Rabbit was playing on a ledge at the second bend of the Hillsborough River when he saw a gator swimming by. Rabbit picked up a rock and tossed it at the gator and had a big laugh when it bounced off the gator’s back. There was an old turtle sunning on a log nearby. He stuck out his neck, looked up at rabbit and warned “Stay away from that gator, rabbit. By bite or smite, it'll get you.” Rabbit laughed at the turtle because he knew he was smarter than any gator. So, rabbit got the biggest rock he could find and rolled it right up to the ledge and teased the gator over by dangling his feet. When the gator came over, rabbit rolled that rock off the ledge and it fell right on the gator’s head knocking it out cold. Rabbit was so proud of himself he got down in the water raised up that gator's head and smiled at the turtle. Well, it turns out it was no ordinary gator, it had an second head growing right next to the first one. It had been hiding under water and, with a splash, it gobbled rabbit right up. Turtle just watched, shook his head and said “I told that rabbit, by bite or smite, it'll get him and, by the looks of it, smite got to do the eating today."
History of this story: Bite or Smite is an old Tampa folktale recorded by R. Perez and A.L. Lopez in 1930 during their research on local superstitions for the Federal Writers’ Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Florida. It's been the subject of several local art pieces including a statue, wall murals, and more.
Adam Booth is a West Virginia storyteller who tells unique stories informed by his background as an Appalachian. He tells some stories that are within the oral storytelling tradition of Appalachia and also tells many of his own stories influenced by the culture of West Virginia.
Ashton is a story based upon the Bristol recording sessions. This story is set in the 1920's in a small mining town and is told from the perspective of Ashton -- a miners wife. Here's the description from Adam's website:
Ashton's musical life in a small coal town is forever changed when a record company representative comes collecting mountain music in Bristol. With love at her core, she ventures to the city with mountain songs and a hope for a better life. This is the first completed piece, which is part of Adam's performance repertoire and is available as a live recording. - See more at: http://www.adam-booth.com/20th-century-project/#sthash.ub4xinRC.dpuf
Watch a clip:
This story comes from Jefferson County, West Virginia and is attributed to Adam Livingston in 1794 in the small town of Middleway.
In 1790 Adam Livingston moved his family from Pennsylvania to a 75 acre farm adjoining the village of Middleway in Jefferson County, West Virginia. About four years after settling there, a middle aged stranger came and asked for board and lodging in the Livingston home. Since only two of the seven Livingston children were living at home at the time, it was thought there would be ample room for the stranger and he was permitted to stay.
Only a few days after the arrival of the stranger, he became ill. When his condition became worse, he called Adam to his bedside, informed him he was a Roman Catholic and asked if there was a priest in the neighborhood. Adam, who was an intensely bigoted member of the Lutheran Church, replied that he knew of none and, even if there were any, he would never knowingly permit a Catholic priest to cross the threshold of his house. When the stranger realized he was going to die, he pleaded desperately forth spiritual solace, but Adam turned a deaf ear and allow the man to die without the comforting aid of the priest.
Following the death of the stranger, Adam employed Jacob Foster, a young man of the community, to sit up with the corpse through the night. When darkness approached, some new candles were brought in and lit. These candles, however, would not burn; as fast as they were lit, the fire flickered momentarily and then died out thinking their newness prevented them from burning properly, Adam brought in to older candles from his own room and which had already burned about a third down. These were lit and placed on tables on opposite sides of the room, but immediately flickered out and left the room in darkness. Foster now became so frightened he ran out of the house and never returned. So Adam had to keep the wake with the corpse of the stranger.
The next night after the burial of the stranger, Adam was awakened by a noise that sounded like horses galloping round his house he arose and went to a window to see what the commotion might be he looked out into the bright moonlit night, but there were no horses to be seen.
In the days that immediately follow this incident, there came a series of misfortunes to add an Livingston. It was a time of such confusion that, of all of the narrators of the events of that time, it appears that no two have presented them in the same order of occurrence. Perhaps Adam, himself, in his time of troubles, did not remember the time of order in which they came. Nevertheless, there was the report that crockeryware jumped off the tables and broke on the floor; a huge rope closed off the road in front of the house and then just as mysteriously disappeared; all his money was taken away; his barn burned in his cattle died; and coals of fire jumped out of the fireplace and danced about on the floor.
Throughout this time, Adam was greatly annoyed but seem to meet these apparent tricks of witchery with stoic fortitude. But when the chilling clip of the wizard's scissors came, he was terrified. First, the heads of Mrs. Livingston's turkeys, chickens, and ducts were clipped off. Then the clipping of the shears could be heard in the various rooms of the Livingston house. Within a period of two or three weeks, the scissors had clipped half moons and other curious shape designs and the blankets, counterpane's, sheets, clothing, and draperies; even Adams' boots and saddles did not escape the wizard's shears.
Word of the strange occurrences at the Livingston Homestead soon spread much beyond the village of Middleway. An elderly lady of Martinsburg heard about it and, to satisfy her curiosity, decided to visit the Livingston's and see for herself.
On her arrival at the Livingston homestead and before leaving her carriage, she removed her black, folded it neatly in a silk handkerchief, and placed it in her pocket so that it would not be clipped by the wizard's scissors. Then she went inside the house.
After visiting there for about a half hour, she came out and entered her carriage to return home. When she removed the handkerchief from her pocket and unfolded it, she found herself
Three brash young men of Winchester, upon hearing this strange tales being circulated about the wizard, announced they did not believe such reports and would prove them baseless if given an opportunity. On their arrival at the Livingston home they explain their mission and were graciously invited us in the night there.
That night while the three men sat in the living room and made trite remarks about people who believed in wizardry, a large stone came out of the fireplace and, with great speed, whizzed about the room. In terror, the men fled from the house; they could hardly believe they had escaped from such a hazard without being harmed their sudden the parts are for Winchester indicated they had no further desire to question the presence of the wizard.
The mental torture that Adam Livingston suffered day and night without any relief brought him to the verge of nervous exhaustion. Now desperately seeking help, he had three self-styled "conjurers" to come and try to get the wizard out of the house, but they failed.
During one night of fitful sleeping, Adam dreamed of climbing high on a mountain. Upon reaching the mountaintop, he saw a person dressed in a black robe standing there. As he gazed upon the man, he heard a voice say: "This is the one who can save you."
When Adam awoke, he still recall the dream in vivid detail; yet he was adamant about not having a Catholic priest in this house. Then the thought came to him that the black robed person in his dream could've represented a minister of the Protestant faith. He knew an Episcopal minister who were Rove and his church services, so he went to him for help. That minister, however, told Adam he could not help them.
Finally Adam came to the conclusion he would have to see a Catholic priest to get relief from his troubles. At that time in Leetown, a village only a few miles east of Middleway, there lived the McSherry family who were of the Roman Catholic faith. To then Adam when seeking the whereabouts of the priest. Ms. McSherry informed him that the Reverend Dennis Cahill would be at the Catholic Church and Shepherdstown on the following Sunday.
When Sunday came, Adam arose early and rode over to Shepherdstown. He soon located the Catholic Church, entered and sat down in a pew near the door. When the priest came out to the altar, tears came to Adam's eyes as he whispered audibly: "That is the man I saw in my dreams; I'm sure he can help me!"
When the church service was over, Adam met the Reverend Cahill and explained the situation to him. Thereupon, the priest accompanied Adam back to Middleway. The priests first act on arriving there was to sprinkle holy water throughout the interior of Adam's house. Soon thereafter, Adams money, which had disappeared earlier, was returned to the front doorsill. The clipping noise, however, continued. The priest next suggested that mass be celebrated in the house. At the conclusion of the mass, the clipping sound stopped. Never again did the wizard disturb the Livingston home. Because of these strange occurrences, the village of Middleway was known for over a half-century after word as Wizard Clip and Cliptown.
Works Cited: Jones, James Gay. Haunted Valley, and More Folk Tales. Parsons, W. Va.: McClain Print., 1979. Print. "Miracles of the Church." : The Wizard Clip -Adam Livingston's Miraculous Conversion. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 July 2016. "The Legend of Wizard Clip." Middleway Conservancy. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 July 2016.
Ballads are extremely important in Appalachian culture and arguably the ballad Barbara Allen's Cruelty is one that many have heard throughout the generations. I have included the lyrics below and a recording from Songcatcher, recorded by Emmylou Harris.
In FOXFIRE, I really enjoyed the section surrounding Barbara Allen and all of the ghost stories and lore in that section.
An amazing project started in a high school in 1966 -- FOXFIRE magazine -- later turned into an anthology. This magazine project has inspired students for years. Check out this video on the history of Foxfire.
Sources: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV11_FfgFfipsXTkH075cZg. "Foxfire's 50th Anniversary!" YouTube. YouTube, 2016. Web. 25 July 2016. "About Us." Foxfire Fund, Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2016.
Source: "Stories of Superstition: The Houston House :: Lees-McRae College." Stories of Superstition: The Houston House :: Lees-McRae College. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2016.
Sources: "Stories of Superstition: Dead Man's Quarry :: Lees-McRae College." Stories of Superstition: Dead Man's Quarry :: Lees-McRae College. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2016.
Scholarly essay: Man's Best Friend Goes to War
Sources: "THE JINGLING HOLE: Uncivil War in Appalachia." The Late Unpleasantness A Civil War Blog. N.p., 2014. Web. 21 July 2016. "The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History." The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2016. "Jingling Hole :: Lees-McRae College." Jingling Hole :: Lees-McRae College. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2016.
Old Mrs. Varner was a very cruel woman. She was so mean to her husband that she would make him go out in the field and work in all kinds of weather, even though he was sick at the time. One day Mr. Varner was very sick and didn't want to go out to the clearing to work, but his wife nag him so much that he finally went out into the cold to work. All day he worked cutting brush and trees. Late in the afternoon she allowed him to come to the house, though he couldn't eat any dinner because he was sick. Late that night Mr. Varner died.
After that, strange cries and moans could be heard coming from this house. Some people who stayed there after Mr. Varner's death said that the house was haunted. They said that they went to bed at night and walked the door of the room. In the night something kept pulling the cover down under the bed. When they pulled the cover back on the bed, something would give it a hard jerk and pull it back under the bed again. Then the door would fly open, even though it was still locked.
Once when a farmer and his son were passing the house, a huge dog walked between the horses and came out under the buggy. The horses didn't seem to take any notice of the dog. Many other people and seen a white figure walking about the place as they passed by.
Sources: Gainer, Patrick Ward. Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians. Grantsville, W. Va.: Seneca, 1975. Print.
Sources: "Jackie Torrence - The Story Lady." Jackie Torrence - The Story Lady. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016. Post, Rose. "Storyteller Made a Name for Herself - Jackie Torrence en.d. Web. 18 July 2016." North Carolina Research Campus. Salisbury Post, n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.