The roots of evil grow deep in fertile ground.
Over a century ago, much of this land was farmed by a man named Elias Crowley. Not much was known about “Old Eli” (as the locals came to call him), since he kept pretty much to himself; but here are the facts: He was born October 31, 1820 to rigid and distant parents--and that's being charitable. The Crowley’s were harsh, puritanical, and superstitious zealots. It’s rumored that they accused certain local women of being in league with the devil if the crops dried up or farm animals died. As their only child, Eli grew up very much alone. Obedience was demanded, failure was punished, and discipline was severe. The farm was the extent of his world. Contact with folks in town, even with neighbors, was discouraged.
When Eli's parents died in the early 1860's and the farm became his, it looked as if Eli’s loneliness ended when Norah--the pretty young daughter of a neighboring farmer-- invited Eli to come courting. Some said that Norah's father had his eye on acquiring Eli's land through marriage, but Eli didn't care. For the first time, he was actually happy.
Sadly, Eli's inability to express affection wore quickly on his young bride. Whatever Norah's father's true motives may have been for tying his daughter to an emotional vacuum, they died with him when he had a sudden and massive heart attack. Eli now controlled Norah's family's farm as well, and he expanded.
Such an endeavor required Eli to take on hired hands. He did not want to hire locals, having become increasingly paranoid that those around him were jealous of his holdings. But as the Civil War ended, there were drifters aplenty looking for any kind of work. Here, Norah was useful; both charming and desperate for human contact, she could compensate for her husband's harshness towards those that he hired.
A lengthy drought caused crop failure for the farm; animals began dying; even the barren apple trees seemed to moan in the night wind. Old Eli couldn't grow anything, it seemed. He had to let all the farmhands go but one; and that "one" was at his wife's insistence. Thomas Watson had been a Union soldier who found employment on the Crowley Farm. No matter the chore, Tom handled it cheerfully and ably. Though Eli worked him hard, he never complained--and he always had a smile for Mrs. Crowley.
Many in town already knew what Old Eli wouldn't allow himself to suspect: That Norah and Tom were lovers. Rumor had it that Norah was with child, but Old Eli never said a word. And when, one day, Norah and Tom vanished (presumably to find a new life together somewhere else), Eli remained silent.
You'd think that a man who'd endured that much hardship would crack at some point, but not Eli. He kept to himself, and he kept about his business. About the only change people noted on his property was the appearance of a couple of new scarecrows in the fields. Suddenly, it seemed his fortunes turned around...the animals began to flourish, and the crops came back better than before. No matter how bad the weather, insects, or other conditions afflicted his neighbors, Old Eli always had bountiful livestock and crops. Old Eli's corn was taller and sweeter than any around, and notable for it's peculiar red coloring. There were occasional problems with the livestock though, who had become considerably more aggressive towards people.
Eli continued to hire drifters as farmhands...oftentimes rough characters who came and went. Each departure marked by a new scarecrow in the fields. Eli’s paranoia became outright rage if anyone even came near his property, so no one did--not that they ever had much reason to. The Crowley farm was "no man's land"...no man's but Eli's. It wasn't a place decent people would speak of, and was happily ignored by all.
As jobs in the area became more plentiful and industrialized, fewer drifters came through. That was when the children began to go missing from town. The increasing outcry over these disappearances eventually lead the authorities to the one place no one ever went willingly...the Crowley Farm. The discoveries made then “haunt” us to this day.
A number of deputies were seriously injured by the insanely aggressive livestock and a select few 'farmhands' trusted by Eli to do his dark work. Once they were overcome, the locals and law enforcement officials began finding human remains in the feed troughs. What they found in the butchering shed defies description. When the 'scarecrows' were examined, they were found to be corpses dressed in rags; men--and one woman--in various stages of decay; their dripping blood and rotting flesh providing a gruesome fertilizer .
They found Old Eli at the edge of the cornfield, armed only with a bloody butcher’s meat hook. Then and there he did something no one had ever seen him do before...
A long, hard, crazy laugh that had been building, twisting, and warping inside him for all his years. In a terrifying rant directed at all present, Elias Crowley shouted that he had work to do...that his work would never end...that this farm would always be his...that he would be present at every harvest. Then he took off into the cornfields. The posse that followed couldn't find him, though some were found later with their throats slashed, their blood soaking into the ground.
The manhunt lasted for weeks, but no trace of him was found. It was assumed that he'd fled the area, and that was fine with everyone...
Until the following fall.
The farm had been abandoned, no buyer would touch it--yet the red corn came back. New scarecrows appeared. And noises were heard--screams...pleading...animal sounds...crying children...and hollow, ringing, insane laughter--but no one was ever seen.
Once October ended, so did the sounds and strange sights. Had Eli returned, or was it some sick joke? As years went by, the reports were the same every October, but the locals were none too keen to investigate and let the matter stay closed. It was an unspoken agreement that you didn't go near the “Abandoned Acres Farm” if you had any sense.
After about fifty years, the legend of "Old Eli, the Bloody Butcher" was told by parents to misbehaving children...'Old Eli's gonna gitcha if you don't stop hittin’ your sister!', and so on. The story had come to be regarded as just that--a story. A new generation of town officials wanted to put the legend down forever so they could attract buyers for the potentially valuable land. They hired a traveling circus to set up on the site that autumn, and offered free admission to everyone in town. The elders among them stayed away; but young people and children being what they are, the big top was packed.
At the height of the performance, the tent caught fire and went up like dry tinder in a strong wind. The cause: Unknown. Dozens were burned alive. No one went near the former Crowley farm--in October or otherwise--for years after that. The dark history of Abandoned Acres Farm was firmly established and respected.
Yet misguided thrill seekers are still drawn here. The cries, the voices, the apparitions--wraiths or fantasies? Is Old Eli still out there–somewhere–waiting for you? Never was ground made more fertile for evil than in these fields of blood soaked corn.
This is the Legend of Abandoned Acres Farm. It’s your choice: Come live the story...or die trying.