March 21, 2013.


WITCHCRAFT from the Tales of Knotts Island by Henry Beasley Ansell.

From the Newspaper Collection of Janet Grimstead Simons.
The Virginia Beach Beacon. October 28/29, 1993.

Witches once roamed Knotts Island, some say.

Comment- Melinda Lukei: Grace Sherwood of Witchduck fame. I have the court records from Princess Anne County and the legends that my mother told me, but I have noticed that others tell different stories than the ones I heard. Grace was raised on Knotts Island, her father was John White. He gave her property on Muddy Creek Road when he died. There is one problem, I have not been able to trace any further back from her father and I haven't been able to trace her descendants. The stories that Edgar Brown and The Lady from the Ferry Plantation house are incorrect. I can prove that the house they say she lived in on Muddy Creek was owned by Tanor Whitehurst. I went into the house and they used nails to put the timbers together. That was not how houses were built at the end of the 1600's early 1700's.

Grace was a witch that was tried at Witchduck point in Virginia Beach. The trials at Princess Anne Court house were from 1698-1701. When they threw her into the Lynnhaven River, she floated and lived. The wind blew down the chimney and claimed her body when she died. Many legends and tales have been told about Grace. Going to England in an egg shell to get Rosemary for her biscuits. The trials talk about her turning herself into a black cat, putting spells on people. Also getting into people's houses thru the keyhole. All the women were jealous of Grace because she was pretty, wore mens clothes and worked in the fields with the men. Stories told mouth to mouth for 300 years, so many different tales have come from different families.

January 11, 2012. From the Junior Historians. An excerpt from the book Witches and Demons in History and Folklore by F. Roy Johnson.
Knotts Island Witch
The people of Knotts Island have preserved a witch tradition . The Island was peopled by English from Liverpool and London, and old English tales were being told by their desendants at the opening of the twentieth century. Even at that late date people would not scent their lard with rosemary at hog killings, because the plant was said to have been brought to their island by an old witch.
When the first settlers came they looked for rosemary, but not a bush was to be found. Then one morning, at the rising of the sun, the people looked eastward and saw a small speck come up from the ocean through old Currituck Inlet two miles east of the Island. The speck quickly grew in size, and the people saw "a small bark boat" move swiftly without either sail or oar to the Island. It bore an old woman whom everyone knew. She stepped ashore and planted a rosemary bush in the soil. She had been to England, the people contended, and brought the plant to the New World. It thrived, but she was thereafter known to be a witch. Upon the Island the plant has remained witchy to this day. In some other parts of Currituck County the people contended they didn't like the flavor of rosemary, thus never using it.
This story has been told with several variations. In one, the witch supposedly swam to England and back; and in another she took to the air and soared like other witches.

Rosemary from Rod Mann

March 21, 2013. From Jane Brumley. Yes, there was a "so-called' witch but I am not sure she was a Waterfield. I only recall her being called "Julie Cabe". My mother, Ruth Waterfield Miller, recalled stories about her and when she met her walking down the road (folks used to walk most everywhere on KI) as a young woman she would cross over to the opposite side of the road because she was not going to get close to her. Izola Bonney told me about her "putting a spell" on some chickens near-by where she currently lives and they all died. There are other stories too. I would like to add that Izola lives in the same house that she grew up in. It has, of course, been remolded and has additional rooms.

Another interesting story about Julie is a certain young man was in love with a young women. When she returned from church there was a nice red apple on the piano. She ate it and died and his heart was broken. The "witch" was suppose to have done this. I might add that the young fellow later married and had a family.

There was very little entertainment outside of Church, visits among each other and community functions. I expect imagination played a big role in many stories passed down. Not far from the current Methodist Church was a location of strange things going on such as witch gatherings, rituals and devilish things.

George Waterfield’s mother, Julia, was rumored to be a witch. Among tales of her at that time: she “put a spell” on someone at the cemetery once and the person was blinded.