This past week, I have been filling my commonplace book with eclipse folklore, my favorite #FolkloreThursday tweets, creepy dolls, and some new ghost stories. I had an especially fun time writing about The Stone-Throwing Devil of Great Island, New Hampshire.
George Walton, a wealthy landowner, and his family were tormented by an invisible force from May to August in 1682.
One Sunday night in May (about 10 PM), the Walton household heard loud pounding on their roof. George and several others went outside to investigate, only finding that the fence gate was taken off its hinges. Then, they were pelted by stones thrown by an unseen source. After running back inside, they witnessed rocks being thrown at the window and falling through the ceiling. This went on for several hours.
The next day, servants noticed there were many objects missing from the house. During their investigation, they found some of the household objects in the yard and other odd places. Stones also continued to drop from the ceiling and down the chimney. A black cat was seen in the orchard and everyone started to speculate it could be witchcraft.
That night the stone throwing continued. A hand was even seen thrusting out from a hall window and dropping stones on the porch.
Then, on June 28th, the stone throwing got intense. During supper, rocks fell onto the family while they ate. The dining table was smashed into pieces.
The rock throwing continued and sometimes stones were up to 30 pounds! George Walton was pelted by so many stones that he suffered from chronic pain the rest of his life.
The witch suspected of this aggressive behavior? It was an elderly neighbor woman that lost land during a feud with George Walton. After he took her land, she was heard saying he would “never enjoy that piece of Ground.” George and company believed this was clearly a curse.
So, George Walton though he’d fight witchcraft with witchcraft. With the guidance of a witch expert, George decided to cast a spell on his neighbor. This involved boiling urine and crooked pins in a pot. Before the pot could boil, though, a rock fell from the ceiling and knocked the pot’s contents all over the floor. He tried it again; more spilled urine. Then the handles fell off and the pot split into pieces.
The stone throwing continued.
George ended up lodging a complaint against his neighbor with the council in Portsmouth. The council’s decision is unknown. We do know George was hit by rocks on the way to the hearing.
This story is documented by various sources, including a first-hand account by a Richard Chamberlain, which you can read HERE.
During my research, I learned the term lithoboly or a mysterious hail or rain of stones that pelt victims and property and is usually caused by witchcraft or demons. I added the term to my glossary page for future reference. Side note: you might keep a glossary in the back of your commonplace book.
Source: Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. 1992.
Commonplace book exercise for this week: Find a historical account of someone allegedly attacked by witchcraft. Maybe you might find some accounts on archive.org? Like the story I shared above? You might read and write about The Bell Witch.