Part 2 of a Tennessee Vendetta: Fact of Farce

Published 9:55 am Monday, February 20, 2017

Mountain Echoes

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a multi-part series. Part One was published on Sunday, Feb. 5.

I hope you all caught part one, if not part two won’t make a lot of sense to you. So now we continue with the escalation of revenge.
James Johnstone made no attempt to hide or conceal his deadly intention as he walked up to the Roger’s household. His eyes narrowed and his steely gaze locked onto to Rogers, who was sitting on the front porch smoking a pipe.
Rogers, who had taken to his early morning routine of sitting on the porch, silently contemplating, and soaking in his surroundings, was caught off guard this morning. No, this morning he was drifting in and out of an early morning daydream. James had walked up to almost 100 yards from him when his appearance startled him out of his stupor.
It didn’t take a single thought to realize what the young man was here for. Rogers began to yell “I see you Johnstone! I see you boy!!” and quickly leapt to his feet from his rocking chair, and spun around, his hand grasping his rifle that had been leaning near the door.
James was a bit surprised how quick and nimble the murderer was. It made no matter though. Instinct had kicked in for James, countless hours of practicing how to shoot, took over. James quickly raised the rifle to his shoulder and eyed Rogers down the barrel and bellowed out the last words Rogers would ever hear — “You killed my father!!” — and squeezed the trigger.
Rogers only had his rifle lifted up halfway before the bullet pierced his heart. He collapsed in a crumpled heap, his pipe still smoking at his feet. James took but a moment to drink it in, then turned to go back home. As he walked away, he heard Rogers’ newly widowed wife scream in grief and the cries of his children filled the air. He thought for a moment how strange their cries sounded, and might have even felt bad for a brief moment, until he wondered if that is how he and his brother sounded as they shook and held their father’s lifeless body.
As he approached his home he felt strangely empty in emotion. Empty in emotion, but he was very much satisfied at the same time. He walked in and ate the breakfast his mother had prepared. He ate heartily enough for his mother to take notice. She pressed her inquiry on what had him eating so well this morning, he told his tale to her, and at long last judgment had been passed. She sat quietly a few moments before speaking, she looked at him, stone faced, and as his eyes locked with hers she finally spoke. She told him she knew this day would come and how she tried her best to ease their pain. She tried to teach them forgiveness, and to turn the other cheek like the good book says. James quickly fired off that “an eye for an eye” is also in there and he was to honor his father.
Her expression changed and she spoke with a great sadness “I know you feel like you honored your Pa today, but for everything we do, we answer for. What you have done today, there is a reckoning down the road. Either in Heaven or on this Earth, there is a reckoning.” James didn’t give it a second thought, “Rogers got his reckoning today, didn’t he?” She tried to explain to him that he took judgment upon himself that was reserved for the Almighty only. She shook her head and tears filled her eyes. “My son, you made yourself no better than Rogers. You made a widow out of his wife, and three children without their father. One of them is a boy named William. How long before he comes here looking for vengeance?” James patted his rifle and uttered “Let em come.”
The local Constable came to the home and spoke to James. He had been called on for an inquiry as for the reasoning for the death of Rogers. He had interviewed the family, neighbors and James. In the end, for all the wealth and supposed influence Rogers had, he had also made a great deal of enemies and none spoke for him, but for James instead, many quoting old Indian law for justification. In the end, it was enough for the Constable and having deemed it an unfortunate but necessary killing, went on his way.
Meanwhile back at the grieving Rogers home, the son William, upon hearing that there would be no charges, swallowed back his tears. He swore to cry no more until he avenged his father.
This is the end of part two. Part three is next week and things really escalate out of control. The mountains are callin’. See you then!

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Scott Bowers is the County Historian for Carter County and commander of Camp 2083 Lt. Robert J. Tipton of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Send questions or comments about his columns to