Friday, August 27, 2010

Ralls’ Curse: Ely’s Lost Landing

Emily Ely Grave: Mar. 18, 1818 - June 11, 1878
I was asked by the management at the RV park to come up with a new story for their haunted trail event this year.  Since the RV park sits on part of an old grave yard (Rackerby Cemetery), and only 4 head stones still stand (those of the Ely's - a family that settled in this area in the early 1800s), I thought it would be fun to incorporate their stories into my fiction.  Below, find the story--I have no idea if the management will use it.  Regardless, I am rather enjoying it and I think I will be turning this all into a publication - likely a book that incorporates function and historic reality.  Enjoy the treatment!


Ralls’ Curse: Ely’s Lost Landing 
Rebecca McCarthy 

The back story for the haunted trail:

It is amazing how many people do know know their own history, hidden or in plain view, their roots and realities. We walk on the land but do not ask the land who was here before us, laughing, living, harvesting the fruit of the land, sleeping, and worshiping the Gods who provide such opportunity. We are ignorant, and ignorance can kill you. You could be walking on a grave. Indeed, you likely are. Tread softly because you cannot tell who you tread on.

As is partly known around these parts, Ralls County used to be part of Louisiana (I am sure you have heard of the Louisiana Purchase). France owned this land back in the 1700s until it sold off its interest to Spain in 1763 - the US purchase was in 1803. During this time, the land was settled only by the native tribes of Missouri and by the forgotten Gods of other lands: Greece and Egypt. Abandoned by worshipers when Christianity took hold, the gods of forgotten times fled to the new lands in order to find peace - persecution is a bitch after all. These forgotten gods minded their own business, settling in the area we now call “The Mark Twain Landing.”

Population started coming to this area in the 18th century, long after the old gods had made this place their home. They landed near St. Genevieve and Pierre Laclede Liguest laid out Saint Louis in 1764. In the early 1800s, Pike County, established in 1818, was represented by Colonel Johnson and Daniel Ralls. Unbeknownst to many, Ralls had made a questionable deal with the Gods of old. Upon exploring the territory, Ralls came across the homestead of Anubis (Egyptian god of the Dead), Hades (Greek God of the dead), and their house servant Charon (Greek-ferryman of Hades). The two gods had met during a poker game, Charon was helping Hades cheat, and realized their shared interested in death. Thus, they had moved in with each other after relocating to the promised land - America. Both the Gods, and Charon, were tired of the noise and unrest in the underworld and sought peace and quiet. They found it in what was later called “The Landing.” Ralls had promised these two gods that as state representative, he would make sure that their land would never be settled by humans, allowing them the peace they sought. But like many other political figures, Ralls went back on his word, angering the Gods, who then destroyed him just a few months after he took office, October 20, 1818.

Rather than solving the problem, Anubis, Hades and Charon’s action created a martyr of Ralls, as the land was quickly incorporated and on the 16th of November the northern part of Pike County was deemed Ralls County - irony is a bitch.

And the people came - mostly from parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, bringing with them a farming culture and slaves. Among those early settlers was Aaron Forman Ely (Born in Kentucky on June 29, 1811). After settling in “The Landing,” Aaron met his wife, Emily Utterback. The two married and soon after, Emily was pregnant with their son, Martin Irving Ely in 1844. Such delight and joy was experienced by the Elys for their good fortune, that they invited people from all over to celebrate their marriage and coming birth. Celebration after celebration after celebration was held, as these new settlers rejoiced in the land and their family. Not only was the family growing but the township of “The Landing” was growing as well. Businesses were springing up: butcher shop, a post office, a doctor’s office, shops and other signs of human life and settlement. All this on and around the Old God’s homestead. Ralls County, and indeed “The Landing” was becoming a cursed place for the poor old Gods.

On February 29, 1844, the Ely’s celebrated the birth of their son. All were invited to view the beautiful, and healthy, child. All, that is, but Anubis, Hades and Charon who were no longer remembered or respected. The celebrations went on for days, indeed months as life was celebrated over death. Humans, after all, love an excuse to party. The same could be said for the gods, if, that is, we remember to invite them.

The Gods were angry. I mean, would you not be? Not only was the noise annoying, but the fact that they were ignored! They were Gods after all. They had decided to allow the humans to settle after the whole Ralls ordeal. Why not take the high road - offer the humans a chance to make right? But the humans had forgotten their history and lived only for the now. Tramping on the land and hearts of Anubis and Hades; leaving messes for poor Charon to clean up.

The worse of the lot were the Elys and their celebrations! The celebration of the birth of Martin was non-ending! For almost 4 months the celebration continued and just as things were settling down, Aaron’s 33rd birthday, was approaching. The Gods decided they had to do something. They approached Aaron and explained to him the circumstances. They asked him not to celebrate his birthday, as a show of good faith, and to simply give the Gods some rest. Not knowing that Anubis and Hades existed or even lived there (after all, were theses “Gods” simply human myths?), he agreed and and ran home to tell his wife, Emily, who also agreed to honor the “peace” agreement. But no one told the townspeople of The Landing who, threw Aaron the biggest celebration the town had ever seen.

The Gods were angry and thinking that Aaron had gone back on his word, ended his life - on the day and time of his birth, 33 years later. Emily was mad with sorrow and sought the Gods out. Finding out the truth, the Gods took pity on Emily and allowed her, and her son, to live out their natural lifespans. But they deemed that after the death of Both Emily and Martin, that The Landing, indeed the entire town, would pay for their careless natures - their ignorance of history.

Martin Irving Ely, after serving in the Civil war, surviving and raising a family in Ralls County, died on February 4, 1936. On that day, “The Landing” became a ghost town - wiped from the memories of most who dwelled in the land. All that was left was a small section of the Rackerby Cemetery that contained the Elys: Aaron, Emily, William (Martin’s younger brother) and Martin.

But the gods are not entirely unkind (just simply difficult - especially when they lose at poker). Although an impossible task, the Gods allow The Landing to return once every 100 years, in the month of October, to find new citizens. If the township can gain a population of 3333 upstanding, honest and loyal humans, in the memory of Aaron and his family, the town will be allowed to return from the underworld, alive and thriving. But only certain people are allowed, the most upright, non-corrupted and honest souls will be brought into the fold.

The event:

Disguised as a fun Halloween event, the lost townspeople of The Landing welcome unsuspecting folks to the haunted trail. In reality, those who attend will be judged by Elys and other town members as they pass judgment on the worthiness of your soul for citizenship. Indeed, each Landing Citizen met along the way will look into souls of those attending and pass judgment. Final judgment is passed by the grave lady, Emily, as well as Hades. At the end of the trail, each person will be given a coin, if Charon accepts your offering, you will be taken into the Landing fold forever doomed to walk these grounds, escorted by Anubis. If not, you will be thrown out by Anubis, forced back to live out your miserable reality on earth.


Historical facts. Here is the a page with the Ely's Genealogy:

You can find the history of Ralls county, and the New London, here:

About The Landing, MO:

Wiki article here:,_Missouri

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