Located on farmland outside of Wilmar, Minnesota is a place called "Deadman's Hill" that has been haunted for many, many years, dating back to the era before the Civil War. At that time, there were several places in Minnesota associated with the "Underground Railroad", the secret system to help slaves escape from the southern states. Many of these slaves settled into the northern regions of the country, while many others, like the ones that passed through Minnesota, were on their way to Canada. It should be remembered that at this time, while the states in the northern were considered "free" states, and no slavery was practiced there, it was still legal for bounty hunters and slave traders to pursue escaped slaves in these states. If a slave, who was considered the property of his southern owner, escaped into a "free" state, he could still be found and brought back to his owner in the south. Such were the laws at the time that a ghost came to haunt Deadman's Hill.
Located on the farm outside of Wilmar was an American elm tree that marked the grave of a runaway slave who had died on the farm. The slave had made it as far north as Minnesota when he was captured by a bounty hunter who had probably been promised a handsome reward for the return of the runaway. The slave was chained to a fence post for the night but somehow, in the darkness, he managed to pull the post from the ground and again escape. The bounty hunter awoke and the two of them fought until the slave beheaded his captor with the man's own sword.
The next morning, the family who lived on the farm were shocked to find the body of the slave near their front porch. Mortally wounded, he had managed to crawl to the house, dragging the fence post behind him. The family followed a blood trail to the top of a nearby hill and found the body of the bounty hunter. The bounty hunter was buried at the top of what became known as Deadman's Hill and the slave was buried near the house, where the tree was planted.
A short time later, two men met unexplained deaths on Deadman's Hill. The first man killed was that of a sharecropper who lived on the nearby farm. The other man was hired by the farmer's widow a short time later. Both men were attacked and killed on the hill by an unknown suspect.... one that had left a trail of footprints in the snow and which, by the trail left behind, had been dragging something behind him. It looked as though it had been the size of a fence post.
The deaths were blamed on the runaway slave's ghost, who was also said to be haunting the farm house where he had died. Items often disappeared from the house, only to turn up later and occupants reported hearing the sound of the ghost on an almost nightly basis. Usually the sounds would start near the hill and continue up to the house, a moaning and dragging sound, mixed with the sound of rattling chains.
The ghost was never seen, only heard, and his presence remained a frightful one for many years. It is said that strange things still happen in the vicinity of the hill, but luckily no one else has met their deaths in that place, leaving some to wonder if the other two men that died may have happened something to do with the slave's capture after all.
Wilmar, Minnesota is located in the south central part of the state. The farm where
Deadman's Hill is located is private property outside of town.
Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor
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