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MASON EMBRY, Sr., Butler County, was born June 26, 1826, in Madison County, Ky., and,
in 1833, removed with his parents to the northeast portion of Butler County, locating on
the place where he now resides. His father, Cader Embry, a native of North Carolina, was
born in 1778; removed with his parents to Madison County, Ky., and was long a minister of
the gospel, and organized the first Christian Church in Butler County; he died on this
place, January 24, 1848. He was the son of William Embry, of North Carolina, who died
about 1840, aged about eighty years. His father was William Embry. Cader Embry married
Frances, daughter of William and Sally Sebastian, of Madison County (born in 1785, died
July 3, 1862). From their union sprang Golson, Sallie (Forman), Fannie (Maxey), Wiley,
Wilford, Nancy (Phelps), Allie (Dockery), Patsey (Embry), Frankie (Dockery), Amanda
(Embry), Cader, John, Esquire and Mason, Sr. (subject). In youth our subject procured but
a limited education at the old field schools of the country, but has since by application
obtained a business education. He has been twice married: first, September 12, 1843, to
Elizabeth, daughter of William and Susan (Coy) Embry, of Butler County (born July 31,
1827, died april 18, 1864), and to whom were born Jesse H., Cader S., Paradine (Dockery),
Adeline (Embry), Cynthia (deceased), Harlan, Orran and Wheeler (deceased). September 18,
1864, Mr. Embry married Mrs. Emily Small, daughter of Phillip and Eunice (Armitage) Zagler
(born in Pennsylvania, September 9, 1836). This union has been blessed by the birth of
Alice (Taylor), Adney, Cletus, Rufus, Eugene, Gauda and Daisy. Mr. Mason has always been a
successful farmer, owning 455 acres of well improved and productive land. He is running a
wool-carding machine; is also dealing largely in live stock. He is an active member of the
Christian Church, of which he was long clerk. Embry Sebastian Forman Maxey Phelps Dockery
Coy Small Zagler Armitage Taylor = Madison-KY NC PA
MASON EMBRY AND SKULL BONE CAVE
During the early days of Kentucky, the story goes, Indians killed a woman and child and ravaged the home of a settler near Mile Tree Hill, a short distance from Caneyville in southern Grayson County. When the man of the house returned and discovered the sickening sight, he vowed to avenge the murders. He immediately set out with his dog in search of an Indian party that he believed to be responsible.
Several miles away, near the banks of Coopers Creek in what is now southeastern Butler County, he came upon an Indian shelter, and lay in wait for his prey. Seeing only one indian in the camp, the settler leveled his rifle and fired the fatal shot striking his target.
Worried that other indians might seek reprisal if they
found their companion, the settler stuffed a cloth in the wound, and, covering his tracks
as best he could, moved the dead indian to a bluff on a nearby hillside.
Several decades later, Mason Embry, who was born in Madison County in 1826, came to own vast tracts of land in northeastern Butler County, including the ominous-looking cavern. Being a great hunter, and somewhat of an adventurer, Embry decided to search the cavern floor for remains of an indian grave. Indeed, we are told, that he found part of the skeleton, including the skull, which he removed and took with him as proof of his discovery.
He lifted the skull on the end of a stick, and made for
himself a macabre tool-a kind of crude hoe that he used for covering his seed corn at
Clyde Embry, 79, a respected citizen of Grayson County and a grandson of Mason Embry, says his father told him that he had used the skull & had helped cover corn with it.
Likewise, Joan Saunders of Leitchfield, a step-great granddaughter of Mason Embry, and author of the genealogical quarterly "Silent Footsteps", says that her grandfather and father both had told her identical stories about the skull.
It was a frightening episode in the family's history, one that may never be forgotten.
Almost immediately after Mason Embry started using the skull to cover his corn, bone-chilling screams began to haunt his nightly hunting excursions. They followed the hunting party, screaming like a human in agony, terrifying the horses and dogs, and unnerving the hunters. Repeatedly, the fearless Embry and his companions sought to discover the source of the blood-curdling cries, but to no avail. They sometimes spurred their horses homeward at a fast gallop, hoping to outrun the tormenting screams. It was no use. The invisible shrieks stayed right at their backs--as if at any moment the party might be overtaken and devoured.
Embry was increasingly disturbed by the screams, and family members told of how one night, the cries were so close on his heels, that he jumped his horse across the draw-bars at his front gate, then rushed to the house where he waited at the front door with a shotgun, staring into the empty darkness as the awful screams taunted him from the gate.
Convinced that the screams were the spirit of the indian whose grave he had desecrated, Embry returned the skull to the cave and reburied it the very next day.
The horrifying screams ceased, never to be heard again, but they were never forgotten by Embry and his family.
Years later someone asked Mason Embry's wife if she would recognize the sound if she ever heard it again.
"Would I know the sound of my own son's voice?" she replied. "It is a sound I will never forget."
Embry died in the summer of 1897 at the age of 71.
Many have looked at the cave and wondered if the curse of the dead descends on those who disturb their eternal rest.
Mason Embry died believing that it did.
AN ARTICLE FOR THE COURIER JOURNAL DATED 1991.
TRANSCRIBED FOR PRESERVATION BY ERIN KATE LOGAN 12-5-98
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