Excerpt from my book, Havelock Saracen:
Notes from Gus Howard: March 19th, 2017. Inquiring on Facebook about strange activity in Havelock, 75-year-old Lon Dormer writes:
Have you heard about the George Dormer murder at Stevens Creek in 1913? George Dormer was the oldest son of my great grandfather. My family has always referred to it as the Dormer curse! Because of that I could never hunt at Stevens Creek on the outskirts of Havelock.
Rumor has it, two boys had gone hunting and were found shot in the head with their hands tied behind their backs in a corn field with their guns lying by their sides. It was the Gypsies from the State Fair who found them after several days’ search. The murders were never solved. Some people suspected that an old farmer committed the act. They are buried in the Havelock cemetery, Fairview, and my relatives tell the story every year on Memorial Day when we visit my ancestors’ graves. George was killed at age 9, born 1904 and died in 1913. The other boy was Conney Reese. My mother once told me there was fire on the two boys’ graves and the mother of the Reese boy wanted to pray them out of purgatory (she was Catholic) but my great grandmother (a Lutheran) said “No!”
After hearing this story for years, I ventured to the Lincoln Historical Society. This is the fact-based story I found in the Lincoln News: Sept. 8th, 1913. John Rhys, found dead in a pasture Saturday, fatally wounded George Dormer, his nine-year-old companion, and in remorse shot himself. Powder burns were found upon young Rhys, indicating that the weapon had been held close to his breast when the shot that killed him was fired. George Dormer, 9, and John Rhys, 16, were found dead in a pasture one mile north of Havelock, not at Steven’s Creek. Dr. Ballard, the coroner, said he examined the small boy and found a gunshot to his abdomen made by a .22 bullet.
The Dormer/Rhys story made news all over the US, and various reporters could not determine how they died. In one story, they were charged by angry, territorial bulls. In another, they shot one another. A third story claims they were murdered. This fact-based story makes more sense. Not a murder. An accident. You see, I came back to Havelock to visit the lady who now lives in my grandparents house, where George once lived. She spoke about the ghost of a little boy wearing a hunting hat seen dozens of times outside the house. She swears it’s the ghost of George Dormer, trying to get back inside the house where he’s no longer welcome.