|By Bob Weaver|
Most American's are appalled by the beheadings in the Middle East but
such brutal methods of execution, while not common, have taken place in
Saudi Arabia is much more accustomed, having 50 official state
beheadings a year, and then there is ISIS.
One such beheading reportedly occurred to Peter Augustus Saurborn
(pictured left), a Calhoun citizen and member of the Moccasin Rangers, the
notorious irregular Rebel band that operated in the area during the Civil
Saurborn was killed by Union soldiers on December 15, 1861 at the mouth of
Sinking Springs near the West Fork of the Little Kanawha.
"He was beheaded to make sure he was dead. That's the gruesome story that
has been passed down from one generation to the next in my family. The
soldiers took his wife and children out of their home
and burned it to the ground," wrote descendant Pam Drake of Tell City,
Saurborn, born in 1819, came to WV and then to Calhoun about 1840 from Prussia, a highly-educated man
who withdrew from becoming a priest.
He settled in the "big bend" section of the
Little Kanawha River below the Annamoriah Ferry.
He married Mary Jane Bennett and had seven children. None of his
descendants are now living in Calhoun County.
Historical records indicate his parents were Martin Saurborn and Franziska Flugel. His grandparents were Joannius Saurborn & Maria Anna Munsch & Franz Carl Flugel and Catharina Johanna Hisgene.
Saurborn operated a tannery along the river. Historian Boyd Stutler said he was a
postmaster and deputy sheriff. The post office was operated out of his home
While some of Saurborn's relatives claim he is buried in Bethlehem Cemetery, it
is more likely his body was returned to the Big Bend area with his wife being
buried in the Knight Cemetery.
Photo courtesy of Norma Knotts Shaffer's Calhoun History and Genealogy
Note: We acknowledge the contribution of ancestor Pam Drake to this story.
She resides at 1815 Pestalozzi St., Tell City, IN 47586.