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William H. Newell, wagon, barn, superstitions, devil, witches, egg, wolves
Shoemaker's handwritten entry documents his notes copied from William H. Newell, detailing superstitions and folktales including the removal of rats and mice, making deals with the devil, bird omens and weather predictions.
From Wm H. Newell notes at Pottsville
Back a wagon out of barn, - point tongue in the direction of another barn. Grease the wagon with fat, -- not with tar, and the rats and mice will go to the place the tongue points to.
A farmer had his barn burnt. Next morning while walking in his field thinking how to repair the damage – he met an old man who inquired what troubled him. When the farmer told him, the old man offered to rebuild his barn the next night to be finished before cock crow.
The conditions being, that the farmer would sell the evil one his soul, unless the barn was not finished in the time specified. This the farmer agreed to.
That night a great noise was heard, like stones and timber falling, then a great awakening, the man in great fear on account of his pact with the devil, told his wife what had happened. This was overheard by the maid servant. She went into the yard, entirely naked and standing perfectly nude before the cock, flapped her arms like wings, this caused the cock to crow before the right time, and one end of the barn being still unfinished, the farmer’s life was saved. But they never could finish that part of the barn.
An egg laid on Friday, and carried in the pocket, will show who are witches.
When the mist arose from the peaks, the wolves were thought to be making soup.
The present town of Drehersville was founded by nine Stephens brothers of Philadelphia. They cleared the land, built a barn, and lived there in harvest time.
One night a whip-poor-will flew into the barn and fluttered around. This was a sign of approaching danger. They mounted and rode for their lives. The Indians attacked and burned the barn.
The farms sold the best and ate the rest.
When the mists arose from the mountains, the wolves were cooking their “Metzel” soup, the people said.
Irwin J. Leffler
James (Buch) Jones. [illegible] Ave. Tower City.
Michaelmas Day - Michaels Dawg
The day of the four winds, and the wind fluctuating at the close of day, foretold the kind of winters which would follow this date, Sept. 29.
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Shoemaker, Alfred L., "William H. Newell Notes at Pottsville" (1950). Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Cultural Documents. 219.
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