Life in Keechi was peaceful until Charlie Willheit discovered that it was Billy who had taken his wife home to her parents. Charlie began to spread licentious stories about "his" Betsy and Billy. When the gossip did not discredit Billy, Charlie began to lay-in-wait for Betsy. His hatred escalated to attempts to kill Betsy and everyone around her. Billy took drastic measures to protect his family More
On their search to find a home, the Penland's stopped in Fairfield to earn money by picking cotton. There they rescued an abused woman, Betsy Willheit, from her husband which led them to discover the rich farm land around Keechi where they purchased 160 acres adjacent to Betsy's father's farm. The whole family seemed to find peace in Keechi, until Betsy's abusive husband, Charlie, discovered that it was Billy and his family who had taken Betsy home to her parents. Charlie immediately began slanderous rumors of misconduct concerning Billy and Betsy, and he made two attempts to kill Betsy before he managed to have her father gunned down in cold blood. Early on a summer morning in July of 1919, a shot rang out as Billy and one of his sons were walking out the back door of their home. Fearing that someone in his family would be killed, and realizing that the only thing that would stop Charlie was a bullet, Billy made plans to take drastic measures to protect his wife and children.
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