Tennessee Two Centuries Ago – and Paid with Their Heads.” The Nashville Scene, Oct 13, 2013.
9, 10. Coates, Robert. “”These Terrible Men, the Harpes!”.” In Some Things Dark and Dangerous, edited by Joan Kahn, 217-235. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.
11, 40. Murder by Gaslight. “Big Harpe and Little Harpe.” Murder by Gaslight. Oct 24, 2010.
13, 18, 19, 20, 24, 59, 60. Utley, Harold. “The Story of the Harp Brothers.” Webster County. n.d.
16. Rothert, Otto A. A History of Muhlenberg County. Louisville: John P. Morgan & Company, 1913.
17, 30, 41, 44, 56. Hall, Hon. Judge. Letters from the West; Containing Sketches of Scenery, Manners, and Customs; and Anecdotes Connected with the First Settlements of the Western Sections of the United States. London: Henry Colburn, 1828.
25, 32, 36. Rothert, Otto A. The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1996.
33. Spencer, Palmyra. “The Murder of James Brasel.” Braswell Genealogy. Oct 19, 2007.
34. Trabue, Daniel. Westward into Kentucky: The Narrative of Daniel Trabue. Edited by Chester Raymond Young. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2004.
35. Todd, Donald. “The Harpe Brothers and the Murder of James Brasel.” Mortan County TNGENWEB. Mar 23, 2015.
39. Walters, Glenn D. Foundations of Criminal Science. Vol. 1: The Development of Knowledge. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1992.
42. McClendon, Sarah. “Letters From Forgotten Ancestors Pre-1920 Letters – TNGenWeb Project.” About Benjamin McClendon – The McClendon Letters – Early 1800s – Henderson County Kentucky. 1999.
47, 61. Stancil, Kristina. North Mississippi Murder & Mayhem. Charleston: The History Press, 2018.
50. Geni. “Frontier Justice – the Harpe Brothers.” Geni. 2019.
53. Allen, William B. A History of Kentucky, Embracing Gleanings, Reminiscences, Antiquities, Natural Curiosities, Statistics, and Biographical Sketches of Pioneers, Soldiers, Jurists, Lawyers, Statesmen, Divines, Mechanics, Farmers, Merchants, and other leading men . . . Louisville: Bradley & Gilbert, 1872.
55. Goode, Stephen. Violence in America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984.
62. George, Charles and Linda George. The Natchez Trace. New York: Children’s Press, 2001.

4 Comments

  1. This is incredible. Well done! Also, Holy crap!

    1. Author

      Thank you, Grant. Holy crap, indeed. I wanted to write a post about “sinners and scoundrels” so I churned the old brain butter. Then I remembered these two scary guys who admitted to hating all humanity. No one knows the exact number who died by their hands. My guess is over one hundred if you count the Revolutionary War, their participation in the Tory raids, their subsequent connection with renegades, and the killings I mentioned.

  2. This is marvelously done!

    1. Author

      Thank you, Trent! The research was a real eye-opener, especially if you consider what it must have been like for people in the region at that time.

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