Thursday, October 20, 2016

Day 20: The Witch of Monongahela...

Sometimes it's the smaller towns that have the richest history. Including haunted history.

One such town is one hidden among the steel city of Pittsburgh, PA, just among the Monongahela River. That town is Monongahela.

Now those of you that read my main blog and view my website, you likely know that I am a re-enactor of history at the Depreciation Lands Museum in AllisonPark. Last summer, I also posted an article on this webzine about The Deacon, the museum's benevolent resident ghost.
Now every Halloween, the museum puts on their Lantern Tours each year with an ever changing theme. Last year's theme is a dramatized reenacting of the witchcraft trial of real life 17th century accused 'witch', Mary Bliss Parsons in Colonial America. And I was the one playing Mary Parsons.

Now as I was reading over the script for the Mary Parsons witchcraft trial tour and doing research, I came across another interesting figure (also being portrayed in the lantern tours event). And that is Mary or "Moll" Derry, who was also known as the Fortune Teller of the Revolution and/or The Witch of Monongahela.
According to a brief description in a sample from Thomas White's book, Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History and Lore (a book that is definitely on my 'to read' list), Derry was born in Germany during the year 1760. During the Revolutionary War, she moved to America with her husband, who was a Hessian soldier.
After the war ended, they moved to Fayette County in the 1790s. It is said that Derry lived in Georges Township until her death from old age in 1843 (which would have made her 83 at the time of her death).

Throughout her lifetime, Derry was said to have told fortunes, removed hexes, and cured ailments. There is even a story of how she tried to help a young woman by warning that young woman of what seemed to be an abusive fiance. Unfortunately, the young woman did not listen and she was later found dead. Derry was also said to have a vengeful side to her, and pity the fools that dared cross her. There are many stories of curses and affliction place upon those that angered Derry, from farmers having their livestock mysteriously perish to men that tormented her having their lives cut short by hanging.
Either way, her reputation as "the most well-known witch of the western side of the [Pennsylvania] state" made her a legend long before her earthly life ended.
What is even more curious is that in a time that is known to severely frown upon practices of any type of magic, Derry (and probably even others) managed to somehow slip beneath the radar of the witchhunts and trials. It is suggested that perhaps people feared crossing her just that much. It definitely makes you wonder. Then again, history really is a giant, mysterious labyrinth with many different and unexpected twists and turns.

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