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The Tyler County Witch

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Sistersville’s Oakwood Cemetery
From Find-a-Grave user, Becky Doan

Today’s Witchy Wednesday blog comes from the August 10, 1871 edition of the Wheeling Daily Register, and tells a tragic story of a young lady from Tyler County, WV, who believes she is being physically attacked by a witch. The story, which apparently originally showed up in the Wetzel Independent, unfortunately doesn’t give the name of the girl, her physician, or provides any follow-up as to her condition.

But y’all know me and curiosity led me down a rabbit hole to see if I could find out who she could be. Unfortunately, that rabbit hole ended where so many of my little research trips do—-nowhere, lol. But, I DID find only one death certificate on file online that could fit the scenario.  A fifteen year old girl from Tyler County named Susan B. Cotton passed away on August 21, 1871 from what was listed as ‘lung fever.’ Could Susan have been the young girl described in the article? If she was…was she really under a witch’s spell, or was she suffering from some unknown medical condition?

Susan is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Sistersville, WV, which interestingly enough is home to one of West Virginia’s creepiest cemetery legends, The Stocking Lady! But, whether or not Susan is the young lady in question, here is the tale of the Tyler Witch as it originally appeared in 1871:

There is a young lady in Tyler County, West Va., that claims to be bewitched by an old lady, a neighbor.  The first indications were discovered in the latter part of May.  She seems to be strangely affected, having spasms or fits, which come on her about once every two weeks, lasting from 8 o’clock in the evening until about 4 o’clock the next morning. She says that during her spells the witch sits on her headpost and spits in her face, and her friends say that her face will be wet with water, and no one knows how it gets there.  She talks but little or none during her spells, and she says she knows all that is passing, but cannot make her wants known, nor can they force her jaws apart to get medicine down. She seems to be perfectly exhausted when just over a spell, and asserts positively that she will die in the next spasm. Her physician, who is one of the best in the county, says he can do nothing for her. –Wetzel Independent

Please join me over on Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State Facebook page if you have any information on the Tyler County Witch, or if you have any theories as to what the young lady in question was actually experiencing.  Stay spooky, stay witchy, stay weird! 


Source: http://theresashauntedhistoryofthetri-state.blogspot.com/2022/04/the-tyler-county-witch.html


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