This devastating personal tragedy would leave the orphaned Harpes dangerously embittered with the world and set them on a path of gratuitous butchery and depravity. Needless to say, they entertained themselves on the way by killing as many people as they could, including teenagers and little children. Moses Stegall shot him through the heart then cut off his head with his hunting knife. Afterward, they murdered the son of the innkeeper who turned them in. The latter involved a young gentleman named John Langford who had been foolhardy enough to travel solo in the wilderness with a purse full of silver. Their blameless lives and exploits, first the subject of immensely popular biographies and fictional adventures, and later, broadcast everywhere through film and television, have obscured the reality of post-revolutionary life west of the Appalachians.
When they were near the mouth of the Saline River, they came upon three men who were encamped, and killed all three. Here, Little Harpe found a comely new wife, Susan Rice, while Big Harpe took on Susan Wood and Maria as his own. They were also pitiless when it came to murder, one woman claimed that Micajah swung her baby by the feet headfirst into a tree killing it instantly. While Harpe was still conscious, Moses Stegall slowly cut off the outlaw's head. Stegall and her infant son and burned down their house. Even after the British surrendered in Yorktown in 1781, the brothers continued to lend their support to the Indians in their attacks against settlers. In 1820, Sally Rice, who had remarried, traveled with her husband and father to their new home in Illinois via the.
Fate finally caught up with the surviving Harpe in January 1804 when he and May were executed, their heads staked on Natchez Road. The depraved Harpes left a revolting legacy - a blotch on the optimistic times when a new nation was being forged. When the Harpes were given shelter at the Stegall home in Webster County, the pair killed an overnight guest named Major William Love, as well as Mrs. On September 27, 1803, Betsey Roberts remarried, moved with her husband to Canada in 1828, had many children; the couple eventually died in the 1860s. Eventually, the Harpes left the company of the Cherokee and struck out on their own, shortly before soldiers caught up with the tribe and decimated them. He raised a gang of vigilantes from among his neighbours and headed off to the Harpe homestead where they found the farm abandoned.
They began to work aboard boats for the famed outlaw leader Samuel Mason and his gang shortly after. Plug is yet another of Southern Illinois' cast of river pirates from the end of the 19th Century. On one of their raids the boys kidnapped Susan Wood, who was said to have been rather ugly, and Maria or Betsey Davidson, described more generously as rather handsome. Harpe was arrested in Mississippi where he was tried, convicted and executed for murder. They also appeared at the in October 1780, under British commander Major. They killed a farmer named Bradbury, a man named Hardin, and a boy named Coffey in July 1798.
In the first instance of their signature characteristic, the man was cut open and weighted down with stones. He confessed to 20 murders as he lay dying. Most disturbing of all was the report that Big Harpe killed his own infant daughter by smashing her head against a tree, irritated by her incessant crying. As the party moved on, through dense and inhospitable wilderness, the two prisoners quietly slipped away without their captors noticing and disappeared. In 1780, the Harpes joined with the regular British troops and fought in several battles along the North and borders.
They emerge, eyes blazing, from a historical fogbank of multiple spellings, dubious records and contradictory accounts. The women were later acquitted of the murders and eventually rejoined their men. It is said that they killed at least 39 people, though no one can say for sure what the true number was. Several accounts, including that of T. Crockett and Russell, having witnessed an earlier attack on Fink's keelboat but being told the Kaskaskia were driven out of the area prior, deduce that the attackers are in fact pirates masquerading as Native Americans. The Harpes remain so firmly in character that they forget to kill Tompkins.
Stump recognized the men's horses as his own, seized during a robbery on the Natchez Trace in which his companion ended up dead. The Harpes stayed at the cave while fleeing an order of execution. William Calhoun Love wrote in his about the Harpes who murdered his father, the local justice of the peace. They were known to burn down houses and murder the inhabitants leaving with nothing more than they would have obtained from the simple hospitality of the homeowners. However, he was soon recognized as an outlaw. Seems like a bullet would be waiting for them around every bend of the river. When they were near the mouth of the in southern Illinois they came upon three men encamped there and killed them.
In some accounts the Harpes arranged to sleep apart, each with another traveler with the express purpose of killing the tavelers. He's also the smarter of the two brothers. The first was the noble pioneer seeking to do right by his family and God. With his death, a gruesome chapter in American history ended. An eight-man posse is assembled, including Stegall, McBee, James Tompkins and John Leiper. The cavity is stuffed with stones, intended to sink the carcass to the bottom. This was Micajah, aka Big Harpe.