| || Notes for Mary "Old Moll":|
[Miller - Whitted Family.FTW]
Matriarch of this line of modern day Derry's. Born approximately 1760, and died in May or June of 1843. Little is known of her prior to the Ameican Revolution, including her maiden name. However, many legends and stories abound.
Speculation on which of the Derry men married Mary has been narrowed to Jacob or Baltser, both are believed to be sons of Baltser Derry of Loudoun Co, VA.
The Derry home place was located halfway up Derry Hill off to the left in the field. Derry Hill is located 3 miles South of Haydentown on the route _______ late. The home place was a stone house on the back road behind Charlie Gates this being the road in the valley east of the main road.
The following is believed to be the last will of Old Moll, Mary Derry. It begins with information from Arch Miller, and comes to us by way ofBernard Mayhle.
1843 - Will of Mary Derry - Will Book 2 p. 282 - Fayette Co, PA
The last will and testament of Mary Derry of George Twp Fayette Co, State of Pennsylvania.
In the name of God I Mary Derry considering the uncertainty of the mortal life and being of sound mind and memory blessed be almighty God for the same, do make this my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say, first I give and bequeath unto my grand child Andrew Derry the son of Mary Fowler the house and lot where I now live in Haydentown or George Town lying and being in George Twp in Fayette Co, and state above mentioned it being the whole of my freehold estate whatsoever to hold to him the said Andrew Derry his heirs and assigns forever whom I hereby appoint Mary Fowler sole Executrix of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all formers wills by me maid (sic). In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the fifteenth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eighteen hundred and forty three.
[Will proved 17 June 1843, Jacob Dawson testified before Joseph Gadd, Register for the probate, that the will of Mary Derry, late of George Twp, is as it is purported to be.]
Below is a copy of a letter sent to Joan Brown Derry, from Wilbur Landman, in January 1999.
January 8, 1999
Received your letter yesterday and will forward (hopefully very soon) 2 books. The printer has discovered a small stash of them at the shop which he is giving me.
I am glad to finally meet a true descendant of MOLL DERRY! My Great-grandmother Cunningham from Fairchannce, PA, often related stories about her. She was a real witch and quite a character!
In A F Hill's book, "The White Rocks", she is the witch who forewarns Polly Williams that her fiance' will murder her, casting her off the white rocks in the mountains near Fairchance.
Descriptions of Moll Derry varied locally. I have heard that she was "a very small person who rocked herself in a cradle with length-wise rockers". Another description described her as "a large woman, heavy and hunched over, completely bald. The skin on her broad face and round head was tawny-brown, blotched against brown, leather like skin." She was said to have had "a great hairy mole on her upper lip, with two long canine teeth in her upper jaw that protruded down, giving her a walrus like appearance." She was widely known throughout SW Pennsylvania as "a healer, using herbs and roots"; being able to ride great distances on a broomstick" and that she "walked with a cane".
It was said that she lived in absolute destitution in a hovel in the mountains above Uniontown, and that she could "command rattlesnakes to guard her and her cabin". I have not heard her called "the witch of Monongahela", but heard her called the "Witch of the little world ". She has been referred to in local history as "Moll (or Molly) Derry", "Moll Dell", and "Moll Wampler". In the 1850's she was said to be residing in the mountains of Somerset Co, PA.
She was an renown practitioner of both "Pow-Wowing" and the "Heshen-Hammer". Both were various types of Occultism that originated hundreds of years ago in Germany. She is said to have owned an "Erdspiegel", some type of crystal ball by which she could foretell the future.
At the end of the story of "The Lost Boys of the Allegheny's", she was said to have been "trampled and killed by residents of Bedford Co, PA". However, I doubt this, hearing that she moved back to Fayette Co, sometime afterwards.
In the 1820's she is reputed to have lived with another witch near Rubles Mill, PA, named Hannah Clarke, who apparently was her (Derry's) apprentice!
My grandmother was 104 when she died, about ten years ago, and her parents knew Moll Derry, who had a kind of "granny store" and told their fortunes often. This was in the area of the Fayette Co, mountains above Dunbar and between there and Confluence, PA.
I am very interested in any other information (genealogical or otherwise) you could provide, as I've wanted to write a biographical article about Moll Derry for sometime.
The manager of the Bethesda Christian Book Store in Uniontown (I can't remember the young man's name now), claims to be a descendant also, but I cannot confirm it as true.
Apparently, Moll outlived her husband, or he left her, as I've never recalled hearing she was married. I have heard that she was kin to the Schultz's, but never knew that was her maiden name. Most of the folklore on Moll Derry has been passed down from 2 or 3 generations ago, and she is not now the great celebrity she was 100 years ago locally.
Any information you can share will be greatly appreciated!....
Wilbur R Landman
P.O. Box 155
Hibbs, PA 15443-0155
This comes to from a Derry family researcher and family member, Kathy Sawyer about Old Moll:
Heard a great Old Moll story today from Wilbur Landman:
There was a gang of robbers from McClellandtown who would come to Smithfield to rob Shaker (and possibly Mennonite) farmers (because they did not carry guns) coming home from market with the money they made from selling their goods. They would accost the poor souls, rob them, kill them and dump their bodies in the mill pond at Rubles Mill. As you may recall, Old Moll lived near Rubles Mill for a time with her apprentice Hannah Clarke. The robbers went to see Old Moll one day and asked her for a potion that would put people to sleep for good. She is alleged to have said; "Why are you coming to me when your hands are still wet from your dirty work at the mill pond?" This scared them so badly that they ran away and supposedly did not bother the people of that area anymore!
I have also learned that the name Moll Wampler came from writers/storytellers of Old Moll's time. Because they feared her, they did not want to use her actual name when spinning yarns.
There is also a rumor that Samuel Miller, my great grandfather and Barbara Ellen Hartman's husband, was a traveling preacher and he along with other religious types, ran Old Moll out of Haydentown! Can't confirm this as yet....
Further north in Pennsylvania, German settlers began arriving in the late 17th century, the bulk of them immigrating in the first half of the 18th century. The term Pennsylvania "Dutch" is a corruption of the German word "Deutch" meaning German. Silver RavenWolf lives in Pennsylvania and describes this magical tradition in HexCraft. She has Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors, as I also do.
Two distinct groups of German immigrants came to Pennsylvania. The Fancy Germans, or Lutherans, brought their elaborate folk history with them, including the ornate customs of Christmas and Easter, the Yule tree and log, colorful decorations, baskets, and pictures of bunnies. The other German group was the Plain or Pietist Germans. They included members of the Mennonite, Amish, Dunker, and Brethern denominations. The Plain Germans wore distinctive clothing and tried to live a simple rural life-style guided by their interpretation of the Bible. Some of the pow-wowers Silver RavenWolf interviewed were Brethren, Mennonites, and Dunkers.
South central Pennsylvania was fertile and not physically isolated, as were the southern Appalachians. Hexcraft, or pow-wow, as it is locally called, survived because of the tendency of both Fancy and Plain Germans to live in tightly knit communities, where they preserved their customs and language into the 20th century.
Native Americans were present, at least initially, when the Germans arrived and the term pow-wow was possibly derived from the early settlers' observations of Indian pow wows. Silver RavenWolf thinks the word pow-wow may also be a derivative of the word power or may come from the Native American pow wow definition meaning "he who dreams."
Pow-wowing includes some charms and incantations dating from the Middle Ages plus elements borrowed from the Jewish Qabala and Christian Bible. Pow-wowing generally focuses on healing minor health problems, the protection of livestock, success in love, and the casting or removing of hexes. For over 200 years, pow-wowers have considered themselves to be staunch Christians endowed with supernatural powers to both heal and harm.
Hex signs are the most widely recognized symbols associated with pow-wow magic. The word hex means a spell or bewitchment and comes from the German word hexe for witch. Hex signs are round magical signs and symbols used primarily to protect against hexerie (witchcraft). They were used by the Fancy Dutch but not the Amish and strict Mennonites.
Some hex symbols and designs originate in the Bronze Age. Ancient Celtic and Germanic tribes put emphasis on the energy patterns of the divine Source rather than its representation as a human archetype. The Source was depicted in universal designs that assisted in focusing power either toward or away from the design. The basic pattern found in the original hex signs is the double rosette, which is found at many ancient European holy sites.
Most of the charms used in pow-wow magic were originally described in two books. The first book, Long Lost Friend, was written in 1820 by John George Hohman. He was a German Catholic immigrant who documented various charms and herbal remedies that had been preserved orally for centuries. The second book is the anonymous Seventh Book of Moses, also called the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses. This book contains a mixture of wisdom derived from the Talmud, Qabala, and Old Testament. Silver RavenWolf says these two books were once found in almost all Pennsylvania Dutch households.
Pow-wow tools include common items such as spools of red and black thread, a ball of red yarn, several lengths of red and black ribbons, small hand-made ceramic bowls, a seam ripper, a creek stone (divinity stone) and a container of holy water. Red and white are the basic colors used in pow-wow.
Pow-wowing was still common in the early 20th century. Gradually over time, several local murders were attributed to pow-wowers. One belief held by some pow-wowers was that a curse could be broken by killing the person who placed it. Pow-wowing rapidly declined in the 1920s when the news media portrayed it as an embarrassing example of backward and superstitious Pennsylvania Dutch behavior. While researching her book, Silver RavenWolf found only elderly pow-wow practitioners, who often lived in local nursing homes.