Monday, October 26, 2015

Witch Doctors, Witches and the South

Printed Friday the 30th of May 1890 in the Aberdeen Daily News out of Aberdeen, South Dakota 
Dire Havoc Believed to Have Been Caused by Them Among Coon Dogs.
In Wayne county, of which Goldsboro, N. C., is county seat, many of the inhabitants believe in witchcraft.
The Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama and other southern states abound in so called “witch doctors,” who will cure your ails and kill the witch that is troubling you. Some of these doctors actually believe in the personal existence of witches and in their supernatural power, but many of them are frauds, who make a living by imposing on credulity of their neighbors.
The negro race is naturally superstitions, but the poor white “crackers” are also ignorant, and for believing in spooks, spirits, hobgoblins, and other natural phenomena they can give the colored man cards, spades and aces, and then beat him. The cracker is worse than the colored man, because he fondly imagines that he is so much shrewder, and so he does not use what brains he has, nor does he try to learn anything. He has thousands of signs, omens, cures and beliefs that are a continual source of annoyance to him, and perpetually keep him in a state of dread. The simplest incident is one of sinister and occult meaning to him, and he is ever in a tremor lest ill look and misfortune over take him.
The evil influences manifest themselves in various ways, and each one seems worse than the other. His gun occasionally hangs fire and refuses to “go off” properly, and at times is so badly deranged that it cannot be discharged at all. At other times his favorite coon dog is bewitched by some evil mined and envious person, and then the woe of the cracker is something painful to witness. If his gun were not bewitched, why could he not kill a squirrel with it! And why should his dog refuse to hunt coons, when to hunt coons was his business? These are questions that he can answer only by assuming that a witch had been influencing him and his property.
He employs a witch doctor, to whom he pours out his tale of woe and yields up his hard earned cash. The doctor cares little for the woe, but the cash is grateful and exhilarating. The doctor is sanguine, and declares that he has a method of killing that is strictly original, copyrighted, and warranted to be effectual.
In one case that I came across the doctor learned that an old woman living several miles away was the suspected party, and he commenced a campaign against her. He told the victim to go to her house some night and stretch a white cotton string around the building and tie the ends together with a “weaver’s knot.” The he was to walk around the house seven times each way, recite a given sentence in front of each door while making mysterious marks on it, and the cure would be completed. The directions were followed, and, I am happy to say, were effectual as the next hunt resulted in the death of three coons.

Another time a small powder was given, which must be swallowed by the witch without her knowing it. The old lady was invited to dinner the powder placed in er cup of coffee, and the cure was as complete as could be desired. –Philadelphia Times. 

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