A few items in the collection allude to witchcraft – we were delightfully frightened to find a selection of ghost stories told by Ollie and Roy Coleman in Iredell County, N.C., and caught on tape by folklore student Connie Jean Stone in March of 1975. This item can be found at call number FT-354 in the Connie Jean Stone Collection (20247).
One creepy story tells the tale of a witch who seems to have cast a spell on a poor dairy cow, cursing and drying the bewildered bovine’s milk supply. Below you can find a clip of the recording, as well as transcription from the original field notes submitted by Ms. Stone. Notes are in folder 421 in the Southern Folklife Collection Field Notes (30025):
Another fun find from the collection is this 78rpm disc credited to Bakersfield country artist Alvadean Coker, entitled “Witch’s Waltz,” on the Abbott label, at call number 78-186. Alvadean’s countrified bad dream involves a grandmotherly spell cast due to bad behavior. Find a clip below:
We here at the SFC hope you have an enjoyable and safe Halloween!
We were lucky to find this short manuscript of stories and superstitions collected by Burnette Vanstory from the sea island of Saint Simons off the coast of Georgia just in time for Halloween (call no. BF1472.U6 G48 1970z). Vanstory lived on Saint Simons for over 40 years, publishing one of of the first histories of the Georgia coast, Georgia’s Land of the Golden Isles. Along with the delightful illustrations featured here, Ghost Stories and Superstitions of Old Saint Simons, features six short stories, including “The Ghosts of Ebo Landing” in which hundreds of enslaved Africans from the Ibo tribe from southeastern Nigeria drowned themselves in Dunbar Creek while singing and chanting in solidarity rather than become slaves.
“The Ghost with the Long Arms” warns travelers from looking too long into the twisted branches of a the liveoak trees, mistaking a haunting apparition for the Spanish moss waving in the wind with terrifying results and the legend of Mary de Wanda (or “Mary the Wanderer”) who roams the banks of the Frederica River searching for her love lost in the hurricane of 1824
The final four pages, “Superstitions of Old St. Simons,” include the most important information, and if you pay attention, information that may well just save your life. You will have to visit the library to examine all of the techniques and methods of protection from supernatural forces and evil curses. Note well what a “smutty-nosed cat” can do for you and remember “A sassafras root carried in the pocket guarded against illness.”