In the late summer of 1718 the new road between Antwerp and Ghent was completed. Within a year a number of strange fatalities occurred. Over one hundred people died as a result of falling off of their horses or wagons and falling under the wheels. People on foot were unaffected. All of these occurred within the area of road marker 23.
Troops were ordered to guard that particular part of the road, but no evidence of unlawful activity could be found. In fact, several troops died in full view of their comrades. The men simply fell off their horses and hit the ground with tremendous force. Autopsies revealed that the men died of fractured skulls, broken necks and the like.
While local authorities were confused, John Weives, a water dowser, approached them. He maintained that the mysterious murdering force was a powerful magnetic current generated by an underground stream. As to why this affected only people riding on raised areas, such as a horse or wagon, he had no clear reason. He instead listed off, what the officer in charge wrote was “a barrage of nonsensical babble that only a savant or a lunatic could follow or find of interest.” Nevertheless they allowed Weives to apply his “solution”, which was to bury a copper box full of star shaped pieces of copper at the base of the stone marker. Since that point, there have been no strange fatalities in the area.
Although Weives made his living as a water dowser, and presumable knew something about underground streams, the local farmers believed that a devil was responsible for the deaths. They claim that they had it exorcized from the area, whereupon it entered the body of a black dog that barked backwards. The devil was finally purged from the land, when the dog was burnt to death on a traveling shrine containing the purported severed arm of St. Alena: a popular saint murdered by her parents for her faith in the later 7th century and invoked by the Belgium peasants for protection against toothaches.