Written for Louisiana Road Trips Magazine May, 2010:
I found this article a few years ago in The Monroe Bulletin, Wednesday, December 15, 1886. No proof has been found for this sad tale. It is highly unlikely it happened, since Filhiol was here at the time and would have at least mentioned it in his surviving correspondence. Still, it makes for a great story!
Now that winter in all its rigor is upon us; when we can draw up our chairs to the cheerful fire and hear the wail of the wind as it sweeps by us, dying away in the distance like some living thing, your readers will perhaps, under such circumstances, appreciate a tale of long ago, a legend of the past.
One hundred years ago, when this country was inhabited almost exclusively by Indians, the place known as Indian Village was, in truth, our Indian Village.
In a beautiful grove of stately oaks, with here and there a graceful maple to enliven their dark beauty, was placed the Indian Village. Here the musical voice of the Chief’s only child, the beautiful White Fawn, might be heard as the maiden rambled through the grove, as happy and care-free as the birds that sang so joyously over her head. And had you looked closely, reader, you could have seen another form following the steps of the Indian girl and gazing upon her with so much devotion that you could have easily guessed his secret he loved. This person was Strong Arm, the bravest warrior and the best hunter in the tribe. He had long loved the graceful White Fawn and had obtained the Chief’s consent to make her his wife when twelve moons more were past.
One evening in the early autumn a war party returned from the east, bringing with them a white man, a prisoner, whose fate had been decided. The prisoner, Paul Harcourt, was a young Georgian who had left his home to join a party of trappers whose headquarters were on the Ouachita River, near where Monroe is now. A party of Indians returning from the east, as we have said, surprised and captured him. He was securely bound for several days, but appearing quiet and submissive to his fate, he was released and allowed the freedom of the village, but prohibited wandering outside its limits.
A close friendship sprang up between Paul and White Fawn, and they often wandered off and amused themselves for hours in exchanging confidences. Though no other feelings than that of the purest friendship existed between the Indian maiden and the white man, the jealous eyes of Strong Arm viewed their intimacy in quite a different light. He grew sullen, vindictive, and watchful.
One evening as Paul and White Fawn were seated on the gnarled roots of a majestic oak. I can show you the very tree standing yet, reader, if you wish to see it. He was telling her about the wonders of civilization. She listened, her small brown hands clasped upon his knee, lips parted, and eyes sparkling with wonder. And thus they were seated when the pierceing
glance of Strong Arm lighted upon them. He crept nearer and seeing the wonder incited by the strange things of Paul’s mistook it for love. The demon of jealousy mastered Strong Arm’s bosom; he fits the fatal arrow to the string, draws the string back to his ear and covers the heart of the white man with his eye. The sinking sun casts a red glow over the scene, a little mockbird [sic] in the branches over their heads uttered a shrill note of warning and darted away.
For a moment the Indian stood like a statue, then the sharp twang of the bowstring told its own story. The feathered barb shot like a gleam of light through the air and quivered in the heart of the white man. Then with a yell of a fiend he sprung forward, whirled his tomahawk aloft, and sunk it in the brain of the Indian girl.
They were buried together, the darling of the tribe, White Fawn, and the handsome young pale face. Beneath the spreading branches of the oak where they were slain, a grave was dug, and in it side by side they were laid away.
Many years have passed; the hills which then echoed with the shouts of the dusky warriors are now cleared of vegetation and show forth the thrift of the white man, but there is one spot that the axe has not touched…the lonely grove of the murdered friends is still as it was one hundred years ago, for the spot is invested with strange terrors. Almost every old settler and many strangers have seen weird and unearthly sights, and heard fearful sounds about the place. We don’t know what causes these things, but we know they are there.