The Witch of Plum Hollow — Complete Story File

The Witch of Plum Hollow — Complete Story File

actual photo of Mother Barnes shown to me by a family member

Love this photo of me SeanandMichael Rikley-Lancaster curator of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and Elaine Farley at the North Lanark Museum. It was a dark day out there today in Appleton today and we were under a tent.. But the picture came out great LOLOL. It has spirit..The Witch of Plum Hollow IS Reenactor Elaine Farley who highlighted her research today about local legend Elizabeth Barnes the Witch of Plum Hollow and debunked some myths about her. It was great…Love her a lot.. Read-The Plum Hollow Witch 101 – Mother Barnes

The homestead property of Elizabeth “Mother” Barnes, “The Witch of Plum Hollow.” Photo: James Morgan
Rural Ontario has always had its mystics. In Ontario’s Leeds County, it was Elizabeth Barnes, better known as Mother Barnes, the Witch of Plum Hollow. Her date of birth is unclear. Some sources say 1794; others say 1800.
The seventh daughter of a seventh daughter
She was from Cork in Ireland. When she fell in love with a young sergeant named Harrison her father, a colonel in the British Army, disapproved. So the couple eloped and moved to what was then Upper Canada. When Harrison died a few years later, Elizabeth married David Barnes, a shoemaker who had moved up from Connecticut. The couple ended up having nine children; six sons and three daughters.
In 1843, the family relocated to Sheldon’s Corners in Kitley Township, north of Brockville, not far from Lake Eloida and the village of Plum Hollow in the amusingly-named Bastard Township.
Barnes eventually left his wife and Elizabeth needed money to support her large family, so she turned to fortune telling, reading tea leaves and charging her customers 25 cents each—a large sum in 19th century Ontario. Her talents earned her the title “The Witch of Plum Hollow,” even though she did not live in Plum Hollow itself. She was the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and was also alleged to be part Spanish gypsy, which was credited as the source of her “sixth sense.”
A sketch of an elderly Mother Barnes. From Leeds and Grenville: Their first two hundred years, 1967.
Mother Barnes tells a famous fortune
Mother Barnes was a diminutive woman, barely five feet tall. She did tell a few tall tales though when it came to fortunes. People traveled from all over Canada and the North Country of New York to consult with her. Her more local cases involved finding lost livestock and solving crimes. A man named Morgan Doxtater disappeared in Charleston Lake. Mother Barnes directed the searchers to the place where his murdered body was found.
Her most famous customer was a lawyer from Kingston and aspiring politician named John A. Macdonald. The Witch of Plum Hollow told him that he would become the leader of a new country and that its capital would be at what was then known as Bytown, in those days a gritty lumber town. In 1867, the Dominion of Canada was formed. Bytown is now Ottawa and the capital city, and Sir John A. Macdonald was the first Prime Minister of the new country. Mother Barnes had earned her quarter.
Elizabeth Barnes died in 1886 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Sheldon’s Corners cemetery.
An historic homestead
In 1892, local writer Thaddeus William Henry Leavitt published his short novel, The Witch of Plum Hollow, featuring Mother Barnes and her “sixth sense.” Today, her little cabin still stands behind a rail fence along Mother Barnes Road, just west of County Road 29. It’s on private property, and is posted with “No Trespassing” signs. Visitors cannot go inside, but they can park beside the road and have a look at this piece of the past along the back roads of Leeds County.

The Plum Hollow Witch 101 – Mother Barnes

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

The Witch Hollow of Lanark County

When Mother Barnes Made a Mistake? Beckwith 6th Line

The Witch of Plum Hollow Files- An Evening in Smiths Falls

Mother Barnes and the Missing Money of South March

Mother Barnes– The Colonel’s Daughter in Plum Hollow

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

The Witch of Plum Hollow and the Blacksmith

My Grandmother was Mother Barnes-The Witch of Plum Hollow

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

Plum Hollow Witch and The Mountain Man of Pakenham

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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