Wilson Daily Times, 25 September 1914.
- J.C. Terry of Ohio
- Ed. Murray
Wilson Daily Times, 25 September 1914.
Wilson Daily Times, 17 October 1911.
Ann Barnes probably died of kidney disease, but “She thought she was tricked.”
John G. Thomas’ “Wilsonia” column appeared in the Daily Times regularly during the 1930s and ’40s. A raconteur of human-interest stories, Thomas — typically, for the times — was drawn to tales of picaresque negroes living in Wilson’s colored section. In his 8 January 1937 column, Thomas introduced his readers to the sad and curious tale, derived via hearsay, of the “conjuration” of Duncan Hargrove. Just 11 months later, on 11 February 1938, Thomas revisited the story, adding considerable detail to the plight Hargrove, now called “Jake,” and augmenting his armchair anthropologist’s analysis of rootwork, a deep-rooted African-American spiritual practice. (“You probably won’t believe that in this day and age a simple thing like a hole bored in an oak tree could kill a person by itself. Now would you? But 1938 isn’t such a far cry after all, when it comes to superstition among the negroes of the south. It was several years back when I became interested in such things over here.”)
In a nutshell: Hargrove, who lived on Carolina Street, had a “leaky heart” (valve regurgitation.) After an argument, a friend cursed Hargrove by boring a hole into a tree and pronouncing that Hargrove would live only until the tree’s bark had grown over the hole. After watching the hole with fearful obsessiveness, Hargrove traveled to Georgia and Florida searching for a conjurer to lift the “hand” placed on him. He failed and, as the old folks used to say, after “going down slow,” he died.
Wilson Daily Times, 9 February 1937.
Now the remix, EP version, with Duncan as “Jake,” the friend as a rootworker in his own right, and the maple as an oak:
Wilson Daily Times, 11 January 1938.
From an interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001) by her granddaughter Lisa Y. Henderson in which she explains the method Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. used to bring his estranged wife Sarah Henderson Jacobs back home to Wilson, and the aftermath:
“The one I heard about at that time was Doctor Buzzard. And he was in the country. And you had to go to him. He didn’t come to you. You go to him. And you had to take some kind of clothes that you wear next to you, if you and your boyfriend or your husband falls out and had a misunderstanding, well, he could take the clothes you wear next to you and put something on it. It looked like, the thing what I opened where came out that tree looked like little roots, just little stems from a tree, and it was on a white piece of cloth, and it was just wrapped up in it and where Papa bored that hole in the tree, and it had a bottle stopper, it was a half-a-gallon stopper. It come in a jug, one of them little cork stoppers. Well, when he bored that hole in the tree, he took that little piece of rag or clothes or whatever. Mama was – I reckon it was Mama’s. He didn’t know whether it was her clothes or whose. But he got some rags and put in there, and he wet on it for nine mornings. He’d go wet on that tree. And he corked it up with the stopper. But I reckon he must have taked the stopper out when he wet in it.
“And so Mama claimed she got sick. So she was talking to some old witchcraft person or something, he’d know what to do for her, and I think she got somebody to take her. And he told her a whole lot of junk and mess, and that’s when he said, “You look in any – you got any trees in the yard?” And she said, yes, she had a apple tree and a peach tree. So when she come home was telling it, Mama said something, and Papa said it was one of them trees out there. He had put some stuff in it, not to kill her but to make her sick. And so I said, “Well, if it’s out there, I’m gon find it.” And sho ‘nough, I went out there and saw that cork and stuff sticking up in that tree, the peach tree. I went back in the house and got the ice pick. And I prised the stopper out and sho ‘nough it was some rags and a little piece of cloth was wrapped around this little sticks and things was in there. And I was scared then after that. I said, “Lord, this here mess! What is this stuff?” And Mama claimed that when I taken the cork stopper outn that tree, she said seem like something just went all over her. That could have been a tale, but that’s what she said – seem like something fell off her. So she got better. And so, she outlived him.”
Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson adapted and edited for clarity. Copyright 1994, 1996. All rights reserved.