“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….


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The true story of the hill/evans feud

sugar creek


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 in Summer of 2019.

 

Gravestone of Jesse Hill. Arroll, MO

Gravestone of Jesse Hill. Arroll, MO

Oh the feud it echoes through the age
From the gravestones on the hill
Where all remains unreconciled
What fools we all are still
— Lyric - What Fools We Are
The Easton Hole on Sugar Creek.

The Easton Hole on Sugar Creek.

“John Hill died in Sugar Creek
Angry water got too deep
There’s something bitter that tastes so sweet
And it’s pulling us all the way”
— Lyric - Title track Sugar Creek
Churchill Hill and his son, my father, George.

Churchill Hill and his son, my father, George.

I know why your bread is bitter, Jane Hill
Cuz all of the best grains I took for the still
And you never loved me now I understand
That Sugar Creek don’t flow to the Promised Land
— Lyric - River of Jordan
Thomas Otis Evans, Sr

Thomas Otis Evans, Sr

Ole doc said I’ll be coming back
but I ain’t comin back alone
when me and my crew get through with you
There’ll be one more Hill tombstone
— Lyric - Stone and Bone

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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.


Oh! Ephraim get your gun
them Hills is on the run!
we’ll git ‘em down by The Smokehouse
and kill ‘em in the mud
— Lyric - Ephraim Get Your Gun/Scott's Fork Tragedy
May Apples

May Apples

She held my hand, in that creek we swam
Till clouds come hide the moon
Them May Apples come and they taste so sweet
But then they’re gone in June

Arise, abide, and fade away
Rejoice in the day that the Lord has made
— Lyrics - May Apples
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Lucy Hill’s Daffodils

And by where that old front porch had been
In the thorns and briars you’ll see
Lucy Hill’s Daffodils
Still blooming yellow and green
— Lyric - Lucy Hill's Daffodils

DEmos


Click on the image to learn a little more about the feud…