Friday, January 7, 2011

Voodoo In Sandersville, Georgia

The New York Times has some really interesting things. As a major news publication, they pick up stories from all over the world, and in yesteryear, they would include stories of interest from all over America, which they still sometimes do, but not with the frequency which they did this in the past. I came across a neat article that they ran in June 1888.
Apparently, in 1888, a local pastor's wife fell ill, very ill it seems, and the man of God sought help in any way he could to keep his bride alive. When traditional medicine did not seem to work, he resorted to calling in a, let's say, non-traditional healer. The man, who was part native American according to the article, diagnosed her as having been poisoned with rattlesnake venom, a malady that otherwise brings death quite quickly. For the large sum of $18.00, at least a large sum in that day, the man, named Gus Cheevers by the article, gave her a potion that caused the poison to seep out through her pores. The article gave vivid description to the method. It said, "The poison under his treatment exuded from the pores of her skin in threadlike sprays of mucous." How appetizing it must have been to see such a sight.
The story goes on to state that Cheevers did not stop with just healing the woman, but that he wanted to help pinpoint the culprit who had brought this blight on the pastor's wife. To accomplish this, all the neighbors of the couple would assemble, and Cheevers, holding a pendent would call out each of their names and have them come forward. The pendent would swing distinctly in the way of the culprit once he, or she, stepped forward. The method did not fail to provide an assailant, one Boston May. Although he denied it, the pendent told its tale and May was fingered as the poisoner. It was also noted in the article that a well owned by a man known only as "Old Jerry" began to boil up, to which Cheevers attributed to the fact that a little bottle containing the poison used to try to murder the poor woman was sitting at the bottom of the well.
What a strange story to appear in The New York Times. Sandersville is the county seat of Washington County, a county named for the first president, George Washington. I used to drive through there on my way up GA HWY 15 headed back to class at UGA each weekend I drove home. Never did I expect that such a strange story was floating around in Sandersville's past. Heck, Dairy Lane, an old-fashioned burger joint there in Sandersville, was the only thing that had caught my attention about the town in those days.

1 comment:

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