NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. II, No. 1, February, 1946
ALBANY COUNTY WITCH LORE
William K. Laidlaw
ELIZA ANN VEDDER died in the town of Watervliet,
Albany County, New York, in 1887, at the age of seventy-seven
years. The probate of her will was opposed upon
the ground that she was not of sound mind. The report of the case
is Matter of Vedder, 6 Demarest 92 (1888). The surrogate in his
opinion reviewed the testimony presented to him. His opinion
reveals that Mrs. Vedder entertained some curious beliefs, which,
although unusual in her time, were probably held by others and
had been widely accepted in an earlier age.
The testimony showed that when Mrs. Vedder churned, she
put irons in the cream and marked the bottom of her churn with
the sign of the cross to make the butter come. But that did not
exhaust her ingenuity. She advised another woman to put live
coals and a red garter under her churn.
She said she had seen the Evil One and had seen armies marching
through the skies. She told a neighbor that she had seen a headless
horseman riding across her field. She said she could not keep
her horses fat because the witches rode them at night....
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