Thursday, July 21, 2016

I come from a long line of....

superstitious people?   Are you superstitious?? I have to say I am.  Weighting the pros and cons of it, I think why not? It can't hurt to be cautious!!  I don't walk under ladders, I love animals but black cats must not cross my path or it ruins my day, and I am so careful with mirrors! I KNOCK on wood constantly...has to be good wood tho none of this prefabbed stuff!  I smudge to rid spaces of evil spirits, and never step on cracks, or cross my heart and hope to die!!

Example of why I believe in superstitions:

If you recall in 2013, the day before my 60th birthday I went out to dinner with my son, his lovely lady and her daughter, and a couple of my friends.  The lovely lady's daughter was 7 at the time and she told me she had fallen off some monkey bars at a playground and broke her wrist.  I said, "Oh I've broken bones in my back, one in my face, foot, but never in my wrist. So nearby our outdoor table, was one of the wood support beams for the patio structure...and I reached out as far as I could to knock on it, but I couldn't quite reach it in sitting position.  So my inner voice told me to knock on it when I got up from the table.. okay, I forgot!!

You all know exactly what happened the very next day fell and broke not one but BOTH wrists!! 

This superstitious thing is not something new for me and it is not for the faint of heart!  I've been this way all my life, and it was my Grandmother who set me on this path.  SHE was highly superstitious.   She was raised and spent her entire life in the Cumberland mountains of TN where I was born and spent the first 6 yrs of my life.  She was like a witch doctor, or more like a Folk Healer with her cures!  If you had a wart, you had to bury your mothers best "dish rag", if you got sick you had to bury the "water dipper", she had many of these "remedies" and she was always practicing them on us kids, me, my sisters,  and our cousins!  

I guess I need to back UP and explain life at that time...while the rest of the world had electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing, my people were stuck in time, grandma did not.  She might have gone as far as 3rd grade, maybe.  We lived on her farm in an abandoned share croppers cabin... so we had no electric, water, or indoor plumbing either! She had a well at the back of her porch and we drew water up in a long pipe called the "well bucket".  And it was emptied into a metal bucket that hung from a big nail on the back porch. In it was the dipper, also made of metal.  A drink of that freshly drawn water was the most refreshing thing you ever had; we kids passed the dipper around many times.  

She was a member of the Church of God.  They believe(d) in shouting, and speaking in tongues.  This was the utterance of the Holy Spirit. If you want to know more about the Church of God you can click that link. They believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit. 

Now I am not nor have I ever been baptized to any religion...but my Grandma was.  She had a hard and isolated life up on the Mountain and she depended on the Church for fellowship and this Church helped people in times of sickness and need.  SO anyway that's a bit of background so you can see where some of her superstitions came from.  

At one time I had lots of warts on my hands!! I was the kid always out playing and some said frogs give warts. I played with many a frog, calf, lambs, piglets, I grew up in her barnyard! 
She told me the warts were a bad sign and needed to go!! So she had me burying all sorts of things she said "words" over me and when all that failed to remove the warts....she took me to Church!  

That night she led me up to the Pulpit and she told them, "My grand daughter has the affliction of warts, and we need to have a shouting."  So they held me in a circle and they all gathered in tight around me and they began SHOUTING! Now if you've never witnessed such, please imagine what a 5 y.o child was thinking!! I was crying and scared to death!! They shout in a foreign tongue. Hysterical gibberish?  It's quite a spectacle.  AND they don't stand still while they shout they dance around like Mick Jagger!

My warts disappeared.  My Grandma took the responsibility for the ridding of the warts. NOW as an adult I know it was the Pappilomia Virus!!  It is contagious--- if I had a cut, which I had many of, I touched someone who had this skin virus that's how I got it! SO now I'm worried a little, funny how these childhood diseases come back to get you...I had Chicken Pox another Virus, and about 3 yrs ago I had a mild case of Shingles!   The vaccine is expensive!

Okay so now this all brings me to THIS bit of old news! My sister and I do genealogy research we have taken nearly all our lineage back 9 or 10 generations! (that's over 300 yrs) On my Dad's side of the family, the Folk Dr.  was his mom, and his dad, my Grandfather's lineage, is the one I'm gonna to relate to you now.  

In his lifetime he was the high sheriff of the county, a banjo player, and sometimes bootlegger, back in the days before I was born.  He was murdered 20 yrs before my birth... and I'm named for him.  In his line my 6th Great Grandmother, was 
Sarah Elwell... the Daughter of Thomas Elwell and Sarah Bassett, (my 7th Great Grand Mother) 
Thomas Elwell the son of Samuel Elwell and Esther Dutch. (my 8th Great Grand Mother) 
They all lived in Essex County, Mass.
 My dad's family came from (Ralph Wallen 1590 - 1643) who came over to the New World from Halton, Lancashire, England on the Ship Anne in 1624, with his wife Joyce, and they settled in Plymouth Colony, Mass. Ralph's Grand son Thomas Wallen II,  Married Sarah Elwell so she became Sarah Wallen, in later generations, the name had many spellings one was Walling my last name. 

IN the year 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts some people got sick with seizures and were acting mysteriously, (Please see this link that offers up MY thoughts on what this was in reality) and other people got the idea it was due to Witchcraft! People were accused and warrants were issued  and trails were held, and many were found guilty! Nineteen of the accused were hanged, one was pressed to death--I Hope you are still reading?

So check out the documents below I have made them big so you can hopefully read them:  The Salem Witch Papers Vol. 1, the University of VA Archives:

                   Accused Ester Elwell wife of Samuel, of sundry acts of witchcraft 

Sarah Bassett wife of William accused of acts called Witchcraft 

Both my 7th and 8th Great Grand Mothers were accused and tried for practicing Witchcraft.  They were set free after about 2 weeks of being jailed.  They were found not guilty due to: Hysterically Accused

OMG but for that I wouldn't be here today!!
I know only witches have warts on their noses right???  Whew....JIC I better go bury something maybe.

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.


  1. this is very interesting, unfortunetely you made them letters to big and your side bar ran over them. But the article was very good and I will read more tomorrow I am just to sleepy right now. What a long line of family you have found.

    1. Hi Jo, I made the letters smaller and I don't know but maybe it's clickable to make it bigger?

  2. oh my gosh Sondra -- it is wonderful to have this amazing family history. I didn't understand how you are named for your (whatever number it is-)great grandfather. But the witches -- that tradition and lore was obviously passed down to your grandmother and then to you -- try not to forget any of it. Glad you wrote it all out here, because it was so interesting and because it will hllpe you remember. I'm with you, those things can't hurt (but I'd get the darn shingles vaccine if I were you, unless one mild case gives you immunity; I've seen people with bad cases and it is awful.

    1. I am named for my immediate Grandfather his middle name was Lee and so is mine! My sister and I are both history buffs and we are very active on Ancestry and Find a Grave! My sister has written 2 historical books no longer in print now one about the Life of Doc Holiday (his Glenwood Springs Years) and the other about the Deaths of famous Outlaw Gunslingers! We have an unpublished project about all the Past Presidents! I wish she would get it published we worked on it for an entire year, and then she ran out of enthusiasm for the project.

    2. I am impressed with all you and your sister have done.

  3. Amazing blog and incredible family history!

    1. Hi Diana! It is so cool t o uncover old history it brings the ones who got us here alive!!

  4. A very interesting post. Many years ago I once worked alongside someone who had St Vitus dance, it was very unrelaxing, he was a dishwasher in a restaurant so maybe you can imagine the scene. Your ancestry is also very interesting, my wifes mother was the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter, so according to tradition, a witch. We got on very very well!!!!
    I would love to read your book on Outlaw Gunslingers.

    1. 7th of 7th very cool!! I know that super-natural powers do exist...only if one is tuned into it...My sister was the writer of the Gunslinger book unfortunately it is no longer in print! But she sold many copies! It was called Legendary Deaths! St Vitus Dance is a very old illness and I knew of several people who had it they say MY sister had it when she was young but it was NOT diagnosed by a proper DR but a Midwife! We are all very happy that we were taken out of the Appalachians and given a better chance at life! Thanks to my Dad and his rambling ways.

  5. That's quite a story. I think they scared those warts right off of you! Your history does kind of explain how you are such an independent woman.

    1. I think it was the most frightening thing in my life, or it made the most scary impression on me leastwise!

  6. That's quite a story. I think they scared those warts right off of you! Your history does kind of explain how you are such an independent woman.


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