By Jim Miles
You can find the strangest things in the archives of that great American newspaper, The New York Times. One of these things was published on June 21, 1888, under the headline “VOODOOISM IN GEORGIA.”
It was reported that the wife of Rev. Tom Thomas, a respected clergyman of Sandersville in Washington County, “felt a peculiar pain in her limbs which gradually enveloped the entire body.”
When common remedies were applied, “each dose administered seemed to augment her suffering.”
A Cure for Voodoo
Thomas eventually decided that his wife had been “bewitched” and sought the services of Gus Cheevers, a partial Native American “noted for his knowledge of occult sciences. The old doctor as soon as he approached told Tom that his wife had been poisoned with rattlesnake poison by a neighbor.”
If untreated for another three days, she would surely die, but for a consideration of $18, Cheevers “undertook to antidote the poison.” His concoction would “at 12 o’clock on a certain day make her sick almost unto death, but after that she would get well.”
The treatment caused the poison to be “exuded from the pores of her skin in threadlike sprays of mucous.”
The woman recovered at the promised time and was soon back at work hoeing cotton.
Later, the voodoo doctor returned to the Thomas house to identify the perpetrator.
“This he pretended to accomplish with a talismanic ball pendant from a string. The neighbors assembled, and the ball was held up in front of each as his name was called, until Boston May was reached, when the ball flew toward him.”
The indicated man immediately denied guilt.
Living adjacent to the property of Thomas was “Old Man Jerry,” whose well “began boiling up…and whenever a bucket of water is drawn it begins to foam and run over until the bucket is empty. The wondrous little ball also lays this devilment to Boston, and the old doctor says the cause is a little bottle of poison placed in the bottom of the well.”
Ah, the medical and forensics sciences of yesteryear.
Jim Miles is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at firstname.lastname@example.org