-News from Sept. 10, 2009 issue

Local News
The Crittenden Press Full Version (PDF)

Fohs hosts headliner Perkins show
The stage at Fohs Hall has hosted some top performances over the years, but none has been any greater than the upcoming show featuring the Perkins Brothers.
Their show, at 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26, is a recreation of the biggest selling recording artists of all time, including Johnny Cash, Elvis, Meatloaf, Roy Orbison, Neil Diamond, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Sr. and Jr., and more.
Susan Alexander, resident director of the Fohs Hall Community Arts Foundation, says the Perkins Brothers are a headliner show and certain to be one of the most memorable in Marion.
“It is fast-paced, well orchestrated and well costumed,” said Alexander, who has personally viewed a Perkins Brothers show in Louisville. “It’s fun for the whole family no matter what generation you’re from.”
The Perkins Brothers – Colonel and Jesse – are brothers who hail from Hodgenville, Ky. Their impersonations of world famous singers started out as hobby and have grown into a highly successful tour through several states.
“This is one of the biggest names we’ve had a Fohs Hall,” Alexander said. “We had Patsy Cline by the Springer Opra House, but the Perkins Brothers are right up there.
“There is really no reason to drive to Paducah, Evansville or Nashville when you can see this kind of talent at Fohs Hall.”
The show is a tribute of sorts to America’s greatest artists. The entertainers pride themselves on authentic costumes and mannerisims of the artists they are portraying, said Alexander.
“They definitely look the part and sound the part,” she said.
Tickets are $20 for center floor and $15 general admission. If the show does not sell out ahead of time, tickets will be available at the door.

Locals want to dispel Pilot Knob cemetery story
A small group of local residents are skeptical, yet hopeful that a new science fiction program made for cable television will help dispel a local myth that is as tragic as the real death of a young girl almost a century ago.
There are at least a dozen articles and Web sites on the Internet featuring erroneous information regarding a young Crittenden County girl’s grave at Pilot Knob Cemetery. They call her the witch girl.
Hysteria surrounding the legend has grown from a Saturday night curiosity to a full-fledged fixation, spurred largely by misguided information on the Internet.
When the family and other local historians heard about the making of a short documentary type film regarding the legend of the girl buried at Pilot Knob, they were more than willing to help set the record straight.
Reta Riley and her family have long been caretakers of the cemetery just north of Marion off Fords Ferry Road. She agreed to be interviewed with hopes of clearing up a decades old misunderstanding about Evelyn Ford, a five-year-old girl who died on May 31, 1916 from peritenitis, according to her death certificate.
Stories concocted by wild imaginations have perverted the tragic story to the point that her gravesite has become a destination for satanic worshipers, twisted tourists and harmless, but curious teenagers.
The tale has swirled for years about the so-called witch of Pilot’s Knob. Riley is related to many of the people buried there, including the young Ford girl.
“I have heard this story since about 1968 or ’69. I would always let them tell their story and then I would set them straight by telling them that that was my dad’s great aunt and she wasn’t a witch. She was just a little girl who choked to death.”
Riley’s father is James “Dude” Ford, who is 80. His father was the little girl’s brother.
“It disturbs me that people are going around talking about a witch buried up there,” said Riley. “I wish there was something we could do to get them to just leave it alone.”
On Friday and Saturday, a small group of video producers from Louisville came to Marion to shoot footage for a segment about the girl buried in Pilot Knob Cemetery, also known as Fowler Cemetery.
Riley hopes the eventual broadcasting of the show on the Internet and perhaps television will end the wild stories. However, she is concerned whether the crew here last week will portray the myth as fiction.
“I have got some concerns, but I am hopeful it will get cleared up. Maybe this will satisfy the curiosity seekers that are coming here from out of town,” Riley said. “I hope it just doesn’t bring more attention to it.”
The production crew was from AfterDark Paranormal Investigations. They say their aim is to lay out the facts and show whether local legends are fact or fiction.
“We’re looking to find the truth,” said Kristina Miles of the crew that hopes to produce its program and have it picked up by Paranormal Television on cable television.
Miles said the crew has sought out small-town legends as the focal point of their new series Urban Legends: Fact or Fiction.
“We don’t want to pile onto the legend or say if it is or isn’t true. We just want to show the facts,” Miles said.
However, she also said that if her investigative team and videographers find paranormal activity, they have resources to bring in clergy to conduct a “cleansing or blessing.”
That kind of talk concerned those who were interviewed by the crew last week. Local historian Brenda Underdown was one of them. She said the crew will be sending a copy of the program to Marion once it’s edited. She hopes the show doesn’t feed the frenzy.
The group’s Web site says the team also offers demonology classes each month and that it is affiliated with Paranormal Clergy Institute which is headed up by Archbishop James Long of The United States Old Catholic Church.
Frances Etienne, also with AfterDark Paranormal Investigations, says her crew is very spiritual and wants to help communities that have been overwhelmed with curiosity seekers who often do harm to places where ghostly stories are centered.
Underdown has seen too much criminal mischief at Pilot Knob Cemetery over the years.
“In my lifetime it has been vandalized more than any other cemetery in the county,” she said.
Underdown joined Riley, her husband Jay and Crittenden County Museum Curator Roberta Shewmaker in front of the crew’s cameras last week. Their goal was to finally put an end to the false tale of the so-called witch girl.
Riley said that her family has had enough. Over the years there have been countless problems at the cemetery, mostly due to the myth about the little girl who died almost 100 years ago.
“We’ve found ghosts hanging from trees on pulleys, a place where there had been some type of satanic ritual, lots of beer bottles and all sorts of desecration and vandalism,” Riley said. “We just want it to stop.”
Faye Conger, who lives at the foot of the hill below the cemetery, said there has always been a great deal of vehicle traffic in and out of the road leading to the grave site. She is aware of the stories surrounding the Ford girl.
“I think the teenagers use it as a parking place,” Conger said. “There isn’t as much traffic up there now that they’ve put up a cable to keep cars out. Used to, when we had our windows open at night, we could hear people up there partying.”
Conger said she’s known of the legend since she moved to that neighborhood more than 40 years ago.
“It’s just a bunch of nonsense, but it got put on (the Internet) and it’s just gotten out of hand,” Conger said.
Underdown said that while she remains guardedly optimistic about the intentions of the film crew, she is still skeptical about the final product.
“They acted really sincere about wanting to kill any notion of truth to this. They said they wanted to help protect old cemeteries from vandalism. I hope that’s what happens,” Underdown said.
Sheriff Wayne Agent said there used to be more problems at the cemetery than there are now.
“We keep a pretty close eye on it,” he said.
Riley used the opportunity to speak on camera about the Ford girl’s grave only to help dispel the legend. She said all of the information that has been used to proliferate stories on the Internet is fictitious. For instance, the Web stories claim the little girl is not resting at peace because she is searching for her mother, who disappeared. Another story claims that the mother died the day after the little girl in a mysterious manner. Truth is, the mother and father of the Ford girl, James and Mary Rebecca, are buried right beside her. The mother lived until 1955 and Riley’s father remembers going to her house to listen to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio.
Underdown said the girl’s mother died in Crittenden Hospital early on a Sunday morning. She has a copy of her obituary from The Crittenden Press. The girl’s father died in 1927. Underdown even has a copy of the girl’s death certificate. She uses it to shoot down anyone who tries to portray her death as anything other than a normal tragedy.
“This really upsets my father,” said Riley. “He has hung a white cross on a tree as you go into the cemetery, hoping it might give people pause before they go in there to do something.”
The family is tired of the sinister context in which the cemetery and the little girl has been cast, Riley explained.
“It just disturbs me and others in my family because she was just a normal little girl who died very young,” Riley added.

Dates set for KET to broadcast Crittenden documentary
Kentucky Educational Television (KET) will begin airing next week the Crittenden County documentary produced by Marvo Entertainment of Princeton.
The nearly hour-long segment is part of KET’s My Kentucky Home series. The Crittenden County show will be broadcast on KET1 and KETKy networks. The program schedule follows:
KET1: Sept. 18, 3 a.m.
KETKy: Sept. 20, 4 a.m.
KETKy: Sept. 20, 5 p.m.
KETKy: Sept. 23, 6 a.m.
KETKy: Sept. 24, 11 p.m.
KET1: Sept. 26, 1 a.m.
KETKy: Sept. 26, 11 a.m.
KETKy: Oct. 6, 11 a.m.
KETKy: Oct. 9, 3:30 p.m.