A few weeks ago I visited the owner of a place that is today called Talley Hollow on Cane Creek. In 1884, it was called the Conder Farm. The log home where the massacre happened once stood in this hollow.(See note 1.) Today there is only a graveyard to remind the casual visitor of the bloody past. That is, unless you look around carefully. And that is just what the current owner's grandfather did. Foundation stones, bits of pottery, and other discarded items are hidden by the dirt and foliage of over a hundred twenty seven years. No surprise really, the home had been burned to the ground before 1895. But one item surprised me the most; a muzzle loading rifle.
The barrel is octagonal and had a set of initials [GTM] stamped on the top about halfway between the action and the muzzle. The initials didn't photograph well. In all, it is a wonderful piece to look at and hold. The gun was certainly from the right period.(see note 2.) Although it would have been 20+ years old by 1884, and perhaps much more, that is not a problem considering the remoteness of Lewis County and its relative poverty at the time. I would have been surprised to find the latest models of firearms anyway. The big question is, did its presence have anything to do with the massacre? Of course, we will never know. Unless some journal turns up describing how someone left their gun there, I see no way to know for sure. But it certainly stirs the imagination. This is one of the reasons I love to study history in the first place.
1. A hollow is a narrow valley. It was common to build homes in these natural feature. It created natural divisions between neighbors. Cane Creek has dozens of hollows along both sides in the upper portion of its east fork where the massacre took place. They often were named for who lived there. The Talleys have lived in this hollow since 1884, and nearby before that.
2. When I visited, the person who introduced me was a gun expert. He pointed out many of the observations I have made here. He also noticed that the gun had something still in the barrel. On a later visit he was able to extract what was inside and found that the gun was still loaded.
1 month ago