written by Angela L Burke
The population of Cedar Rock has changed little, since the death of Benjamin Blackwell. Blackwell Road is still a rural part of the Hill Country and remains a gravel road. Few people live along the road anymore. Most of the fields are used for cattle and horse grazing. A sparse cabin, or the rotting skeleton of a framed shack, can still be found along the roadside. All are un-inhabitable and resemble broken down tool sheds choked out by brush and the suffocating tendrils of Kudzu vine.
Stories about Ben Blackwell, are rarely discussed in public these days. But there are some locals, who know the history and also know of the strange happenings on Blackwell Rd, especially at night. Only the bravest of locals will use the Blackwell Rd as a cut through, but never after dark, and never on a full moon. It has been said, that the cursed and angry spirit of Benjamin Blackwell, still rides his horse down Blackwell Road, patrolling his fields on his massive black beast.
Speeders, joy riders, strangers, trespassers and parkers, have encountered the dark spirit of Ben Blackwell on the abandoned gravel road. His tall, wicked shadow, usually said, to be holding a shovel. Many even claimed, to have been chased down by the crazed phantom. That the spirit of Benjamin Blackwell, has been known to chase a man’s car down the road at lightening speeds. One local even claimed that his car windshield had been covered in a swarm of wasps, to the point that he ran off the road. Then they disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.
Billy Blackwell, is also said, to haunt the property of Blackwell Plantation. Many locals claim to have seen young Billy, sitting near the creek, drawing pictures. When Billy turns to look at you, he has the look of having been badly beaten on one side of his head and face. He is said, to grin at you with a sad grin and then turn back to his drawing, before disappearing before your very eyes.
Ben Blackwell has reportedly been seen, standing on the hillside, with a shovel slung over his shoulder near the Blackwell family cemetery. It is believed, that he can sometimes be seen, sitting on his monstrous black horse in the middle of the road, as you wind around the bend on a full moon night. Only to disappear when you slam on the brakes. Many lovers have sought to do some private star-gazing on the dark back road, only to look up and see the ghastly face of Benjamin Blackwell peering through their window. His face swollen with oozing whelps from being stung by angry wasps and bitten by venomous rattlers of the afterlife, in which he is trapped.
It has even been said, that the prints of giant horse hooves, have been seen on the Blackwell Rd. No one with any sense would dare to ride a horse down the old road, due to the number of deadly rattlesnakes that have been seen, curled up in their path, sunning themselves in the warm Mississippi sunshine. Anyone who has ever dared venture down the long, pitch-dark, gravel road at night, or even on the brightest of days, do not feel safe in the largest or fastest of motor transportation. The feeling of being watched and chased by an unseen darkness is inescapable on Blackwell Rd. The fear of being struck by a vicious timber rattler or attacked by angry red wasps, will cross your mind at least once, while you’re considering the risks or taking your chances on the old road.
Curious cemetery explorers and genealogy researchers have reported hearing the sound of a woman wailing, coming from the nearby woods near the cemetery. As well as, the sound of weeping, near the plantation house foundation. Hunters have reported hearing someone whisper the name “Billy “in their ears, while sitting near the creek, only to find that no one is ever there.
But the most surprising claims, are that Benjamin Blackwell’s grave site, as well as the plantation house foundation, is infested and swarming with large rattle snakes and swarms of big red wasps. Mississippi red wasps have an extremely painful sting and to those who have sensitivity to them, they can be deadly, especially in large numbers. Most people caught off guard by a timber rattler, never make it out of the woods. Alive that is.
The Blackwell Plantation was abandoned after the burning of the main house. The barely visible chimney, is now held tight, in the grips of Kudzu and ivy vines. The foundation of the big house is hardly recognizable. Curiosity seekers, teenagers and hikers have attempted to explore the ruins of Blackwell’s Plantation House, but none have ever stayed long. The ruins are said to be infested with rattle snakes. No one with any sense at all, regardless of their hill country survival skills, would be foolish enough to take on a hot breeding nest of angry timber rattlers.
A group of modern-day paranormal investigators, tried to explore the old site recently, and one of them came out of the woods with his life hanging in the balance. The photographer had to be air lifted to the trauma center for rattlesnake venom, after he was bitten on the leg while attempting to photograph the ruins of Blackwell Plantation. Mysteriously, there was nothing on his roll of film, even though all of his frames had been shot.
Numerous claims of mysterious fire lights, tall lurking black shadows, apparitions of a large man with a shovel, thick smoke from unknown sources and mysterious mists, the smell of wood and flesh burning. They have all been reported over the years at the plantation site. The land has never been lived on again. It is now owned by the state’s national park service. All attempts to develop the land have failed. Visitors are always cautioned to avoid the area as being unsafe and extremely dangerous, due to the infestation of rattlesnakes and red wasps. Don’t count on a cell phone for help. There are no signals in these hills, only the echos of a black buzzards scream.
The land sits vacant, said “to be cursed” by Mammie Faye and haunted by the tormented spirits of Benjamin Blackwell and his family. It is believed that Martha searches the charred ruins of the house whispering for her son Billy, in her desperation to say goodbye to him. Mammie Faye’s whispers can still be heard near the ruins of the plantation house. That the smell of whiskey, cigars and burnt flesh can be caught on a passing breeze near the charred ruins. That Billy Blackwell, still draws pictures near the Blackwell Plantation Creek.
But the most feared encounter of all for those who are brave enough to venture onto the Blackwell Rd and Plantation, is to run into the ghost of Benjamin Blackwell, the meanest man who ever lived in the Hill Country.
May the curious outsider beware! They say that behind every good legend story, there is a hint of truth in it somewhere. Explore The Legend of Benjamin Blackwell, at your own peril. You never know when the curses of a ghost legend, will turn out to be real.
Note from the Author:
The Legend of Benjamin Blackwell, is just that. A Legend. It was inspired by a rumored, Mississippi back road in the Hill Country where I live. The actual location is rumored to be haunted by an angry farmer on a black horse. But this fictional story has been dramatized and exaggerated, mixed up and made up for storytelling effect. The location, character names and claims of activity are purely fictional and any similarities with actual places, persons or events in Mississippi, or anywhere else, are purely coincidental and unintentional. The only part of this story that is known to be true and factual, is that the location, that this story was inspired by, is indeed rumored to be haunted by a dark spirit, riding a tall, black horse. The cursed home site is indeed, in ashes. It’s foundation is absolutely, infested with rattlesnakes and angry, red wasps! The rumored, haunted road thru the Hills, is definitely crawling with rattlesnakes. I will never tell anyone of its true location. It will be to my dying day, a deadly secret.