The old grist mill in Shellhorn still stands by the “Crybaby Bridge,” where legend says a young girl died when she fell from the bridge and drowned. Residents in the Shellhorn community say their area is rich with history and tradition. MESSENGER PHOTO | JAINE TREADWELL
The old grist mill in Shellhorn still stands by the “Crybaby Bridge,” where legend says a young girl died when she fell from the bridge and drowned. Residents in the Shellhorn community say their area is rich with history and tradition.
MESSENGER PHOTOS | JAINE TREADWELL

Archived Story

DART: Shellhorn filled with history, legends and lore

Published 9:49pm Monday, March 10, 2014

This week’s dart landed on Shellhorn Road in Pike County.

Life in the village of Shellhorn long centered about the mill. Some think the name Shellhorn is a corruption of “shell corn.” In addition to shelling corn, the mill also served to saw lumber, to make shingles, to operate a cotton gin and to grind mixed feeds for animals. The mill was older than the community that surrounds it. The Belser family owned the mill for 65 years. There were mills at four different spots around the millpond.
Pat Bennett, whose dad owned the brick store just up the road from the mill, remembers the time that a sudden storm came up and rained and rained, cats and dogs. The water kept rising and rising until her dad’s store was standing in five feet of water.
“The water outside was so deep that my dad’s car actually floated from one side of the store to the other,” Bennett said. “After the rain stopped, we were all down at the store helping my dad clean up what we could. I was working over behind the candy counter and a snake’s head came up, and I left so he could have all the candy he wanted.”
In its early days, the mill bridge was a wooded bridge, like so many others in the rural south. Tales were told of hobos building fires under the bridge, of gypsies setting up camp in the shelter of the bridge and a bandit or two finding refuge in its shadows.
But the one story of note although, perhaps, only folklore, is of a little, pigtailed girl who was riding her tricycle across the rickety, bumpy wood bridge.
“The way the story was told to me was the little girl was riding across the bridge on a tricycle and a horse and buggy came by in a fast trot,” said Tiffany Griggs. “Maybe the horse and buggy scared the little girl or maybe it pushed her off the bridge. I don’t know that. But, the little girl fell off her tricycle and into the millpond and drowned.”
Griggs said that wasn’t the end of the story. According to the legend, whenever the train comes through Troy late at night and the whistle blows and the wind is blowing in the right direction, the little girl’s sad crying is carried on the wind.

MESSENGER PHOTO | JAINE TREADWELL
MESSENGER PHOTO | JAINE TREADWELL

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