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Witches, Ghosts, and Signs

Patrick Ward Gainer
PB  978-1-933202-20-4
eBook  978-1-935978-06-0

Purchase the Kindle Edition at Amazon


Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians, by the renowned West Virginia folklorist and former West Virginia University English professor Patrick W. Gainer, not only highlights stories that both amuse and raise goosebumps, but also begins with a description of the people and culture of the state. Based on material Gainer collected from over fifty years of field research in West Virginia and the region, Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians presents the rich heritage of the southern Appalachians in a way that has never been equaled. Strange and supernatural tales of ghosts, witches, hauntings, disappearances, and unexplained murders that have been passed down from generation to generation from as far back as the earliest settlers in the region are included in this collection that will send chills down the spine.


  • Preface to the Second Edition
  • Introduction
  • Speech of the Mountaineers
    • Dialect and Accent
    • Words and Expressions
    • Traditional Activities and Customs
      • The Molasses Boiling
      • Bean Stringings and Apple Peelings
      • The Corn Shuckin’
      • Wheat-threshing Time
      • The Quilting Bee
      • The “Literary”
      • Box Suppers and Pie Socials
      • The Singing School
      • Halloween
      • Christmas
      • Wakes
      • Play Parties
      • The Big Meetin’
      • Serenade for Newlyweds
      • The Infare
      • The Party Line
    • Ghostlore
      • Jim Barton’s Fiddle
      • The Ghost of Mrs. Green
      • The Woman Who Came Crying
      • The Passing Soul
      • The Ghost of the Jilted Girl
      • The Vengeful Ghost of the Murdered Girl
      • The Ghost of the Peddler on Third Run
      • The Collins Betts Peddler
      • The Crying Infant
      • The Headless Horseman of Powell Mountain
      • The Shue Murder Case
      • The Tragic Story of Ellen and Edward
      • The Lover’s Ghost
      • A Haunted House
      • The Poltergeist of Petersburg
      • The Mother-in-Law’s Revenge
      • The Ghost Rider
      • The Ghost Rides With Her Lover
      • The Dog Ghost of Peach Tree
      • The Hitch-hiker
      • The Phantom Wagon
      • Add’s Image
      • The Graveyard Ghost
      • The Peddler’s Ghost of Maysville
      • The Ghosts of Echo Rock
      • Three Headless Ghosts
      • The White Bird
      • The Ghost of the Murdered Storekeeper
      • The Ghost of the Mistreated Husband
      • The Peddler’s Ghost of Pendleton County
      • The Old Haunted House of Nicholas County
      • A Mysterious Disappearance
      • The Fireside Ghost
      • The Chain
      • The Haunted House at Renick
      • The Stroop House Ghost
      • The Informing Revenant
      • A Ghost Returns for His Head
      • The Woman in White
      • The Headless Rider of Spruce Lick
      • The Headless Horseman of Braxton County
      • The Ghost of Sally Robinson
      • The Crying Baby
      • The Ghost of the Card Player
      • An Errant Husband is Disciplined
      • The Walking Ghost
      • The Ghost of the Crites Mountain Schoolhouse
      • The Hidden Treasure of Bear Fork
    • Wizard Clip
    • Folk Cures
    • Nature Lore and Rules for Farming
    • Superstitions
    • Witchcraft
      • The White Art
      • Uncle Johnnie Bewitches the Cows
      • Uncle Johnnie Frightens Mrs. Dickens
      • Death and Burial of Uncle Johnnie
      • The Black Cat Murders
      • The Witch of Booger Hole
      • The Sad Death of Mary Fisher
      • The Witch Doctor’s Silver Bullet
      • The Violent Witch
      • The Witch of Buck Run
      • The Witchery of Mary Leadum
      • The Mysterious Doe
      • A Witch’s Spell Taken Off
      • The Raccoon Witch
      • The Witch’s Funeral
      • The Bewitched Pigs
      • The Witch of Bull Run Meets Her Match
      • The Witch Man of Calhoun County
      • The Devil Takes His Victim
      • How Witches Got Milk and Butter
      • The Milk Witch of Wood County
      • The Gilmer County Witch Plays a Trick
      • The Black Cat is Beaten
      • Another Way to Break a Spell
      • How to Kill a Witch
      • White Bear
      • A Young Man Fixes the Witch of Bull Run
      • Recollections of Witchcraft
    • Appendix


"Since the material in this book has come from the traditions of the people who live among the hills and mountains of West Virginia, people who are proud to be called mountaineers, I feel that it is important to tell something about these people whose ancestors chose as the motto of their state, Mountaineers Are Always Free."
Patrick W. Gainer