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Mary Hyre was one of the first, and one of the most persistent, to cover Mothman and other strangeness in Point Pleasant.  In her column, “Where The Waters Mingle,” in the Athens, Ohio Messenger, she regularly reported the latest sightings and speculations.

The following is the column from the Athens, Ohio Messengers on Sunday, April 30th 1967:

In a very old newspaper clipping, I read a story with a headline "Legend of Headless Soldier of Donohue's Lane Told With Early History Viewed."

The story in part says that in the region of Jackson County a distinctive type of farm-folk dwell. Their family history dates back before the Civil War by a half century. Their land has been handed down from generation to the succeeding, until the good earth has become a traditional heritage.

Down through the years have also come a wealth of family traditions and superstitions. Around the fire-side on a winter evening you would hear the stories of the "Headless Soldier of Donohue Lane," the "Haunt of Beech Thicket," and "The Strange Appari[ti]on at the Dutch Ridge Crossing."

Sometime during the Civil War, presumably about 1863, Stuart Donohue, a federal soldier, returned from the Arm of the Potomac to his home of Little Mill Creek. A few days later he was warned that a detachment of home guards led by a native of the community was on their way to arrest him as a deserter and return him to Virginia. Donohue met the home guard unarmed, having stuck his carbine in a decayed stump, and agree to accompany them to Cottageville where a hearing would take place.

After the party had crossed Little Creek at Click's Ford, a member of the guard shot Donohue in the back, inflicting a mortal wound.

The murder became a local item of interest. Although the man who committed the crime went unpunished by the civil law, there were mutterings after the war that the victim's family might avenge the killing. Perhaps it was their threat that kept the incident foremost in the minds of the people and acted as a psychological effect on the happenings which followed.

Natives of the section began to report they had seen a strange and unaccountable phanto[m] near a large beech tree which overshadowed the lane - the spot where Donohue was killed. To some, it is said, that murdered man appeared as a black colt, to others, a ball of tawny dust. To an early United Brethren minister, he appeared as a headless soldier climbing through the rustic rail fence. As to what facts these stories base their truth on was not learned, but they had an ominous and paralyzing effect on the country side. Grown men refused to travel the lane, children shunned the spot as if it held the devil for them and the late traveler glanced frequently at the sinking sun and lengthened his stride.

One resident of the community, a brother of the deceased man, vowed he met the strange figure one rainy night. The shock of the encounter sent him home as fast as his legs could carry him. When he came to Little Mill Creek, swollen by the spring rains, he plunged into the swirling waters and swam to the other side. Never again did he pass the spot where his brother died.

The years passed and the memory of the haunted lane dimmed. The beech tree died and piece by piece fell onto the highway. Many throughout the years went to the spot but never saw or heard anything.

Moth754

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