On a downcast day in April 1773 in Orange County, North Carolina, two young boys were hiding in some bushes. They were watching tentatively through gaps in the branches in growing horror as both their parents were dragged out of their house by a mob, shouting and screaming with great ferocity.
“Traitors, hang ’em both!!”
The two boys shook with fear, desperately clinging to each other. One a tall sturdy, swarthy looking young fellow, the other shorter and lean. Their parents, William and Elsie Harper originally from Scotland, owned this house and modest farmstead. They worked hard but at the same time they had aroused the dislike and suspicion of the local American patriot residents due to their loyalty to the British King George, which was viewed as a most traitorist thing by their neighbours.
Now the local mob, aroused by the many accusations which were circulating around the territory, especially of them spying for the British Government so the colonies could be taxed more, and other vague treachery plots, had decided to take matters into their own hands.
Ignoring protests of innocence and pleading for mercy, the two Harpers (or Harpes as their sons became known) were dragged to a nearby tree, ready made nooses thrust over their heads, and to the delight of the mob they were pulled up high by two pairs of local, burly Patriot men. Kicking desperately, dancing the macabre dance of death, William due to his greater weight ceased dancing first, Elsie, a little longer, until she too hung lifeless.
They had both fought for their lives but finally death came, mercifully, inevitably and the two, joined together in matrimony over twenty years before, now hung limply together in death like
During the dance of death, observing the perverse humour of this terrible spectacle, one of the mob shouted.
“Look at them Royalist bastards now haha!”
Few really responded to this joke, and gradually the mob fell silent as they looked on at the two lifeless bodies now gently swinging in the morning breeze. Some felt a tinge of guilt, others took pleasure in their work and felt justice had been served, as they saw it, crying out.
“Death to Royalist traitors!”
Gradually the mob dispersed after a while with some looking around and wondering where the two boys were.
“Where are those two young ’uns?” one of the crowd muttered but none were interested enough to pursue them. They had had enough, revenge lust had been satiated and whatever happened to the boys was now in God’s hands or maybe the Devil’s.
“To Hell with them.” was the feeling.
All the time watching this horrific spectacle the older, smaller of the two boys kept pulling the other boy further back into the bushes seeking the safety of concealment.
“We’ll have to go to Old Baldwin’s place and see if he will take us in.” he whispered.
Stunned, the younger boy just nodded.
They then made their way deep into the woods and headed South not knowing what fate lay in store for them.