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Jenny Wiley Park

In my last post I talked about my ancestor, Jenny Wiley.

Well, you can imagine the excitement that my mom felt when they opened Jenny Wiley State Park. Becky and I were about 4 and 6 years old.

We went to camp there. The State Park was very underdeveloped, with only one simple marina and a little stretch of beach for swimming.


My dad had built a wonderful little white cabin cruiser. We made camp on land with a simple tent for changing, a lantern, a cookstove and lawn chairs around a campfire site. At night we slept in the cabin cruiser. The front of the boat was completely covered in mahogany, with windows that could be opened or closed with curtains.

One evening we returned to camp. We stayed in the boat and my mom went up to get our pajamas. On her way, she saw a copperhead snake. She ran back to Dad and told him we could not spend the night here.


Dad packed up camp and we moved to sleep at the marina.

We spent the next day there on the water, and in the evening Dad got the boat out of the water, on the trailer, hitched up and ready to go. We were leaving early in the morning. We were sleeping in the cabin cruiser, on the trailer, attached to the car. Dad snapped down the tarp so the the cabin cruiser was protected from the weather.

About 3:00 am, Mom hears noises. She pulls back the curtains to see two drunk men, one climbing into the driver’s seat of our Volvo and the other attempting to get in with his guitar.

old guitar

Mom couldn’t get Dad awake. She shook him and whispered, “Where are the car keys”? He mumbled, “On the dash.”

Mom knew she had to take action. “She yelled, “Get out of there!” The men heard her and got out and came back to the boat. Dad opened a small part of the tarp. The men  told Mom that there were men coming after them to kill them. They asked if we would trade our flashlight for a guitar, and Dad said no. Then they asked Dad if he had a gun. “Yes I do,” he replied, although we did not have a gun. The men wanted to trade the guitar for the gun. Dad closed the tarp. End of conversation.


Mom yelled, “If you don’t get out of here, we’re going to send our dog out there.” Our dog, Cleo, was a basset hound. Her knees were knocking and she had her head up under the back of my mom’s top. Mom told them that there were hunters up at the next campsite, and maybe they could help. Dad whispered, “I think they are going to kill us.”


As the drunks sauntered up to the next site, Dad opened the tarp and pulled each of us quickly to the ground. He told Becky and me to lie in the the floorboard of the backseat of the old Volvo. He, my mom and Cleo got in the front seat and locked all the doors.

When my dad turned on the headlights, there were a whole group of men crawling on their knees in front of our Volvo. They quickly scattered in all directions.

Dad said, “Hold on. I am going to gun this engine and we are getting out of here.” As Dad began driving, the men formed a chain that went across the road. Dad told Mom that we were going through that line. He sped up and went right through the middle of the men. They jumped back, and no one was hurt.


Dad drove to the marina to report what had happened. The guard at the marina said, “Around here, we don’t have no law. If I call the sheriff, he’s probably drunk, and many of these guys may be related to him. There’s a feud goin’ on, and we live by the rifle.”

We pulled up close to the marina, slept the rest of the night, and headed out in the early morning. It was a long time before Mom could be convinced to go back to Jenny Wiley State Park!