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July 20, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Mystery: Slaughter’s Den

Baber’s Mill, Rock Island Creek, Buckingham County, Virginia.

In 1960, Mrs. Eric Snoddy wrote an article for The Daily Progress, about a mysterious spot in Buckingham County known as “Slaughter’s Den.” Tradition held that it had been the hiding place of a Civil War deserter named Slaughter.

Located about four miles from the Warren Ferry, the den was actually a cave, about 500 feet from Rock Island Creek, situated on land once owned by the Turner and the Baber families. Harry Turner provided the story about Mr. Slaughter.

Even in 1960, the cave entrance was isolated and inaccessible. Mrs. Snoddy wrote:

To get there today you would almost have to travel by helicopter. The den is surrounded by bushes, briars, and wildflowers. It is about 10 feet high from the ground and has a number of other huge rocks adjoining it which would cover about a quarter of a mile.

The cave had a small access that Mrs. Snoddy believed had been cut by hand and narrow path led to an entrance. Local spelunkers, the Charlton brothers of Dillwyn, planned to explore it.

But what of the Civil War-era deserter? In 1860, there was a free black man named Alfred Slaughter (age 47), living adjacent Robert Baber and his mill. Slaughter appears to be living alone. Ten years later, there was a “Albert” Slaughter (age 55) living adjacent Baber. Albert was married to Lockey (age 40) and living with them were two girls, Susan (age 15) and Elizabeth (age 11).

Are Alfred and Albert the same man? Probably. Did he hide out to escape conscription? Or did he join the Confederate forces and, later, desert? Given his age, he was a bit old to serve in the war. In 1880, he was once again enumerated as Albert Slaughter, living with Lockey and adjacent what are probably his married daughters.

If a Slate River Ramblings reader knows more about Slaughter’s Den, please comment below.

For more about Robert Baber and his mill, put “Baber Mill” in the search box to the left and enjoy the results.

Thanks, again, to Phil James for sharing this Buckingham County mystery.

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