Emmaline Heard


[TR: This interview, which was attached to the interview with Mrs.

Celestia Avery, is also included in the second volume of the Georgia


On December 3 and 4, 1936, Mrs. Emmaline Heard was interviewed at her

home, 239 Cain Street. The writer had visited Mrs. Heard previously, and

it was at her own request that another visit was made. This visit was

supposed to be one to obtain information and stories on the practice of

conjure. On two previous occasions Mrs. Heard's stories had proved very

interesting, and I knew as I sat there waiting for her to begin that she

had something very good to tell me. She began:

"Chile, this story wuz told ter me by my father and I know he sho

wouldn't lie. Every word of it is the trufe; fact, everything I ebber

told you wuz the trufe. Now, my pa had a brother, old Uncle Martin, and

his wife wuz name Julianne. Aunt Julianne used ter have spells and fight

and kick all the time. They had doctor after doctor but none did her any

good. Somebody told Uncle Martin to go ter a old conjurer and let the

doctors go cause they wan't doing nothing fer her anyway. Sho nuff he

got one ter come see her and give her some medicine. This old man said

she had bugs in her head, and after giving her the medicine he started

rubbing her head. While he rubbed her head he said: 'Dar's a bug in her

head; it looks jest like a big black roach. Now, he's coming out of her

head through her ear; whatever you do, don't let him get away cause I

want him. Whatever you do, catch him; he's going ter run, but when he

hits the pillow, grab 'em. I'm go take him and turn it back on the one

who is trying ter send you ter the grave.' Sho nuff that bug drap out

her ear and flew; she hollered, and old Uncle Martin ran in the room,

snatched the bed clothes off but they never did find him. Aunt Julianne

never did get better and soon she died. The conjurer said if they had a

caught the bug she would a lived."

The next story is a true story. The facts as told by Mrs. Heard were

also witnessed by her; as it deals with the conjuring of one of her

sons. It is related in her exact words as nearly as possible.

"I got a son named Albert Heard. He is living and well; but chile, there

wuz a time when he wuz almost ter his grave. I wuz living in town then,

and Albert and his wife wuz living in the country with their two

chillun. Well, Albert got down sick and he would go ter doctors, and go

ter doctors, but they didn't do him any good. I wuz worried ter death

cause I had ter run backards and for'ards and it wuz a strain on me. He

wuz suffering with a knot on his right side and he couldn't even fasten

his shoes cause it pained him so, and it wuz so bad he couldn't even

button up his pants. A 'oman teached school out there by the name of

Mrs. Yancy; she's dead now but she lived right here on Randolph Street

years ago. Well, one day when I wuz leaving Albert's house I met her on

the way from her school. 'Good evening, Mrs. Heard,' she says. 'How is

Mr. Albert?' I don't hardly know, I says, cause he don't get no better.

She looked at me kinda funny and said, don't you believe he's hurt?' Yes

mam, I said, I sho do. 'Well,' says she, 'I been wanting to say

something to you concerning this but I didn't know how you would take

it. If I tell you somewhere ter go will you go, and tell them I sent

you?' Yes mam, I will do anything if Albert can get better. 'All right

then', she says. 'Catch the Federal Prison car and get off at Butler

St.' In them days that car came down Forrest Ave. 'When you get to

Butler St.', she says, 'walk up to Clifton St. and go to such and such a

number. Knock on the door and a 'oman by the name of Mrs. Hirshpath will

come ter the door. Fore she let you in she go ask who sent you there;

when you tell 'er, she'll let you in. Now lemme tell you she keeps two

quarts of whisky all the time and you have ter drink a little with her;

sides that she cusses nearly every word she speaks; but don't let that

scare you; she will sho get your son up if it kin be done.' Sho nuff

that old 'oman did jest lak Mrs. Yancy said she would do. She had a

harsh voice and she spoke right snappy. When she let me in she said, sit

down. You lak whisky?' I said, well, I take a little dram sometimes.

'Well, here take some of this', she said. I poured a little bit and

drank it kinda lak I wuz afraid. She cursed and said 'I ain't go conjure

you. Drink it.' She got the cards and told me to cut 'em, so I did.

Looking at the cards, she said: 'You lak ter wait too long; they got him

marching to the cemetery. The poor thing! I'll fix those devils. (A

profane word was used instead of devils). He got a knot on his side,

ain't he?' Yes, Mam, I said. That 'oman told me everything that was

wrong with Albert and zackly how he acted. All at once she said; 'If

them d----d things had hatched in him it would a been too late. If you

do zackly lak I tell you I'll get him up from there.' I sho will, I told

her. 'Well, there's a stable sets east of his house. His house got three

rooms and a path go straight to the stable. I see it there where he

hangs his harness. Yes, I see it all, the devils! Have you got any

money?' Yes, mam, a little, I said. 'All right then,' she said. 'Go to

the drug store and get 5c worth of blue stone; 5c wheat bran; and go ter

a fish market and ask 'em ter give you a little fish brine; then go in

the woods and get some poke-root berries. Now, there's two kinds of

poke-root berries, the red skin and the white skin berry. Put all this

in a pot, mix with it the guts from a green gourd and 9 parts of red

pepper. Make a poultice and put to his side on that knot. Now, listen,

your son will be afraid and think you are trying ter do something ter

him but be gentle and persuade him that its fer his good.' Child, he sho

did act funny when I told him I wanted to treat his side. I had ter tell

him I wuz carrying out doctors orders so he could get well. He reared

and fussed and said he didn't want that mess on him. I told him the

doctor says you do very well till you go ter the horse lot then you go

blind and you can't see. He looked at me. 'Sho nuff, Ma, he said, 'that

sho is the trufe. I have ter always call one of the chillun when I go

there cause I can't see how ter get back ter the house.' Well, that

convinced him and he let me fix the medicine for him. I put him ter bed

and made the poultice, then I put it ter his side. Now this 'oman said

no one wuz ter take it off the next morning but me. I wuz suppose ter

fix three, one each night, and after taking each one off ter bury it lak

dead folks is buried, east and west, and ter make a real grave out of

each one. Well, when I told him not ter move it the next morning, but

let me move it, he got funny again and wanted to know why. Do you know I

had ter play lak I could move it without messing up my bed clothes and

if he moved it he might waste it all. Finally he said he would call me

the next morning. Sho nuff, the next morning he called me, ma! ma! come

take it off. I went in the room and he wuz smiling. I slept all night

long he said, and I feel so much better. I'm so glad, I said, and do you

know he could reach down and fasten up his shoe and it had been a long

time since he could do that. Later that day I slipped out and made my

first grave under the fig bush in the garden. I even put up head boards,

too. That night Albert said, 'Mama, fix another one. I feel so much

better.' I sho will, I said. Thank God you're better; so fer three

nights I fixed poultices and put ter his side and each morning he would

tell me how much better he felt. Then the last morning I wuz fixing

breakfast and he sat in the next room. After while Albert jumped up and

hollered, Ma! Ma!' What is it,' I said. 'Mama, that knot is gone. It

dropped down in my pants.' What! I cried. Where is it? Chile, we looked

but we didn't find anything, but the knot had sho gone. Der 'oman had

told me ter come back when the knot moved and she would tell me what

else ter do. That same day I went ter see her and when I told her she

just shouted, 'I fixed 'em, The devils! Now, says she, do you [TR:

know?] where you can get a few leaves off a yellow peachtree. It must be

a yellow peach tree, though. Yes, mam, I says to her. I have a yellow

peachtree right there in my yard. Well, she says, get a handful of

leaves, then take a knife and scrape the bark up, then make a tea and

give him so it will heal up the poison from that knot in his side, also

mix a few jimson weeds with it. I come home and told him I wanted ter

give him a tea. He got scared and said, what fer, Ma? I had ter tell him

I wuz still carrying out the doctor's orders. Well, he let me give him

the tea and that boy got well. I went back to Mrs. Hirshpath and told

her my son was well and I wanted to pay her. Go on, she said, keep the

dollar and send your chillun ter school. This sho happened ter me and I

know people kin fix you. Yes sir."

The next story was told to Mrs. Heard by Mrs. Hirshpath, the woman who

cured her son.

I used to go see that 'oman quite a bit and even sent some of my

friends ter her. One day while I wuz there she told me about this piece

of work she did.

"There was a young man and his wife and they worked fer some white

folks. They had jest married and wuz trying ter save some money ter buy

a home with. All at onct the young man went blind and it almost run him

and his wife crazy cause they didn't know what in the world ter do.

Well, somebody told him and her about Mrs. Hirshpath, so they went ter

see her. One day, says Mrs. Hirshpath, a big fine carriage drew up in

front of her door and the coachman helped him to her door. She asked him

who sent him and he told her. She only charged 50c for giving advice and

after you wuz cured it wuz up ter you to give her what you wanted to.

Well, this man gave her 50c and she talked ter him. She says, boy, you

go home and don't you put that cap on no more. What cap? he says. That

cap you wears ter clean up the stables with, cause somebody done dressed

that cap fer you, and every time you perspire and it run down ter your

eyes it makes you blind. You jest get that cap and bring it ter me. I'll

fix 'em; they's trying ter make you blind, but I go let you see. The boy

was overjoyed, and sho nuff he went back and brought her that cap, and

it wuzn't long fore he could see good as you and me. He brought that

'oman $50, but she wouldn't take but $25 and give the other $25 back ter


"What I done told you is the trufe, every word of it; I know some other

things that happened but you come back anudder day fer that."

Emma Virgel Emmaline Heard facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail