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The Knudhansen Party, a group of fifty-six settlers on their way to California to start new lives, mysteriously vanished in the Central Rocky Mountains. A year later, another expedition discovered what appeared to be their base camp. Arne Svenson, a teacher and farmer who was part of the second expedition, describes in his journal finding 45 corpses in a battle-ravaged camp, each with a gunshot wound or crushing blow to the head and each covered in bite marks. All of their livestock's skeletons being accounted for ruled out a Native American raid; the utter lack of wildlife in the area ruled out scavengers leaving the bite marks. Cannibalism, along the lines of the Donner Party, was considered the next best explanation but was incongruous with the settlement's ample food supplies.

As it turned out, at least one of the group had been infected earlier and, once turned, had attacked the other pioneers. A pair of Lakota Sioux came on the scene while they were out hunting, fifteen year old Elija Black and his grandfather. The two Indians eliminated a number of the zombies with tomahawk blows to the head, beheading and fire. One of the "survivors", a thirty-year-old-woman told them how the infestation spread and how most of the now-reanimated party had wandered into the wilderness. She then confessed that her wounds and those of the others were an incurable curse. Unanimously, they all asked for death. Afterwards, the grandfather revealed to Elija that he was bitten during the battle. Elija Black’s last kill of the day would be his own grandfather. From then on, he devoted his life to tracking down the remaining zombies of the Knudhansen Party. With each encounter, he grew in knowledge and experience. Although he never arrived at Piedmont, he had dispatched nine of the town’s zombies that had wandered into the wilderness. By the time of Hayward, Black had become, in all probability, the world’s leading field scholar, tracker, and executioner of the undead. Not much is known of the rest of his life or how it eventually ended. In 1939, his biography was published both in book form and a series of articles that appeared in English newspapers. As neither version has survived, it is impossible to know exactly how many battles Black fought. A dedicated search is under way to track down lost copies of his book.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead
Max Brooks | Solanum | Zombies | Outbreaks | Recorded Attacks