The Witch of Plum Hollow and the Blacksmith

The Witch of Plum Hollow and the Blacksmith

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This is an actual hands on photo of Mother Barnes- The Witch of Plum Hollow we were shown at the last Lanark County Genealogical Society meeting,

Sunday was a dull day in Raglan township  (Renfrew County)and no one appeared to be going to church. There was no church, and the only religious services were held in the school house, the minister being a student from the Lutheran College, who made his headquarters at Mr. Yurt’s. When Sunday morning came the blacksmith’s friend  inquired the distance to a church, and a man in a joking mood, told me that it was fifteen miles, and he learned later it was about ten.

The man appeared very jovial concerning church affairs and informed the gentleman that all the ‘bairns were goot’ and did not go “zu Kirche.‘ Then he added that “my bairn vent vonce a year.”

In the afternoon the gentleman found his friend the blacksmith who was working at something and apparently putting his whole soul and consideration into the work. In another place Andy, the older blacksmith was making a whippletree or mending harness which was a difficult task.

He watched his friend for awhile and then asked what he was making. “I am trying to invent perpetual motion,” said he.  A very difficult thing to do, I should think said his friend.

‘Well.‘ said the smithy, “I think I can do it.” Then he added, in a joking way, I had Mrs. Barnes tell my fortune, and she told me I would not be successful. But she don’t know anything! She Is fraud! Just a minute, I will show you a letter that came from her.

Running upstairs, he got the letter, and. with an air of disgust at the contents, he carelessly tossed It over with the remark, ‘Read that. You will see she knows nothing.’ Then, indignantly, he added’ “Look what she says about my marriage. I never asked her any thing about marriage. I have as much notion of getting married as I have of hanging myself. I can hardly keep myself. I am here living with my sisters. I was hoping of getting into McLachlan’s shanty as a shoer but did not succeed.”

After he had finished his explanation his friend opened the letter and read it. He remembers the style of the handwriting which was fine and even indicating the writer was in a pensive mood. The ink was of old fashioned black ink.


The letter said:

Dear sir,

I received your letter asking for information about your present undertaking. You will not be successful in your present work which is too difficult for you. You are working hard, but your surroundings afford you no opportunities to combine your work in order to be successful. You will be married to a young lady whom you have never seen.

Your marriage will take place in the early part of the present year. The first part of the letter is true, but I have my doubts of the second part.

Mrs. Barnes

The blacksmith seemed to be indignant about the matrimonial part and added that it was *money thrown away when he wrote her. She knows nothing, he said.

This incident was in February and about a month later Mr. McPhee, storekeeper for McLachlin’s and stationed at Palmer Rapids two miles distant was in need of a housekeeper. A pretty young “Gretchen” of nineteen came from Killaloe to apply for the housekeeper job. She was neat and tidy and generally wore high-coloured dresses, sometimes profusely frilled. The young blacksmith was captivated and it needed no prophet to sea that Cupid’s darts were flying thick and fast. Finally the climax came and they were married in May.

Everyone was asked to the wedding, and as his friend congratulated the young blacksmith he remarked,

“Mrs. Barnes evidently knew what she was talking about.”

” It looks that way now.” he said, “but then I could not believe it.”


*Mrs. Barnes Fees were 25 cents



This was posted on the Tales of Carleton Place yesterday by Jim Hicks and Doug B. McCarten said Jim Hicks it was extensively restored by the previous owner who just (I guess) sold it! She did a remarkable job! My family is very grateful to her for it had previously fallen into disrepair! She ran it as a museum dedicated to Granny Barnes memory. I wonder what will happen to it now? (home of the Witch of Plum Hollow)

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.


An Interview with the Witch of Plum Hollow–Mother Barnes— The Ottawa Free Press 1891

My Grandmother was Mother Barnes-The Witch of Plum Hollow

A Bewitched Bed in Odessa

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

Different Seasons of Witches in Lanark County

Plum Hollow Witch and The Mountain Man of Pakenham

The Witches of Rochester Street

Hocus Pocus –Necromancy at Fitch Bay

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

The Witch Hollow of Lanark County

Who was Mother Barnes? Find Out About the Witch of Plum Hollow April 7

Local Miracle Story– Woken From a Ten Week Coma

The White Witch of Lanark County–Having the Sight


About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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