Friday, February 26, 2010

May You Have Interesting Ancestors!

According to my brother, the genealogist in my family, this guy was our direct ancestor:
SIMEON SMITH was the man [who was a friend and familiar companion to Reuben Clement, who might have been crazy], --and all of his neighbors as long as he lived believed that he was an adept at the black art. Of him it was alleged, "That some gloomy night, like those chosen by magicians to invoke spirits, he had called up the devil at the cross roads where four roads met in his native town, and to obtain superhuman powers he had agreed to be his liege man, and had then kissed Satan's cloven hoof." Wonderful were the feats that he could perform. Sometimes, from sheer malice, he would saddle and bridle one of his neighbors, and ride and gallop him all over the country round. Then turning jack-o'-lantern, with counterfeiting voice he would call some loitering person through the woods, around marshy ponds into tangled thickets, and leave him lost in the cold damp swamp. The butter would not come, and he was in the churn; the cat mewed and jumped wildly about the house, and he tormented her; the children behaved strangely, and he had bewitched them. Smaller than a gnat, he could go through the key hole; larger than a giant, he was seen at twilight stalking through the forest. He could travel in the thin air, and mounted on a moonbeam could fly swift as the red meteor over the woods and the mountains.
This is from The History of Warren, a Mountain Hamlet, Located Among the White Hills of New Hampshire, by William Little, published in 1870. My ancestor may not have been as interesting as all that, however, because the book goes on to say:
Without doubt all this was pious scandal, worthy of the Puritans, for Simeon Smith was a good man, and in spite of their superstition compelled the respect of his neighbors. He came to Warren in February, 1773, bring his family and worldly effects in a one-horse vehicle, known among farmers as a "jumper." He settled on Red Oak hill, and lived for a time with that restive little backwoodsman, Mr. John Morrill. Mr. Smith was likewise a small-sized man, smart to work and quick-motioned. He had a large family, two or three boys old enough to help, and before another winter he had a comfortable cabin of his own.
Drat! ;)

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