The Fayette Factor
Fortean Times Flashback

Who--or more precisely, what--is "the Fayette Factor?" It's probably one of the strangest mysteries in American Forteana, first discovered by researcher Bill Grimstad back in 1977. Namely, a surprisingly high incidence of paranormal events linked to places named after one of the USA's Founding Fathers--the Marquis de Lafayette. According to Grimstad, "Lafayette traveled widely in this country (USA) and doubtless must have been the inspiration for many or most of the 18-odd counties and 28 towns and cities across the land that I have been able to find with some form of his name." Marie-Joseph Paul Roch de Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, was born in 1757. His father, a French Army officer, was killed in the battle of Minden in 1759, and the marquis was brought up by his mother's prestigious family, the de Noailles.
At the age of 18, he traveled to the Americas at his own expense and became an aide to General George Washington, who loved him like a son. By the end of the War of the American Revolution, Lafayette commanded the Continental Army in Virginia. That's the Lafayette every American schoolboy knows. But, as researcher Manly Palmer Hall has pointed out, the marquis had ties to the esoteric groups of the late Eighteenth Century. "In addition to his political pursuits," Grimstad wrote, "Lafayette was busily involved in certain circles that should be of interest to contemporary Illuminati buffs." According to Manly Palmer Hall, Lafayette was an associate of both Dr. Anton Mesmer, "the Father of Hypnotism," and Giuseppe Balsamo, better known as Cagliostro, a Sicilian sorcerer who was an acolyte of Adam Weishaupt's Illuminati. Hall wrote, "In 1785, the Marquis...joined the Egyptian Masonry of Cagliostro and proclaimed his absolute confidence in the 'Grand Cophte.' (One of Balsamo's many titles--J.T.) When Anton Mesmer arrived from Vienna with his theories of animal magnetism, Lafayette was one of his first customers." Grimstad adds, "But Lafayette also had the closest ties with Benjamin Franklin, the American revolutionary sage (and member of (Sir Francis) Dashwood's 'Hell-Fire Club' in Britain (also known as the 'Medmenham Monks' of High Wycombe, Kent--J.T.).
As Hall puts it, 'Benjamin Franklin was a philosopher and a Freemason--possibly a Rosicrucian initiate. He and the Marquis de Lafayette-- also a man of mystery--constitute two of the most important links that culminated in the establishment of the original thirteen American colonies as a free and independent nation.'" "Lafayette, Hall summarises, 'is a direct link between the (esoteric) political societies of France and the young American government.'" (Editor's Comment: Maybe one of our French readers could find out if any of Lafayette's ancestors in either the de Motier or the de Noailles families ever had ties to the Knights Templar or the Cathars.) How much of the marquis's involvement in such matters was due to his deeply-held esoteric beliefs or to mere socializing is something for historians of the future to determine. What's of interest to Forteans is the uncanny number of paranormal incidents linked to the name Lafayette. Grimstad has an impressive list.
"In Fayette County, Alabama, is the Musgrove Methodist Cemetery. The tombstone of one Robert L. Musgrove there bears a discoloration, not especially realistic, that is locally believed to be the bridal- veiled figure of Musgrove's fiancee. Apparently he was killed just before the wedding, and the sorrowing girl" willed her image "onto the marble by her many visits to the grave." (Editor's Comment: And I have to wonder if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used this real-life case as the basis for his Sherlock Holmes story, "The Musgrave Ritual.") "The engima-laden state of Arkansas has two sites." "The city of Fayetteville, in the northwest corner" of Arkansas, "has long been legendary for oddities. UFOs and aerial lightshows, water monsters in the nearby White River and Springheel Jack-type window peepers are among the manifestations."
"In the southwest angle of Arkansas is a Bigfoot hotspot that has been immortalised--in America, at least-- by the (1974) movie The Legend of Boggy Creek. The critters have been known hereabouts since 1856, centering their activities lately upon the town of Fouke in Miller County and ranging eastward into Lafayette County." "In the scenic Bluegrass area of Kentucky, the university city of Lexington sits atop one of America's more dramatic lost cave stories. Historian G.W. (George Washington) Ranck recorded in 1872 that hunters in 1776 had found a tunnel behind a rock panel of 'peculiar workmanship' and covered with hieroglyphics. The descending portal widened to a sort of gallery running downward a few hundred feet to a huge underground room. Ranck cited the hunters' reports that this chamber contained idols, altars and about 2,000 human mummies. Although the entrance to the amazing cavern was (of course--B.G.) lost, there are still cave true-believers who poke about looking for the weird mausoleum beneath this part of Fayette County." "Followers of ghost lore may have heard of the recent (1976) antics of a supposed phantom in Lilac Hill, a large old farmhouse at Fayette, Missouri. A number of psychically-sensitive individuals have been trying to discern what is troubling the alleged spirits, of whom there are said to be at least two."
"In New York state, a farm near Cardiff, 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Syracuse, was the starting point in October 1869 for one of the more sensational fossil controversies. The 'Cardiff Giant' is still displayed at museum near Cooperstown," and the weird stone idol was found in a quarry near "the Nineteenth Century town of La Fayette." Also, "it was in April of 1830 that the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (also known as the Mormons--J.T.) was founded by Joseph Smith and a few disciples, who claim to have received more than a little help from certain angelic friends in the neighborhood. The place: Fayette, New York." "Another haunted house story takes us to an American state that perhaps rivals New York and Arkansas in the number and interest of its anomalies. It also brings us back across the trail of the peripatetic Marquis de Lafayette. This is the A.S. Slocumb Mansion, located in the North Carolina city of Fayetteville. The Slocumb House is supposed to have a number of special occupants. It also has, or had, a secret vault in the basement and at least one tunnel leading to the Cape Fear River channel." In 1977, the USA experienced one of the most severe winters in its history. "As of February 3, 1977, the National Weather Service announced that the 'hardest hit area' of the north-central states region was Fayette County, Ohio."
Bigfoot "became rather more aggressive on April 23, 1976 when it attempted to carry off a four-year-old boy from his backyard on a farm in Tennessee. A sheriff's posse pursued the entity and seems to have shot enough high-powered rifle fire into it to have felled King Kong himself. However, as if tiring of the game, the creature finally leaped out of its cul-de-sac and simply vanished. These events occurred within a few miles of the hamlet called Fayetteville, Tennessee." "Now I would like to consider some examples of a more ominous character," Grimstad wrote, "We find 'the Lafayette factor' in the Abraham Lincoln assassination of the 1860s...A slippery character named Lafayette Baker had been brought in to head the Secret Service by the enigmatic Edwin M. Stanton, President Lincoln's arrogant Secretary of War. Otto Eisenschiml, the pioneer revisionist historian of this amazingly crude murder conspiracy, delved into the story as far as the surviving records would allow."
"His findings suggest that Lafayette Baker and Stanton had maneuvered to facilitate the escape into the South of assassin John Wilkes Booth, and when that proved impossible (owing to Booth's broken leg--J.T.) to ensure that the killer was not brought back and that his evidently-incriminating diary did not survive intact." At the same hour Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theatre, Secretary of State William Seward "was attacked and savagely knifed by a deranged giant named Lewis Paine, who had forced his way into the Seward home. This house fronted upon Lafayette Square, just across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House." Residents of the District of Columbia sometimes refer to the area "as 'Tragedy Square.' No other section of Washington has had so much intrigue, mystery, murder and macabre happenings as has the area directly opposite 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.'
" The Fayette Factor has also come into play in occult crimes, as well. "On July 3, 1977, 23-year-old Gary Rock was charged on two counts of criminal homicide after two local volunteer firemen were killed by a sniper while responding to a fire alarm at Rock's isolated cabin, near Fayetteville, Pennsylvania." "On July 31, 1977, two young people sitting in a parked car along the Brooklyn, New York seashore were shot several times by a mysterious assailant who had become known as 'the Son of Sam.' The girl, Stacy Moskowitz, died of her injuries; her companion, Robert Violante, suffered eye damage. Miss Moskowitz was an alumna of (Brooklyn's) Lafayette High School. When she and Violante were shot, it was while they were sitting 'not far from Lafayette High School,' according to the New York Times" of August 1, 1977, page 34-C. To Grimstad's list, your editor can add one site which he has visited personally. On Peirce Street in East Greenwich, Rhode Island is the General James Varnum House. This fine old Georgian mansion was built in 1761, its grand opening on the very day the Marquis de Lafayette turned four years old. During the war, Lafayette was a frequent visitor to the Varnum House and visited it yet again during his tour of the USA in 1826. Today the Varnum House is notorious for its periodic ghost and poltergeist manifestations. It's just all part of the enduring mystery we call "the Fayette Factor." (See Fortean Times No. 25 for Spring 1978, "Fateful Fayette" by Bill Grimstad, page 3; Why Was Lincoln Murdered? by Otto Eisenschiml, Little, Brown & Co., Boston, Mass., 1937; America's Assignment with Destiny by Manly Palmer Hall, Philosophical Research Society, Los Angeles, Cal., 1951; and Weird America by Jim Brandon, E.P. Dutton Co., New York, N.Y., 1978.)
From Loren Coleman
Here are two more Fayette Factor items, a la'
Fresh Fascination Focuses on the Fayette Factor
Rocks Reportedly Thrown At Vehicles Along Fayette Road
Police Search For Those Responsible
Pittsburgh, PA
FAYETTE COUNTY, Pa. -- State police are looking for the people who threw rocks at vehicles along a Fayette County road.
The Ash family was driving home Saturday night along Kreinbrook Hill Road in Bullskin Township when its sport utility vehicle was hit.
A rock about the size of a baseball dented the roof, the family said.
Marian Ash said, "We thought maybe it was a rock coming up from the wheel well. We were very fortunate that nobody was hurt."
State police said another car was hit by another rock about 10 minutes after the first one hit the SUV.
Police continue to investigate.
Green Goddess Takes A Dive In Fayette
By Janell Bradley
Courier Correspondent
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa
FAYETTE --- The green goddess that reigned over Upper Iowa University survived a tornado in 1968 that overpowered Northeast Iowa.
But 40-50 mph wind gusts over the weekend apparently wrestled the statue to the ground near Alexander-Dickman Hall.
The incident occurred Saturday evening or early Sunday morning, but no one has reported actually seeing what happened. University students are on spring break, so few are on campus.
The 9-foot tall, 250-pound goddess sustained damage on her hand, and her face collapsed.
Cliff Ozmun, assistant public relations director, said the university will repair the statue, though just how that will be done is still being investigated. The statue is made of copper, which requires lower temperatures to mold than other metals.
Formally named "Peace," the familiar green goddess is actually one of six statues that once adorned the former Black Hawk County Courthouse. The other five were called "Knowledge," "Justice," "Science," "Agriculture" and "Industry."
Artist Robert De Glass created the figures. They were placed atop the former courthouse in 1907. In 1963, that building was razed, but the statues --- known locally as the Green Goddesses --- were spared.
"Peace" was leased to Upper Iowa for $1. The statue was placed on the dome of Alexander-Dickman Hall in 1964.
Four of the other goddesses --- "Agriculture," "Justice," "History" and "Commerce" --- sit on the edge of the River Plaza building in Waterloo. "Industry" apparently was destroyed decades ago.



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