On a lonely stretch of US 60
west of the small town of Lewisburg, West Virginia, on a road that goes
by the fine farms that house the landed gentry of Greenbrier
County, is a stretch of highway now traveled only by those living along
this road or by the occasional tourist wanting to get away from the
interstate and wanting to view “local color”. none of them and few of
the people of this county know what occurred on this piece of road on a
moonless night in the twenty’s. I hope they are never traveling alone on
that road, when the cold fog rises up from the river and the creeks and
rolls down from the ridges and the mountain that surround it.
It is whispered by long-time residents of the area, whispered about only
when one is with close friends or dear relatives and the door is
securely fastened and one is snug around the fires of home, then it is
told why one should not venture on that highway in the times of the fog.
Too many strange and unexplainable events have occurred out there then,
when the fogs roll up from the rivers and down from the hills!
Squire Billings was driving home from Church and lost control of his
A-Model Ford and slit his throat on the glass of the windshield of his
Model T Ford. His neighbor Joe Connors was walking along that section of
road and was crushed by a falling tree, a giant Elm that had stood there
for nearly a hundred years. Joe’s brother fell at about the same place
and was blinded by a stray strand of barbed wire sticking out from the
ground. These are only some of the things that were reported in the
local paper. Some of the other happenings were hushed up and the matter
taken care of privately by the locals and undertakers and the mental
institutions of the day. One would not want to be too awfully
inquisitive about the upper rooms of a few of the fine homes along this
roadway! Especially on night when fogs come up from the rivers and down
off the hills.
Will Williams was in the Lewisburg Jail, he was accused of molesting a
young white woman. It was well known in the community that everyone
thereabouts who had desired had also molested her: three or four times
if they wished . But she was a white woman, and the safety and the honor
of all white women in the civilized world was at stake when the drunken
mob took Will Williams from the jail and out of the town, there to exact
their joy and hatred and what they called God’s retribution on Wills
poor black body and his eternal Holy Soul.
He was beaten and tortured and then lynched from a telephone pole along
the roadway, when he resisted dying they lowered him and slit his throat
and pulled him up again. Then they built a fire under him and exulted in
the aroma of his burnt flesh! When they had finished their bottles and
sated their lust for blood they drove away just as the fog rolled over
the hills and up from the creeks as if trying to forget and obliterate
the evil that had been done there.
I’m not completely certain of what I saw that night, Maybe I was sleepy
and hallucinating, I just know I don’t want to see anything like that
again. I’ve have heard that Will screamed out as they put the wire
around his neck, “I knows you boys, you knows I didn’t do nothing wrong,
you’ll be sorry!
Some one who was there was sorry, for each year a envelope with a large
amount of money is put under the door of Wesley Methodist Church in the
town of Lewisburg and each year, in the time of the autumn mists a
wreath appears on the side of the Midland Trail Highway near there. But
when the fogs roll up from the rivers and creeks and down from the
ridges and mountains that surround it, misfortune and tragedy still
waits. There are those who live on the hills of Lewisburg who know so
terribly well what happened there that night and their night times are
rarely spent without reminders of those days creeping into their
slumbers. There are also, each year, fewer and fewer left whose ears
still are cursed with the last words of Will Williams, “I knows you
It’s now near to the season for the fogs and shadows and the long
nights, perhaps this is the night when sorrow will visit them. I would
not want to venture on the that road when the fogs roll up from the
river and the creeks and down from the mountains and the hills as though
trying to conceal the evil deed once done there.