Burton Hensley was an out-of-state peddler when he arrived in the blossoming town of Bristol, Virginia. He was not a great success, but adequately provided for himself. The locals told Burton of a great mansion just about ten miles away. They suggested he travel there and speak with the landowner. With such a large mansion he was sure to make a number of sales.

Burton immediately sat out for the estate, hoping he could sell much to the rich landowner.

Yet, Burton did not notice the band of thieves creeping after him. As dark sat in, he knew he would not sell, and would likely insult the landowner if he interrupted his sleep. Burton parked his wagon and prepared to spend the night under the stars.

The group quietly circled around the camp and leapt upon the unsuspecting peddler. Burton stood his ground and tried to fight, but it was to no avail. One of the thieves snuck up behind Burton and slit his throat from ear to ear.

Burton stopped fighting. He stood as stiff as an iron poker from shock. The band of thieves took the opportunity to seize the wagon and dig through his wares. They stole his money just before leaving.

Burton knew he was slowly bleeding to death. He began running, but there was no way to go.

When the morning came around, the townspeople noticed the band of thieves were at the saloon early that morning. That only happened when they came into money and they only came into money by thieving. They sat out on the trail to see what became of the peddler and check the people at the estate.

They found Burton’s wagon and his body. They also saw a great ring of blood surrounding the wagon. Apparently, Burton had ran repeatedly around the wagon and each time, dropping a thick trail of blood.

Burton did not rest in peace. Maybe he had a love somewhere and was unable to return to her. Maybe there was other unfinished business in his life. Whatever the reason, people walking the trail towards the estate were terrified.

Reports began coming in of a great ring of fire. It would appear surrounding a person. If you tried to escape, the flames rose so high you could not. The fire would continue to burn, the ring growing smaller and smaller, until you believed it would set you on fire.

Then, the fire disappeared.

Perhaps Burton was waiting for those who killed him. From all known reports, no person was ever injured or killed by these flames. Perhaps the thieves never went in that direction again. Whatever the reason, the legend never died, and many residents today are still watching and waiting for the ring of fire.


This legend hails from rural Southwestern Virginia.

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