The story of the Fenimores begins with a birth and a misdiagnosis. Eunice and Harlow Fenimore were fraternal twins born to Bart and Claudine Fenimore at their Missouri farmstead. The doctor attending the home birth noted that the twins did not show what he considered a normal amount of activity for babies and estimated that they might be developmentally slow. The elder Fenimores took this to mean the infants were disabled and subsequently spent the remainder of the twins’ childhoods treating them as such. The children were barely spoken to, neglected of all but the barest means of survival, and confined to sleeping in a corn crib.
The twins were estimated to be of average-to-middling intelligence, and this early misunderstanding only served to isolate them from outside influence. Since they were never spoken to in complex sentences, they formed what their father dubbed “idiot english” and spoke it rapidly amongst themselves. The two were largely left to their own devices all throughout adolescence. Since the family included nine children(not counting the twins) there was little furor raised when the twins disappeared one day in July of 1908.
In 1935, a reporter was in the area following the trail of a moonshiner when a local storekeeper told him of a mysterious clan of mountain folk who spoke in an impenetrable language. The reporter initially dismissed it as a retread of the Sawney Bean folktale devised to throw him off the trail of the moonshiner. The shopkeeper then took him to a neighbor’s barn, where a feral girl was kept tethered to a wagon wheel.
The girl wore a tattered dress that they’d had to sew around the armpits to keep her from removing it. The storekeeper said she’d been naked, babbling an unknown language and fighting tooth and nail when captured. The reporter was intrigued. Over a series of weeks, he gradually built a rapport with the locals until the day they allowed him to take the girl, leashed, from her pen.
The girl immediately tried to flee through the bushes, calling like a wounded calf. To the reporter’s shock, she was answered from the treeline.
More feral children, some nearly adult age, amassed in the undergrowth. The reporter let go of the girl, afraid of reprisal from such a large force. As the girl fled with her fellows, the reporter signaled to the townsmen, and they began tracking the children.
The Fenimore compound has never been viewed in full, as it spans an extensive amount of tree cover and does not follow any known building plan. The men from town came close to the main development before they fell afoul of several defensive snares set out on the perimeter. They described what looked like a wasps’ nest of boards and other wood scraps, not like any other house they’d ever seen. They took this information back to the reporter. The reporter returned with federal marshals.
Under the guise of busting a moonshine still, the marshals trampled the undergrowth to the compound. Primitive early-warning devices, such as bones strung on a rope, lead most of the clan to flee the oncoming invasion. Those too ill or weak to escape were captured by the marshals. Two of them were Eunice and Harlow Fenimore.
The subsequent investigation turned up a few points of interest. First, that the Fenimores were suffering from a number of preventable diseases but not in poor health. Second, that there seemed to be a high rate of genetic recidivism. Third, that the Fenimores spoke not gibberish, but a complex idioglossia devised and developed by the twins during their years of isolation. The adults showed no compunction whatsoever to learn english, but the few children captured during the raid did, and eventually provided more pieces to the puzzle.
The clan was the result of the union of Eunice and Harlow Fenimore, who produced several children(an exact number was never determined) who thereupon produced grandchildren. Occasionally a Fenimore would abduct a stray child who would then be integrated into the clan, but on the whole the clan was so inbred that every third child was stillborn. The clan survived by a mixture of hunting and scavenging, sometimes stealing from homesteads too far from town to raise an alarm.
The remaining Fenimores were removed from the area by repeated raids. Most were sterilized in keeping with the attitude of the time that medically designated “imbeciles” should not breed. The adults spent the rest of their lives in asylums or group homes when it was determined that they would never fit into society. The children were confined to foster care until they reached the age of eighteen, when they were flushed from the system and all but vanished from written record. The last known Fenimore died of coronary thrombosis in 1998, in an adult home. The Fenimore twins were separated on arrival, Eunice sent to a woman’s sanitarium south of the state, while Harlow was confined to a nearby prison. The twins died on the same day, minutes apart. Harlow from an aneurysm, Eunice from unknown causes.