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Night Out



 

The Witch

She comes by night, In fearsome flight,
In garments black as pitch,
The queen of doom Upon her broom
The wild and wicked witch.

A cackling crone with brittle bones
And decicated limbs,
Two evil eyes with warts and sties
And bags about the rims.

A dangling nose, 10 twisted toes
And folds of shriveled skin,
Cracked and chipped and crackled lips
That frame a toothless grin.

She hurtles by, she sweeps the sky
And hurls a piercing screech,
As she swoops past, a spell is cast
On all her curses reach.

Take care to hide when the wild witch rides
To shriek her evil spell,
What she may do with a word or two
Is much to grim to tell.

 


The Natchez Trace
The Witch dance

What would cause the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians to avoid the scorched patches of grass found  while traveling the Natchez Trace? 

What would catch the interst of Andrew jackson as he rode by horseback down the trace? 
An unusual answer below.

The Natchez Trace crosses much of the middle southern states.  It was first traveled in 1541 by Desoto. South of Tupelo, Mississippi there is a sign that reads:

WITCH DANCE

The old folks tell tales of a coven of witches who once gathered on this very spot to dance.
Whenever their feet touched the ground the grass withered and died....to never grow there again.

These 'scorched spots' are very noticable even today as they have been for centuries.  The spots are there...and who knows...perhaps the witches are too???

 

The tale below, as written by our own illustrous, Willie Morris, is absolutely
true.  I have seen the grave and stood in that very cemetary.  In the dead
of Summer chills will evade your body when you stand there and hear this
tale. Yazoo City is an everyday city...full of beautiful homes, older homes,
and a small town atmosphere. But once Yazoo City was a frightening place to be.
A place where witches lived....and died.


The Witch of Yazoo City
As told by
Willie Morris

Many years ago, there was a mean and ugly woman who lived alone in carefully guarded seclusion near the banks of the Yazoo River. Nobody knew anything about her, but they loathed her nonetheless. They hated her so much they didn't even give her a name. It was rumored that on stormy nights she would lure fisherman into her house, poison them with arsenic, and bury them on a densely wooded hill nearby...this was her hobby, but although many people suspected her of these evil diversions, no  one was able to prove anything. 

Then one late afternoon in the autumn of 1884, a boy named Joe Bob Duggett was passing by her house on a raft when he heard a terrible, ungodly moan from one of the rooms. He tied his raft to a cypress branch, ran to the house, and looked through a window. What he saw chilled his blood and bones. Two dead men were stretched out on the floor of the parlor, and the old woman, wearing a black dress caked with filth and cockleburs, had turned her face up to the ceiling and was singing some dreadful incantations, waving her arms in demented circles all the while. 

Joe Bob Duggett raced to his raft, floated into town, and told the sheriff and his men what he had seen. They got a horse and buggy and sped to the old woman's house...They smashed down the front door, but were unable to find either the dead men (who have never been found to this day) or
 the demented old woman. They climbed the stairs to the attic, opened the door an inch or two, and caught sight of several dozen half-starved cats, all bunched together and gyrating in their wild insanity. Two skeletons, which were never identified by the sheriff's office, dangled from a dusty rafter. Fish
bones littered the floor, and the smell was unusually pungent. The sheriff, his deputies, and Joe Bob stood there transfixed, finally banging the door shut when eight or ten of the cats tried to get out. 

Then from the backyard they heard the sound of footsteps in the fallen pecan leaves, and from an upstairs window they saw the old woman sneaking away into the swamps which abounded along the River. "Stop in the name of the law!" the sheriff shouted, but the old woman, who as Joe Bob Duggett would later tell his grandchildren, looked "half ghost and half scarecrow, but all witch," took off into the swamps at a maniacal gallop. They followed in hot pursuit, and a few minutes later they came upon a sight that Joe Bob remembered so well he would describe it again, for the thousandth time, on his deathbed in the King's Daughter Hospital in 1942. The old woman had been trapped in a patch of quicksand, and they caught up with her just seconds before her ghastly, pockmarked head was about to go under. But she had time to shout these words at her pursuers: I shall return! Everybody always hated me here. I will break out of my grave and burn down the whole town on the morning of May 25, 1904! Then, as Joe Bob also described it later, with a gurgle and a retch the woman sank from sight to her just desserts. 

With the aid of pitchforks and long cypress limbs the authorities were able to retrieve her body. The next day, with the wind and rain sweeping down from the hills, they buried her in the center of the town cemetery, in a cluster of trees and bushes, and around her grave they put the heaviest chain they
could find---some thirty strong and solid links. "If she can break through that and burn down Yazoo," the sheriff said, more in fun than seriously, "she deserves to burn it down". 

The years went by, the long Mississippi seasons came and went, and the town forgot the old woman.

On the morning of May 25, 1904, some twenty years later, Miss Pauline Wise was planning her wedding. As she entered her parlor to show her visitor some gifts, she discovered a small blaze. Suddenly a strong wind, unusual for that time of year, spread the fire to adjoining house. From Main Street the fire spread to all intersecting streets and soon reached the residential section.  The roar of the ever-increasing flames, the confusion of terrorized thousands, the hoarse shouts of the firefighters, and the sound of crashing walls made a scene of awesome horror that remained a fixed picture in the memory of eyewitnesses as long as their lives lasted. Many fine homes were destroyed, and every bank, every physician's, lawyer's and dentist's office, every hotel and boardinghouse, every meat market and bakery, the newspaper and printing office, every church, clubroom, and lodge room, every telephone, telegraph and express office, the depot, the post office, every furniture store, every hardware store, all but one livery stable, all but one drugstore, every barbershop, every tailor shop, every undertaking establishment, and, in fact, nearly every business necessity. 

The next day, after the murderous flames had consumed themselves, several elder citizens of the town made a journey to the grave in the middle of the cemetery. What they discovered would be passed along to my friends and to me many years later, and as boys we would go see it for
ourselves, for no repairs were made, as a reminder to future generations. As if by some supernatural strength, the chain around the grave had been broken in two. 

This immense and grievous tale alone would have been enough to make us woefully mortal Yazoo boys susceptible to the ghostly presence in our midst as we grew up in the 1940s. But on still, cold nights in the fall, as the mists whirled and eddied out of the delta, and the wind whistling and moaning
 from the woods made our hearts pound in fear and excitement, we had other things to remind us that this was unusual country to have been born in."

 

Haunted Plantations I

Haunted Planatations II

Will-O'-Wisp

King Cotton:  The Mysterious Magic

Halloween 1999 Awards

Halloween Site Index

Site Index for
Sweetmamapam's Southern Hospitality

 
 
 

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