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Episode 48: Downriver


Tragedy is never something we plan for. It sneaks up on us like a bandit in the night, and takes away our sense of security and purpose. But throughout history, there have been places so plagued by tragedy that those who live near them consider these locations to be cursed.


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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
They named village ass, you, the latin words for serpents, can t bear to NATO so many centuries later. Its name is rarely spoken. By those who live in the Basle Ii Qatar region of ITALY, there's something about it now gives local Italians a feeling of dread and they'd rather not speak. Its name. Color Loro earned that reputation, though, if we are to believe stories that is. It said that in the early years of the twentieth century, the town was home to a very successful but very disliked lawyer, name Biagi O Virginia Virginia. I was speaking in court windy according to the story when it pointed up toward the ceiling of the courthouse.
If what I say is false, he shouted made this chandelier come down and it did the drop into the middle of the room and shattered into thousands of pieces. And while no one was injured, the towns reputation took on a dark tone. It was cursed, they said Hext and later events only serve to reinforce that belief. Landslides, car acts there are even stories of babies born with two hearts or three lungs and, of course, tales of witchcraft locations take on a flavor overtime whether it's our own home town or just an infamous spot in the area. We have a tendency of treating locations like people, they have a personality and reputation in some. If you listen to the locals or even cursed when life doesn't go the way we hoped we look for reasons
they mean that our town is cursed is an easy way to make sense of the accidental, the unexpected and the unfortunate, but times. The evidence is dark and deep and include suffering death and even utter destruction I married Mahnke, and this is law There's this notion is almost is all this time itself, but a city or nation strays too far from its roots or from its moral centre, puts itself at risk of being cursed. Hebrew legend speaks of the two or of Babel, which shows how the pride of one settlement brought about destruction and confusion. The ancient store he's of. Atlantis spoke of the island civilization as tech
logically and socially advanced, but it was, there grew. need, any morality that led the gods to destroy them. According to the interpretation of the ancient writers, they were cursed by their behaviour. Other ancient stories speak of a city that once stood in the southern sands of the arabian peninsula, its mentioned in the Koran, the Christian Bible, even in the arabian nights, it was now as you bar IRAN Mubarak or the city of Ed and after sir. as a trade centre for over five millennia that vanished roughly two thousand years ago. Light scans in the nineteen eighties. Finally, provided us with an answer, the city it turns out was built on an enormous, subterranean cavern in some time in three hundred, eighty all collapsed There are so many other examples: Port Royal. Caribbean. The ancient greek city of heavy K, even Pompey, comes to mind, but these stories aren't limited to dusty cities spoken of in
in tax, even here in the United States, in a country that relatively young compared to much of the world, we can find stories of cursed locations in horrible tragedy, On November, first of eighteen, eighty six tragedy came to Lafayette Oregon. That was the data data. quarter of fifty seven year old shopkeeper was found dead in. His general store by a customer. The shop had been broken into overnight, Corker had been killed in defence of historic. This aspect, was a man named Richard Marble. He moved there with his wife Julia and Mother Anna just the year before, and the rumour was that he Chosen a life of crime over gainful employment, the man they said was a thief. Add to that a handful of eye, witness reports about how marble
openly mocked the shopkeeper. It was hard to ignore him as a suspect. The sheriff visited his home. It found a bloody shirt, a scrap of paper in his pocket, with bloodstains on it, and a collection of tools used from breaking into lock, build Marple marble was convicted of murder. On April ninth of eighteen, eighty seven, his wife and Mother Father charges Provided a solid alibi and swore to his whereabouts that night didn't work. Though marble was hanged on November eleventh. Just a little over a year after Corker had been found, dead, thirty locals gathered to watch is the man was strangled to death at the end of the rope for nearly eighteen minutes marbles mother was allowed to watch the execution, but she could hear the screaming from a distance. She curse the town. They say in predicted that three fires would burn laugh, add to the ground, it was easy to laugh at off, though predictions like that always are. So that's what they did
No one was suspicious when ablaze blaze through the town in eighteen. Ninety five towns, especially those built mostly out of lumber, have a knack of catching fire. Six buildings were levelled the flames. Two years later, another fire broke out destroying for more then in nineteen o for a fire destroyed sixteen buildings, as it raged across town a random series of accidents or the product of the curse of. Very angry mother. For some time isn't an easy question to answer another low. Haitian, the haunted by tales of a curse, is the dutch village of setting a well. It was up until the lake fifteen hundreds, that is, let me explain what I mean Something was a middle age hub for the harvesting of peat in situ,
and in what is known as the polar bears, the flood plains that were separated from the ocean by manmade, dikes and dance and because PETE was used at the time as a popular source of fuel setting was an important community in the region. Pete was In such high demand that, according to some historians, the farmers of setting a were said to dress in fine silks, they even decorated their workhorses, with gold and silver jewelry This led to a reputation of greed and selfishness, which wasn't helped by the fact that the townsfolk would chase newcomers away with weapons and dogs. Basically, they weren't friendly people and no one likes a jerk right Story goes: a farmer was fishing outside setting up one day when he reeled in a real life mermaid. Apparently she could big Dutch, and she warned the farmer and unless the town straightened up and fixed its greed, something horrible was going to happen
farmer, laughed at her and decided that a pet mermaid would be nice to have so he tied her up, even when the Mermaids, husband, surfaced and begged for her release. The farmer refused so the merman uttered a curse, the lands of setting only will fall. He said only its towers will continue to stand tall in fifteen seventy of floods, text through the dutch coast, flooding the land all around the town. Fourteen years later, in one thousand five hundred and eighty four, the Dutch me, was fighting a war known as the eighty years war and destroyed one of the dikes that held back the ocean, the town of setting was overcome by an enormous wave and was never again today, the agent is known as the drunken land, the drowned land, the local say that
all of setting is gone somewhere beneath the marsh and water. If the stories are to be believed, the old church tower still stands tall and on foggy days they say you can still hear the Bell toll. In the south, western corner of Illinois is a city on the edge of the Mississippi. Now it's easy to limit the history of a place to our american experience, but Illinois is older than that. In fact, the entire area from the Arkansas River. Although we have two Green Bay was once control by the French
explore the region in one thousand six hundred and seventy three and then claimed it for the crown shortly after they called it Upper Louisiana and sometimes Illinois tree most of the settlers who moved into the area where French Canadians from the north and the biggest draw for them across this whole stretch of new territory was fur trapping the Upper Mississippi River Valley was apparently a gold mine for trappers and hunters, so they move south to chase their fortunes. They built six major settlements, among the eastern edge of Modern Day Illinois. One of those was built near a tribe of native Americans, their name from a small tributary that joined the larger, Mississippi. The a lot of variance what Europeans were rarely ever good at taking a native american name and carrying it over to french or English in a consistent way. But everyone there, began to call the place cask ask here before we move on, though. Let me explain briefly the geography of this area,
is he Cask ask here: was a settlement built right on the Tipp of a small peninsula, the stuck out into the Mississippi River, the east? You could walk deeper into the Illinois territory. Looking west from the town would give you a spectacular view, ass. The great river that was the territory now known as the state of Missouri cask. Ask here in a lot of ways, was a place caught in between and not just graphically on a social level. The settlement was a mixture of french canadian fur trappers. Jazz missionaries and local native Americans. The Jesuits brought the structure. The trappers brought the economy. May indigenous people brought well, they ve already been. and like so many other stories about the early days of this country. That meant that they were going to get a fair shake. Story clearly highlights this disparity in Sixteen ninety eight about twenty five years after the settlement was founded, a Frenchman name
John Bernard in to great it's, along with his wife and daughter, Marie, like a lot of Well, who move their Bernard? Was a fur traders and the abundant resources of the area promised to make him a wealthy man? up his trading post on the edge of town where it would be easy the accessible to the trappers, moving up and down the western edge of Illinois they brought in the fur he purchased it from them and then sold it to buyers outside the wild frontier. It was simple and lucrative before long. He had a thriving business as the trading post grew Bernard, brought on more help. It was common in those days of cask ascii of European business owners to hire local native Americans to do the manual labor now is how one man in particular came to work for the Frenchman history. Does it remember his name, but the two? does describe how John Bernard mistreated the man. It was cruel and unfair towards him and always gave the worst of the lake
to him and the other native Americans who worked in the shop. But this man was different from most of the other cask ass in the region. It seems that the Jesuits had worked with his family decades before, and he himself was raised to speak both his native tongue and French, and that made him more helpful than most Bernard took a liking to the young man, and they formed a good working relationship. As a result, Machine Bernard wasn't the only person to take a liking to the cask asking apparently his daughter Marie, fell in love with a man. something that her father was strongly opposed to. The legend says that fired, the young, indian and then spread word around town that he wasn't to be hired by any other local businesses. His goal,
was to drive the man to leave town in search of work, and it apparently succeeded Marie, of course was heartbroken, but there is nothing she could do about it. Then, a year later, a group of traders rode into town a hidden among them was her lost lover. It returned to claim her hand and take her away to end their separation and build a new life together elsewhere
Somehow he managed to pass a message to her and they arranged to meet in a secret location later that night, once together, the couple left town disappearing into the great Mississippi. It's never. That simple, though, is it. Yes, they had a head start and yes, they had love on their side, but Marie's father wouldn't be defied so easily. The moment he learned of his daughters escape Bernard gathered together, a large group of men and they rode out of town to hunt the couple down. I don't know how they knew to ride north, but that's what they did maybe
assumed her lover was looking for work in one of the bigger sentiments. Maybe they knew he had friends or family north of cask. Ask here: whatever the reason was they followed the Mississippi northward it have taken them hours, but eventually they track the young lovers down just outside of coca. The town of Ok, I was another ancient native american settlement that had become home to a french outpost like cask, ask here was home to a mix of french Canadians and native Americans, and that made it hiding place for a couple like Marie and her true love when Bernard's group found them they immediately separated the couple Marie was kept safe and watched over while the man she loved was beaten, bound with a rope dragged him to the very edge of the river
and then began searching for a large branch or a fallen tree that they could manage when they found it. They dragged it toward their prisoner. The young man was tied to the log with yet more rope. We know he spoke french and so did Bernard and his men. So there was probably a lot of conversation is likely than he begged for his life, begged for Marie begged for freedom. The wrath of an angry father isn't something that words can sway, not for Jump Bernard, at least so the work continued when they were satisfied with their not the men pushed the log into the dark waters of the river. I imagine them waiting out a bit pushing it along making sure it made it past all the debris and vegetation growing along the bank. There, then they Lego and watched as the young man drifted downriver with current.
We don't know if Bernard made his daughter watch it all. We don't know if she was the way back to cast Cassio before she could see it all unfold. But we do know that man, she loved, shouted out from the river as he drifted away. His words, they say carried a powerful curse. Bernard would be dead within a year. He claimed, and he and Marie would be reunited forever. Then he added with a town of cask itself would suffer the French there would be destroyed and even Dead would find no rest in their graves later than here, John Bernard got caught up in a bad business deal. He accused another and a cheating him and challenge that man to a dual Bernard lost the dual and his life later that year, Marie herself died,
They say she wasted away from a broken heart, but her death allowed her to reunite with her lover. Nothing would ever keep them apart again,. By the seventeen forties, the British were making moves to take over the territory controlled by the french they bribed the number of neighboring native american tribes to join them in a war against the settlers. In my one thousand, seven hundred and sixty five, a French were run out of town It seems that Marie's true love was right about more than a few things guess ass. He did its best to persevere, though after the american Revolution it became the capital of the northwest territory and then in eighteen eighteen, it became the first capital of the State of Illinois that only lasted for about a year now, along the town kept growing in the mid eighteen.
hundreds of his home to roughly seven thousand people, and then the Mississippi River got involved in eighteen. Forty, four, a flood nearly wipe the town off the map, a very two of the citizens, stayed around to rebuild. Instead, it went looking for a safer place to live. The Mississippi has always flooded, it still does, and it's made life difficult for. Anyone who lives along its banks after one thousand eight hundred and forty for a lot less people in kaskaskia. We're willing to take that risk in the years that followed the great River did something extraordinary. It moved slowly began to change course, shifting to pass by the town on the eastern side. There are then, to the west. What was once a peninsula was slowly becoming an island instead and after another major flood in eighteen. Eighty eight, the shift was complete today.
Gaskiya is on the western shore of the Mississippi. Thanks to an act of Congress, it's a little pocket of Illinois on the edge of Missouri. Now that most people would notice, though, by one thousand nine hundred and fifty there were only one hundred and twelve people left to call the place they're home I think there are a couple of indisputable facts buried in these stories that we would be wrong to ignore. First people love to curse their own town or the town of their enemy or whenever town they had a bad day, and we like to blame others for our own misfortune or tell store Is that explain away our bad luck and tragedy? It can. Our own fault. After all, so maybe
The town itself is to blame right. Second, though, place is safe from tragedy at some point, whether it takes decades or centuries, every location is going to experience its own fair share of loss and misfortune, fires, floods, natural disasters or human error. No matter what the cause is, every location eventually receive a visit from adversity on their own, are both sad truths. Together, though, they create a new world, a world where cities are cursed, and the tragedies they experience are rooted in supernatural causes oftentimes. The easiest thing to believe is also the most irrational. Still some look agents do seem to have an unusual amount of tragedy. Heaped upon them cask. Ask you being a prime example, and it didn't end in nineteen, fifty, even
after that flood. The remaining citizens rebuilt the old Jesuit church and tried their best to move on. That's all they could do. I suppose still they had to wonder then, on April fourth of nineteen, seventy three, the Mississippi rose nearly forty feet above normal levels. The north levies broke in the river Rushdie threatening much of the town. Hundreds of college students from nearby Southern Illinois University, along with Russia,. Of the mainland in dozens of prison inmates all other there to lay sandbags and fight the flood as best they could. In the end, though,. It was no use. The church most of the town around it were all washed away and then includes the cemetery.
Local legend says the flood of nineteen. Seventy three caused a number of graves to burst: open, washing hundreds of caskets, along with their occupants into the depths of the river, the dead, just as Marie's lover had predicted and risen from their graves. This episode of war was written and produced by me. Aaron Mahnke, with research help from Marcel Crockett Lore is much more than upon gas. There's a book series in bookstores around the cut
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-13.