Friday, December 13, 2013

The Headless Horseman of Lakey’s Creek

Lakey's Creek
This ghost story is one of the oldest told in the state of Illinois. It is so popular and has been told so often it is firmly entrenched in Southern Illinois folklore. Like many ghost stories, it is part fact, and part legend.

Lakey's Creek is in
Hamilton County
Lakey’s Creek, as it has been known since before the 1830s is where this story takes place. It was named “in tribute” for the man who died near it and supposedly haunts it. 

Today this creek is 1.5 miles east of McLeansboro.

In Illinois history, there was a man by the name of Joel Lakely who decided to settle near a shallow part of this creek. 

It was here that travelers could ford the water with ease. Lakey being a sociable man, liked the fact that most travelers in the area passed right by his new home.

Unfortunately, his son-in-law murdered him before he could complete his cabin. One morning his body was found propped against a tree. His head had been chopped off, with the same ax he had been using to cut down trees for his new home.

His body and head were buried near his unfinished cabin. This part of the story is true, but the son-in-law's name and motive are lost to history.

It was not long after his death, that travelers who forded this shallow area of the creek began to report a strange sight.

A typical witness report states that people would hear heavy horse hooves, behind them as they went to cross the creek. But when they turned to see who followed them, there was no evidence of another rider or horse.

Other witnesses experienced something more startling. They heard horse hooves, but when they turned, they saw a large black horse with a headless rider atop. They stated this strange apparition seemed to pursue them--at least until they reached the creek.

These accounts mention that this headless rider was always seen downstream from where the witnesses were. This was on the same side of the creek near where Lakey was murdered. 

This rider and his horse would not follow them across the stream but instead would turn back and go downstream.

This part of the legend is often used to enhance the story--for an old belief is ghosts cannot cross water.

Stories of sightings of this headless horseman have endured for over 200 years. This apparition is still seen today. 

The old ford along Lakey’s Creek has been abandoned for years--a modern bridge crosses the creek today. It is on this bridge where travelers report seeing this headless horseman.

Many of these witnesses are tourists who come to enjoy the area’s natural beauty. Most of them do not know the story behind this haunting.

1 comment:

Leona Joan said...

This reminds me of Sleepy Hollow. Thanks for sharing this spooky story. 😎