A lot of witchcraft stories have come out of Pennsylvania--many of them of surprisingly recent vintage--but chortling phosphorescent cats are a new one to me. The “Minneapolis Journal,” August 31, 1904:
Pottsville, Pa., Aug. 31. Magistrate Shane succeeded in settling amicably a case brought by one neighbor against another, of which an accusation of witchcraft was the basis.The story disappeared from the newspapers after this, but I can’t help but be dubious that the two ladies were genuinely “conciliated.” An accusation of murder by witchcraft isn't the sort of thing that's easily forgiven and forgotten.
Mrs. Cora Hiney had accused Mrs. Mary Leib, a neighbor, with having brought about the death of her infant through the machinations of witchcraft.
It was shown during the hearing that the defendant, Mrs. Leib, possesses a white cat and a black dog. According to Mrs. Hiney's statement, these animals are possessed of the evil one, and they are capable of committing terrible things when under the spell of the owner.
Until three weeks ago the women were fast friends. Then the child of Mrs. Hiney died, and the mother worried and brooded over its loss. She became impressed with the idea that the death was due to witchcraft, and that her neighbor and friend was the cause.
She talked the matter over with other neighbors, and they recounted a number of uncanny things that had taken place in the vicinity which they attributed to the dog and cat.
Among the remarkable scenes that these superstitious people are alleged to have witnessed is that late at night these animals of Mrs. Leib were seen emitting a phosphorescent glow from their bodies. The cat was capable of crying like a child. It was alleged at the hearing that when persons made an investigation of the supposed cry of distress, the cat would laugh like a human being and then vanish away into space. To them many supernatural things had occurred, and charms of many kinds were used to keep away the spells of the animals and of Mrs. Leib.
The gossip came to Mrs. Leib's ears and she brought suit, charging Mrs. Hiney with calling her a witch, which was deemed a slander. Squire Shane, after hearing the testimony, convinced Mrs. Hiney that she was in error, and she and Mrs. Leib were sent away from his office in a conciliated mood.