Most stories have some basis in fact or some seed from which the basic story idea springs. What could possibly be the origination of a spectral figure with a long mountain rifle shooting people in the mountains of Kentucky? One possible answer lies in the person of a Civil War era Tennessee plantation owner named Jack Hinson. At the start of the Civil War, Hinson was neutral and on friendly terms with both northern and southern military forces. In 1862, a Union officer executed Hinson’s two sons as guerrilla fighters. This incident led Jack Hinson to declare his own personal war against the United States Army. Hinson had a special .50 caliber Kentucky rifle made with an extra-long barrel before embarking on his own personal war. Hinson was an excellent marksman and it is reported that he killed men at distances greater than one-half mile. Throughout the remainder of the war he frequented the Between-the-Rivers region located on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.
The 1906 edition of Battles and Sketches of the Army of Tennessee by Bromfield L. Ridley has a section on Jack Hinson titled A Rifle with a Record. The article states that Hinson’s rifle, which still exists, has 36 marks on it for the men he had killed with it. Federal authorities placed a bounty on Hinson but he was never caught. Hinson survived the Civil War and died of old age in 1874.
It is interesting to note that in The Squeaking Goblin, Frosta Raymond tells Renny the number killed is “more than forty”. The Squeaking Goblin’s rifle is described as a thick, heavy muzzle-loader with an impressively long barrel. That is a very accurate description of Jack Hinson’s rifle which is well known in gun collecting circles. Did Lester Dent read about Captain Jack Hinson’s personal vendetta during the Civil War? That question will most likely forever remain unanswered but the facts are interesting.
Just like the Squeaking Goblin, there are other facts in this story that have real-life counterparts. The idea of an inheritance being delayed a number of years while it grows in value through interest and investment is not unique to our story. The May 23, 1932 issue of the St. Louis Post Dispatch carried an article describing that exact situation. Eli Amirhanian died in 1882 leaving his fortune to a trust fund with the stipulation that it be invested for 50 years before being paid to his heirs. The fortune was worth $120 million in 1932 and was being turned over Amirhanian’s granddaughter