We here at Serpents of Bienville have a lot of different projects currently running. One project that we are particularly excited about is the Alabama Oddities pieces that Amanda is writing for our social media sites. She is doing daily updates, bringing you a new story every morning, of something strange and odd from our Southern home. Not everyone has social media, so we will be doing weekly rundown's of her stories, which we will be publishing every Sunday. We hope you guys enjoy, and remember to follow us on our social media sites to get daily Alabama Oddities stories. With the opening of the new Serpents of Bienville Art Gallery we have been a little behind on the rundowns so here's one a day or two late. So enjoy!
Tuesday March 1st - Preventative Measure by Goldfish
Here is an early vaccine from Walker County, Alabama. Whooping Cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection, and is known to be fatal for smaller children. This was a serious worry for parents before the life saving vaccine became available in the 1940's. As with most superstitions, the fabled prevention of whooping cough in Alabama grew out of fears from the natural world. Mrs. Lois Pinkard took the medically unsound advice of an elder, worried about her child's health and safety. She says she was told to put a goldfish in her baby's mouth and hold it there until the fish fluttered its tail, then remove the fish and the child would be protected from the infectious disease. Her hesitation was outweighed by the drive to keep her baby safe, so the child opened wide, and mama dropped the goldfish in its mouth. The baby swallowed the fish whole. Mrs. Lois panicked, not knowing if the fish had fluttered long enough for the spell to take hold. She figured it was the effort that really made the difference, because her child never caught whooping cough.
Wednesday March 2nd - Jessie Turns White
Dekalb County children have carried a story through the years, turning this folktale into a household urban legend in Alabama. Jessie talked her parents into leaving her at home by herself overnight with the reassurance that she was safe. Her big dog Mob would protect her to the ends of the earth. Her mother obliged and Jessie and Mob were left alone as the rest of the family crossed the river to spend time with kin. Jessie and Mob finished their chores, ate dinner, and rocked in a chair by the fire. Jessie thought she was listening to the wind whistling in the trees, but Mob began growling. The whistling grew heavier and Mob growled more crazily. Jessie decided to open the door and show her companion that nothing was out to spook him. Mob never wore a leash, because he never left Jessie's side. But tonight, Mob took off as soon as the door cracked open, needing to protect his girl. The sounds Mob created, screeching out from the woods scared Jessie ice cold. Then silence fell hard. When Jessie's family returned the next day, the doors were all locked from the inside. No one answered their knocking. When the family finally broke through the window to unlatch the door, the found Jessie alone, sitting still in her rocker, her hair turned white as a ghost. Mob never returned to her, and she never spoke of what really happened that night. Jessie never again spoke of anything at all.
Thursday March 3rd - White Stone
The White Stone is known to bring hardship on those who allow it to reside on their property. A story of its curse is known in Walker County. The couple that owned the farm worked in the field in view from their kitchen window every day, so the wife was surprised to see something standing still smack in the middle of it one morning. She went out in the early fog to check it out, and she found a stark white rock, about three feet tall and egg shaped, tall and still amongst her crops. The husband moved the rock to the flower garden, and the effects of the cursed stone befell the house shortly thereafter. The milk cow ran away, the well dried up, livestock and crops died inexplicably, and the barn caught fire, all within a month's time. When the realization set in that the streak of bad luck started at the discovery of the stone, the husband immediately loaded up the white menace and deposited it at the shore of a shallow creek. The milk cow returned, the well water flowed once more, and the next crop of vegetables were healthier and more plentiful than ever. Another man came across the white stone at the creek and, entranced by its beauty, loaded the cursed thing in his truck only to have it break down on the highway before he could even get it home.
Friday March 4th - There’s Silver in that Church Bell
The Daphne Museum is an elaborate step back in time, since it is housed inside the antebellum Daphne Methodist Church. At the casting of the original bell that rang from its belfry, Mr. and Mrs. William Jones donated silver dollars to line the inside of the bell because they told it "enhanced the tone." The Daphne Methodist Church held services since the 1840's, with the oldest grave marker found to read from 1847. It now preserves the beauty, history, and heritage of this Jubilee City. If you haven't been lately, I highly recommend it! The museum is open Sunday from 1 til 4!
Saturday March 5th - Essie Lignon Found Her Baby
Though many stories of phantom women on bridges, in search of their lost babies, have made their rounds through the circuit of urban legends, the Wild Woman of Pea River has turned up in written accounts linked to the death of Essie Ligon. Essie was an undocumented slave near Sylvan Grove just off the banks of Pea River, and she was fetching water when she heard her baby shriek from the basket where he was previously napping. She climbed as fast as she could back to her child's side, but the basket was empty. She searched every waking moment for years to find her little boy, with no clue to lead her looking. One day, though, fetching water at the same spot on Pea River, she saw a little black boy dressed in native garments, and just knew it was him. She scrambled to cross the river, but at a swell from heavy rains, the current was too much. The water took her. Locals say the Essie Ligon, the Wild Woman of Pea River, will chase cars across the bridge between Opp and Enterprise with a feverish rage, even causing flat tires and electrical problems that keep vehicles from reaching the other side, the side where her baby stood, the place of a reunion that never was.
Monday March 7th - The Little Girl at the Loxley Hotel
An Amish girl from Ohio with a child growing in her womb knew that she could bring nothing but shame and despair to her family in the early 1900's. She boarded the train one night and never returned to the north. Baldwin County, Alabama was advertised as a land of fertile soil and cheap estate, which sounded like a wonderful place to raise her child and start anew. Single mothers were not treated with any respect at the time, so constructing a story of losing her husband in the Great War, her backstory was covered, and with her broad skill set, employment came easy. Taking up work and residence at the Loxley Hotel, she hid her growing belly under numerous aprons, but the owner caught on quickly. She helped the mother-to-be during her pregnancy and protected the child after its birth. Soon, the kind owner sold the hotel, though, and the new employer was not so understanding. The little girl never left the upstairs room as advised by the mother, and the child would stare out the window all day, longing to play with the children passing through town. When the mother realized that this was no way to raise her child, that the girl deserved more than the confines of this room, the mother began to look for other work. But before the woman could pack up her little girl and start a better life, the influenza epidemic swept heavily through the region. When the woman didn't return to work for tow days, the angry hotel owner marched up to the maids quarters to give her what for, and found her cradling her child in the corner rocking chair, their lives recently slipped away. The rocking chair is now owned by a nearby resident of Loxley, and reports the rocking chair swaying at odd times throughout the day, and if you pass by the old hotel, you can still see the little girl staring out the top right window of the building, longing for companionship, clutching nothing but her doll.