In writing on history and the paranormal things have a way of coming together unexpectedly. Such is what happened with this story.
Part of where the movie The Hunger Games was made, was filmed not far from me at the Henry River Mill Village in Burke, Co., North Carolina. Wiki says it's an important remnant of the change over in America from an agrarian society to an industrial one.
And it should be remembered that the South was last section of the settled part of the Country to do this. As an added thought and fact, one just doesn't see a company town preserved like this one is very often anymore, especially without our present day wonders, like fast food chains and discount outlets, hanging on the fringes, waiting to soak-up what they can from us in a monetary sense.
These old and deserted homes indeed have a strange but comfy charm all their own.
Much of eastern Burke County is in the foothills of western North Carolina and was once a king of textile manufacturing. Indeed, much of the State was as well. With the dispersion of these mills to places like Latin America and above all China, entire mill communities simply melted away. We are fortunate that one like the Henry River cotton mill, which dates from the very early 20th century, was kept fairly intact by the private owner(s) who wound up with what was left of the propertys when the mill shut down in the late 1960s.
The Village was originally planned as a self-contained community, with its own worker homes, company store, water/fire systems, the cotton mill and a dam on the Henry River. The place is still in private hands, but the vast number of people and tourists stopping by since the release of the first movie, is to put it bluntly, driving the present owner to the point of wanting to sell the whole kit-and-cabodle 72 acre village. Who can blame him!
The village was partly used as a filming location in the 2012 movie The Hunger Games, the exteriors of which were filmed in the village and Burke Co. mountains of the Old North State, or rather North Carolina. As of this writing the second installment of the movie has already been released. What a franchise author Suzanne Collins created in her trilogy of novels, which supposes a part three and four of the Hunger Games one would imagine.
Let's make no bones about it. Prohibition was an unmitigated disaster in America. Perhaps the sentiments were in the right place, but the results brought broken homes, more unemployment, blindness, horrible health problems, and the firm entrenchment of organized crime to parts of the country.
When people want something bad enough they'll always be suppliers, legal or not. What comes to mind when we think of a sheriff? Idyllic ones like sage Sheriff Taylor in the Andy Griffith Show (on a par in classic sit comedy popularity with the I Love Lucy show, at least in America, perhaps).
Or maybe county corruption crime busters like Tennessee Sheriff Buford Pusser in the true to life movie series Walking Tall. The first couple of movies starred Joe Don Baker and a hunky fellow named Bo Svenson, who if I remember correctly, were both very good at swinging a baseball bat as their chosen weapon of justice. The real Pusser was one tough hombre.
Then of course we have the Sheriff of Nottingham County chasing Robin Hood and his merry men throughout Sherwood Forest in 1200's medieval England; and even the comic sheriff Buford T. Justice played by "The Great One," Jackie Gleason, in the Smokey and the Bandit films.
Like Sheriff Buford Pusser's tale, though, the following story is the real deal, on a night of swirling mists cut by the sound of shouts and gunfire, but very little, if any, moonlight.
It was very dark in the Henry River Mill community way back then on that Sunday night of August the 21st, 1966. A fitting kind of darkness for what was soon to transpire as things turned out.
One of the largest manhunt's in the history of Burke County( which the River Hill community was a part of) was fixing to commence as Deputy Sheriff Joe Burns attempted to serve a peace warrant on a 62 year old moonshiner ( illegal whiskey distiller) named Boyce C. Liverett, who worked at the Henry River Cotton Mill as a machine fixer.
As Deputy Sheriff Burns attempted to serve two warrants on Liverett around ten o'clock that evening, he was slightly wounded in the arm by the wanted man firing his .22 rifle from inside the house. Burns remained on the scene until other officers arrived with an extra warrant for assault with a deadly weapon and teargas canisters.
Among the reinforcements was Burke County's vibrant, entertaining and full of life head sheriff, David W. Oaks. Sheriff Oaks was well known as a stalwart moonshine still-buster who had heard of the stand-off from his home on Jonas Ridge. He quickly joined the others converging on the place.
Moonshiners had had a long history of ornery and independent-acting behavior in Appalachia and its foothills, and this was proved in spades as the tear gas was applied and Liveritt was spotted on the floor, under the gas, as his front door was kicked in by a deputy named Gassman of all things.
Nowadays, I don't know anyone who begrudges a mountaineer from making small amounts of "shine" for home/medicinal use, or even a little barter, but apparently it was a different story back in the day. As of 2009, it's even legal now in places like Tennessee to do so.
Back to the story: Liveritt quickly began shouting "I give up!" "I give up!" Chief Sheriff Oaks then hollered back at the man "Come on out with your hands up and nobody will hurt you!" So ill-fated, for whatever reason, Mr Liveritt decided in a tragic moment of time not to submit peacefully.
Deputies reported Oaks as holding his service revolver in his right hand while beaming a flashlight with his left were he expected the wanted man to be. The sheriff told Gassman to back up his car to where he was. Gassman later said he was standing right in front of Oaks when Liverett started walking towards the door with his arms held high, but, he then lowered them and began a spray of .22 bullets from his rifle which were aimed directly at the light source.
The head sheriff was instantly hit by several of these small-caliber but high velocity missiles and badly wounded. As Oaks was being placed in the car he told his men he was in deep trouble from the shooting. He was then rushed to the county hospital, but most unfortunately, this colorful and popular peace officer ( law enforcement officer now, of course) died on the way there.
What then ensued was one of the biggest manhunts Burke County had ever seen, with officers called in from as far away as the city of Asheville and neighboring counties. A telephone call from a village widow finally pinpointed the moonshiner and now murderer, laying on a friend and his wife's sofa in the village. The couple were apparently unaware, at least at first, of what had transpired that night.
Liverett was arrested after a scuffle and taken to the hospital, having taken a wound to his right side during the previous attempted take-down. He was then jailed and later convicted of the charges against him. Leveritt made parole shortly before passing away in 1999. Sheriff Oaks left behind a wife, three daughters, and a son who followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a Burke Co. deputy.
One final note should be told in this tragic story, for all concerned, and that is in a year and a half period of time, Oaks reportedly busted-up some 65 illegal whiskey stills. A man beloved by many and obviously totally effective at his elected position and appointed duty.*
*A direct descendent of Boyce C. Leveritt has responded to this story in the comments section. This writer would like to thank her very much for her kindness and post.
One of the first things that comes to my mind when the controversial subject of orbs is brought up, is the Kevin Spacy movie called K-Pax. Here we are reminded by the "blue bird of happiness" alien, played by Spacy, that the most efficient form for energy to take is a bubble, or rather, ball. Hence the planet, moon, and stars which are obvious examples of this physics fact.
Orbs are controversial as mentioned previously and this writer makes no claims as to their true origins. But one listens and learns in life and there can be no doubt that some of them can act very strange at times. Some might even say with some kind of meaning or even intelligence. After all, everyone of us lives on a revolving sphere with a mostly beautiful sheen surrounding it, and many believe some of these phenomenon are the spirits, in a sense, of departed folk or even angels.
I've so far left off writing about the two pictures above, hoping the reader would take a close look at them and see if they saw anything relating to the subject. The one to the left was taken by a lady named Brenda Barnes, whom you'll meet shortly. Looking at the front porch closest to the viewer, a large circular light should be seen. A camera or light anomaly probably, something else, maybe?
The pic to the right of Yours truly was taken by professional photographer Alicia Jaye Phillips at the Hunger Games village. Of all the many photos I've had taken in my life, this is the only one where orb activity has shown up. It should be seen about midway down the left arm on the black coat. Interesting, perhaps, that the pose
had a hand of mine on the town's old water pump. Did this action spark the interest of the orb? - if that's what it is to begin with, of course.
Again, it's probably not, but I'll give Mrs. Philips the benefit of the doubt; and I did have another investigative professional take a look at it. They were somewhat adamant it didn't at first glance appear to be a fake of any kind and certainly fit the know genuine orb appearance. Who knows for sure? I'd be amiss, however, not to point out to the reader that I also appear to have horns and there's a green cross on the roof of the house.
About a month ago, previous to this writing, a niece had her baby shower, with the menfolk from both families gently banished during the female festivities to one of the local restaurant-bars in town. I didn't know the dad's side at all except for the soon-to-be father, but was delighted to have the pleasure of sitting next to and meeting a most interesting older gentleman.
This fellow was not only a decorated combat leader in Vietnam, but a helicopter and large plane pilot as well. He had even been a paratrooper in the 101st(Screaming Eagle) Airborne Division at the Battle of Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Many Arkansans violently fought to prevent desegregation of their main high school in Little Rock and according to a google search and what the gentleman told me, it was bayonet time for the out-numbered 1,000 men present of the 101st, as they formed at the entrance to the school in a semi-ring to face off against massed assaults, curses, bricks, and even rifles. Sources also mention the 10,000 Arkansas National Guardsmen taken from the governor - who was going to use them to keep 9 black students out of the school - and federalized by Eisenhower, thus preventing a catastrophe from happening.
My point is, here is a man to be respected and seriously listened to. He told a most intriguing story of being a boy on his parents' farm in western New York State. Up a ways from where he took care of the animals and other chores, was a large stand of trees. Apparently, for many generations, the area had what we now call orb activity. Being a youngster, the boy was obviously curious. He wanted to walk the long way over the fields and investigate. But his father told him to leave those things be and never approach them.
Superstition? or had something happened with previous generations to cause the father to feel this way?
Yes, we can go on wiki or other searches including all the many videos for the science and phenomenon of orbs, ball lightning and St. Elmo's Fire, but to tell you the truth about it, I think I will listen to dear ol' dad when it comes to such matters as eerie orb activity.
While researching this section of the story the writer looked at a good many videos of supposed orbs. Many of them looked like they could be coming from flashlights or some other light source in the background, behind the cameras. However, I did find a 3 minute video that caught my attention because of its relatively short running time, small cave location, slow motion parts and freeze and one orbs particular reaction on getting close to the arm of one of the videographers present.
Unfortunately, the video is no longer available which is a shame as it's one of the best and most convincing, or rather was one of the best and most convincing, on YouTube. The small cave location really caught my attention because of an incident that happened after staring into one here in North Carolina almost twenty-five years ago. They can truly be mysterious places. Even frightening places to the surprised and unwary at times.