Hope you enjoy...and Happy Halloween!
HALLOWEEN: THE BEGINNING
The land was bad, had been since as long as could be remembered. The Native American tribe, the Pashawakas, had long since avoided the area in southeastern Illinois, after experiencing their own run of horrors many years ago. They simply dubbed that vast plot of fields and thick groves as “tainted with evil.” The first white settlers who had the opportunity to interact with the mostly peaceful tribe wouldn’t get much else for an explanation, except that the Pashawakas never set foot there, even to hunt. Too much innocent blood had been spilled.
The shaman warned the settlers that the evil that resided there would sleep for 30 years or so, only to awaken hungry for violence, for bloodshed. And it was always the same. Loved ones would slaughter loved ones, whole families found butchered and mutilated.
One of the first settlers to ignore the morbid stories was Thomas Hadden. In 1840, he brought his young wife and two children to the area. With just a wagon and two mules, they staked their claim, and while the initial first few months was difficult, Thomas managed to build a simple three-room log cabin before their first winter. That spring, he started tilling the fields for beans, corn, and a variety of squash, including pumpkins. What they didn’t consume, he planned on selling to nearby settlements. They’d also built a small barn and coop for their pigs and chickens. After that summer, a year since their arrival, the Hadden family thought their hard work would pay off, and Thomas made plans to build a fine home in the next few years.
Over the next several years, other settlers moved into the area and it grew into a community of sorts. Talk began of forming an official town, with a name and mayor, but Thomas Hadden, while pleased and excited by the growth, wasn’t a politician, just a simple farmer. He had no such aspirations, but he supported the future of the unnamed but developing town.
The harvest season approached, in 1848, and it proved as it always did to be a busy time for the many farmers, including the Haddens. The crops were plentiful and the general mood amongst everyone was one of contentment, if not eagerness to expand and name their town, and elect a mayor and sheriff.
Some had suggested calling it Haddentown. After all, it was Thomas and his family who had settled in the area first.
However, in late October, horror struck the peaceful community. The curse the Pashawakas had warned those first settlers of had awakened. For reasons unknown, one night Thomas Hadden’s son, aged 14, got up from bed and went outside to the woodpile stacked against the side of the cabin. Taking the axe, he went back inside and murdered both his parents while they slept. Splattered with blood, Benjamin Hadden entered the room he shared with his younger sister, Adelaide. When she saw him covered in blood, holding the axe, she screamed before he cleaved her skull.
Summoned by the screams, nearby farmers investigated the disturbance, only to find young Ben standing out front of the family home clutching the bloodied axe, his face blank and emotionless. Later, some would claim his eyes were the most frightening aspect of the horrific scene, deep and black, as if the Devil himself now inhabited the boy.
When one man, a close friend of the family, moved to go inside the cabin, Ben lunged with the axe. Another man holding a shotgun opened fire, and Benjamin Hadden slumped to the ground, his head all but vaporized by the blast.
It took the still unnamed community quite some time to recover from the horrible tragedy, but eventually they did. Explanations for why Benjamin Hadden, seemingly a fine young man, would do what he did that night went unanswered. While many people had heard the stories told by the local Indians, they scoffed at it as native superstition. Instead, they believed that the Hadden youth went inexplicably mad, or perhaps even possessed by Satan himself.
One year after the tragedy of the Hadden family, the town finally elected a mayor (which had been Thomas Hadden’s good friend, Daniel Strode), and it’s first Sheriff (the man who shot and killed Ben Hadden), Jess Brackett.
All they had to do was to choose a town name. There had been many suggestions, but only one that most thought fitting. No one objected.
Ten years after Thomas Hadden and his family settled in the area, making it their home, the town became first known as Hadden’s Field.
Some time later, the town name was slightly changed.