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Orestes, Indiana History

The Swamp Light

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David Dwiggins

The Swamp Light

Edward Sturbois


The stories about the queer goin'on's within the swamp were subjects of many fireside chats and ghostly tales. The swamp was just north of State Road 28 on Madison County Road 400 West on the east side of the road. Whil;e the forest looked innocent enough in bright sunshine, it took on an entirely different appearance once darkness came. Hoot Owls, bull frogs, coyotes and an occasional bobcat made sounds that struck fear to the timid imaginative. But of all the fearful stories coming out of and about the swamp, the most well known was "the light".

The light according to wittnesses always came oput of the swamp like a bright lantern and usually near the same place each time after its foray, always returned before daylight to the place of beginning. Not every night did it appear. Some of the older ladies who were authorities on supernatural happenings, said it was hunting something or somebody. Occasionally the light would leave the woods and bound along the ground. Other times it would go straight up in the air nearly out of sight and other times it would seemto perch in the top of a tall tree as if watching something.

As stories were told they naturally got bigger according to the teller. Coon hunters claimed that if the light appeared during a coon hunt the dogs would cower around the men and whine and when the thing came closer, they could hear a voice whispering, but were unable to make out what it was saying.

One local swain, Ed Dwiggins, had a story of his own personal experience with the light. During the early 1900's Ed was courting a young lady in the nearby community of Ragweed. Ragweed no longer exists but was several miles north of the Shiloh Friends Church. Late one summer night he was returning home past the swamp and had fallen asleep in his buggy. Suddenly he awoke to find the light directly in front of him as if looking in his face. Ichabad Crane and the headless horseman had no wilder ride than this lad. Whipping and urging his horse he raced home. The light he said stayed right with him, sometimes along side and sometimes just ahead of the horse. When he arrived home the light rose high in the air and headed directly back to the swamp. Some of the neighbors upon hearing of the story said the young man had found where his lady friend's dad hid his elderberry wine and probably was seeing a flock of lights. Nevertheless the young man stuck to his story and used a more round about route when returning home.