Research Publications

Harpe Brothers


Who Were the Harpes?

         Little is known of the backgrounds of the two men whom an early historian called "the most brutal monsters of the human race." One was Micajah, or Big Harpe, and the other was Wiley, also known as Little Harpe. Together they were responsible for one of the earliest recorded rampages of what today would be called serial killings. In the years 1797-1799, they murdered a stunning number of hapless farmers and travelers in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois. Few were spared. Men, women, children, even babies, were numbered among their victims. The Harpes were indeed diabolical in the treatment of their prey. Persons were often mutilated. A knife was driven so deeply into the body of Mary Stegall, one of the victims, that the fires of the burning cabin did not scorch the weapon's handle. The Harpes may well have invented or introduced to the frontier the gruesome practice of disposing of bodies by eviscerating the corpse, filling the cavity with rocks, and sinking the body in a river. No one knows how many persons the Harpes murdered. Historian Otto A. Rothert puts the number at twenty-eight, while Paul Wellman holds that thirty-nine persons died at the hands of the Harpes. (The discrepancy results primarily from the uncertainty as to whether the Harpes were indeed responsible for the murder of three men at the mouth of the Saline River in Illinois and the ambush of the Trisword family and its slaves.)

         Mystery surrounds origins of the Harpe brothers. Some persons have questioned whether indeed they were brothers; perhaps they were cousins. Their appearances differed. Micajah, or Big Harpe, was described as tall, with close-cropped black kinky hair and unusually reddish skin. Wiley, or Little Harpe, was at times described as having black hair, but in fact he seems to have been red-headed. Micajah Harpe was said to have spoken with a noticeable Scottish burr. Both Harpes were also rumored to have had some black ancestry. Micajah's appearance lends some credence to this belief. Evidently both brothers were born and reared in North Carolina. There Micajah married Susan Roberts. Her sister, Betsey, came to live with them and became, as some historians have called her, Micajah's "supplementary" wife. Susan, however, was rather plain, while Betsey's beauty was well known. The Harpes migrated with the two women and apparently joined up with several renegade Indians, outcasts from their own tribe. Later the Harpe brothers, along with Susan Harpe and Betsey Roberts, settled near Knoxville, Tennessee. There Wiley Harpe courted and wed Sally Rice, the daughter of John Rice, a respected minister. Nevertheless, the brothers disregarded traditional marital guidelines and shared the three women sexually.

         In summary, little definite can be said about the brothers' ethnic background or that of the Roberts sisters. Little is known about the five persons who made up the Harpe band.

 The Gory Career of the Harpes

1. The Beginning: Tennessee

The Harpes probably committed their first murder during their early migrations. The apparent victim was Moses Doss, a rowdy who seemingly was one of their fellows. Quite likely he became interested in one or both of the Roberts sisters. His mutilated body was discovered in 1797 on an isolated road near a Cherokee village in eastern Tennessee. Indians were not suspected. The furious hacking and slashing of the bodies would become the trademark of the Harpes. Besides, the Harpes had apparently spent some time with these Indians and very likely had been near the site of the murder. Hence, they remain prime suspects.

         Once established in Knoxville area, the Harpe brothers began a business of supplying a merchant named John Miller with meat. However, the supply's source was stolen sheep and pigs. The Harpes graduated in their business enterprises to horse stealing. A farmer named Tiel suspected them of stealing two of his horses and gathered a band of regulators (a volunteer posse) to capture the Harpes. The brothers, however, fled. The three Harpe women likewise abandoned the small farm near Beaver Creek and journeyed on a separate course to meet the brothers at a predetermined hideout. This is the first of two occasions where these women had the opportunity to escape from the brothers but instead journeyed miles through the wilderness to rejoin them.

         Meanwhile, the Harpes were captured by Tiel and his fellows but managed to escape. Sometime later they burst into an inn near Knoxville and kidnapped a man named Johnson, who might well have reported the brother's nefarious businesses to Tiel and others. Johnson was brutally murdered, his body eviscerated, his stomach filled with stones, and the corpse hurled into the Holston River. However, some of the rocks became dislodged, and the corpse bobbed to the surface.


2. Kentucky

         The Harpes rejoined their three female companions at the corner of Virgina in the Cumberlands and then ventured into Kentucky. Along the way they murdered a solitary peddler named Peyton. The Harpe gang's next victim was Stephen (aka Thomas) Langford. The outlaws and their female followers entered an inn along the Wilderness Trail. When asked if they wished breakfast, they told the inn keeper that they had no money. Langford, who was then eating, decided to be a Good Samaritan--much to his own peril. He bought the group breakfast and left the inn with what he assumed were new friends. A few days later his body was discovered in the forest by some drovers, whose cattle were upset by the smell of blood.

         The next two victims were Bates and Paca, two Marylanders traveling into Kentucky to purchase land. The Harpes seemingly befriended them in the wilderness but led them to slaughter, despoiling the bodies.

         The Harpes, described by persons at the inn, were immediately suspected of Langford's death. Captain Joseph Ballenger, a seasoned Indian fighter, gathered a band of regulators and caught up with the brothers and their female followers. Strangely the brothers seemed passive and surrendered without threats. They and the women were eventually jailed in Danville, Kentucky, to await their trials. All five were to be tried for Stephen Langford's murder.

         On the night of March 16, 1779, brothers escaped from the jail, leaving the women behind. A band of regulators set off after them; but, strangely enough, most of its members fled when they came upon the no longer passive Harpes. Soon after followed one of the grimmest episodes of the Harpes' bloody history. Johnny Trabue, the son of Daniel Trabue, a well-known land owner and former soldier, was accosted by the Harpes, brutally mutilated, and killed. Their apparent motive was to steal a bag of flour the lad was carrying homeward from a mill. The Harpes vanished into the wilderness.

         On April 15, the trials of the three women began in Danville for the murder of Stephen Langford. The homely Susan was found guilty, but her sister Betsy and Sally Rice Harpe were set free. Since all were tried on the same evidence, the court reconsidered Susan's conviction and overturned it. Proclaiming that they would never again join the brothers, the three female renegades then won the sympathy of the good citizens of Danville, who supplied them with food, clothing, and a horse for their proposed return to Knoxville. However, the women changed course to rejoin the brothers. The women's trek was more arduous than earlier ones, for during their confinements, each had given birth to a child.

3. Cave-in-Rock, Illinois

         The rendezvous was evidently set at the notorious Cave-in-Rock in southern Illinois. Wide but not deep, the cave, set in a wall of gray rock running along the Ohio River, could look deceptively peaceful, but in the day before the radio, television, and the internet, hapless travelers along the river were unaware of its danger. It was the hangout of Samuel Mason and his gang of river pirates.

         A former Revolutionary War hero and friend of George Rogers Clark, Mason had gathered a band of cutthroats and robbers. They preyed upon flatboats traveling along the Ohio. Generally serving two to four families, these boats conveyed settlers toward virgin territory. Generally these vessels included clothing, utensils, livestock--items that could be sold down river, especially in New Orleans. Often using an apparently stranded woman and child as decoys, the bandits would lure the boats to the river side, then slaughter the travelers, then take the boat down river to be sold along with its cargo.

         Here the brothers rejoined their female accomplices and probably took part in some of the raids Mason planned. But all did not go well with this evidently fragile alliance. The Harpes took a male prisoner, captured during one of the flatboat raids, to the top of the high cliff overlooking the cave, tied him naked to the back of a horse, and drove the blindfolded animal over the edge of the precipice to the dismay of Mason and his cohorts. Because of this grotesque shenanigan--or possible others--Mason expelled the brothers and their women from the cave.

4.  Back to Tennessee

         The Harpe band returned to Tennessee and the Knoxville area--evidently seeking vengeance. Their intended victim was Hugh Dunlap. However, in the darkness outside Dunlap's home, the brothers erred and killed William Ballard. Again the brothers fled into Kentucky and returned to the western part of the state. During this ramble occurred one of the most savage episodes of the brothers' career. Evidently devoid of paternal instincts, the brothers had barely tolerated the crying infants. One night, Micajah Harpe, enraged by the tears of his own child by Sally Rice Harpe, seized the infant from her and murdered it, presumably by slinging its head against a tree.

         The Harpe band wound its way to the far western party of the state. Their motives in making this choice are obscure. Apparently they wished to murder a local justice of the peace, Silas Magby (aka McBee), presumably because this sturdy frontiersman had a reputation of being hard on criminals. The Harpes themselves apparently had no encounters with Magby.

         The downfall of the Harpe band began with their untimely visit to the cabin of Moses and Mary Stegall. Evidently the Harpes had known the Stegalls in Knoxville. Perhaps Moses Stegall had abetted their criminal activities. The relationship between these persons remains murky. The Stegalls might have put up the Harpe band for several nights at the cabin. If so, several nights later the brothers returned and asked for lodging. However, earlier that evening Mary Stegall had agreed to allow a Major Love, a surveyor, to spend the night. Her husband had evidently forgotten that the Major was to call that day upon business and had gone out into the woods to spend the night and set traps. No one can be certain how events unraveled that night, but the Harpes axed Major Love to death, killed the Stegall's infant son, while driving a knife so deeply into the body of his mother, Mary Stegall, that the flames of the cabin set on fire did not scorch the handle of the knife.

         Evidently a partial motivation for these crimes was to decoy Silas Magby into a trap. The brothers hid beside the road Magby would ride from his cabin to investigate the fire. However, Magby elected another route. The Harpe brothers vented their disappointment and frustration upon two men, Hutchens and Gilmore, who happened to travel down the dangerous road.

5. Magby’s Band of Avengers

         Magby then got up a band of regulators to deal with the Harpes. Stricken, savagely angered by the deaths of his wife and son, Stegall volunteered to join the group. Among the other regulators were William Grissom, Matthew Christian, James Tompkins, and Neville Lindsey. The final member was John Leiper, a newcomer to the area. Some mystery shadows his reputation. Seemingly he had known the Harpes before their coming to western Kentucky.

         The band set out on a hot August afternoon. The trail of the Harpes, who had rejoined their women, was fairly easy to follow. The following day the regulators caught up with the band when they discovered Micajah and Wiley Harpe talking with a stranger. The Harpes fled in different directions. The regulators were distracted by the third man, who ran toward them but then bolted toward a nearby tree. Magby fired, wounding the man, who happened to be George Smith, who lived in the vicinity. He had just encountered the Harpes and was fearful of his life when Magby's band appeared. The regulators realized that the Harpe band could not be far. They mounted a hill and discovered a small cave, where the outlaws and their women had been camping. Sally Rice Harpe, evidently abandoned by the others, pointed the direction in which the mounted Micajah Harpe and the two Roberts women had fled.

         The chase resumed. Soon Susan Harpe and Betsey Roberts were apprehended. With John Leiper taking the lead, the band followed Micajah Harpe's trail. The caught up with him by a cane break. A ball from Leiper's rifle shattered Harpe's spine, but Micajah Harpe had enough energy to goad his horse into the brake. The pursuers caught up with him on the other side. The willingness to fight had left the brigand. Leiper and Christian lowered him from his mount to the ground beneath a tree. As the others drew near, Harpe, still able to speak, apparently told of many of his crimes, supplying the listeners with facts. Eventually Stegall arrived. Bitterly he asked how long they would keep Harpe alive. Two versions occur of what follows. Declaring that he wanted Harpe's head, Stegall killed the outlaw with a bullet and then cut off his head. The other version reports that Stegall suddenly decided against the fatal shot and, taking knife in hand, decapitated the still living renegade.

6. The End of the Reign of Terror

         With these events, the Harpe's reign of terror ended. The vigilantes returned to the area around Robertson's Lick, and Stegall after sharpening a tree branch, jammed Micajah Harpe's head on it, leaving the grisly souvenir as a warning to other outlaws. The road leading south toward the present town of Dixon, Kentucky, for a long time thereafter was known as "Harpe's Head Road."

         The Harpe women were tried for the murders at the Stegall cabin. Again they were acquitted. Betsey Roberts eventually married a John Hufstetter. The couple settled, along with her son, as tenants on the plantation near Russellville of Colonel Anthony Butler. Susan and her daughter, Lovey, took a cabin on the plantation, but the widow did not remarry. Sally Harpe apparently remarried. Some years later she was seen with a grown child, her father, Parson Rice, and a man, apparently her husband, migrating into Illinois.

         Of course, Wiley Harpe was still at large. He changed his modus operandi and teamed up with Samuel Mason. Assuming the name of James Setton, Wiley Harpe traveled about with James May, another outlaw, committing robberies along the Natchez Trace. Eventually the price on Mason's head became too tempting. Harpe and May betrayed Mason and brought the outlaw's head to the authorities. However, a John Bowman, a former antagonist of Wiley Harpe, happened to be in town and recognized the criminal. He claimed that if Setton were indeed Harpe, a scar left by a knife wound would be on his left breast. For Bowman himself had given Harpe the wound. Harpe was forced to remove his shirt; the scar was discovered, and Harpe and May were incarcerated. However, both escaped. They were captured some time later, and their heads were mounted along the Trace as a warning to other outlaws.Historical marker in Dixon, KY, marking the place where Harpe's head was hung

 Motivations of the Harpe Brothers’ Crimes

         Here again were stand on uncertain ground. Almost certainly the Harpe family was Tories during the Revolution. Their father evidently fought for the British at King's Mountain, one of the decisive battles of the Revolution. The brothers' Tory sympathies are born out by Micajah Harpe's words to Lambuth, an itinerant preacher and one of few persons to survive a woodland meeting with the pair. After the brothers had robbed him, Micajah Harpe opened Lambuth's Bible and saw the name of George Washington written there. He is supposed to have said, "That was a brave and good man, but a mighty rebel against the king." Thereupon Micajah Harpe handed back to Lambuth the Bible and money. As the two rode off, they called after him, "We're the Harpes!" Quite clearly, even though Micjach Harpe admired Washington, his sympathies were with the king. Indeed very likely bitterness caused by the Revolution actuated the Harpes to enact a wild vengeance.

         But this motive is unlikely to be the sole one. The Harpes were said to believe that they had been predestined by God from the beginning of time to commit murders. Indeed some sort of fascination with religion--perhaps even a mania--seems to have possessed at least Micjah Harpe, as evidenced by his sparing Lambuth. Later the Harpes disguised themselves as ministers and sought sanctuary at site of a recent revival. But again a religiously-oriented psychosis seems to be unlikely to be the sole cause of their rampage.

         Very likely Micajah Harpe was paranoid and suffered some psychotic delusions. His legal wife, Susan, testified that because of his guilt, he at times was convinced that the ground was shaking. Wiley also might have been paranoid, but he also could have been psychopathic.

         One aspect is very clear. The murders were not sexual. No evidence exists that any of the victims were sexually assaulted, nor is there a hint that the brothers' gained sexual release from their acts of mayhem. However, the mutilations of some bodies suggest that the pair were actuated by a wild, indiscriminate hatred of humanity. Indeed they seem to have been arch misanthropes. Perhaps the following statement of J. M. Beazeale, an early historian, though melodramatic to modern ears, captures the essence of the Harpes' behavior. He observes that they killed "not for spoil or plunder, but for the gratification of a hellish thirst for carnage, and a fiendish delight in human misery, that none could possess, but a devil incarnate, carrying within his unnatural and accursed bosom, all the rankling and burning furies of the infernal regions."

         One can speculate as to the reasons for their savage rampage, but all one can really do is guess. Very likely more than one of these suggested motives were at works behind the murders, but to what extent this is true is difficult to assess.

A Selected Bibliography of Writings on the Harpes

Breazeale, J. W. M. Life as It Is. 1842. Nashville: Charles Elder, 1969.

Pritchard, James M. “Blood Trail, Mass Murder on the Kentucky Frontier.” Kentucky Humanities Apr. 2005: 3-8.

Rothert, Otto. A. The Outlaws of Cave-In-Rock. 1924: Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 1996.

Snively, Jr. W. D., and Louanna Ferbie. Satan’s Ferryman, A True Tale of the Old Frontier. New York: Ungar, 1968.

Wellman, Paul. Spawn of Evil. New York: Doubleday, 1964.

Necrology of Those Killed by the Harpes
(Early Records Do Not Give Full Names of All Persons.)

  • Mr. William Ballard, a man mistakenly killed instead of Hugh Dunlap, an enemy of the Harpes, possibly instrumental in their being driven from Knoxville
  • Mr. Bates, a Marylander looking for land
  • Mr. Paca, Mr. Bates' fellow traveler
  • Mr. Bradbury
  • Mr. James Brassel, a traveler murdered by the Harpes, whose brother escaped
  • M. Coffey, a boy
  • Mr. Dooley
  • Mr. Moses Doss, a man possibly making advances toward one of the Harpe women.
  • Mr. Gilmore, Hutchens' friend and neighbor, killed after the murders at the Stegall farm
  • Mr. Hutchens, Gilmore's friend and neighbor, killed after the murders at the Stegall farm
  • Mr. John Graves, a farmer
  • M. Graves, thirteen-year-old son
  • Mr. Johnson, a possible betrayer of the Harpes to local authorities
  • Mr. Stephen Langford, a traveler who befriended the Harpe Band
  • Major Love, a surveyor killed while visiting the Stegalls
  • Mr. Peyton, a peddler
  • Mrs. Mary Stegall, wife of Moses Stegall
  • M. James Stegall, their infant son
  • Mr. Stump
  • M. Johnny Trabue, a 13 year old boy
  • The Trisword family along with black slaves [1] (Possibly 10 persons) [2]
  • Mr. Trowbridge
  • John Tully
  • A small unidentified black lad
  • A small unidentified girl [3]
  • Three unidentified men killed at the mouth of the Saline River in Illinois [4]
  • Unidentified man killed at Cave-in-Rock in Southern Illinois

Rothert lists the total number of the Harpes' victims as 28; Wellman believes that the number indeed could have reached 39. These authorities and other writers agree that actual number could be greater. No one can estimate how many isolated persons were killed whose bodies were never found.

[1] Rothert likewise disbelieves that the Harpes were to blame for these homicides because of the rumor that two Indians assisted them and asks where the brothers could have found such emergency allies. Wellman, however, believes that the presence of the Indians was an inaccuracy and accepts the crime as a Harpe killing.

[2] The exact number of slain persons is unrecorded. The family comprised two brothers and their wives and children, along with a unspecified number of slaves.

[3] She is thought to be Micajah Harpe's own child.

[4] Rothert doubts that the Harpes were responsible for this killing.

Harpe Update

        Since the publication of Wilderness of Tigers: A Novel of the Harpe Brothers and Frontier Violence, I have been contacted by persons who have special interest in the Harpe Brothers as well as those who are related to the brothers. Some of these people have informed me of tales, traditions, and speculations about the brothers that have been handed down. I here include a listing of and discussion of some items of intriguing information, including some of my own.

        ROBERT ALLEN, of Madisonville, Tennessee, who formerly taught at Murray State but now teaches at Hiwassee, reports that he is related to Stephan Langford (a.k.a. Thomas Langford), who was murdered by the Harpes near Crab Orchard, Kentucky. Langford, of course, befriended the Harpe band at an inn, paid for their breakfast, but made the mistake of setting out with the Harpes and their women. Langford was never seen again.

        According to Robert, “As to the victim of the Harp brothers…the relative of mine who was killed was Stephen Langford whose wife was a Singleton.  His wife's brother, William Singleton, was my great grandfather. Tradition has it that Langford was a Tory and had to leave Brunswick Co. VA, after the Revolution. (Most of her kin, including my ancestor, were pro-Revolution, and another brother was Richard Singleton, the hero of the Battle of Kings Mountain, in NC)  Langford was killed by the Harpes en route to Crab Orchard, KY in 1798.  I understand his family still has descendants living around Crab Orchard.”

        E. DON HARPE, formerly of Nashville, now of Georgia, is a songwriter, poet, and novelist. He has had a varied career, and his occupations include having been an engineer for a major appliance firm, and a songwriter who has seen many of his songs recorded and who for years ran his own music publishing company. Now retired, E. Don Harpe devotes his time to writing fiction. Currently he is at work on a series of novels about the Harpe brothers. Born Wolf, Die Wolf, The Last Rampage of the Terrible Harpes appeared in February, 2006. The next installment, Resurrection, Rebirth of the Terrible Harpes, appeared in 2006.  Don injects an element of the supernatural into his novels. In his story Micajah Harpe is possessed by wolf spirit of Native American folklore. Resurrection deals with the unleashing of this same spirit in our contemporary world.

        E. Don Harpe is also the author of a series of humorous short stories concerning the adventures of an alien named JorG and his earthling friend Billy Joe White, who attempts to guide him over the confusing terrain of contemporary southern culture. These stories are in progress and are being published as part of the Amazon Shorts program. The first of these tales is “Redneck Rivier.” You might check these out. They are indeed entertaining.

        E. Don Harpe tells me that, according to tradition, he is part of the same family branch that included Micajah and Wiley. For several generations his family preferred to remain silent about this topic, not mentioning it to outsiders, and only passing along the family connection to other members of the family.

        DONNA SHEARER of Danville, Kentucky, was formerly married to a Harp. She was particularly struck by the disclosure in Wilderness that Wiley had webbed toes. (An historical fact uncovered in my research for the novel.) For webbed toes was a dominant hereditary trait of the Harp men in her former husband’s family. She wrote the following: “It has always been a family "joke" that in the Harp (they do not use the "e") family many individuals are born with "webbed" toes.”

        EMBER TAPP, a student at Murray State University, grew up in Webster country, near to the historical marker indicating the place were Micajah Harpe's head was supposedly mounted. She has also heard the rumor that the actual spot was further along the road.

        I, KENNETH TUCKER, am able to add a bit of intriguing speculation. In the summer 2004, before Wilderness was published, I drove to Dixon, Kentucky, to check up on local lore and to visit the roadside spot where Micajah’s head was mounted. An historical marker indicates the place. After I had photographed the marker, a resident of Dixon informed me that according to a local tradition, the marker has been erroneously placed. Historically, Stegall mounted the head at a place were several crossroads joined. He hoped to warn to any wandering outlaw of a similar fate. No crossroads currently exist near the bisecting highway where the marker stands (although they could have existed in the past). Some people of Dixon hold that the historical spot is a few miles northward along the highway, where several roads do intersect. Who is right? Perhaps an energetic historian will solve the puzzle. (Photos of theses possible sites are displayed elsewhere the webpage.)

        MARGARET VAUGHN of Murray, Kentucky, grew up near Dixon, Kentucky, in Webster County. She told me that when she was in high school during the fifties, a local tradition was for teenagers to go alone, on Halloween night, to the site where Micajah Harpe’s head was displayed. Presumably anyone undertaking this teenage rite of passage was required to leave some trinket or personal object as proof of the owner’s courage in venturing upon the eerie spot. I do not know whether this tradition teenage derring-do survives.

        AMY BURNS WILLIAMS of Mesa, Arizona, wrote: "My great-aunt married a Harp (no e) and one of her three children (my mother's first cousins) has determined that it is indeed the same lot. Of course my great-aunt wouldn't hear of it. She always cut a very elegant figure and has traveled a lot. She once visited me in St. Thomas when she was on a cruise that went through the Panama Canal.

        This same great-aunt, Edmonia Harp, was a secretary in the Deptartment of Agriculture and to Murray State University president Ralph Woods from the mid-40s to the mid-50s until the entire family moved to southern California.My great-aunt then worked for the board of education in the Los Angeles County school district until died around 2 p.m. February 25. She was exactly 97 years and two months old. Her birthday was on Christmas (as was her sister's--my grandmother). She would most likely have been the oldest living former secretary to an MSU president.

        Both my great aunt and grandmother (whose family name was Sexton) began attending Murray State Teachers' College/Normal School during its first few years and got their teaching certificates. They had gone to and finished high school in Coshocton, Ohio, although their family is from Livingston County (my great-grandfather moved the family to Ohio for a number of years and worked in a steel mill/factory there). They both finished high school early (they were a year or two apart), and so they were young when they went to enroll in college back in Murray.

        Their pictures can be found in the early Murray State yearbooks. They each both taught for several years in Livingston County one-room schools.

        One member of the Harpe family informed me of a tradition that the father of the two brothers was named John. Furthermore, the mother of Wiley was John’s wife, but Micajah was sired upon a black slave woman. If this rumor is true, it would tend to confirm the contemporary rumors that Micajah had black kinky hair and mulatto characteristics. Although one account suggests that both brothers had dark hair, Wiley was generally described as red-headed.

        Both brothers make a cinematic appearance in 1941’s The Devil and Daniel Webster (aka, All That Money Can Buy). If you have seen the film, directed by William Dieterle and scripted by Dan Totheroh and Stephen Vincent Benet, you may recall that Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold) speaks before a jury of the damned to save the soul of Jabez Stone (James Craig), who has foolishly made a deal with the devil (Mr. Scratch), played by Walter Houston. The Harpes are summoned from hell to serve as jurors. Neither character speaks; both appear amid shadowy specters, who emerge from darkness to take their places upon the jury. Neither Harpe is mentioned, however, in the corresponding scene of the movie’s source, Benet’s classic short story “The Devil and Daniel Webster.”