One of Guilford County's lesser-known legends involves a woman named Lillian Gadwick (1723–1781; see GC705N3), reputedly a practitioner of witchcraft, who resided in the area that is now Lake Townsend in northern Greensboro. The story goes that she lived alone in a cabin in the woods and was suspected of occasionally abducting and slaughtering children from the nearby community, then known as Capefair — though numerous investigations could produce no evidence of such deviltry. However, just prior to the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, a company of troops from General Cornwallis's advancing army came upon her cabin and caught her "rendering the fat" of several young children, which she presumably intended to consume as a means to enhance her supernatural abilities. Horrified by such unspeakable wickedness, the troops hanged her from a tree and burned her cabin to the ground, then departed to rejoin Cornwallis. However, the troops failed to report and, in fact, were never heard from again — except for one, who came back stark, raving mad. A scout was sent back to find the missing men but, at the site of Lillian Gadwick's cabin, discovered only a number of strange stick figures hanging from trees — forty-two to be precise, the same as the number of troops who had vanished. (Such "witch symbols" have been referenced in literature and movies, such as in Karl Edward Wagner's short story , "Sticks" and in the films The Blair Witch Project and its sequel, Blair Witch.)
Little else is known about Lillian Gadwick, but she reportedly kept as a familiar a strange creature called Oren Grey, which resembled a huge possum with a grotesque human face. (The witch Keziah Mason, as recounted in H.P. Lovecraft's story, "Dreams in the Witch House," kept a similar creature, named Brown Jenkin). Though no such creature as Oren Grey can actually be proven to exist, it was said to keep itself hidden in dark, hard-to-reach wooded areas, traditionally avoiding human contact except when it accompanied Lillian Gadwick on her unholy expeditions to abduct local children.
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