The Downey Booger

Written by: Vera Whitehead (Daughter of Margaret Catherine Downey & Jim Plunkett)

Thanks to Joyce Farris for submitting this story.

In the later part of the 1800s, Winston County, Alabama was known for its rugged men, still-brewed whiskey, hard shell preachers, and Saturday night dances. It was also known for the Downey Booger.

John and Joe Downey were cousins. They were together constantly, like two peas in a pod. They were returning home from one of these dances when they first saw the booger.

There were only two houses on this long stretch of road they traveled. One was the Hub Baughn place with the lightening rods. The other was a rambling log house belonging to Oscar Tittle where the dances had been held. The remainder of the road was enveloped by a dense pine forest.

John and Joe were jostling along on their thoroughbreds gaily recounting the events of the evening, when suddenly a strange looking creature, bearing both the resemblance of a human and an animal, leaped out in front of them. Their horses must have spotted it at the same instant the boys did for they stood on their hind feet, snorting madly almost throwing them from their saddles, then whirled around and took off on a wild stampede in the opposite direction using every ounce of strength they could muster. They managed to bring them to a halt. They turned around and again started toward home.

As they approached the sand bed where this weird creature had appeared, the horses came to an abrupt stop. They gouged them in the side, beat them with the bridles but they would not budge an inch. Finally they turned around and rode back to the Tittle house remembering a longer route they could take. They would pass through Lynn, a small town seven miles from their homes. This was known as the Byler Road.

The sun had risen when the boys arrived. Their parents doubted their odd story as much as they had been able to trust them before. No one else had run into the booger.

One night about three months later, a family was returning from a three day church service. When they came to the sand bed it darted out from behind a clump of bushes. It stood for a few seconds and as quickly as a wink ran from sight. The children were panic stricken so much so that for months their mother had to make a pallet for them all to sleep together.

On a moonlit night in early fall, Jim Jackson loaded his two horse wagon with his barrels of home made moonshine and headed for the Commissary in Galloway, a mining town a few miles from his home. The manager of the Commissary would sell it secretly to the miners for a huge profit. He was jogging along hearing nothing but the melancholy whine of the wind in the pine branches, probably thinking of the loot he would receive from the liquor, when he sensed he was being followed. Glancing over his right shoulder his eyes fell upon a peculiar looking creature waltzing on two feet behind his wagon. He froze; his first impulse was to try to outrun it. He decides against that because his mules, Pet and Hathe (or Hattie) were not accustomed to running except downhill. This was level ground. He remembered his gun on the wagon seat beside him. He took the revolver, aimed, and fired twice. It screamed like a woman in distress and went limping away on three feet.

The news spread quickly. Jim Jackson had shot the Downey Booger. A posse was formed. They combed the forest, only finding traces of blood leading from the sand bed to a distant cliff.

Until this day, this incident is repeated among the residents of Winston County. What the Downey Booger was will forever be a mystery.

From Elisa Sanford:

The Plunkett man was Margaret's second husband, her first was William Baughn.

William Baughn:
b. 4-26-1866
d. 4-14-1894

Margaret Catherine Downey Baughn Plunkett:
b. 10-31-1871
d. 11-20-1935 (TN)

William & Margaret Baughn