The Story Of The Devil's Tramping Ground

Portions of this post were originally published here on the Blind Pig in October 2011

Appalachia

Appalachia is full of scary stories about ghosts, witches, painters, hainted houses, etc. Religion is woven so tightly through Appalachia-that the Devil also plays a significant role as a fear factor. When I was growing up-I was much more afraid of the Devil getting me than a ghost.

One time-a childhood friend of mine decided she'd heard enough about the Devil and wanted to see if he was as mean as everybody at church said he was. Her and a cousin decided they'd just dig him up and find out for themselves.

After digging for quite a while, they unearthed something they took for his hair. Once they hit the black strands their bravery left them pretty quick. As kids will do-they decided to fix the mess they'd made.

They frantically tried to figure out how to hide their misdeed-I mean how could she explain to her Southern Baptist Deacon Daddy that she had brought the Devil out into broad daylight? In his own backyard?

They found some old concrete mixed it with water and poured it in the hole, all the while hoping it would hold old Lucifer tight. 

Devils tramping ground
(Photo provided by Old Rebel you can see some of his other photos here)

Near Siler City, NC is a large circle that measures 40 feet across. No vegetation of any kind grows within the circle. Early white settlers who came to the area thought the circle was used for Indian Ceremonies. Somewhere along the way the story of the Devil's Tramping Ground was born.

Legend tells the circle was made by none other than Satan himself. Each night the Devil paces the circle while he plots evil deeds to spread across the land. If an object is placed within the circle it is mysteriously moved by morning. Local hunters say their hounds refuse to go near the circle-as do horse owners. The area seems to be void of any animal life-even birds refuse to fly above the circle.

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So now I've told you-my biggest fear as a child was the Devil-what was yours?

Tipper

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Ghosties-The Booger Man-Bloody Bones

 Portions of this post were originally published here on the Blind Pig in October of 2008.

 Brothers  

Did your parents ever scare you into minding them?

When Papaw and his brothers were small they lived by a deep set of thick woods. Whenever it rained their parents told them, the man with no head walked in the woods.

Papaw said they were so scared they would shut all the windows, lock the doors, and hide under the covers every time it rained. I can see what was behind the scary story-4 boys playing in the wet woods can track in a whole lot of dirt.

The 3 of Us 

The only scare tactic I can remember Pap and Granny using on me, Steve, and Paul, was a generic "don't do that or the booger man will get you." But it was said in such a kidding nature-we all knew it wasn't true.

Granny Jenkins 

My Granny Gazzie lived beside a 4-lane highway (her house was there long before the road). I can remember her warning us not to go behind the house or Bloody Bones would get us. I'm sure she was really worried we would wander into the busy highway. Since I couldn't fathom how bones could possibly hurt me I wasn't scared and snuck behind the house as often as possible. (I'm the baby in the picture-wasn't my hat cute!)

After I first published this post back in 2008, Granny Sue, storyteller extraordinaire, pointed out my Granny Gazzie's story of bloody bones had been used to scare children since the 1600s.

In the book Faiths and Folklore, (first published in 1905 and still in print) author William Carew Hazlitt notes that William Butler referenced the term "Raw Head" or "Bloody bones" twice in his book Hudibras, which was written between 1660 and 1680, another indication of the possible Celtic origin of the tale. And in Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500-1700 (published in 2001 by Oxford University Press), Adam Fox notes that "another specter which had been a particular terror of children at least since Reginald Scot's childhood in the 1540's was Raw-head and bloody-bone." He goes on to say that servants often used the term to frighten children, and that the creature was often said to inhabit ponds and to pull in children who got too close the water's edge.

The Deer Hunter does lots of scary teasing with the girls-jumping out at them as they go down the hallway or turning the lights off when they're in the shower. But we haven't ever used the scare tactic on them-except where it's totally true like-Beware of strangers.

 Pumpkin  

One autumn day when the girls were small we were visiting Papaw and Nana. They live near a paper mill and you can faintly hear the whistle blow throughout the day. The girls were playing upstairs when the dinner whistle blew. They came running downstairs and Chatter said "we heard 3 ghosties one said whoo one said whooo and one said give me my shoes back." We laughed at her story until we cried.

Several days later I figured out the part about the shoes-we had recently watched The Wizard of Oz.

So did your parents ever scare you?

Tipper

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My Favorite Ghost Story

Blindpigandtheacorn.com spooky october

Today ends my Spooky October Series-and since it also happens to be Halloween-I thought I'd share my all time favorite ghost story with you.

My dear friend Ethelene Dyer Jones sent it to me when I held my first Spooky October a few years ago.

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A MOTHER’S LOVE DEFIED THE BONDS OF DEATH

(A Mountain Story)

by Ethelene Dyer Jones


This morning is cloudy and dark. The overcast sky puts me in mind of days in the mountains in my childhood when the clouds hung low and fog rose like a giant shroud hiding the majestic peaks that stood like sentinels over Choestoe Valley.

Then I thought of the tradition of mountain storytelling, and how we were entertained as children by hearing stories that had been passed from generation to generation by our Scots-Irish forebears. My favorite storytellers from my childhood were my first cousin, much older than I, my mother’s nephew, Earl Hood and his wife Allie Winn Hood. This delightful couple had no children of their own, but they seemed to be very pleased when Earl’s nephew and nieces and his young cousins went to spend the night. With no electricity then in that mountain home and the only heat being from an open fireplace, we settled down to a wonderful night of entertainment provided by master storytellers, Earl and Allie Hood.

The recipients of this rich legacy of mountain tales, many of them about ghosts and haints, were Little Ed and Bertha Hood Dyer’s children, our cousins Wilma, Genelle, Harold and Sarah Ruth, and my younger brother, Bluford Dyer and I, Ethelene. We all got permission in advance to go to Allie’s and Earl’s to spend the night on certain Friday nights, and walked the distance from Choestoe Elementary School to their house. It must have been more than three miles, but the anticipation of what we would enjoy once we arrived made us skip along, laughing and talking all the while, with the boys, Harold and Bluford, outstripping the girls and arriving first, boasting that they were stronger than we girls.

After the evening chores of milking and feeding and getting in the wood were finished, Allie served us a wonderful meal of hot cornbread, vegetables and country-cured ham, topped off by dried apple stack cake. We quickly washed the dishes and then settled down for an evening’s entertainment, the likes of which has never been surpassed, even with the advent of television years later.

One ghost tale I remember them telling—and they had a way of making us “see” the scene they laid out before us with their words---was one about a mother’s love for her baby. Allie would warn us that we should not try to match the names in the stories to people, living or dead. This had happened so long ago it would be hard to remember them exactly. The story went something like this:

Years ago, when sawmillers first came to our mountains to cut down the virgin trees and saw them into lumber, there lived far up near Round Top Mountain, a couple named Sexton, Eliza and John. They loved each other dearly. And in the course of time, Eliza had a beautiful baby girl whom they named after her mother but called her Liza. The midwife or “Granny Woman” named Mary had attended little Liza’s birth. Things were going along well until two days after Liza’s birth her mother came down with a raging fever. Granny Woman Mary administered her herbal remedies, but none had any effect on the fever. Eliza grew worse.

John told Granny Mary that he was going to Blairsville, some fourteen miles from his home, to get the doctor. He took off down the rutted mountain road, made worse by the snaking out of the saw logs and the rough treatment from big trucks, just then coming into the mountains, hauling out the sawed lumber. John finally arrived in town in his buggy drawn by his horse. But the doctor was out on a call delivering a baby and was not expected back until the next day. John decided to stay in town and wait for the doctor, because he would have to take the doctor in his buggy back up to his cabin on Round Top. John didn’t get much sleep that night, trying to rest in his buggy. Fortunately, he had brought along a blanket to protect himself from the night’s cold. All he could think about was how sick Eliza was, and even how still the newborn baby seemed in the large basket that was her crib.

About daybreak the doctor came back from his all-night call, tired and sleepy. But he agreed to go with John to examine Eliza and little Liza. After a hot breakfast and coffee which the good doctor’s wife prepared for her husband and for John, the two men got into John’s buggy and took off at a lope, as John urged the horse to a trot.

Finally they arrived at the John Sexton home. Granny Woman Mary met them on the porch. “I’m afraid you’re too late,” she said. “Both Eliza and little Liza died during the night.”  John, gripped with deep grief, went inside his cabin where he saw his beautiful Eliza and the little baby laid out for burying. How could this have happened? If only the doctor had been at home, maybe his wife and child could have been saved.

The doctor and Granny Woman Mary tried to console John. Neighbors came, and made a casket. They placed the bodies together in the homemade casket, the baby in Eliza’s arms.  They were buried in the cemetery near the little log church called Salem. John, so devastated, did not want his neighbors’ sympathy or their food which they always took with loving concern to the household that had experienced death. John latched his cabin door and told his neighbors he would have to bear his burden of grief alone.

The next morning John’s neighbor, James Collins, went to his barn before daylight to milk his cows. Times were hard in those days, and there were always people on the road dropping by farmhouses and barns to beg for food. James realized someone was in the barn with him. He turned and saw a woman, dressed in black, the sort of finer dress like the women in the community wore to church. She sat a tin cup down on a bale of hay. James knew she wanted it full of milk, so he took the cup and soon filled it with warm rich milk. The woman nodded her thanks but did not say a word. The next morning and the next, the same woman visited James as he was milking, begging with her cup. On the fourth morning, James decided he would follow the woman who would not give him her name. Maybe he could find out where she lived.

He saw her dark form disappear into the woods, but, running, he was able to follow her to the cemetery. Then it was just as though she disappeared into one of the newly heaped graves. This frightened James, but he knew he must do something.

James quickly returned home, got his shovel and ran to his nearest neighbor’s house. He told Lish Hunter what he had seen. “Get your shovel,” James said, “and come with me.” Lish wondered what had come over his neighbor James Collins, but he grabbed his shovel and the two men went in that early, foggy morning to Old Salem Church Cemetery. There they began to dig into the newly-formed grave. Getting down to the casket, they gingerly removed the lid, and there was the woman James had seen four mornings in a row at his barn, rigid and cold in death. There was the cup in her hand. And lying on her breast, gurgling but weak, was a beautiful baby girl, still alive, still breathing.

Then they removed the baby, and covered the grave. They went to John Sexton’s home. The door was still barred with the grieving husband and father inside. “Open  up,” James ordered. “We have a gift for you. Here is little Liza, alive and well.”

John could not believe his eyes or the story James told him about the baby’s rescue. What rejoicing he had as the baby, safe in his arms, began to cry. “Come down to my barn and I’ll give you some milk for the baby,” Jim Collins told John. And he did. Nevermore did James Collins see the woman in a black dress with the tin cup come to his barn begging milk. But you can be assured that he remembered it the rest of his life, and told the story again and again.

Little Liza grew up to be a beautiful young lady. Her daddy, John, married again and had more children. But Liza always held a special place in his heart because she was the miracle baby, his first-born rescued from the grave by his neighbors James and Lish.

 
“Is that true?” we kids asked Allie and Earl. They only smiled and told us it was time for bed. But every time we climbed the hill to Old Salem Cemetery, we looked at the grave marked with a fieldstone, with no names readable on it. We always remembered the story told to us by Allie and Earl, and wondered about the mother who loved her baby so much she would return from the grave to get warm milk to keep little Liza alive. And as we milked our own cows early on foggy mornings, we were always aware that if a woman with a cup appeared, we were to fill it promptly with warm milk. I think we were a little disappointed that no woman ever came to our barn for us to do this service of love and mercy.

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I hope you enjoyed Ethelene's story as much as I did!

Tipper

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The Stair Climber

Blindpigandtheacorn.com spooky october

Today's Spooky October Entry was written by Sandra. Sandra has a great blog-MadSnapper. Jump over for a visit when you have time-I know you'll be glad you did!

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The haunted stairs

As I child my family lived out back from my Daddy’s sisters house. They had a very large chicken house, and converted it to a home for Daddy and Mother and my brother and me.

Because we were a stonethrow from their back door, and my cousin Andrea and I were the same age, I spent most of my life sleeping and eating in their house instead of ours.

My Aunt’s house was two stories. Bedrooms upstairs. The bottom of the stairs came down in the rarely used living room. At night when we were in bed, the sound of footsteps clunking up the stairs and down again would keep us awake and scare us silly. We only heard them at night. My aunt would wait until we heard the steps and go jerk the door open at the head of the stairs and she'd see nothing.

They decided to add a big family room on the side of the house and under the steps. After that even in the daylight hours, if no one was in the rest of the house, but only in the family room, the sound of feet going up and down the stairs would be there, day or night, but not all the time.

If we went into the kitchen or living room, the stair climber stopped.

We never did figure it out. My cousin now lives in that house and I am thinking I need to find out if that stair climber still does it. It was not creaking stairs but definitely the sound we made when we walked up the stairs.

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Yikes! That one was Spooky! Hope you enjoyed Sandra's story as much as I did!

Tipper

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The Club

Today's Spooky October entry was written by Ethel.

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Haunted bar

The Club written by Ethel
 
When I was in my mid-twenties, I reluctantly put in an application to work in a private club here in town. I wasn't happy about the prospect, not being a drinker myself; and the Club is located in the once-thriving manufacturing district of the town, an area that by then was mostly empty factory buildings -and bars, some with less than savory reputations. 
 
Despite my reluctance the interview with Freida, the bar manager, went very well and I got the job. After the interview, Freida told me that the place was haunted. I could tell she was watching closely for my reaction. I told her that I absolutely believe in spirits, having encountered a few minor incidents of a 'was it or wasn't it?' nature that would be difficult to explain in any other way. While these things are a bit unsettling, I've never been particularly afraid of spirits - folks are folks, as far as I'm concerned!
 
This wasn't a hoity-toity club, it was only private to keep the rowdies out, and our members were very nice to work for. Just about every member of the Club told me ghost stories about the place in my first couple of weeks; the television in the pool room would go on and off by itself, and pool balls were frequently heard rolling and clicking together on the pool table when there was no one back there. Well, that didn't sound too terrifying to me, and I did experience the clicking pool balls on a few occasions. If it happened when I was alone I would say out loud, "Yes, I know you're here. Clean up after yourself when you're done back there!" Nuts, maybe, but pretty soon it would get quiet again. After several months, I began to experience things that were a little more disturbing.
 
I always dreaded having to stock coolers at the end of the night. The hallway to the stockroom gave me the shivers, like someone was following me, and I had to make several trips up and down that hall every night. As time went on, the creepy feeling in the hall began to be felt around the long end of the bar near it. 
 
One evening business had been very slow. I'd finished most of my side work early and was alone doing crossword puzzles when two of my favorite older gents came in. I always loved listening to the old timers tell stories and this night I had plenty of time to indulge myself. As we sat at the short end of the bar, the gents spun tale after tale of old scandals and tragedies of the town. I was completely absorbed when I distinctly heard a woman's voice at the long end of the bar call my name. She sounded rather cross. It sounded so real that I actually turned to see what she needed, even though I knew there was no one there. The men went on with their storytelling, obviously I was the only one to hear the voice, so I just acted as though nothing had happened. When the men left I locked up and started closing out the cash register when I heard a loud rap on the long end of the bar behind me, where the phantom voice had come from earlier. Startled, I spun around and saw one of the bar stools very slowly swivel 360 degrees, then stop. I will admit to being more than a little rattled by this, and I wasted no time getting out of there.
 
I had a friend with 'sensitivities' come in and give me her impressions. The pool-player was harmless, my friend told me, and only wanted to keep doing something he'd found relaxing when he was alive. Then she said she sensed a stern-faced older lady from the 1880's in the hallway, who said her name was Ida. Ida thought drinking was evil and she didn't think it was proper for a young woman to be working in a drinking club. (The Women's Christian Temperance Union was quite strong in this town during the later 1800's.) My friend also said that Ida came in at the end of my shifts and tried to prevent me stocking the coolers, figuring no one would want to drink if there was no cold beer.
 
The final straw came a few months later. The uneasy feeling at the long end of the bar and down the hallway seemed to get more and more bothersome with every day. One night I had closed and was sweeping up behind that end of the bar. There was a shelf under the cash register where we barmaids kept hand lotion, aspirin, and other little necessities for working. As I swept, something caught my attention and made me look up. To my amazement, I saw the lotion bottle move off the shelf horizontally about two feet into the walkway, hover for a second, then fall to the floor!  For the first time in my life I was well and truly scared by a spirit. You know; it made me kind of mad. I threw down my broom, turned to where Ida seemed to sit, and informed her that I didn't like working in a bar any more than she liked me being there. I said that I was looking for other work, but meanwhile I had two babies to support, and the work was hard enough without having to be scared witless like that! Shaking like a leaf, I finished my work and got out as fast as I could move. I never had another problem with Ida (though that hallway was still uncomfortable), and shortly after that night I got a job at our local fancy restaurant. I miss the old timers and their stories, but I sure don't miss Ida!
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I hope you enjoyed Ethel's tale as much as I did!

Tipper

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Appalachia Through My Eyes - Cats

My life in appalachia - Cat folklore 

Cats have long been associated with spooky folklore. According to the Frank C. Brown Collection of NC Folklore :

  • seeing a black cat is bad luck (Back in the day when I was a teenager-riding the roads with my best friend, every time we saw a black cat she would lick her finger and make a X mark on the windshield to ward off bad luck)
  • if a cat follows you home-it brings bad luck with it
  • if a black cat enters the house through the front door it brings good luck
  • if a black cat looks through the window-bad luck will soon befall the house
  • if a black cat licks its fur the wrong way trouble will come to the entire family (how do you know if its lick is wrong?)
  • it is good luck to pull a black cats tail
  • if you kill a cat-its soul will come back to haunt you

I've also heard:

  • cats can steal a baby's breath
  • cats are supposed to be familiars for witches
  • cats will gather around a house where a body is lying in state
  • to cure a sty rub the tail of a black cat across your eye

If you have any cat folklore-hope you'll leave me a comment!

Tipper

p.s.s. Interested in discovering some new Black Walnut recipes? Jump over to the Wild Things Round Up where this month's subject is Black Walnuts-you might see one recipe you recognize-mine!

Appalachia Through My Eyes - A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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Do You Believe in Haunted Houses?

Evil houses 
Last weekend-Chatter and Chitter played the role of 'Alice' in The Learning Center!'s annual Monster Mash Maze. It was a little spooky-but mostly lots of fun for kids and adults.

As you go through Halloween mazes or haunted houses-part of the fun is knowing you're going to be scared-knowing someone may touch your arm, grab at your leg or jump out and scream-it's all part of the game.

Haunted houses 
But have you ever been to a house or place that scared you-even though it wasn't supposed to? You know-when you get the feeling someone is watching you and the little hairs on the back of your neck all stand to attention.

A few summers ago, the Blind Pig family-along with Miss Cindy were out for a day of yardsale'ing. We didn't have a particular area in mind-we were just working our way around the county, following whatever sale sign we saw along the way. I like all yardsales-but I get excited when I see one at an old house. I'm always hoping they'll be selling some of Mamaw or Papaw's old treasures and I can get a deal on them.

We were riding along a back road just off the main 4-lane that runs through Murphy when one of the girls said "look there's a yardsale". As The Deer Hunter pulled into the driveway I was tickled pink-cause it was a BIG OLD house-and they had stuff spread out everywhere-I barely let the wheels roll to a stop before I shoved Chatter out of the backseat and jumped out beside her. I just knew there would be some old canning jars-a quilt or something just for me.

I begin to walk around and immediately got an eerie feeling-I found myself glancing up at the old house fully expecting to see someone watching me from a window, but no one was. The yard was full of other folks shopping for stuff too-yet I could not shake the bad vibe I was feeling-those little hairs on your neck I was talking about-they were all at rapt attention as I circled the yard one more time. I felt like charging for the car-dragging both girls with me. I managed to walk-not run-back to the car. The others were already there waiting for me. I wasn't going to say one word about getting spooked cause I felt silly about it-but as soon as we pulled back onto the main highway Miss Cindy said "well I'm glad to be gone from there" and The Deer Hunter said "me too." I said "you felt it too?" We all agreed-something wasn't right at that old house and we certainly didn't ever want to go back to it.

So what did we feel? And why? Maybe something bad had happened at the house-maybe something bad was going to happen at the house? I have no clue.

Spooky houses 
Have you ever got a spooky feeling about a place?

Tipper

p.s. Drop back by tomorrow for one of the last Spotlight On Music In Appalachia posts-a guest post by Bob Dalsemer-we got to get that guitar give away.

Tipper

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Spooky October 7: A Mother's Love Defied The Bonds Of Death

Blind Pig & The Acorn's Spooky October

A MOTHER’S LOVE DEFIED THE BONDS OF DEATH

(A Mountain Story)

by Ethelene Dyer Jones

This morning is cloudy and dark.  The overcast sky puts me in mind of days in the mountains in my childhood when the clouds hung low and fog rose like a giant shroud hiding the majestic peaks that stood like sentinels over Choestoe Valley.

Then I thought of the tradition of mountain storytelling, and how we were entertained as children by hearing stories that had been passed from generation to generation by our Scots-Irish forebears. My favorite storytellers from my childhood were my first cousin, much older than I, my mother’s nephew, Earl Hood and his wife Allie Winn Hood. This delightful couple had no children of their own, but they seemed to be very pleased when Earl’s nephew and nieces and his young cousins went to spend the night. With no electricity then in that mountain home and the only heat being from an open fireplace, we settled down to a wonderful night of entertainment provided by master storytellers, Earl and Allie Hood.

The recipients of this rich legacy of mountain tales, many of them about ghosts and haints, were Little Ed and Bertha Hood Dyer’s children, our cousins Wilma, Genelle, Harold and Sarah Ruth, and my younger brother, Bluford Dyer and I, Ethelene. We all got permission in advance to go to Allie’s and Earl’s to spend the night on certain Friday nights, and walked the distance from Choestoe Elementary School to their house. It must have been more than three miles, but the anticipation of what we would enjoy once we arrived made us skip along, laughing and talking all the while, with the boys, Harold and Bluford, outstripping the girls and arriving first, boasting that they were stronger than we girls.

After the evening chores of milking and feeding and getting in the wood were finished, Allie served us a wonderful meal of hot cornbread, vegetables and country-cured ham, topped off by dried apple stack cake. We quickly washed the dishes and then settled down for an evening’s entertainment, the likes of which has never been surpassed, even with the advent of television years later.

One ghost tale I remember them telling—and they had a way of making us “see” the scene they laid out before us with their words---was one about a mother’s love for her baby. Allie would warn us that we should not try to match the names in the stories to people, living or dead. This had happened so long ago it would be hard to remember them exactly.  The story went something like this:

Years ago, when sawmillers first came to our mountains to cut down the virgin trees and saw them into lumber, there lived far up near Round Top Mountain, a couple named Sexton, Eliza and John. They loved each other dearly.  And in the course of time, Eliza had a beautiful baby girl whom they named after her mother but called her Liza. The midwife or “Granny Woman” named Mary had attended little Liza’s birth. Things were going along well until two days after Liza’s birth her mother came down with a raging fever.  Granny Woman Mary administered her herbal remedies, but none had any effect on the fever. Eliza grew worse.

John told Granny Mary that he was going to Blairsville, some fourteen miles from his home, to get the doctor. He took off down the rutted mountain road, made worse by the snaking out of the saw logs and the rough treatment from big trucks, just then coming into the mountains, hauling out the sawed lumber. John finally arrived in town in his buggy drawn by his horse.  But the doctor was out on a call delivering a baby and was not expected back until the next day. John decided to stay in town and wait for the doctor, because he would have to take the doctor in his buggy back up to his cabin on Round Top. John didn’t get much sleep that night, trying to rest in his buggy. Fortunately, he had brought along a blanket to protect himself from the night’s cold. All he could think about was how sick Eliza was, and even how still the newborn baby seemed in the large basket that was her crib.

About daybreak the doctor came back from his all-night call, tired and sleepy. But he agreed to go with John to examine Eliza and little Liza. After a hot breakfast and coffee which the good doctor’s wife prepared for her husband and for John, the two men got into John’s buggy and took off at a lope, as John urged the horse to a trot.

Finally they arrived at the John Sexton home. Granny Woman Mary met them on the porch. “I’m afraid you’re too late,” she said. “Both Eliza and little Liza died during the night.” John, gripped with deep grief, went inside his cabin where he saw his beautiful Eliza and the little baby laid out for burying. How could this have happened? If only the doctor had been at home, maybe his wife and child could have been saved.

The doctor and Granny Woman Mary tried to console John. Neighbors came, and made a casket. They placed the bodies together in the homemade casket, the baby in Eliza’s arms. They were buried in the cemetery near the little log church called Salem. John, so devastated, did not want his neighbors’ sympathy or their food which they always took with loving concern to the household that had experienced death.  John latched his cabin door and told his neighbors he would have to bear his burden of grief alone.

The next morning John’s neighbor, James Collins, went to his barn before daylight to milk his cows. Times were hard in those days, and there were always people on the road dropping by farmhouses and barns to beg for food.  James realized someone was in the barn with him. He turned and saw a woman, dressed in black, the sort of finer dress like the women in the community wore to church. She sat a tin cup down on a bale of hay. James knew she wanted it full of milk, so he took the cup and soon filled it with warm rich milk. The woman nodded her thanks but did not say a word. The next morning and the next, the same woman visited James as he was milking, begging with her cup. On the fourth morning, James decided he would follow the woman who would not give him her name. Maybe he could find out where she lived.

He saw her dark form disappear into the woods, but, running, he was able to follow her to the cemetery. Then it was just as though she disappeared into one of the newly heaped graves. This frightened James, but he knew he must do something.

James quickly returned home, got his shovel and ran to his nearest neighbor’s house. He told Lish Hunter what he had seen. “Get your shovel,” James said, “and come with me.” Lish wondered what had come over his neighbor James Collins, but he grabbed his shovel and the two men went in that early, foggy morning to Old Salem Church Cemetery. There they began to dig into the newly-formed grave. Getting down to the casket, they gingerly removed the lid, and there was the woman James had seen four mornings in a row at his barn, rigid and cold in death. There was the cup in her hand. And lying on her breast, gurgling but weak, was a beautiful baby girl, still alive, still breathing.

The  they removed the baby, and covered the grave. They went to John Sexton’s home. The door was still barred with the grieving husband and father inside. “Open  up,” James ordered. “We have a gift for you. Here is little Liza, alive and well.”

John could not believe his eyes or the story James told him about the baby’s rescue. What rejoicing he had as the baby, safe in his arms, began to cry. “Come down to my barn and I’ll give you some milk for the baby,” Jim Collins told John. And he did. Nevermore did James Collins see the woman in a black dress with the tin cup come to his barn begging milk. But you can be assured that  he remembered it the rest of his life, and told the story again and again.

Little Liza grew up to be a beautiful young lady. Her daddy, John, married again and had more children. But Liza always held a special place in his heart because she was the miracle baby, his first-born rescued from the grave by his neighbors James and Lish.

“Is that true?” we kids asked Allie and Earl. They only smiled and told us it was time for bed. But every time we climbed the hill to Old Salem Cemetery, we looked at the grave marked with a fieldstone, with no names readable on it. We always remembered the story told to us by Allie and Earl, and wondered about the mother who loved her baby so much she would return from the grave to get warm milk to keep little Liza alive. And as we milked our own cows early on foggy mornings, we were always aware that if a woman with a cup appeared, we were to fill it promptly with warm milk. I think we were a little disappointed that no woman ever came to our barn for us to do this service of love and mercy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I certainly hope you enjoyed Ethelene's story as much as I did!

Tipper

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The Belled Buzzards

Ever heard stories about a buzzard that flew around wearing a bell? Here's an old newspaper article detailing one such instance:

Belled buzzard Large e-mail view

My first introduction to belled buzzards was from Gary Carden's book Belled Buzzards, Hucksters, and Grieving Specters: Appalachian Tales: Strange, True & Legendary. Since I first read about them-I've discovered belled buzzards have been seen in several states-Virgina, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

Most of the sightings or 'hearings' caused folks to believe the belled buzzards foretold death. One legend even tells the story of a belled buzzard harassing a man after he killed his wife. Finally the  man could take no more of the belled buzzard and turned himself in for her murder. 

As I was researching the subject I found this explanation from Arkansas:

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~rkinfolks/stories/evafosterverdun.html 

The link details a correspondence between folks discussing the phenomenon of the belled buzzards seen in Arkansas. The lady tells of her brothers bringing home a couple of buzzards to keep as pets. Their mother nixed the idea and made them let the buzzards go. Before turning them loose the boys tied bells on their necks. Makes me wonder if all the other belled buzzard sightings were the result of would be pets gone awry.

Have you ever heard of belled buzzards? I imagine it would be an eerie sound to hear one as it flew over the house.

Tipper 

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Spooky October 6

Blind Pig & The Acorn's Spooky October

This entry comes from Kathleen at Eggs In My Pocket.

Here is a spooky story.....this is a true story that happened to myself and my best friend. We were both 16. We lived in a very tiny rural town, only about 200 population. All the streets were dirt.  Everyone knew everyone and doors were never locked. One could come knocking and be invited inside. We were out one Halloween night, visiting a few houses for candy, but mostly just for fun because there was never anything to do in a small town. It was getting to be almost 10pm and we were heading back home. We were laughing and talking while walking up a dirt road that had mesquite woods on both sides, when out of the woods came a person, without making a sound on the dry brush or dirt, dressed in a dark cape with a hood over his head. He just stood there in front of us without an expression or a word. At first we slightly screamed and then laughed, thinking it was one of our class mates dressed up to scare us. I walked closer and said "oh you sure scared us!" And then I realized this person had extremely pale skin, and seemed to have completely black eyes, no whites. Even though he did not move or talk, his quiet, emotionless glare, gave my friend and I a sense that something was not right. I stepped back and whispered to my friend...."he has no eyes.." Her hand gripped my arm and she whispered.."run". We turned around and ran, planning on going to her aunt's house which was just around the corner. As we were running, I turned around to see this thing/person, coming after us, except it was not running, but actually flying over the ground and right upon us. We were terrified and making a lot of noise. We got to her aunts house and was banging on the door as the thing was right with us. My friend's aunt open the door, startled at our banging and yelling,.... we turned to show her the person threatening us, and it had vanished. We were shaking, and told her what had happened,....she dismissed it saying we got scared by another friend.  She drove us home...I spent the night with my friend. We did not say too much about it around our mothers because we knew they would never let us go out again. That night, my friend and I went over what that thing could have been. We were very involved with our church, so my friend came up with the idea that it must have been a guardian angel that was scaring us. Something was probably waiting down the road to cause us harm or injury and our guardian angel caused us to run from it.  We never discussed this with anyone else, we just let it go. However, we never went out on the streets at night. Years passed, we graduated and both went to separate colleges. I was 20 and went on a trip with my fiance (now my husband), to Houston to meet his folks. He and I decided to go to the beach and we took along his dog. It was getting dark and his dog disappeared. My fiance went one direction to look, while I went the other direction. Since it was getting dark, most people had left the area. I realized I was getting too far away and decided  to turn around and head back to our camp site, when I saw the thing again. Standing on the large rocks along the beach. My heart started beating in my ears...I was so scared. I could not believe it appeared again. I watched it as it sort of slithered/floated down the rocks and towards me. I ran harder than I had ever ran before, and I glanced over and saw it's silhouette running past me as if to head me off. I kept running and praying, so glad to see my fiance and his dog heading my way. I asked my fiance if he had seen someone either following me or ahead of me and he had seen no one.  I had a hard time going to sleep that night. I called my friend as soon as I returned home. All I had to say was " I saw it again" she knew what I was talking about. It's been 27 years since that has happened. When my friend and I get together, we talk about this thing that had happened, again, agreeing that it must have been an angel.  I don't tell too many people about this....don't want to labeled crazy, however, my children have heard the story. My daughter often asks what would I do if I saw it again. I hope I never do. I know how this must sound, but my best friend and I both saw it and know it was real.

Wow now thats what I call a spooky story. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Tipper
 

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