going viral

If you didn’t read my column about how a mule’s kick ended up killing eight people, you are in the minority. Of all the columns I’ve written over the last four years none have generated quit a stir like this one. Rather than repeat it here I suggest you go to the LTD’s archives and read it if you missed it.

Meanwhile let me tell you what has happened since this column first saw daylight . Once Like The Dew ran my Mule Kick story as I call it, it began to show up on Facebook. People began to share it all over the place and Augusta radio personality Austin Rhodes came across it. He read the entire column over the air on WGAC. The floodgates opened up.

I have heard from all sorts of people about this story. A filmmaker emailed me, as did a fellow who has written a screenplay about the murders. Several folks emailed me to tell me they even made Sunday trips to the old store to see where a mule’s kick (it killed a calf) set a series of murders in motion, culminating with the electrocution of three people in Old Sparky, as the South Carolina electric chair was known. One of the electrocutions was Sue Loge, the first and only woman to die in South Carolina’s electric chair.

I’ve heard from Sue’s family; I’ve heard from members on both sides of the feud. All were thankful and one told me that the once-feuding families attend the same church and get along fine now. One lady even sent me photos of where Sue Logue, the lady who put out a hit on the man who killed her husband, lived. Photo of her tombstone too.

Meanwhile the story swept across the country. And then another online journal, Random Connections, picked up my story and ran it under the title, “A Feud, a Mule, a Senator, a Potter, and a Ghost Town or Two–Part One. The editors and writers of this journal made a trip to the old store where they learned the owners have now removed the old Camel Cigarette and RC Cola signs.

Gas Pump May Be Gone Soon, Photo by Tom Poland
Gas Pump May Be Gone Soon, Photo by Tom Poland
No More Signs, Photo by Tom Poland
No More Signs, Photo by Tom Poland

They plan to remove the old gas pump too for fear that someone might steal it. Well all that is my fault and it bothers me. That old expression, “If you tell people about a place they will come and ruin it” sure rings true. I am still hearing from readers, signs up or not. Here are but a few of the many comments I’ve received from readers who find in this story an amazing tale.

“Some elements of human nature have not changed with time. Being wronged, seeking justice, finding revenge leading to tragedy for so many over what became small with the passing of time.”

“Great southern family feud. The story is one that has been told in that area for generations. The two families are good friends today and still attend the same church.”

“I love this story of history. I will never pass an old abandoned place again without wondering what is the story about the place.”

“My former neighbor was related to Sue Logue. We sat at the edge of our seats a few nights talking about that story.”

And my favorite comment? “What happened to the mule?” That’s a good question and if I get the answer I’ll let you know. Perhaps another reader will solve the mystery of the mule’s fate for us.

So what is it about this story that folks feel compelled to read and share? Right off I’m not sure but maybe just maybe it’s got something to do with the way life can turn on a dime. A mule wanders into a pasture and kills a man’s calf. He feels wronged, greed gets the best of him, and then violence breaks out. A man who would become President pro tempore and third in line for the presidency even gets into the picture. Before the dust settles eight people die. As one of my story’s headlines says, “You can’t make this stuff up.” No sir you sure can’t.

Image credits: feature illustration licensed by LikeTheDew.com at iStockPhoto.com; the other photos were taken by the author, Tom Poland.

Tom Poland

Tom Poland, A Southern Writer – Tom Poland is the author of twelve books and more than 1,000 magazine features. A Southern writer, his work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. Tom grew up in Lincoln County, Georgia, where four wonderful English teachers gave him a love for language. People first came to know Tom’s work in South Carolina Wildlife magazine, where he wrote features and served as managing editor.Tom’s written over 1,000 columns and features and seven traditionally published books. Among his recent books are Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia, Georgialina, A Southland, As We Knew It, and his and Robert Clark’s latest volume of Reflections of South Carolina. Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Official Folk Life Drama, staged his play, Solid Ground in 2011 and 2012.He writes a weekly column for newspapers and journals in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speaks often to groups across South Carolina and Georgia.Tom earned a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Media at the University of Georgia. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina where he writes about Georgialina—his name for eastern Georgia and South Carolina. Visit my website at www.tompoland.net Email me at [email protected]