Little Egypt
Little Egypt

Did you know of this legend handed down from the early settlers of the Whitewater Valley?

The lower Whitewater Valley in Hamilton County, Ohio, was settled by a group of people from Ireland and New Jersey. The Irish had many superstitions that were soon practiced among all of the families in the Valley. A band of hunters discovered an Indian mound in the lower area of a fork of the Whitewater River (Dry Fork Creek). This mound had the appearance of a small pyramid. The area was also noted for an abundance of fog or mist that was created by the damp, marshy atmosphere. Floating lights were seen by the people, which later became known as foxfire (a phosphorescent light given off by decayed wood). A change of the course of the creek washed away part of the pyramid-type burial mound, exposing bones and other objects. All of these factors were interpreted by the superstitious background of the people who lived in the surrounding territory and the legend of "Little Egypt" was formed and instilled in all who came to live in the Valley.

As an interesting note, I have witnessed this foxfire while kayaking the Dry Fork Creek and it is a very strange thing to see.

References to this interesting spot can be found in the letters of the early families that lived in and around this lowland area and tales of strange happenings are told today as truth by people who experienced the strangeness themselves. These factors are what keep the legend alive today.

Little Egypt, is an area near Kilby Road on the north bank of Dry Fork Creek. It was once the bed of the creek. Many stories are told of the strange things that have taken place there. One story tells of a horse that went into the wooded part, never to be seen or found again. Fog seems to gather and hover over this little spot which also sets a strange scene to those who follow the mystics. Many letters tell of seeing people wandering about this area without heads. Some of the people that lived here on Kilby Road have stories that they have seen headless people walk about. Mr. Anthony Collins, from Hooven, Ohio, was driving down Kilby Road one night at dusk, when he was a young man, and as he approached the area known as Little Egypt, he saw a man in overalls walking along the road. As he came nearer he noticed the man had no head. When he got within feet of the headless man, the man vanished.

The following reference is from "The Cincinnati Enquirer" dated 22 Nov 1987:

In 1830 - "When the mound at Dry Fork Creek was demolished for a canal aqueduct, tragedy befell the work crew. Four men died in quicksand, and from then on, the crossing was considered haunted. Some residents believe spirits rule the land to this day.

The following references are from George Neidhard: (Found in an 1820 letter of J. Guard to Mr. Wood). Two sons of Amil Smithe from North Bend were on their way to a Baptist Church in a small town in Indiana on the Whitewater River; they had to walk through woods termed as "Curse of Egypt" on the fork of the Whitewater. The boys pushed their way through high reeds and when they had come to the end, only one boy came out. At first the remaining boy thought his brother was playing a game, but the boy was never found. "Friends continued search for two summers after the loss."

1841 - Dwayne Taylor (cousin to Major Torbett of New Jersey) was on his way to find Mr. Torbett working on a break in the Whitewater Canal bank. He was given directions of the location and was seen passing through "Egypt Fork", and never found again, (record at Dearborn County Court house).

March 1857 - Circuit Rev. C. Wylez (a one time Shaker at New York) was going from North Bend to Harrison, he walked through Little Egypt and was seen by Sarah Hughes, who met him at the pass. All of Rev. Wylez's clothes were found the next day by a farmer named Hall (including Bible, money, ruby ring, journal, and a collection of personal papers). Rev. Wylez was never seen again.

Note...."Mrs. Wylez (who drinks too much corn mash) accused the Reverend of desertion". - From a letter to Olivia Rieder.

1987 - Fred Benjamin said he believed the ground at Dry Fork Creek and Kilby Road was a place sanctified years ago by Indian medicine men. (Quote taken from an artcle of "The Cincinnati Enquirer").

Other interesting information obtained from this newspaper article is in regards to two very old sycamore trees that share a branch. Foresters believe the unusual trees date to the final days of an Ohio territory dominated by Indians - the early 1800's. The great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh was attempting to forge a continental federation of Indian tribes during those years. The Whitewater trees may signify that perhaps under the leadership of Tecumseh - formed a federation here, said the Rev. Fred Shaw, storyteller with the Ohio Shawnee Remnant Band. As stated from the article, "Here, on the bank of the Great Whitewater River, two rugged sycamore trees share a branch. A Groesbeck resident claims the trees form the shape of the welsh rune "ur." This rune - an old English letter - symbolises a pyramid. "This is really something. It is a living pictograh" (a pictograph is a symbol used by primitive peoples). It is believed that Ohio Valley Indians forced these trees to grow together to warn of nearby burial grounds or tell of good hunting that lay ahead.

There is an irony to the location of these trees and their similarity to a rune for a pyramid. The trees are about 1/2 a mile from a pyramid-shaped Indian burial mound; "Little Egypt".
Just so we do not get two locations confused, many of the local people from "the Valley" today refer to a location in "the bottoms" (farmground near the Ohio River) as Little Egypt. How this 2nd location came to be referred to as such is unknown to me.

Source Gene Woefel, a Harrison historian.