The Swamp Road Chronicles®

"Time Slip"


It was mid-October, 1980, I thought I would go over to the old Blackstone homestead where the famous murders had taken place and just look around. It was a beautiful fall afternoon, it was nice and warm, the air was kind of hazy looking, I guess from all of the farmers harvesting their corn and soybeans, which stirs up a lot of dust.


I had been to the old house before, but not for a long time. When I got there I parked my car at the entrance to the little dirt driveway and walked up the dusty footpath to the home. It was a disaster; the whole house was leaning, there were holes in the porch floorboards and all of the windows were broken out.


I went carefully into the front room of the little three room house, watching for rotten floorboards. I walked into the middle room which I guess was used as a bedroom. I stood there in the middle of the room trying to imagine what it would have been like to live in such a small home with three children, and a wife.


I imagined the Blackstone children playing on the floor of the bedroom on a small braided rag rug. Playing with primitive toys, but having fun. The children innocent as to their fate. I noticed how very quiet it was… just the sound of a small breeze wafting its way through and around the house, barely audible and there was the sound of a bottle fly or bee buzzing somewhere nearby. There were sun rays falling to the floor illuminating small dust motes gently floating inside those beams of light.


There was a small window to my right that showed part of Swamp Road just north of the homestead. I became aware of the sound of hoof beats coming from the road; I looked out of that window and I could see an old Amish-looking man driving a horse-drawn wagon loaded with burlap sacks full of something, feed for livestock I supposed. It was a rare sight in that area of the state. I didn't know of any Old Order Amish or Mennonites living around that part of the county. We were 60 miles from Amish Country, as it is known.  I watched for a minute or so as his horse trotted down Swamp Road, throwing up even more dust into that hazy afternoon sky. He travelled until he was more towards the front of the house and I couldn't see him out of that side-facing window anymore.


I moved over to my left where I could see through the doorway between rooms and out of the front door. I waited for him to appear in front of the home where I could see him again. He never appeared. After a moment I looked back out of the side window again, but he was not visible there either. I went out of the front door where I had an unrestricted view of Swamp Road north and south; no Amish man and no horse-drawn wagon! I could see a mile in every direction; no Amish man in sight! I even walked out to the road and looked down into the deep ditch on the east side of the road, in case he had fallen into that ditch, but no one was in the ditch either.


I stood there in the middle of the road, amazed. Where had he gone? I began to wonder if I had imagined seeing him, but he looked so real. I thought about the details, such as how his horse threw up a lot of dust, and then I realized that the road was not a dirt road, but a nice hard asphalt road.


I've had a long time to think about this episode in my life and I have an idea about what might have happened: I had been imagining what it would have been like for those Blackstone children living and playing in that small room. I think that, somehow, I was transported back to the turn of the century and, looking out of that window I saw the world as it was around 1900, when nearly everyone used horses for transportation and most roads were dirt. It seems far-fetched, but I have no other explanation.


I never had a chance to test my theory, a few months later the old Blackstone place collapsed down on itself so that no one could ever look out of that window at the last century again.

It saddens me, very much.


As submitted by Avaril Antil September 29, 2022


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