JA Bolton | The Wizard of the River Pee Dee


Things were going well for the early settlers of the Pee Dee River area, until old man Harvey moved there.

In the years leading up to the settlement of white settlers in new Anson County, the Red Man reigned supreme. A tribe called the Siouan depleted the Muskogian tribe that had settled along the Pee Dee and Little rivers in the 1550s and 1650s.

The Siouan tribe was divided into groups such as the Waxhaw, Catawba and Cheraw. The Catawbas were the most powerful and lived closest to present-day Anson and neighboring counties. They were known for their fierce battles with other Indian tribes, but also for their surprisingly peaceful and friendly relations with the region’s early white settlers.

Even today, there is still a place called “Execution Rock”. It is located near where Anson Co.’s first courthouse was built, several miles upstream of the river northwest of Blewett Falls Dam. Legend has it that the Catawba Indians used this place to behead their enemies and whenever it rains the rock drips with blood. Scientists today try to explain it by saying that the red silt is the result of water seeping through the porous vein of iron located in the rock. What do you think of the blood or the water?

As I mentioned in an early story, by the late 1600s and 1700s white male curses like smallpox, alcohol, and war between tribes had pretty much wiped out many Indians in North Carolina. North and South. The smaller tribes in our area sought protection from the Catawba tribe, which had a chief or king, called Hagler (also spelled Haigler).

The new white settlers found a friend in King Hagler. Why if it wasn’t for him and the rest of the Catawba tribe, some of the current families might not exist. The scalps of many settlers are believed to have been taken by the western tribes of the Iroquoians (which included the Cherokee). Even during the French and Indian War, the Cherokee sided with the French while the Catawba tribe fought with the English.

Shortly after the war, a period of peace was maintained through treaties with the Indians. It was around this time that more and more white settlers settled in the rich and lush valley of the Pee Dee River. Here they built their log cabins. Why some only had pine straw for the floor, but all had some kind of fire pit and a fireplace inside for cooking.

The foyer, during the pioneer days, has become one of the brightest places for most families. After the evening meal, family, friends and neighbors formed a semi-circle around the fireplace. It was like a small social gathering where storytellers, drawing on Scottish-Irish, German, Indian and African folklore, weaved their many tales. The stories were told in a way that pioneer families could relate to them. After all, they themselves lived in the wilderness of a new land. Stories of witches, lairs, animals such as bears, panthers and wolves would be told to children and adults as the flame of fire and the clack of wood rose before them.

In most cases, these pioneer huts were made entirely of wood and no type of metal was used. Why even the door hinges were wood or leather and all the door latches were secured with wood.

Superstition played a big part in the lives of many of our ancestors. They preferred these all-wooden huts because everyone knew that a witch could get rid of her skin to go through the keyhole whether it was brass or iron. They could not enter any door barred by a wooden lock or latch. Could this be the main reason why for many years our ancestors used only wooden latches and locks?

An Old Pee Dee River Story tells the story of a pioneer family named Jones. Young Jones and his wife, Sally, had come up the river from the low country of South Carolina.

Other families quickly settled in the area and things went well for a while, that is, until an older man named Harvey and his wife moved in. in an old fishing hut along the river. No one knew where the couple came from, but strange things started to happen as soon as they moved in. Why, things like dry wells, cows whose milk dries up, and other animals die.

Humans seem to blame their problems on someone else, especially when superstition abounds. The Harvey’s had been the last to settle in the colony and they were surely to blame for all the calamities that arose. Why some people said old man Harvey was a wizard (a wizard) and he could curse you if you didn’t give him what he wanted.

So, it happened one day while Mr. Jones was helping a neighbor, old man Harvey showed up at the Jones farm. Right off the bat, he asked Sally to give him his cow. She immediately said: “No !!!” Then Harvey told her that if she didn’t, the cow wouldn’t be good for him.

After a few days the cow stopped giving milk and got really sick. Fearing the cow would die, Sally reluctantly gave the cow to the old man and would you believe the cow perked up and started giving milk the next day.

Some time later, Mr. Jones was out hunting and Harvey returned to the Joneses. This time he asked Sally for her pig. Why she called Harvey “a crazy old man” and before Harvey could get out of the yard the pig fell dead.

Sally, believing her neighbors could be right that old man Harvey was a wizard, asked what could be done. The neighbors told him to paint Harvey on the side of his barn and shoot him with a silver bullet. That night, her husband cast a silver bullet from the family’s only silver spoon.

The next morning, Sally painted a picture of the wizard on the side of her barn and shot him down with the silver bullet. That evening she went to Harvey’s cabin only to find out from Harvey’s wife that he was in terrible pain. Sally felt bad for what she had done so she ran home through a heavy rainstorm to take the picture. Before it reached the barn, lightning struck the image on the barn and burned the barn to the ground.

Not knowing what to do, Sally ran to Harvey’s and found him dead. His wife said his last words were “bury me under that little oak tree over there by the river, and when lightning strikes the tree, you will know I’m in hell.”

It was the day after old Harvey’s funeral that lightning struck the tree. Guess old Harvey is with his devil friend right now. So watch out folks, if a wizard covets something you have, you better give it to him.

Remember, the story is fun when told in story form.

JA Bolton is the author of “Just Passing Time”, co-author of “Just Passing Time Together”, and has just published his new book “Southern Fried: Down-Home Stories” which can all be purchased on Amazon. Contact him at [email protected]


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