The Legend Of Pappy Ferguson
Before I get to the train robbery, I need to set you up with a shorter story. I was told this story by my next door neighbor, and it came up as my wife and I were visiting and spotted a black snake on a bush next to the patio.
I knew that the snake was harmless but my neighbor was horrified and related the time that she had been outside, for what she thought was a short period of time, and figured it would be ok to leave the sliding glass door to the den open, not thinking that anyone or anything would get in unnoticed.
She said that about an hour after she came back inside, she saw a "big black snake" on the mantle above the fireplace. My question to her was the obvious, "what did you do"? Her terse, triumphant reply was " I called Eugene". That reminded me of a story about someone wanting to call R.T., but I'll save that for another time.
Eugene "Pappy" Ferguson was a neighbor that lived about five houses upriver and was summoned to deal with the serpent because her husband had been sent to town on a mission to procure hen eggs.
I am amazed at how many times when ordering breakfast, even in a small rural community, that when I ask if they serve hen eggs the waitress has to go check.
Back to the story:
As you would guess, that conjured up the second question, "what did he do"? She snapped back, as if I surely should have known, " he shot it". Now I shot one of those saucer size wolf spiders that I came across in my pantry one morning, but I used a pellet rifle. I used the pellet gun because I knew, from experience, that I couldn't kill the spider with a broom, and if I tried to step on it, it would surely try to trip me.
The thought of firing a rifle, of any caliber, inside a house was too much for me to process as the explosion had to be deafening. But, the snake was dispatched and thus the immediate problem was solved.
That little background story I relate to set you up for this.
It seems that years ago there was a train robbery and there were three bad guys that, after their mischief, fled on foot with their booty. They crossed the Little Red River probably on the upstream side of Beech Island, climbed up Copperhead Hill, and made their way to Wilburn. It was thought that when they crossed the river they had the goods with them but when they were shot and killed in Wilburn, they were empty handed.
Pappy recollected that there were some odd, small mounds up on Copperhead Hill, which by the way, was just across the road from his house. One day, when there was nothing else to do, he convinced two of his buddies that the treasure from the train robbery was buried in one of those mounds.
So, with a shovel in hand, off they went, climbing up Copperhead Hill.
They wandered around up there for a time and finally came across a mound that looked like the "one". The little mound didn't seem like it belonged there as compared to their surroundings, and after recollecting all of their geological expertise, it was decided the mound was not the result of a natural phenomena and that Pappy should dig.
Here is where a simultaneous occurrence of events caused all of the fun.
At the same time as Pappy placed the shovel on the mound and was about to put his foot on it, someone said "maybe it's a grave", and at the same time as the word grave came out, an owl hooted. That is all it took.
Pappy spun and headed down the hill as fast as he could run with a shovel and didn't stop until he was standing in the middle of the road. It wasn't until then that the whereabouts of his buddies crossed his mind and as he turned to check on them, they were already in his face. Needless to say they were scared to death.
The loot was never found, and even though Copperhead Hill is just across the road, it is said that Pappy never went back.