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Population and altitude 2,642

By John Troesser


A shipwrecked Spaniard named Jose Malacara Y Bocanegra was said to have visited the area in the 1600s. He was given the name "Cola de Vaca" by the Indians who were still telling stories about the better-remembered Cabeza de Vaca. (Editor's note: For people not raised in the Southwest - Cabeza de Vaca translates as "Head of the Cow." It was not bovine resemblance, we're told, but an honorary title bestowed upon his grandfather that forced him to travel through life with this "title.") It was logical to the Indians that Jose be called "tail of the cow" since he followed Cabeza. Mr. Cabeza de Vaca, of course, had long since gone to his reward after retiring to a villa outside of Madrid where he spent his last years making up tall tales about his travels and digging cactus spines out of his feet. Cabeza, or "Cab" as he was known to his friends, at the time of Cola's visit was still the butt of Indian jokes and pictographs. Cola, or "Vaca II" as he was also known, was understandably eager to meet a paisano. He was told in each and every village he entered that Cabeza had just left the day before - although it had been thirty years. If he hurried he could probably catch him, they said. Every tribe from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific was in on the joke. The tribes may have had their differences, but they all liked a good gag.

The town of Godbehere was originally founded by Pastor Present Future. Pastor Future brought a group of settlers into the area in a wagon train in 1858. They were non-persecuted religious pilgrims who belonged to The Church of the Worthless Miracle. Wherever they went - people listened to them preach and found nothing to get excited or outraged about. Their doctrine was so bland and middle-of-the-road that they were called Southern Pedestrians by their neighbors, and the Church of the Shrugging Convert by others.

Determined to find a place where they would find people who would object to them, they left Blandville, South Carolina in 1853. Cannibalism (the result of poor planning) reduced the group's number by half and as they were digging for water in the wilds of Mispelled County, a freak mid-summer hailstorm blew in. In the act of putting the children under the wagons, the adults exposed themselves to the hard rain. Surviving children were taken in by the kindhearted Laconic Indians and were immediately made slaves. The site of the hailstorm was called Bosappi. It's a Laconic Indian word that means "The place where all the adults of the white man's wagon train were killed by softball-sized hail after first protecting their offspring by placing them under the wagons". They didn't call them the Laconic Indians for nothing.

Ten years later another wagon train led by Ward Bond camped in the vicinity and discovered pornographic pictographs on the banks of the South Fork of the Spoon River. These pictographs later became something of a tourist attraction in the 1930s. In the 1970's they were mistaken for grafitti and were removed by a over-zealous troop of Boy Scouts.

Location, Location, Location.

The railroad (The Northern, Central, Southern and Western) came within four miles (north) of the town in 1881. People put the stores, houses and even the courthouse on skids and moved to the tracks. Crime immediately rose to an intolerable level and it wasn't long before they discovered they had moved the town to the wrong side of the tracks.

They then moved the buildings again - this time to the right side. The townsfolk even moved the cemetery, although they didn't bother to exhume the coffins, they merely moved the tombstones and statuary. The railroad failed in 1882 and the following year the Gulf, Pacific, Baja, Panama and Tierra del Fuego (Your Discount Railroad) came through five miles further south of town. The town then skidded over to the new tracks and the following year the railroad was bought out by Railroad Depot and they too went out of business. The town, now thrice inconvenienced by railroads and totally disgusted moved their buildings back to the original foundations.

The Laconic Indians had been peaceful at first and had had good relations with the settlers. After the settlers first moved to be near the railroad the Indians abandoned their camp near the sewage treatment facility and moved into the former cellars and foundations of the relocated town. During the second move, they were angry when the seemingly uncaring and inconsiderate townsfolk trampled their gourd patches. By the time the town wanted to move back to the original foundations, the Indians refused to budge. The settlers were just as determined to return. They showed the Indians their deeds and the Indians would always repeat the same phrase when the deeds were shoved impolitely under their noses. A translator was summoned and after immediately sizing up the situation, he demanded to be paid in advance. Even after toning down the phrase, the settlers turned blue and proceeded to move their houses back to the foundations without any regard for the Indians, their belongings, livestock or children. As a result the Laconic Indians were entombed in the cellars of Godbehere.

By the time of the Civil War, the town was divided. Half wanted to move to Canada and the other half to Mexico. Civil war involvement at Fort Godbehere consisted of writing stirring letters of support to the opposing Armies.

During the Great Depression, a man digging a well discovered what appeared to be a roman dagger. Further digging produced shields, leather shin guards and helmets.

Beneath the "Roman artifacts" they dug up a skeleton, a pocketknife, a 1918 quarter dollar, 3 Indian head pennies, 4 Lincoln head pennies, a Masonic watch fob, 37 amber beer bottles with porcelain stoppers and a wrench imprinted with the word Ford. This discovery of recent debris under ancient was regarded as a mystery until a silver-plated cigarette case was unearthed containing a pay stub inside dated Mar 2, 1920 and signed by the head of Starving Artist Studios, Los Angeles. It turned out that movie director Cecil B.Vidor had used the location outside of Fort Godbehere as a set for the 1921 epic silent film Incontinence.

The skeleton, knife, wrench, coins etc. were the remains and belongings of a cameraman who had been "rolled" in back of Betty's Blue Note Lounge in 1920 and buried under a truckload of damaged movie props.

The Fort Proper 1861-1880s:

The fort itself was built just outside of town next to the swamp. The men of the town figured out an ingenious method for getting through the Civil War unharmed. They joined both sides - in an idea that was so outrageous it just might work. The womenfolk of the town sewed reversible uniforms -- the plan was to impersonate whichever army might decide to pay them a visit. During the summer of 1863 when both Union and Confederate forces were in the area, the men of Fort Godbehere reversed their uniforms 5 times in a single day. Of course not being in either army and having only a vague idea of military protocol, they frequently stumbled in their masquerade.

Visiting officers from both armies were startled to find Colonels taking orders from Corporals and officers wearing stripes. When questioned about this unorthodox chain-of-command, they blamed it on the Fort's Quartermaster, a laundry mix up, and a severe insignia order backlog.

In order to avoid being inducted into either army by a high ranking officer - they gave their Post Commander the rank of Ten-Star General. They only had five real stars, so they filled out the gaps in the General's extended epaulets with an assortment of Major's leaves and Lieutenant's bars. With this lofty and ludicrous position - Post Commander Ishmael L. Coward technically outranked Grant, Lee, and any other two officers on either side.

The Laconic Indians knew all about Army life from their scouting work before the war and several of them were still in the National Guard. They could've given advice - but they were having too much fun watching. Besides, they were still miffed about their relatives being buried alive.

Before the Indians are given too much credit for being smarter than the settlers, the reader should keep in mind that they performed menial work throughout the war for the fort - accepting payment in script that was blue on one side and gray on the other.

* Mispeled or Misspeled, or Miss Peld County are all acceptable spellings, since the name means a county whose name is misspelled. The only incorrect spelling would be the technically correct "Misspelled".

John Troesser
January 2002

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