Saturday, May 30, 2009

You Are Who You Eat

Among its other features, the town of Thetford, Vermont, is home to Sawnee Bean Cemetery and Sawnee Bean Road. This is rather anomalous as Thetford is a very ordinary town, and Sawnee Bean was one of the most infamous killers in history.

Because of sheer brutality of his crimes, Alexander "Sawnee" (or "Sawney") Bean has entered the realm of folklore in much the same way as Jack the Ripper. It is difficult to determine which details of his life actually happened and which are fabrication. There are even those who postulate that Sawnee Bean is a mere bogeyman, and never existed to begin with. Assuming he was a real person, here are the details of his savage life.

Born in 16th century Scotland, Sawnee Bean demonstrated only misanthropy and malice. As a young man he departed to a cave near the ocean shore, bringing with him an equally monstrous wife. After a few years of robbing unlucky travelers, the Beans took to murdering and ultimately devouring the bodies of their victims. Later they had a few children, who joined in the family business of robbery and human-hunting when they became old enough.

Thanks to incest, the Bean clan soon blossomed to forty-eight troglodytic cannibals, and the now-crowded cave was strewn with bones. They had become too numerous to conceal their crimes from the outside world, and word spread of their man-eating ways. Finally, King James the First decided that he had enough of all this depravity and dispatched an army of four-hundred men to track down the Beans. The loathsome family was rounded up and taken to Edinburgh. The male Beans had their limbs cut off and were left to bleed to death. The women and children, after being forced to watch the previous executions, were burned at the stake. A happy tale, to be sure.

Presumably Thetford had a citizen with the unfortunate luck of sharing a name with this notorious figure, but perhaps the town decided for unknowable reasons to honor the Scottish cannibal. Could it be that Thetford is populated by Bean's man-eating descendants? It may be too terrible to imagine, but travelers are urged to keep their wits about them while passing through.

Would you like to know more?
-Mysterious Britain's entry on Sawney Bean
-Virtual Scotland's entry on Sawney Bean


  1. Bad Beans .
    No relation to L.L. ?

  2. It seems unlikely, as does Judge Roy and Orson, but stranger things have happened.