Classic Mulhattons from the Famous Liar

famous liarThese are brief, paraphrased, and summarized articles from the tales and legends Mulhatton claimed. This is a unique glimpse into the imaginings of the “Famous Liar.” Whenever possible, the date of their publication is included. Unfortunately, using the entirety of every article would make it difficult for the web reader, and require a website unto itself. Supplemental information is provided when necessary. A few contain actual quotes from the original articles.


Exhuming Washington and Lincoln (1875)

The bodies of General George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln are going to be exhumed and displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Money from the display is going to be used for the completion of the Washington Monument.


Mammoth’s Rival (1875)

A new cave has been discovered in Pike County, Kentucky, that’s even larger than the Mammoth Cave. The river that flows through it is large enough to accommodate a full-sized river steamboat. The rooms are made of rare jewels, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. Virgin gold lines the hallways and floors. The subterranean river ripples across beds of diamonds. Strange, massive skeletons were hidden deep within the earth. A score of mummies found are 18-feet-tall and covered in red hair. The cave is 3 miles long and over a mile wide. The narrow opening is almost impassable. One chamber is covered in rich gold quartz, another in diamonds and rubies.

Note: People flocked to Pikeville, Kentucky, in hopes of getting a piece of the wealth from the caves. Land there sold for as much as $100 per foot during the rush. English tourists arrived and even P. T. Barnum visited in hopes of getting the mummies for his attractions.


Revenge of the Cats (1876)

A larger furrier in New York City is desperately seeking cats. He declares he will pay top dollar for any feline that reaches his warehouse.

Note: The paper stated people needed to have the cats in Litchfield, Kentucky, by a specified day. This was in order to deliver them when the furrier needed. Residents from all over Grayson County crated up their cats and brought them to Litchfield. Farmers spent days chasing feral cats to ship off.

Eventually, the people were told the truth. Many were so angry they turned the cats loose in town. A few ingenious individuals crated a number of them and shipped them to Mulhatton’s hardware company. The crate was opened in the store and wild cats ran in all directions.


The Cave Tribe (1880)

An immense cave has been located in northern Wyoming with a strange tribe of natives living inside. They’re nearly white, but their manner and customs are strongly reminiscent of the Egyptians.

The only source of light is a long, deep canyon that can’t be penetrated. They’ve lived there for centuries due to the aggressive Sioux population nearby. The Sioux believe they’re from the otherworld.

Note: The story reached Omaha and a newspaper reporter was sent to investigate. Unfortunately, he was captured by very real Sioux natives and held for a week.


Birmingham is Sinking! (1883)

The citizens of Birmingham, Alabama, had recently undertaken the construction of a large building downtown. Unfortunately, the workers digging the foundation cracked the earth’s crust. A massive river rages beneath the city and buildings are falling into the expansive cavern below. Right now, the corner of City Hall has already dropped 4 feet and the fissures are rapidly growing wider.

 Note: Actually, Mulhatton was in Birmingham Alabama in 1883 and came across a brief article about the town’s new artesian well. The group excavating the well happened upon a small stream of flowing water around 300 feet below the surface.


The Thing (1883)

People in Northern Wisconsin have discovered a monster living in their lake. The creature is half-fish, half-snake, and is the size of a whale. It crawls out of the water at night and preys on flocks of sheep, calves and colts.


Mars Attacks! (1880s)

Professor Birdwhistle, of the Lawrenceburg Academy of Science, has studied the relationship of the planets for several decades. His interest has been particularly focused on the activity around Mars.

Birdwhistle reports that Martians frequently visit the earth. They travel back and forth by routes through the air. The professor also stated he’d witnessed a number of battles between the native Martians and horde of invaders. The Martians were victorious.


Brown County Meteor (1884)

An immense meteor fell in Brown County, Texas. The huge rock fell on William’s Ranch. The stench of sulfur lingers for miles. All livestock has been killed by the toxic fumes. Despite being in the ground, it continued to sizzle. It had withered acres of plantations and scorched the earth for miles around. The human death toll from the destruction is up to eight, but more is expected.

The natives were frightened so badly that they fled. The meteor covered an acre of ground and sank 200 feet into the soil, while over 80 feet still protruded from the ground. The meteor landed on a Mexican household and buried their house as well as the occupants.

The county is now nearly depopulated. Scientists and reporters by the train carload have poured into the area. Their numbers were so vast that there wasn’t enough transportation or accommodation for them all.

Note: The Texas meteor gained notoriety in London and Paris. Many reporters came to search for the meteor before they realized who authored it. It’s estimated that six colleges sent people to investigate.

According to Mulhatton, many of these reporters wandered the Texas wilderness for weeks in hopes of finding the space rock. Many were too afraid to return to their home country without a good story so they settled in the area. The reporter from the London Times operated a saloon in Cheyenne. The reporter for the Paris Temps was a barber on Delaware Street. The Chow-Chow reporter from Hong Kong owned a laundry on Franklin Avenue, in St. Louis.


Big Clifty Picnic (1884)

“The ride down the Paducah and Elizabethtown Railroad was unusually pleasant. There was an epidemic of picnics and barbeques, invitations were issued at every station. There were so many invitations we couldn’t attend them all.

“We attended the picnic in Big Clifty, my native town. All the ladies were present and made the event splendid. All of the big guns in the county were there: Hon. Practor Knott, Dr. Duvall, Sam Goodman, Mr. William Evans, of Evans, Staadake & Co., of Litchfield, Mr. Wortham, of McCall & Wortham, Cliff and Steve, and the hero of Big Clifty. There were a great many other big guns and good guns and sons of guns.

“We witnessed a thousand other Honorables, but no Dishonorables, as the festival was very select, and was attended only by nice people—gentlemen, ladies, and big guns like the Hon. Proctor Knott and the Hero of Big Clifty. It is estimated that 30,000 people attended the event.” 

Note: This is an excerpt of the tale that got Mulhatton “kidnapped” by a gang of outlaws.


Farming with Geese (1886)

A central Georgia Farmer has driven a dozen geese into his cotton fields. He repeats this process every morning, but with good reason. He fills several gourds [hollowed out, dried squash] with water and ties them around the geeses’ necks. The gourds have an opening on the side. He has trained his geese to weed his cotton patch and they drink from one another’s gourd. A magnificent mineral in the water allows him to train his geese to outperform all others.


Star of Bethlehem (1887)

People of Kentucky have witnessed a new star in the sky that’s identical to the Star of Bethlehem, as followed by the wise men in the Scripture.

Note: The eminent astronomer, Richard A. Proctor, actually took the time to disprove this claim. Professor Pickering, of Harvard University, likewise objected to the story and declared it was erroneous.


Miracle Birth (1887)

Mrs. Julia Nash gave birth to a posthumous child. The baby boy is remarkable because his grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother are still alive. He represents the 5th generation. His father died one month earlier.


Defending the Drummer (1887)

Walter Ridgeley, of Omaha, Nebraska, killed six members of the outlaw Murphy gang. He defended an innocent drummer.

Note: Mulhatton was a drummer and a telegram sent to Omaha’s mayor proved the story was fiction.


The Death of Cole Younger (1887)

Cole Younger, notorious outlaw, has drowned in Wyoming.

Note: At the time of the story, Younger was in prison with his two brothers. Younger caught wind of the story and had a laugh at his supposed demise. He said he would run the risk of being drowned if he would be released from the pen. Editors soon realized that Mulhatton was in that region.


The Perpetual Dress and other Tidbits (1889)

Recently, a gentleman came forward who said he still had a piece of his grandmother’s dress. It was made from her own cotton, grown 125 years earlier on the family farm in Shelby County, Kentucky.

The cotton was grown precisely 11 years before Kentucky existed.

A trunk was found in Harrodsburg that came over on the Mayflower. It’s rumored to be in fine state and owned by a man who was 116 years old.

Lastly, a Mercer County man got his finer tangled in the plow line. It was pulled out by the roots. He wrapped his wound and continued plowing.



The Arbor Diaboll (1890)

A party of scientists has discovered the Arbor Diaboll tree in Mexico. This carnivorous plant preys upon any creature that climbs to its branches. It folds the branches around its victim and devours them whole. Its favorite foods appear to be wild cats, birds, and other tree animals.

Note: It is also believed Mulhatton wrote about magnetic cacti that stalked humans, but no further information can be located.


Frozen in Mississippi (1891)

Last week in Mississippi, the thermostat registered a balmy 75 degrees. The farm hands were harvesting a crop of popping corn, but finished around mid-day on Saturday. The farm owner gave them the rest of the weekend off. The group left the farm to go into town.

Unfortunately, the crib [storage shed] where the corn was housed caught fire. All of the corn popped and flew over the land. So much corn exploded that the ground turned white before it stopped.

A 28-year-old mule was tied in the barn. Due to poor vision from age, and the fact that it was a mule, it believed the white around the barn was snow and quickly froze to death.


Hazelton Gone! (1894)

The village of Scotch Valley, near Hazelton, Kentucky, has just been swallowed up by the ground.


The Balloon Tragedies (1894)

Miss Beatrice Van Dresden, an accomplished balloonist, encountered tragedy in the state of New York. While ascending, as she’d done so many times before, she fell 1,500 feet to her death. She’d ascended 20 times before and had never encountered any problems.


A child spent her summer on the lake with her family. She was enjoying the short when an Italian balloon salesman passed by. He held a bunch of balloons in each hand. She begged her mother for a balloon and the mother consented.

Her mother paid the balloon salesman, but he had to make change. He handed the entire bunch to the little girl to hold while he did.

Before the two adults realized it, the little girl had been lifted high above. Luckily, a rifle marksman was also staying at the resort who heard their cries. He shot one balloon at a time until the child was lowered to safety.

Note: Miss Dresden encountered a horrible experience, but fortunately, no such person exists. The child at the lake is also fictitious.


Hobo Horrors (1895)

Joe Mulhatton told reporters about the murderous Southern Pacific railroad employees. He had taken to living as a hobo, despite claiming to have means, just to see what he could see across the nation. He was stunned by the atrocities and cruelties exhibited by the rail personnel.

He claimed that a brakeman threw a poor Russian Jew from a moving train near Mohawk Summit in California. He helped bury him. They were trying to go east. Another hobo was killed when a conductor kicked him in the jaw. There were three murders, altogether, between Mohawk Summit and Salton Station. Two old Germans and a Swede, named Peter Johnson, were all thrown from the train.

On a side note, Mulhatton never said exactly how he escaped the brakeman’s brutality. It’s also interesting to note that Salton Station is now submerged beneath the Salton Sea.


The Seven Monkeys of Joe Park’s Ranch (1895)

Joe Parks, Louisville planter, has discovered a way to work his farm for a fraction of the cost. Parks imported seven simians from Africa and they’ve successfully learned to pick cotton. He declared he was getting rid of all his hired help now that he had monkeys who could help him. They require little care, no pay, and will help him earn even more.

Note: Mulhatton read an article about P.T. Barnum’s experiments with training elephants when he got the idea. Joe Parks was an incredibly successful planter in Louisville Parks, Kentucky. He also had to leave the country for a few weeks after this story was published. Mulhatton always felt bad that Parks endured the trouble. The “field hand” workers throughout the Southeast were enraged by the article.

The story was so convincing that the Knights of Labor of Kentucky union got involved. They denounced the importation of monkey labor from Africa. The organization declared it was worse than even the importation of European pauper labor. The organization threatened with strikes, riots, and bloodshed.

England’s The London Standard also got in on the discussion. The paper authored an article titled “The New Labor Problems” and devoted a column and a half to Joe Park’s situation.


The Ink Well (1896)

Residents of Dawson, Kentucky, have just discovered a marvelous natural ink well. Hundreds have already carried bottles away. A group of people had been digging a cistern when they happened upon the flowing ink. The substance flows freely from pens and dries quickly. It looks no different from synthetic ink. It is currently being analyzed by a battery of scientists.


The Edible Heat Wave (1899)

The weather is so hot in Richmond, Kentucky, that popcorn pops on the stalk. Squire Kinnard said his sweet potatoes were baked in the ground, so they’re ready to eat when he digs them up. Bright Swineboard said his sorghum patch produced molasses from the stalk. The sun’s heat has boiled it down before it comes out.


The Ripsey Meteor (1900)

A meteor careened over the Ripsey Mine, in Pinal County, Arizona. The fireball killed and mutilated thousands of sheep.

Note: This is one of Mulhatton’s best as it was even circulated by the Associated Press. A party from Harvard decided to investigate the meteor, despite the fact that not a single scientific body had vouched for the claim. They even had a special car made so they could approach the hot meteor. Mulhatton regretted writing this due to the inconvenience it caused. He said himself that if he could’ve reimbursed the men for their time and effort, he would’ve.


Evil Sun Spots (unknown)

Astronomers are warning people about the dangers of detached sunspots. These evil entities are fired from the sun and can wreak havoc on the earth.


The Standing Dead (unknown)

A wagon was traveling through Texas when a sudden storm arose. Seven passengers traveled in a wagon drawn by two mules. The storm was fierce and the wagon tossed as it traveled across the sands. To avoid further danger, the drivers ran the carriage under a massive tree. Lightening struck the tree and electrocuted all passengers and mules. The bodies were found as they were in life. The skeletons sat upright as if the wagon still moved, and the mules stood upright, as if they still pulled the wagon. The deaths were so sudden, no bodies moved from their position.


The Generator (unknown)

Authorities are examining a man who can generate electricity with his body. The electricity produced is so powerful it renders snake venom, even from the deadliest snakes, harmless. He has released a sworn statement that he’s killed 17,000 snakes just this season.


The Iowa Flood (unknown)

A river broke out in Iowa while a farmer dug a well. He hit a vein of water that gushed forth and wore the sides of the hole away. By the next morning, the hole was as big as a 50-gallon barrel. By that evening, it was as large as a bank vault. Local people have been forced to move to higher ground.

Note: A boy in Iowa read the story and believed it to be true. He rode for miles to get a copy of his paper, only to find there was no mention. He couldn’t understand why no other newspapers in his area would mention it.

Years later, this same boy had the opportunity to ask Mulhatton why he didn’t write more on the river. Mulhatton said he had other things on his mind to keep the story going.



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