Account supplied by Bob Johnston, Archivist for the Canada Ranch Archivist Coalition ( EST. 1905.) He approached the Tom Zombie Historical Society after discovering this account in their 2007 digitizing program.
(This is an excerpt from an unnamed Archivist’s Journal) This account was taken from a Gerald Smith on his deathbed. He was recounting a story his grandfather told him about the burial of the man now known only as “Tom”. They called Tom the “Crow Flower’s Widow” back in those days because they say he loved a native woman by that name. Legend has it she was murdered by the same conspirators who got to Tom.
March 24th, 1893 - "I was nearly fourty when gramps told me the story on his own deathbed. Said he had never told a soul because of his fear of being labeled unholy. He said he was there when they buried old Tom; that they was fearful of Tom because of the lasts words he had said. Don‘t know what them last words were but it was enough for the undertakers to put a grave alarm on him. You know one of those strings they tie to the dead man's toe, rigged up to a bell in the shovel shack. They have a lot fancier ones now but it was common back then too. Lots of people been accidentally buried alive I guess, I never saw it though. Hell of a shock to wake up too I imagine. Anyway, was a foggy night he said, out there digging another one with his partner when all of a sudden the bell starts ringing. Gramps said, at first, they figured it was some animal got into the shack but sure enough it was Tom‘s, just ringing like flies on a dead squirrel; nonstop like. Gramps said they both froze, couldn’t move at all for a long time, stunned stupid, just listening when suddenly the damn thing came flying off the wall it got yanked so hard. Thud, right there on the wood floor in front of them. He said that he went to get help while his partner grabbed up his shovel. Gramps told the gang at the local watering hole then went straight home. Coward maybe, but saved his life for sure. None of the men who went out there to dig old Tom up was ever seen alive again. Gramps said that when the wives and mothers of those men went out looking for them the next morning all they found was blood, lots and lots of blood, in a hole. The hole, they said was so big it looked like it had been dug by a dog as tall as a tree, right on top of where Tom had been buried. Hard to believe I know but to my mind it must be true. I know the place. It was right outside of Saint Thomas but that place isn’t a grave anymore, just a field. I’m in no shape to show you where but I did ask the farmer who tilled that land, years back, just after gramps died, if he ever found any bodies or anything strange out there. He said never, not even animal bones; happy as shit about it too. Great dirt for growing he said. Damndest thing I ever heard, just plain strange."
Bob Johnston, Archivist for the Canada Ranch Archivist Coalition ( EST. 1905.)
The Legend of Tom Zombie began in 1796 when a trapper named David Ramsey discovered the Trimeric Bell hidden in an Indian burial ground, somewhere around Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada.
Ramsey is said to have somehow discovered the bell’s power and learned to control it. He set his machinations upon Colonel Thomas Talbot, the story goes, because Ramsey was furious with Talbot for refuting his land claim and even going so far as setting his hounds on Ramsey outside Talbot’s cabin on the North Shore of Lake Erie. Records don't reveal the details of how but it’s said that when Talbot discovered Ramsey's plot to murder him he killed Ramsey discovering to his horror that Ramsey couldn’t die.
Two stories follow from this. One, that the undead madman was stopped and trapped in a tomb hidden somewhere around St. Thomas; the other that Ramsey lived a long life until disappearing in the early 1900s, as the archivists have written, “always in a shadows”. Whichever the case, because of Ramsey’s tampering and Talbot`s pride, two curses were set in motion through their rivalry: the Tom Flower Curse, what people now call the Curse of Tom Zombie, and the Kismet Curse or “The Curse of Chance”, which besets the Ramsey family to this very day. We speculate that it was in this struggle of wills between Talbot & Ramsey that the Triarc, the mighty heart of the Trimeric Bell, which has always resisted the will of men to control it, saw an opportunity to create a protector for itself.
~ VD, TZHS Researcher
(NOTE: Colonel Thomas Talbot was one of the most prolific land developers in Canadian history. But he was also known for his staunch idealism, sour temper and general meanness. Now we know that this cruelty may have been related to his own hidden burden. Accounts suggest that he was in possession of the Trimeric Bell, the ancient artifact at the root of the Tom Flower Curse, be some estimates for as long as five years. How he resisted its power for so long is still a mystery.)
Gaps remain in our understanding as to how this rivalry between Talbot and Ramsey, on one hand, and the lovers "Tom" and his native bride Crow Flower, culminated into the Tom Flower Curse. We speculate that Ramsey may have been manipulated himself by the Bell. All we know for sure, based on scattered accounts and anecdotal remnants is that when this man named Tom and his native bride Crow Flower tried to organize a trade arrangement, assailants unknown, from St. Thomas, murdered them and buried their bodies in an, as yet to be discovered, grave site near St. Thomas. Some accounts have Tom being buried alive, able to hear as his bride was brutalized above him, others have them buried together and still others have Crow Flower being burnt alive while Tom watched and, him setting the curse in motion upon his dying breaths. Whatever the case it is clear the grave site where their remains were interred became the site of the very first Tom Zombie Incident on record.
~ VD, TZHS Researcher
Though the centre of the curse is most certainly focused on the town named St. Thomas, its fury is somehow tied back to Thomas Talbot himself and the man’s curious ability to overcome the Bell’s power of possession. Indeed the curse is said to inflict all the lands that Colonel Thomas Talbot had a hand in developing; a great swath running from London to Windsor along the north shore of Lake Erie and beyond. All the populations of this domain have been stricken by the curse at one time or another. Only when the bell had been commandeered by others did its wraith project past this invisible boundary.
~ VD, TZHS Researcher
Since the curse was first set in motion over two hundred years ago there have been well over a hundred Tom Zombie Incidents throughout the Talbot Trail region and beyond. This website is dedicated to sharing those stories with the public so that everyone can understand the very real and constant peril we live in and the need to keep the Tom Zombie Festival alive and functional. As each Tom Zombie host was possessed by the Trimeric Bell each story took on its own twists and turns and enviable tragic end. Throughout this history the only constant has been the artifact itself which the festival now controls. As we discover more of these stories they will be documented and shared here.
~ VD, TZHS Researcher
They say that Tom is cursed by love,
That he can't see the veil,
They say the dead hear him standing above,
And from encrusted crypts they rail.
(An excerpt from a British infantry marching manual dated 1812)