The Head in the Well

In an old homestead near Mt. Harmony, West Virginia, one hundred and fifty years ago, lived a beautiful young woman named Mary Meadows. Every man for miles around wanted her for his wife, but she only cared for Tom Dixon, who like herself, was young and handsome.

The wedding day was set, the big cabin was made ready, and the marriage took place. The young couple seemed to be ideally happy.

Some of Mary’s many admirers were very disappointed over her choice of Tom Dixon. One man especially seemed broken-hearted. His name was Jack Wilson. He was an odd person who never forgot anyone that got in his way.

As the months passed, he got worse. He wouldn’t talk to anyone, was always in the woods, and people saw less and less of him. Soon he was a type of wild man – bearded and dirty, with clothes in rags, and eyes that had the look of a maniac.

One day, Wilson saw Mary in the town of Fairmont, knowing that Tom Dixon would be home alone, he crossed the river and took the road that lead to Mt. Harmony and the Dixon’s farm. Along the way, he stopped in a nearby woods and retrieved a scythe that he had placed there long before.

Like some wild animal, he crept up on Dixon, who was hoeing corn in his big cornfield. However, Tom’s dog saw him and started to bark. Tom looked around just in time to see the wild-looking madman coming at him with a scythe! He started to run for the house, with Wilson close behind him. He had got as far as the well when he tripped, and before he could get up, Wilson was upon him.

Now he had to fight for his life, and some fight it was, but he finally took the scythe, and with one big swing cut off Wilson’s head, which rolled into the well. Horrified at what had happened, he carried the body deep into the woods and hid it under the brush. He never said anything to his wife about the fight, and even killed a young pig and threw it into the well to keep anyone from using the water.

Two weeks passed. No one missed Wilson much because of his queer ways,  he was believed to have left the neighborhood, and was soon forgotten. However, he was anything but gone, and soon everyone was to know of him in different way. Without any warning, Tom Dixon, who in two weeks seemed to have aged twenty years, sold his farm, took his wife, and moved to the Far West, never to be heard from again.

The new owner of the farm was a very good man by the name of Salters, who soon moved in. This was the story he told:

Every night, when the moon was full, he would hear a deep voice call out from the woods, “Where is my head?”

From down in the abandoned well, a burbling answer would come, “Down here in the well.”

Then, the voice in the woods would say, “Where? I can’t find the well.”

Then after a short pause the voice would start all over, and the conversation would be repeated over and over all night long, until the full moon would disappear the next morning.

This went on for years. Salters moved out, and nobody would live in the house any length of time, and the farm was soon reclaimed by the woods.

Sources:

This story was collected by Ruth Ann Musick, in her book The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales. It was told to her by Robert Leeper of Fairmont, in 1954, who heard the tale from his mother. According to the stories handed down to Mr. Leeper’s mother, the scythe murder actually happened. Mt. Harmony is about three and half miles from Fairmont, just off the road to Morgantown.  

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