The Mountain Lore of Removing Warts

I really like learning about our local mountain culture and am blessed to have grown up in a family that has held onto that culture for generations. One example of an old cultural belief that has been around ever since it was brought over from Europe is charming warts off.

My uncle Shelby Day was a wart charmer. He was never called that, but everyone around knew he could take off warts. He had an old country store along 25-E in Claiborne County and so had a steady flow of folks wanting warts taken off, including me. When I was a kid, he took them off my hand on two different occasions and has also done so for my siblings and cousins. His method was simply to give you something for the wart. For me it was a nickel and he told me to put it away and then forget about it. I did so and within a couple of weeks the wart fell off. What he gave people for warts didn’t matter. Many people were given a penny. My sister was given a stick pin for her warts, and my brother was simply handed a matchstick that Shelby happened to be chewing on at the time. Two things stood out when I interviewed folks about my uncle’s method: something was given for the wart, and you were always told to put it away and to forget about it. If you read my stuff you know that I lean on science a lot to explain how things work, but on this occasion, I got nothin’. I don’t know how wart charming worked but can testify it did work.

I did some research and stories of wart charmers goes all the way back to Europe, Ireland in particular. I asked Facebook friends to share stories about the topic, and many had grown up knowing about folks that could take off warts. “Buying” them seems to be the most common method in our region, but there were other rituals used as well. There were stories where the wart charmer rubbed his/her finger over them and were told not to think about them. I heard several stories that involved stealing a dish towel and burying it. The use of thread seemed a common local technique as well, touching the wart with the thread or tying a knot in the thread while holding it over the wart. Then the thread was buried or placed under a rock and the wart patient was told to forget about it (a recurring theme).

There are many, many folklore recommendations from all over the world to take warts off that did not necessarily involve a wart charmer. Here are just a few: Nail a snail with a brown shell to your door and as it rots so will the wart. There are several “burying” charms that involved rubbing the wart with a piece of bacon, beans, peach tree leaves, etc. and then burying the item. There were charms where various things were applied to the wart, including the juice of milkweed, a cut potato, lemon juice, even stump water.

While I do not know how or why my uncle could take off warts, a friend of mine read about the science of charming warts. The thought was that when you actually believe the wart will go away, it activates something in your body that fights the wart virus and actually makes it go away. That is as good of an explanation as any. I’m sad to say the gift of wart removal was not passed on by my uncle to his children, and the tradition is seldom spoken about these days, so it seems to have about died out.

By Steve Roark
Volunteer Interpreter for Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

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Dental Dilemma

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By: Steve Roark
Volunteer Interpreter, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

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Taco Whirl Casserole

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President Martin Shafer stands at the podium

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Jack Rhyne– recently retired Maynardville City Manager

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Clear the Room, Boys!

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Preserving our natural and historic sites: Preservation Union County

Oak Grove School now renovated and providing educational support as the Sharps Chapel Book Station

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Our Knitting and Crochet program

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Here is our Beginner Crochet video!
https://youtu.be/ajYsG-ywGVo
Here is our Beginner Knitting Video!

Chiropractic treatment is safe Part II

Some reports have associated high-velocity upper neck manipulation with a certain rare kind of stroke, or vertebral artery dissection. However, evidence suggests that this type of arterial injury often takes place spontaneously in patients who have pre-existing arterial disease. These dissections have been associated with everyday activities such as turning one’s head while driving, swimming, or getting your hair shampooed in a hair salon.

Events

Obituary

Willda Rella Hobby

Willda R. Hobby-age 82 of Mascot passed away Sunday, January 17, 2021 at North Knoxville Medical Center. She was the oldest member and the pianist for Highland Springs Baptist Church and she loved to go to church and worship the Lord. Preceded in death by Husband, James B. Hobby; son, Mark Kevin Hobby.

LaVerne Douglas Helton

LaVerne Douglas Helton, age 59 of Maynardville passed away Sunday, January 17, 2021. A member of Shepard of the Hills Baptist Church. She loved her church and teaching the children and being a positive influence in their life. LaVerne enjoyed fishing and camping and loving on her animals and spent much of her time crocheting “gifts” for many ministries and nursing home residents. She is survived by her husband of 39 years Marvin Glenn Helton Sr.; parents William and Yvonne Douglas; children Marvin Glenn Helton Jr.

John Marvin Paul

John Marvin Paul-age 78 of LaFollette passed away Saturday morning, January 16, 2021 at Turkey Creek Medical Center. He was a member of Fundamental Missionary Baptist Church, LaFollette and was a retired automobile mechanic. He loved to work on classic cars and was an avid fisherman. He was a great husband, father and grandfather. John was one of 15 children of which nine have preceded him in death along with his parents, Lawrence and Edith (Collins) Paul; wife, Laura (Rutherford) Paul; granddaughter, Laura Ellen.

Wade Nicely

Wade Nicely-age 84 of Washburn, born May 15, 1936 went to be with the Lord Saturday, January 16, 2021 at his home. He was a lifetime member and a deacon for 51 years of Pennington Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. Preceded in death by wife, Jean Nicely; grandson, Casey Buckner; parents, Tim and Ava Nicely; brothers, Denver and Cleo Nicely, Leland (Lett) and Ruby Nicely, Lon Nicely, Curt and June Nicely, Cecil Nicely; sisters, Naomi Nicely, Katie Lee and Ralph Hundley.

Phyllis Turner

Phyllis Leonard Turner- age 85 of Knoxville passed away Sunday, January 17, 2021 at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville. She was born June 13, 1935 to the late Garland and Gladys Leonard.
Graveside service will be Monday, January 18, 2021 at 1 p.m. at the Narrow Ridge Cemetery.
Arrangements by Cooke-Campbell Mortuary.

Kern Elkins

Kern Elkins, age 68, of Andersonville, TN, passed away on January 13th, 2021. Kern and his twin sister Fern were born in Knoxville, TN on February 8, 1952 to Luther Burl and Rena Elkins. After graduating from Halls High School, Kern met and later married the love of his life, Charlotte. Kern and Charlotte were best friends and were proudly married for more than 46 years. Kern was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He would light up when any of his of grandchildren were around or mentioned.

Velma Jean Lynch

Velma Jean (Ellison) Lynch-age 90 of Sharps Chapel passed away Thursday, January 14, 2021 at Claiborne Medical Center. She was a longtime member of Blue Springs Baptist Church. Preceded in death by husband, Herbert Lynch; daughter, Sharon Dyke; granddaughter, Marnie Graham; sister, Eileen Rockstead.

Survivors: daughter, Cassandra Kay Tolliver and husband, A. C.; son-in-law, Warren Dyke; three grandchildren, Todd Dyke and wife, Rena; Trevor Dyke; McKinley Tolliver; nephew, Ronald Greer.

Jessie Fern Lovitt

Jessie F. Lovitt-age 85 of Clinton passed away Wednesday morning, January 13, 2021 at her home. She was born June 1, 1935 in Pineville, Kentucky. She was a member of The Order of the Eastern Star, Farmington Hills, Michigan. Preceded in death by husband, James Lovitt.
Survivors: daughter, Leslie Lovitt of Clinton; sons, Mathew Lovitt and wife, Hazel of Sevierville; Rickie Lovitt and wife, Kimberly of Greenville, Michigan. Four granddaughters, Maggie Temple, Jessica Ottinger, Sara Lovitt, Serina Struth. Several nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

Faye Chesney Henegar

Faye Chesney Henegar-age 90 of Luttrell, born October 3, 1930 passed away Monday afternoon, January 11, 2021 at NHC Healthcare. She was a member of New Friendship Baptist Church. She was the daughter of the late Clarence and Dora Chesney. Preceded in death by husband, Helton Henegar; brother, Roy Chesney; sisters, Nelma Jean Chesney Weaver; Gladdis Reeves and Shirley Chesney.

She is survived by a host of nieces and nephews.

Helen W. Fritts

Helen W. Fritts – 94 of Louisville, passed away at her home after a long illness on January 11, 2021. She was a lifelong member of West Side Baptist Church. Helen enjoyed church work and it was one of many joys in her life.

She is preceded in death by husband, Howard L. Fritts; grandson, Daniel J. Fritts; parents, Thompson and Sally Wright; sister, Birdie Parsons; brothers, Emerson, James and Hayden Wright. Helen is survived by children, Randall and Jeanie Fritts; nine grandchildren; three great grandchildren; and brothers, Ray and Bill Wright.

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