Kristin Lisenby Kristin Lisenby
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Gather round for a ghost story about the Witch of Yazoo...

The city of Yazoo is known for its historic architecture, fertile basin, and 188-mile river running parallel to the Mississippi. But the city's biggest draw isn’t the nature or quaint neighborhoods, but an urban legend that has haunted the community since the 1800s.

You see, back then, a grove of trees bordered the Yazoo River, and living amongst those trees was a witch. Well, they say she was a witch , but in those days, people were suspicious of any woman who lived alone.

As the story goes, the town was reeling from a series of mysterious incidents. Allegedly, someone was luring fishermen into the most treacherous parts of the river before attacking them and stealing their goods. Although the townsfolk assumed the witch was to blame, nobody could prove it. That is, until the day a young boy was walking home along the riverbank. The boy peeked inside the witch’s house, expecting to see the old woman standing over a cauldron or speaking with her familiar, but instead, he spied two dead bodies. According to his account, the witch hovered over the deceased men, gazing up towards the heavens and whispering magickal incantations to an invisible companion.

When the police arrived to investigate, there were no dead bodies, but the witch still fled into the nearby trees. However, recent rains had made the ground soft, and the police quickly caught up with the woman. They tried to pull her free from the mud, but the ground turned to quicksand, and soon, she was swallowed up by the earth.

Her last words didn’t contain an explanation or farewell, but a threat of revenge.

“In twenty years, I will return and burn this town to the ground!”

With the witch’s body buried in the local cemetery (and a chain wrapped around the headstone for good measure), nobody anticipated her words to come true. But on May 25th, 1904, exactly twenty years after the witch’s death, a devastating fire ravaged the city. Although the cause of the blaze remains a mystery, over three hundred businesses and homes were incinerated, and a large percentage of the community was displaced.

Most people believe that the fire began as an accident and have narrowed it down to the parlor of Miss Pauline Wise, a soon-to-be bride prepping for her wedding day. The strange thing was, right about the time the fire erupted, a strong wind began to blow. Despite the previously calm day, the winds screamed and howled, causing the flames to jump from one corner of the town to the next.

Even more peculiar, the day after the fire, cemetery workers noticed the chain around the witch’s grave had been broken in half. It was immediately replaced with a stronger one (for whispers warned that the witch was to blame), only to have the chain break again. And again. And again.

Despite the extra attention paid to the witch’s grave, mysterious occurrences continued. Not only did the shackles keeping her spirit tied to the Otherworld repeatedly fail, but not long after the witch’s burial, her headstone toppled over and split in two. To top it all off, if someone were to check the weather reports from May 25th, 1904, they would find no record of high winds in the Yazoo area. Today, the Witch of Yazoo’s resting place has become somewhat of a tourist site, known for paranormal activity and the memory of a woman who, even in death, refuses to be contained.

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