“gimme back what you did steal”
On the banks of Sugar Creek in Garrard County Kentucky in 1837, a teenaged girl who was enslaved by John Hill, was loaned from John Hill to Hezekiah “Doc” Evans. A short time later she came back to the farm of John Hill claiming she had been abused. Doc followed close behind saying it was a lie and he’d take her back right now. John Hill refused to give her back and beat Doc Evans with a cudgel to within an inch of his life. Doc vowed his revenge and thus began a bloody feud that would last three generations….
The true story of the hill/evans feud
what’s going on?
The ongoing spiritual journey that is Sugar Creek began in 2014 when my father, on his deathbed, asked me, my mother, and my sister to replace the tombstone of his grandmother up in the foothills of the Ozarks….
I was probably just over thirty years old when I had first heard stories of there being a feud that involved our family. I had heard of Jesse Hill, my great-great-grandfather, and how he left Kentucky for Missouri after serving in the Civil War to get away from the feud. I named my youngest daughter after him even though I didn't know much about him. But I felt a deep connection and saw him as a figure, like myself, on the run from madness...
Seeing his tombstone near my great-grandmother Beulah's tombstone as we replaced it made me curious to find out more about the man. A new journey had begun… I came to discover that my direct forefathers were not only involved in one of the largest feuds in American history, but were some of the main instigators of it. More than a few of them died in it. The wreckage and shame of these events echoed down through the ages.
In uncovering the details of the feud through research and traveling to the Ozarks in Missouri and the foothills of Appalachia in Kentucky, I unearthed more stories, discovered long forgotten sites, and met many interesting folks along the way. Songs began to manifest. We had always been a musical family and the ancestors were now showing up in the wind, the water, and in the creaks about the house with connections, light, and songs. These songs tell a captivating story of duality, the culture of honor, extreme violence, courageous tenderness, and ultimately reconciliation.
I have been devoted to this project for a few years and I look forward to releasing the songs and stories soon..
young Jesse hill picked up his fallen father’s gun and shot john sellars between the shoulder blades killing him instantly.
This is where the Battle of Scott’s Fork Creek took place, and where my 3x Great-Grandfather, Isaiah and his brothers Fred and Russ were all killed by John Sellars and William Chrismon. My 2X Great Grandfather Jesse revenged his father in that same battle by killing John Sellars. This fight on March 13, 1852 made headlines around the country and was the beginning of the end of the feud.
Isaiah left behind 14 orphaned children. His wife Lucy, suffering from pneumonia, had died in childbirth two years earlier.
Lucy Hill’s Daffodils