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Lincoln County Urban Legend: Sandy Creek

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Sandy Creek

Let me take you back, if you will, to the year 1804, to the homestead of William McHugh. This was the day that Sandy Creek ran red. It was a day much like any other, only this day, a few of Mr. McHugh’s horses had gotten loose, so he called on his three boys to go fetch them.

The boys, James the oldest, William Jr. the middle and Jesse the youngest, headed up the creek looking for the horses. I’m sure that if they had known what waited for them that day they would have stayed home. James followed the tracks, glad to know that they would be riding back home.

About an hour after they left home they finally found the horses. The boys had only started back to their home when they met a friend, a man they all knew who was supposed to be a great Indian scout, Frederick Dixon (though I might doubt that he was that great at scouting).

The two older boys kept on their horses and told Jesse that he could ride with Mr. Dixon, because he was youngest and smallest. They hadn’t rode long before the horses wanted to stop and drink. As they were stopped along the bank of Sandy Creek, arrows began to fly around them.

At least one Indian was concealed behind some large sycamore trees on the opposite bank. The two older boys were killed immediately and fell into the creek, their blood mixing into the water.

The Indians let out a crazed war cry, the horse that Jesse and Mr. Dixon were on spooked and threw the two to the ground. They jumped to their feet as fast as they could, but Mr. Dixon was much faster than the young boy. And though Jesse was just a young boy and Mr. Frederick Dixon was supposed to be a brave Indian scout, he ran on leaving the boy far behind him.

Even when the boy cried out for him to not leave he did anyways, to fearful for his own life to even think upon the child.

It was only moments before the Indians caught up to Jesse McHugh, and even as the Indians tortured him, Mr. Dixon kept on running.

I sure would like to have been a fly on the wall of that house when Mr. Dixon got there and told William McHugh what had happened. I don’t imagine it could have been the truth because if it had been Mr. McHugh probably would have picked up his gun shot him right where he stood.

The three boys were each wrapped in a sheet and buried in the same grave on the North side of Sandy Creek. Their names were carved into a big oak tree by their grave. They were laid to rest like young guards forever watching over the creek to see that such a terrible thing never happens there again. It was said that the killing was retribution for Mr. McHugh having killed three of the tribal dogs.

As a good reporter should, I went out to Sandy Creek as close to where the massacre happened as I could get. I could feel the unrest in the area, it was as if every breeze through the trees carried young Jesse’s voice crying out not to be left behind.

Though the water of Sandy Creek washed the blood downstream you can still feel the presence of what happened in this place. In my mind, I could hear the war cries of the Indians and sweet Jesse begging for mercy.


John 15:13

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

This is Norm McFadden and if you know of any interesting local history, crazy spirit stories or haunted houses give me a call at (636) 233-6878. For more works by Norman McFadden visit 

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