I have written about the Vampires in Wilno, the Witch of Plum Hollow, and let’s not forget the poor gal in Pakenham being garnished up to burn in the middle of town as no one could seem to churn butter. By the 1870s most of these folkloric tales from the highlands had disappeared, but Reverend Bell kept reminding them that witches or ghosts seen in Lanark County were always floating around in the old country– so in all honesty, no more fretting in Beckwith—just get on with it.
I think that was one reason the settlers held on to the St Fillans Crozier for so long in Beckwith (until the 1840s) as they deemed it to be powerful over any local witch who might pollute their water or god forbid- slow down the sap. Let’s not forget all those family bibles that were left on the table during times of toil and trouble, and if that bible spun around three times while someone was about– well, god help you.
In the 1840s and 1850 the Carleton Place Herald went on the warpath and held in “print contempt” those who still believed in the evil eye and witchcraft. In 1856 a young woman’s hacked up body was found in the depths of the Rideau River and James Stewart of the 7th line of Beckwith was arrested for her murder. James Poole editor of the Carleton Place Herald, not known for his quiet demeanour nor candour went off the hook that the local Sheriff had dared consulted the Witch of Plum Hollow about the case. Poole could not understand why a witch would be more powerful or know more than the local sheriff about a local murderer.
Similar to Pakenham, butter wasn’t churning at various times in Beckwith and Carleton Place and farmers would get rid of their cows and replace them with sheep as they were sure their aging neighbour put a hex on their livestock. There was big business in charms and hex removals in Lanark County in that era, all because they brought their ways with them from the old country. It got so bad that Beckwith began a bylaw for the preservation of public morals. Slowly they got rid of their superstitions except probably the one for getting rid of warts. That my friends, is still something that carries on to this day.
They say when you get rid of one thing people transfer their troubles to something else, and that they did. Religion and whatever church you attended to keep the bad morals out came next. Stories of the famous donnybrooks among the Presbyterians and Anglicans in Carleton Place made front page news. Pigs were thrown through the St. James Anglican window (open I hope) in August of 1852 with one Carleton Place resident deeming the town of Carleton Place as nothing but colonies of rats. Rats? Here is a fact for you– rats multiply so quickly, that in 18 months two rats could have over a million descendants. Now, there is genealogy for you.
With research files from Beckwith- Glenn Lockwood
Ted Hurdis— If you can get an ” unbeliever ” to buy your wart it will disappear from you to them !! True story
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)