For the month of October, It Still Lives is bringing you spooky tales of the supernatural from right here in Rabun County, Georgia. Join us each week from now until October 29th for tales about witches, haints, and jack-o-lanterns! This week features an excerpt from storyteller Don Patterson of Hiawassee, Georgia. Don’s tales about witches will be featured in the upcoming publication Foxfire Story, available Spring 2020.
Don Patterson (DP):
Foxfire: Do you really believe that she was a witch?
DP: Oh yeah, my grandaddy told me. Things he told me she done, I know she’s a witch. See, back in those years, you know they was in England. That’s where they came from. In England, they was burnin’ the witches, you know. Put them to a stake and burn ‘em. And they just happened to be the one that got away, you know. It was actually…because, you know yourself, Tallulah River was a pretty good size river. It comes underneath the bridge there and runs through my grandaddy’s farm and everything. And he said it’d been rainin’ for about a solid week. He said that river was plumb out of the banks. See she lived across the river from him, on this side, and he lived on the other side. And so, he said that the water was all out and everything. See what happened, she’d always get milk from my grandparents, you know. And they didn’t think anything to start with, they let her have sweet milk, you know, the first time. And for a whole week, they didn’t get a drop of milk from the cows. And they say as long as she could keep that fresh—or sweet is what they called it—that she can get all your milk. Then they started lettin’ her have nothin’ but buttermilk. See buttermilk she couldn’t get to. So he said after all that rain and everything, that river was out of the banks, and he said one afternoon, just about sundown, here she come walkin’ up in the yard. And he was sittin’ on the porch, and so she said “I want to get some milk.” He said to go on in there and his wife would get it for her, my grandmother. So she went on in and got her half gallon of buttermilk. And he said while she was in there, he thought how in the world did she get across that river? And so when she come back out, he says “Holly, that river was plumb out of the banks. How did you get across there?” She said, “Oh I made me a horsey,” and just kept on goin’. Next day, when the river receded, grandaddy was down checkin’ his field to see how much damage was done and everything. And this here Newt English, who lived down the river and across from him, that’s where the English live. So he run into him when he was on the other side of the river, you know. And he was askin’ well did you have any damage or anything like that, they stand there talkin’ across the river. And he said, “Yeah, but I want to show you somethin’ or other.” He says, “I want you to look at my hands.” And he said they looked like they’d been drug through gravel. And he said “I also want you to look at my knees.” And he said his knees was all bloodshot. That was her horse that she’d made out of him, see, to cross the river. So you want to call it a witch or what, there’s somethin’.
One story he told me about her was about his pigs. He said his sow had ten pigs. And they was gettin’ up pretty good little size, and so Holly seen ‘em, you know. She says “I want a couple of those.” He said, “I can’t let you have ‘em Holly. I got to have them for winter meat. I have to keep them all.” And she said, “Well I don’t see why, you don’t need that many.” He says, “Yeah, I do too, I want to make sure I have plenty of meat.” And she says, “Well I tell you what, they’ll be no good.” She turned and walked off. He went out the next morning and every one of those pigs was running around and around the lot with its backbone up. And before the day was over, every one of them dropped dead. So, I don’t know what you make out of that.
Foxfire: Wouldn’t have done them no good if he had given them to her then, would it?
DP: No, what she would’ve done, if she’d a got them, then she could have got every bit of his meat. As long as you let a witch have something, they’ll keep fresh, they can get everything else that you got, see.
My uncle—not my uncle, but my great-uncle I guess you’d say—you know back then, they just naturally had deer, not like they stock ‘em. But he went up one afternoon to see about gettin’ a deer. And back then they had dogs, and they’d always go to the leadin’ ridge and the dogs would get after them. They’d go up on the leadin’ ridge, up on top you know. So he turned his dogs loose down behind there. And he was standin’ and his dogs was runnin’ and all of a sudden, he seen this big buck just a short distance from him. And it just stopped and looked at him you know. And snorted, pawed like this and everything. And he was usin’ a muzzle-loader rifle, he had to tap it in. So he hauled off and he knowed he hit it right between the eyes, because it was a short distance. And he said the thing whirled around and kicked its heels up like that, turned back around and shook its head and everything. He said “I don’t understand that, why he didn’t run off, you know.” So he loaded his gun again right quick and fired again. He just danced around and kicked his heels up, you know. And so people back then, they was kind of on to this witchery stuff you see, and they know that anything silver would kill one, you see. So he just reached in his pocket, took a dime out, and scraped the silver off that dime and put it down the barrel, loaded her up. That old buck’s still standin’ out there. And when he loaded her up like that and he started to raise his rifle, up here stood this feller. He knew him. He knew the feller.
Foxfire: He knew the fella?
DP: Oh yeah. He said “I was just kiddin’ with you, you know.”
Foxfire: So he knew he was a witch.
DP: Oh yeah, they knew he was a witch.
Spooky Ride by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)