There was a man, who, in the early 1800’s lived a wretched life in Loudoun County, Virginia and made those around him miserable. When he was cleared for taking the life of a slave, the slave came back to make sure he received his punishment.
His name was Joel Osborne, but everyone who knew him called him Devil Joel as in those days, if you were prone to using profanity too much, the word ‘Devil’ was attached to your name when folks talked about you. Joel was a miserable man and made those around him miserable as well. As he never married for obvious reasons, he spent his time on his farm with his slave, a man named Ben.
Devil Joel was a horrible master and gave Ben no rest. He forced Ben to toil in the fields all week. On Sunday, or when the ground was too wet to work, Devil Joel had Ben digging stones from the ground and piling them up six feet high, eight feet in diameter. Some claimed that there were a dozen of these piles around the farm at one point. When Joel was in an especially bad mood, he would hit Ben over the head with a club that always knocked the slave to the ground, and on more than one occasion, knocked him unconscious. When he would awaken, Ben would go back to his job.
As he got older, Joel began to drink heavily and the attacks on Ben increased in frequency until one day as they waited for the rain to end Joel snapped. For no apparent reason, he attacked Ben with a hoe handle knocking the slave to the ground. This time, however, Ben did not get up. Devil Joel had lived up to his name and killed Ben.
Devil Joel escaped commonwealth law as it was decided that Joel had killed Ben by accident and that there was no crime. Although Joel had gotten away with murder as far as the laws of Virginia were concerned, he punishment for taking a human life was just beginning. Joel, for his crime, was apparently sentenced by an unknown court to be a haunted man for the rest of his life.
He began to be plagued by horrific nightmares and his body began to wither away. Relatives, worried about Joel, sent a cousin named Joseph to stay with Joel to9 see if he could determine what was happening to him. The two men slept in the same room with both of the doors locked. Not long after midnight, Joseph was awakened by the sound of Joel pleading for his life. Joseph lit a candle and saw Joel thrashing about on his bed screaming for Ben to leave him alone. Joseph tried to shake sense into Joel but his cousin looked right passed him as he pleaded for mercy from something he could see, but Joseph could not.
Those events would go on almost every night for several months has Joel began to drink more and more. Finally at the age of fifty five, Joel succumbed to his delirium and died.
After the Civil War had ended some ex slaves told stories of passing by the old Osborne farm and seeing ghostly visions of Devil Joel sitting on a stump with a wooden club in his hand as near by, Ben stacked rocks into a pile.