George Lewis was born a slave in Virginia in 1794. He was owned by the Lewis family and was raised as a house slave. When the Lewis’ moved to Kentucky in 1806, they took their slaves with them. One son, Randolph died in 1810, and the mother of the family died shortly after. By 1812 Lilburne the oldest brother in the family was having deep personal and financial troubles.
On the night of December 16th 1811 Lilburne and his brother Isham had been drinking heavily. George knocked over a pitcher that had belonged to the brother’s mother, breaking it. In a drunken anger they killed George. The brothers tied him to the floor and attacked him with an ax, killing him and dismembering his body. The attack was brought to a halt by the first of the New Madrid Earthquakes.
In order to hide what they had done, the Lewis brothers had George’s body placed in a chimney that was being re-built following the quake. This chimney collapsed again when the final and largest of the New Madrid Quakes hit on February 7th 1812. When George’s remains turned up, the brothers were arrested. Lilburne committed suicide and Isham disappeared from jail.