Lots of people have seen the Witcher Creek sign, but probably not thought much about it.
After all there are plenty of signs on this portion of U.S. 60 in Kanawha County.
But how many realize there is actually a witch associated with this stream?
Or the legend that goes along with it?
The late Jim Comstock, former editor of the West Virginia Hillbilly, helped spread the tale.
He published an account of it in his own work entitled The West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia.
Did he take it seriously? Or was he just having fun?
Hard to say.
Comstock is also remembered as a “homespun humorist” for the way he looked at life.
He founded the University of Hard Knocks to honor successful folks who’d not gone to college.
And one time he put ramp juice in the ink used to print his newspaper, an action that postal officials reportedly asked him not to repeat.
This supernatural tale was most recently recounted by the West Virginia Explorer, and raises the question again.
Who remembers the tale about the Witchers Creek witch?
Do you believe it really happened?
With Halloween just around the corner, this seems like a good time to share it again.
So here’s the story of the petrified witch, as first presented by Comstock:
Kanawha County might have been the only place in the world where you could see a real dead, petrified witch had you lived thereabouts in the early 1900s.
They say that the anonymous widow-lady witch had asked friends not to bury her when she died but to place her coffin under a cliff near the head of Witches Creek, now Witcher Creek, and they obliged.
Eyewitnesses who saw her laid out in an open chestnut coffin could scarcely be expected to forget the sight of “brown hair, an ugly-and-evil face, and of a bluish or brown color.”
While she was alive, some say she used her mystical powers to help miners in the 1912 strike.
They laughed when she predicted Paint and Cabin creeks would flood-out and that she would float away on the steeple of a church.
But then Paint Creek did flood, and a church was washed away, and although no one saw a witch clinging to the steeple, the prediction helped establish her witch credentials.
As is fitting for a witch story, no one knows what became of her body.
Some say it was stolen for a riverboat show.
Others say Governor Glasscock ordered its burial.
Some even say that Governor Hatfield tried to squelch the story in 1915 by announcing that there were no such things as witches.
His explanation was that the Witch’s Creek witch was just a story invented to keep slaves from running off.
That the slave trade had ended 50 years earlier probably didn’t add to the force of his argument, especially with those who had seen with their own eyes the petrified body in the coffin on the ground under the cliff on the banks of Witchers Creek.