1934-08 The Squeaking Goblin

Cover Date: August 1934
Volume 3 # 6
Copyright Date: July 20, 1934
Author: Lester Dent
Editor: John Nanovic
WHMC: The collection contains nine folders for this story, f.188-196
Recurring Characters. The entire Iron Crew are all present in this story.


The Squeaking Goblin by Kenneth Robeson
Arctic Justice by George Allan Moffatt
Chartered Escape By John H. Compton
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The 1933 movie “Night of Terror” has some parallels to the Doc Savage story. There is a fortune to be divided between the survivors. A killer known as the “Maniac” is killing off the heirs. The killer turns out to be someone who faked his own death. The story also involves a compound that replaces oxygen similar to the idea in “Mystery Under the Sea.”

The basic idea behind this story is a tontine. Modern readers might best think of this as a death lottery or a life insurance annuity. In the scheme, members each pays in an equal amount of money to the tontine. Different versions existed with subsidies being paid out of interest earnings, but in its most extreme version, the sole survivor received the entire amount left in the account, usually making the survivor a very wealthy person.

The name tontine is derived from the name of the originator, Lorenzo de Tonti (1602-1684).

The idea for the story may have germinated from a story in Time Magazine dated June 6, 1932. Titled, “INDIA: $120,000,000 Mother,” the article tells the story of Armenian merchant Eli Amirhanian who passed away in 1882. Before his death, the merchant prince established a trust fund to manage his estate for the next fifty years. Nothing was paid to the heirs at time of Amirhanian’s death. All payments were deferred for fifty years. The fortune is now valued at $120 million.

St Louis Post Dispatch, Monday, May 23, 1932

The personal for Black Raymond may have been derived from the novel “The Sea Hawk” by Rafael Sabatini. The story revolves around the jealously of the younger brother of an established English family. Sir Oliver Tressilian is accused of a crime and then kidnapped and sold into slavery by his younger brother. Oliver ends up in the hands of Moorish pirates where his fighting ability is recognized and put to good use. He rises to a high position in the pirate ranks. Oliver eventually returns to England and clears his name. The book came out in 1915. A silent film version was released in 1924.


One likely basis for the feud in the story is the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. The fictional Raymond-Snow feud locale is in Kentucky. The real-life Hatfield-McCoy feud took place along the Tug Fork River which borders Kentucky and West Virginia.  In reality, the action was hot and heavy around Manchester, Kentucky in September 1932. The Commonwealth attorney was assassinated as part of a feud that had been going on for twenty-five years.  The governor ordered the national guard to Manchester to maintain order.  

September 19, 1932

This was not an isolated incident.  The Kentucky papers carried many articles during 1932-1933 dealing with various feuds and killings.

October 16, 1933

Chelton Raymond obviously has a confederate who poses as the Squeaking Goblin from time to time. This is evidenced in the first chapter when the Goblin is seen shooting at Raymond’s yacht which is anchored a mile offshore. Raymond appears a few minutes later after the shooting. It would be impossible for him to arrive unnoticed from the shore in that short time period.

MAY 1949 – Action Comics 132 has a story The Secret of the Kents. Someone is trying to kill people named Kent. Clark receives a letter from Rufe Dorgan who vows to kill all the Kents. Old family papers reveal the existence of the Dorgan-Kent feud. The treasure of this story is a promissory note signed by George Washington for $2,000 plus compounded interest given to Ely Kent. The basic premise of the story is similar to the plot for “The Squeaking Goblin” from August 1934. This same issue has a third Superman story where it is explained the Fortress of Solitude is in the polar region.

Action Comics 132

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.