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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. II, No. 1, February 1946

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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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