Sunday, January 30, 2011

LEGEND OF FALLING ROCK

The Ozark Indian tribe roamed the hills in southern Missouri for hundreds of years.  One winter day one of the women of the tribe was about to give birth.  As she went into labor in a cave in the Ozark hills rain began to fall.  It was a heavy rain that began to wash away the soil above the cave.  Just as her baby was brought into the world a landslide came crashing down in front of the cave bringing rock and soil down in a rolling cascade.  The Chief named the newborn babe "Falling Rock" because of the timing of the birth with the landslide

Falling Rock did not have a very successful boyhood..  As he trained with the other young boys in the tribe to get the title of Brave he consistently came up short.  They were beginning to think there was no hope for him.  As he grew older he met and fell in love with a girl from the tribe named Running Deer.  They were very much in love but Running Deer's father did not approve of a marriage for his daughter with a boy that couldn't ascend to the title of Brave.  Falling Rock's father thought that the marriage would be a good thing to bolster the confidence of his son and help him finally achieve the title of  title of Brave.  The marriage was reluctantly agreed to and the couple were married on Falling Rock's eighteenth birthday.

Soon Falling Rock and Running Deer had a son.  The son was looked down upon because Falling Rock was not yet a brave.   The other families began to shun Falling Rock and his little family.  They were considered to be at this point what we would call today leeches or hangers on.  Falling Rock was not allowed to go on the hunting expeditions with the others because he had not achieved that lowest of titles.  He still was not a brave..  The required those that went on the hunts to be classified as braved because there were white men out there wanting to take land and food from the Ozark People.  They could not afford to have one who had not proved himself out on the trip because they would end up trying to protect him instead of fighting for their land.

When Falling Rock was twenty five, his wife's father declared the marriage unfit and took Running Deer and their children away from Falling Rock.  Running Deer was Married to a younger man in the tribe who had achieved Brave status and took all of the little wealth that Falling Rock had managed to accumulate away from him.  Soon Falling Rock found himself on the outside, living on the edge of the tribe with no one acknowledging he even existed.  He would eat what was cast out of the rest of the tribe or occasionally adventure out on his own to try to hunt for food.  Eventually he became well enough of a hunter to sustain himself  and he tried to become a brave once again and once again he failed.  It seemed like life was not meant for Falling Rock.

One day a group of white men came across the small Ozark Indian village.  They ran through the town killing all they could and taking some of the women.  Falling Rock was off in the trees outside the village and he watched the whole tragedy quietly.  Deep inside he knew he could get in on the fight but as he watched he knew that his presence would not do any good.  He watched in horror as Running Deer's husband was shot and felled.  He watched as Running Deer was beaten with whips until she was not moving any more and he watched his young son trampled by horses until his life was gone.  When it was all over the village stood in ruin with no sign of life at all.  Falling Rock fell asleep and dreamed a terrible dream about his wife and son the fate that they had met.

He awoke and went in search of the white men.  His mind was on fire.  He had lost all control and lost all sense of right or wrong.  He found his first white man cooking over an open flame and immediately creeped up behind hi and slammed his head with a tomahawk.   He began just running through the woods and any white man he came across was killed on the spot.  His anger was such that he was finding he could take on up to four men at a time and dispense of them.  He was on a mission to redeem his wife and his son.

Soon the white man began to build roads and small towns began to pop up in the southern Missouri hills.  Falling Rock decided that he would take as many as he could.  He would lay in wait on the side of the road and then kill any white man that came traveling down the road.  Soon he became legend.  He seemed to be all over southern Missouri, constantly on the move going from town to town and killing white men outside of town on the new roads that were being built.

The name of Falling Rock became very well known throughout the State.  Eventually the Missouri Governor decide to post warning signs on the roads for unaware travelers.  In spite of the warning sign the killings continued to happen.  The killings began to slow down as the highways began to be built and cars were driving by fast on the roads that Falling Rock use to pick off his prey on.

It had been one hundred and fifty years since the massacre that destroyed Falling Rock's village but he still seemed to be getting his revenge.  Every once in a while a car would stop for the driver to rest and a body would soon be found by the highway patrol.  A car would break down and reports were that an old Indian would come out of the woods offering to help fix the car only to kill the unfortunate travelers.  The old Indian would almost vanish into thin air after the revenge was taken.

The tales said that it was the ghost of Falling Rock doing the killings.  He was still trying to get his revenge and still trying to become a brave.  The stories live on even today in southern Missouri.  People are warned and few take it seriously.  You can still see the signs on the highway.  Big yellow diamond shaped signs that simply say, "WATCH FOR FALLING ROCK".  So if you are driving in south Missouri and see one of these signs, beware because chances are that Falling Rock has been their before and has killed there in the past.  What ever you do when traveling through the Ozark Hills, watch for Falling Rock.

Author's Note:  This story is inspired by a tale told to me by my grandfather about the legend of Falling Rock.

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