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Conversation with a Ghost

History, Mystery, and Hauntings of Southern IllinoisFrom History, Mystery, and Hauntings of Southern Illinois by Bruce Cline.

My grandpa, Clyde Damron, was a fox hunter, as were many men in Hardin County in the mid-1900s. Fox hunting required the use of some type of hound, and between hunting trips, the dogs required exercise. Grandpa was proud of his beagles, and took good care of them, letting them run whenever he got the chance. The farm was an excellent place for the dogs, the expanse of wilderness surrounding it ideal to stretch their legs and practice their tracking skills.

Grandpa kept his dogs in a pen near the garden at the farm at Shetlerville. Founded in 1866, Shetlerville was once a town with businesses and family homes. At one time, it was the largest shipping port in Hardin County, essential for a community that relied on the Ohio River for transportation and commerce. By the 1940s and ‘50s, much of the town stores had closed and houses were moved to nearby Rosiclare. What remained were a few farms, one of which was home to my grandparents.

On a warm evening, as was his practice, Grandpa went to the garden to let the dogs run. Whenever he ran the dogs, he would remain in the yard, squatted down, listening to them as they sprinted through the woods, howling and barking. The garden area was fairly distant from the house, down past the barn, and Grandpa was alone as he listened. Or so he thought. After he released the dogs and was in position, he heard someone walk up behind him, but remained squatted facing the woods.

“What ya doin’?” my Grandpa heard someone ask, and without turning he merely replied, “Just letting my dogs run.” For a short period of time they chatted, about the dogs, the weather, things that men-folk generally spoke of. He continued to listen for his dogs, lest they get too far and he need go after them, while conversing with the unseen stranger. After a moment of quiet, Grandpa finally stood and turned to face his visitor… only to find he was still alone.

My mother and Grandma were in another part of the yard hanging clothes on the line. They saw someone run into the house, so fast they couldn’t see who it was, the screen door slamming shut. Curious, they entered the house only to find my Grandpa sitting at the table, visibly shaken. And he wouldn’t move from that spot for a very long time. No one else had been in the yard or garden area. No one had come up to the house. No one ever questioned what Grandpa heard, nor would he speak of it.

The farm house burned down some time later and my grandparents moved “to town” (Rosiclare). They kept the barn and surrounding area, as well as the dogs. Grandpa spent very little time with his dogs in the years to come. In my lifetime, I don’t recall him ever fox hunting, he had given it up. For many years after, when I was a child, I remember Grandpa saying he had to go feed the dogs “before it got dark.”

Did Shetlerville ever really cease to exist? Or just shifted to another realm?

Copyright Bruce L. Cline, 2014. You do not have permission to copy this post.

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Comments

  1. I knew Clyde & Hanner Damron well, the farm you mentioned was my grandparents , John & Christina Rotes place. The garden was my grandfather’s pride when he was alive. Clyde gave me a Walker hound pup because it was no good, he later traded for it back as it became an excellent hunter.

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