Ghost Stories and Tall Tales of the American South

Lorenzo’s Curse

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Georgia legend about Lorenzo Dow, a traveling preacher who brings a curse to a small frontier town. Written by Craig Dominey and told by Lanny Gilbert.

 There comes a time in life when we all need a little guidance – a little helpful push to remind us what’s right and wrong. And for some folks, that guidance comes from some good old fashioned, fire and brimstone preaching.

Now these days, you can’t turn on the TV without seeing one religious channel after another. But back in the old days when there wasn’t any TV – or cars for that matter – the traveling preacher was the only man of God some country folk got to see.

Lorenzo Dow was one of the best-known traveling preachers back in the 1800s. He was a funny looking man from Connecticut – tall and skinny with wild eyes, long stringy hair, a thick beard, and a slight hunchback. But he also had a booming voice that made sinners across the country shake in their boots. “Repent now, my brothers and sisters! Repent!” he would scream in every town he visited, and many people did just that.Lorenzo Dow's Horse

Lorenzo loved the outdoors, and would rather sleep on cold, hard ground in the woods than the most comfortable feather bed in town. He’d been on the road preaching since he was a teenager, and figured there was no town wicked enough, or tough enough, to withstand his crusade for God.

But then, Lorenzo Dow had never visited Jacksonboro, Georgia.

Now, back in those times, Jacksonboro was a tough frontier town about 100 miles upriver from Savannah. Tough, rugged lumbermen cut the town out of the Georgia pine wilderness. Each day they’d chop down trees and ship them downriver to port markets in Savannah. It was back breaking work, and after a long day, the men liked nothing better than a good stiff drink.

Well, make that many stiff drinks. Folks used to say there were so many drunken brawls in Jacksonboro saloons each night that, the next morning, you’d see children picking up eyeballs in tea saucers! So needless to say, the men of Jacksonboro were not going to be the most receptive crowd for a traveling preacher.

But that didn’t stop Lorenzo Dow. He rode into town one day and immediately began preaching about the evils of alcohol. “That whiskey is the Devil’s water!” he screamed at the gathered crowd. “You’re all goin’ straight to Hell if you don’t watch it, no doubt about it!”

Now, Jacksonboro was already a pretty rough town. But Lorenzo had the additional misfortune of arriving on the day the townsfolk were celebrating the naming of Jacksonboro as the county seat. So many of the men were roaring drunk, and in no mood to be lectured. So they pelted Lorenzo with rotten vegetables and screamed, “Go home, preacher man! Nobody cares what you got to say!”

The crowd then laughed, turned away and went back to the saloons. But they didn’t call Lorenzo “Crazy Dow” for nothing. Rather than heed their warning, Lorenzo marched into the nearest saloon and began preaching all over again. “I may forgive you for what you did, but God won’t!” he yelled. “And the Lord’s gonna put an end to your sinful ways right now!”

And with that, Lorenzo grabbed an iron tool and broke open a barrel of whiskey, sending its contents spilling onto the floor. Then he smashed the whiskey glasses on the bar. “Listen to me – leave this den of sin right now and get right with the Lord!” he yelled.

Well, that was the final straw. The townsfolk grabbed Lorenzo and threw him through the doors of the saloon. They pushed him to the ground and gathered around him – a drunken, crazed mob.

“What should we do with him?” one of the men asked.

“Hey, somebody get a rope! Let’s hang him!” screamed out another.

Cheers erupted from the crowd as the men grabbed Lorenzo and looked around for the nearest tree. Suddenly a new voice shouted from behind the crowd: “Stop it!”

The men turned to find Seaborn Goodall approaching them. Mr. Goodall was a teetotaler and a deeply religious man, but he was also a hard worker just like the other men, and had therefore earned their respect. “This preacher may have made you mad, but that doesn’t mean you should break the law. Let him stay with my family tonight. I promise he’ll be gone in the morning, and won’t ever bother you again.”

The drunken men looked at each other, then reluctantly shoved Lorenzo away toward Mr. Goodall. “You’re a lucky man, Preacher,” one of them said. “You best do as he says and be out of here come mornin’. Or there will be a hangin’.”

So Lorenzo stayed that night with the Goodall family, relieved yet angry. In all his years of preaching, never had he visited a town that was so beyond hope, so trapped in its wicked ways. In his mind, the townsfolk of Jacksonboro were simply beyond redemption – except for the kind Mr. Goodall, of course.

The next morning, Lorenzo emerged from the Goodall home and prepared his horse for departure. The angry crowd from the previous night had returned to the Goodall home, watching Lorenzo with foggy, bloodshot eyes, making sure he was really leaving for good. Lorenzo climbed onto his horse and rode slowly to the edge of the town, the snickering crowd following closely behind him. When he reached the town limits he suddenly stopped, removed one of his shoes, and with dramatic flair shook the dust from the bottom. “I came here to help save you from your sin,” he cried out, “but you would not receive me. So I have no choice but to shake the dust of this wicked town off my feet. Your town is hereby cursed – it will wither and die from its wickedness. So sayeth the Lord.”

He then pointed at the Goodall house and said, “But the Goodall house will remain. For they received me and heard my voice.”

Waves of laughter erupted from the townspeople as Lorenzo galloped away. Then they turned and walked back to town. And as the months went by, the story of the crazy preacher always guaranteed a hearty round of laughs in the local taverns. But for the most part, his warning was forgotten.

Lorenzo Dow Dirt Road

That is, until a series of strange and destructive fires began plaguing the town. When the first home burned to the ground, everyone thought it was a freak accident, or a lightning strike. Or maybe some drunken fool who fell asleep smoking a cigarette. But then another home burned down, followed by another, then several more – all without explanation. The fires were followed by vicious storms that destroyed even more buildings.

And what nature didn’t destroy, the local economy did. The lumber industry slowed down, and the men in town lost their jobs. Then the townspeople suddenly remembered the parting words of the crazy preacher. And whether it was from fear, or the lack of jobs, the remaining families began moving out one by one until the town of Jacksonboro died away.

You won’t find Jacksonboro, Georgia on a map today. The county seat moved to Sylvania many years ago, and today there is not one marker indicating where Jacksonboro used to be. It’s as if the town simply vanished off the face of the earth.

Except for one building, that is. On a dirt road where the town once stood, you’ll find a lone, white clapboard house. There’s nothing remarkable about it, until you find out that its previous owner was none other than Seaborn Goodall, the man whose kindness saved him from the curse of Lorenzo Dow.

  • THE END –

Story Credits | Where Did This Story Come From?


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25 Responses to “Lorenzo’s Curse”


Mary:

Lessons to be learned in this one.

Steven williams:

great story

John Childs:

its ok i like it. the people did not heed the warning of the preacher. since they did not they did not have a home to live in anymore

Dr. Egon Spengler:

I’ve read a variation of this story before. This version is better-written, though.

Here’s the web address of the other version:

http://www.southernhauntings.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=26

themoonlitroad:

Hmmm, Southern Hauntings.com? With a lantern, tree and moon on the home page? Wonder where that idea came from! Oh well, guess we should be flattered. Thanks for letting us know, Dr. Spengler, and for the compliment!

Dr. Egon Spengler:

@ themoonlitroad

Was this story original content or was it based on a known legend?

themoonlitroad:

Based on known legend – click on “Story Background” at the bottom to learn more.

Toby:

Great story! Don’t worry TMR, your site is way better, keep it up!

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melissa:

it was good

Airyana:

I LOVE THESE STORIES THEY GIVE ME AN EXTRA BOOST TO WRITE MY OWN STORIES.

Amaya:

I love this story. i’ve read it about 5 times. Mr.Goodall probly knows how he got his name cause i do!!!

Amaya:

i really like “Christmas Haunting” and “Skull Lake” skull lake is creepy the way logans still alive when he fell and they drowned him and all!

Amaya:

anyways where did this story come from? Alabama or what?!

hawa:

i loved it was like a real story..it’s so interesting.:)

hawa:

was Lorenzo just a preture or a miracle performer?? because am so imprised.

htoo tha lah paw:

i like this story. THIS STORY IS FUNNY, INTERESTING, AMAZING AND THIS IS SHORT STORY.

klu say:

i love this story, it seam good story to me, but i don’t under all off them. i’m im imprised of Lorenzo alot.

Thaw Re PO:

love kind of story like this..

aeler:

is was good story.

Thaw Re PO:

fantastic story…

Lynn:

(((hmmmm lalala)…. oh I do not have to wish I were in Dixie hurra hurra…I was born and raised in Dixie hurry huray.

el magnifico:

not interesting

Crazy Dan:

I believe America had better heed the warnings of Lorenzo Dow, to repent of our evil ways, killing our babies, redefining marriage, calling good evil and evil good. or we may be in for a similar fate.

Don:

I live just a few miles from this place and the story is very true.

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