"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Shorter version: Pennsylvania is weird. From the "Tacoma Times," December 18, 1914:

Pottsville, Pa., Dec. 16--"She is a witch!"

Mrs. Michalina Zemanowski pointed a stubby and shaking forefinger at Mrs. Kate Short. Her words came from her throat in a hoarse whisper, and the crowd that thronged Judge Koch's court gaped while the word ran from one to another.

Mrs. Zemanowski, charged with having ferociously attacked and clawed Mrs. Short, looked up at the Judge before whom she was on trial.

Mrs. Short, who earns a meager living by making tallow dips, had sold some, one day, nearly a year ago, to Mrs. Zemanowski. She asked Mrs. Zemanowski to have a drink of whisky. The invitation was accepted. Soon Mrs. Zemanowski's voice began to fail.

A bad cold? Some disease of the vocal organs? No. In this part of the state of Pennsylvania they know that when a thing like that happens--IT'S WITCHCRAFT!

So Mrs. Zemanowski believed, and, as she brooded, her belief grew stronger till her nights were sleepless and her days frantic.

She was in the power of a witch, she said! By and by the very sight of Mrs. Short made her hysterical. Conferences were held, in which her husband and neighbors took part. The best authorities on witchcraft and its antidotes agreed that the way to break the "spell" was for the victim to draw the witch's blood!

So, one bright Sunday morning, in the little village of Turkey Run, where the Short and Zemanowski families, live, Mrs. Zemanowski attacked Mrs. Short on the street and scratched her till the blood ran down her wrinkled, old cheeks.

Mrs. Short had Mrs. Zemanowski arrested, and Mrs. Zemanowski made her plea. It appeared from the evidence that she had obeyed her husband in attacking Mrs. Short.

Under the Pennsylvania law a wife is held to be coerced when ordered by her husband to commit an unlawful act, so Mrs. Zemanowski was discharged, and the husband as the culpable assailant was fined $1.

Not long ago farmers of a neighborhood near here prowled about at night, each bearing a rifle, loaded with a golden bullet, to kill a black "hex cat" (witch cat), alleged to be four feet high, which had been set upon the heels of a young woman by some malicious enemy.

In one town a poor seamstress was stoned out of town as a witch because the baby of the family with whom she boarded cried a good deal of the time--was bewitched.

A woman who owned a black cat and a white dog was accused of being a witch by a neighbor whose child had died.

If there's a moral to the story, it is this: Don't share your whisky with anyone.


  1. And don't go to "this part of the state of Pennsylvania"!

  2. I stumbled on your site and I adore your posts! But this area of Pennsylvania looks like Blair Witch country. Is it anywhere near Burkittsville? Maybe they should do another prequel: "One hundred years ago today . . ."


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