Sample stories from Shaking the Cotton Trees

Book cover - photo

From Chapter 4 - Ghost Stories

Several people reported that they had seen a woman dressed in black and without a head roaming around the grounds. My dad worked at the sawmill and had a room nearby. He heard a humming noise one night and saw this headless woman standing beside his bed.

He spoke to her and said, "Who are you? What do you want?"

She didn't say a word, but disappeared through the locked door. The next day he drove a nail into the wall above his bed and hung his big 45-caliber pistol there. That night about midnight he heard a strange noise. The woman was standing beside his bed again. He grabbed for his pistol, but before he could get his hands on it she grabbed his wrist. He gave a scream and again she disappeared through the locked door.

From Chapter 5 - August Bartsch's Children Leave Home

When Uncle Martin had the cotton gin, he had a cotton seed house that had a small board missing. Every night, something got into the cotton seed house and took some of the seed. The hole wasn't very big, so he couldn't figure out what kind of animal could get in there. He nailed a board over the hole, but it just got torn right off.

One day my uncle got tired of losing seeds every night, and he was curious about what was taking the seeds, so he set a steel trap in the cottonseed. Late that night, he heard someone yelling, so he went out to see what had happened. It was one of his neighbors who had been reaching through the hole to take out cottonseed. His hand was caught in the steel trap and he couldn't get it out.

From Chapter 6 - A Blacksmith in the 1890s

Dad said that one time an Indian chief came to Briartown with about six or eight young Indian men. The chief went into a store to buy something, and the young men stayed outside in the street. There was a chicken-hawk high in the air above the street, and one of the men who lived in the town asked the Indians if they thought they could hit that circling hawk with their bows and arrows. They said they thought they could.

The man said, "I'll give a silver dollar to the one who brings it down."

The young men grabbed their bows and arrows and started shooting straight up. Dad said there were arrows raining down all around them. The chief rushed out of the store and gave them a good cussing and told them they didn't have any sense.

From Chapter 7 - The Wagner Family

The little girl, Loretta, thought so much of him and he of her. One day he came home from working in the woods carrying an ax, and she ran out to meet him. When they met, he completely lost his mind and struck her with the ax, killing her. Then he went to their barn and killed five cows.

He was declared insane and sent to the mental asylum in Little Rock, but he stayed there for only a short time. He and another inmate used a spoon to dig out the bars and they escaped and disappeared...

From Chapter 11 - The Huber Family

They moved the scarecrow to another house nearby and set it up. Then they rapped loudly on the door and ran to their hiding places.    The door opened, and a miner looked out through the dense fog and said, "Who's there?"

The boys pulled on the strings to make the scarecrow glide back and forth, but they didn't say a word.

"Who is it? What do you want?" the miner said. He was starting to sound angry. The boys didn't say a word.

"I've got a gun. I'll shoot you if you don't answer me," the miner shouted.

From inside the house, the miner's wife shrieked, "Ed! If you kill that man, I'll never live with you again!"

"Oooooohh," the Huber boys moaned from their hiding places as they pulled on the strings to make the scarecrow move forward.

BANG! The gun fired and the door to the house was slammed shut.

From Chapter 12 - The Pertler Family

My grandmother said, "I decided that I was going to catch the sly fox or raccoon that was getting my chickens. I got a stout club and waited inside the chicken-house. I spent an entire night waiting there and nothing happened."

The next night she got her club and took her position again. She said, "It was nearly 3 AM and I was so tired that I was leaning against the wall and starting to doze off when suddenly a chicken squawked just a few feet from my head."

She looked up just in time to see a great horned owl disappear through the opening with a chicken in its talons. She said, "It happened so fast that I didn't even have time to raise my club."

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