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John Barney Stagner

Johann Bernhardt "John Barney" Stagner (1714 - June 22, 1777) was born in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. He moved his family to the fort at Harrodsburg because of constant conflict with Indians. Captain James Harrod named Stagner as keeper of the fort springs that were located about a half mile from the fort. His task was aggravated by the young boys who liked to throw rocks and gourds in the spring to tease "old man Stagner" (he was in his sixties).

John Barney apparently believed that he led a charmed life, often bragging "the Indians can't kill me, I'm too old". One day during an Indian attack, he made this remark to James Ray who suggested that they hoist John Barney to the top of the fort to see what would happen. John Barney begged to be excused and quickly changed the subject but probably didn't change his mind. A short time later on the night of June 22, 1777, he took his horse outside the fort to graze against Harrod's instructions and repeated warnings. He was killed by Indians at the springs, they cut off his head and placed it on a pole outside the fort. It was 3 days before his body could be recovered for burial.

For years after that superstition had it that old Barney's headless ghost could be seen around the old fort spring on moonlight nights. John Barney was buried in the Old Fort Cemetery about one eighth mile from where he was killed.

The will of John Barney Stagner, written October 10, 1775 and on file in Rowan County, North Carolina names his wife Elizabeth, two sons and six daughters. His entire estate was left to his wife and youngest son, James Barney. The oldest son, John and the six daughters were left, "one shilling, lawful money, Great Britain".

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