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Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians Paperback – March 25, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Since the material in this book has come from the traditions of the people who live among the hills and mountains of West Virginia, people who are proud to be called mountaineers, I feel that it is important to tell something about these people whose ancestors chose as the motto of their state, 'Mountaineers Are Always Free.'" Patrick W. Gainer

From the Back Cover

Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians by the renowned West Virginia folklorist and former West Virginia University English professor Patrick W. Gainer not only highlights stories that both amuse and raise goosebumps, but also begins with a description of the people and culture of the state. Based on material Gainer collected from over fifty years of field research in West Virginia and the region, Witches, Ghosts, and Signs presents the rich heritage of the southern Appalachians in a way that has never been equaled. Strange and supernatural tales of ghosts, witches, hauntings, disappearances, and unexplained murders that have been passed down from generation to generation from as far back as the earliest settlers in the region are included in this collection that will send chills down the spine.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Vandalia Press; 2nd Edition edition (March 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933202203
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933202204
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 24, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I LOVE this book. It's chocked full of surprising and interesting West Virginia folklore such as superstitions, home remedies, ghost stories, appalachian dialect and more. It's highly reminiscent and entertaining. This book is a real treat. Availability is increasingly limited. I am from the same town as the author (now deceased) & had to order my copy from FL. Even his family didn't have a copy to spare.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Frances G. Davey on March 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Full disclosure: I am one of Dr. Gainer's many grandchildren. Throughout the years of my childhood, we would trundle over the mountains from the Tidewater of Virginia, to my grandparents' house in Gilmer County, WV, for our Summer Vacation. "Papa" Gainer was a wonder to children. He was funny and loved to sing and tell funny stories. Invariably, he would load us up on the local ghost lore, always prefacing a story with, "Now this story is absolutely true, it happened to so-and-so (insert name of neighbor or relative here) just on the other side of that ridge (pointing out the living room window)." I'm not sure if he realized how hard it was to sleep the night of one of those story-telling sessions! Many years later, we were thrilled to have a book that contained those very stories.

While my perspective as to the value of this book is colored by the privilege I had of being able to hear much of the subject matter first-hand from the author, I feel proud that the book is first and foremost of high scholarly value. It, and "Folk Songs From the West Virginia Hills" is a compilation of his field work and of his lectures during his time as a professor at West Virginia University. To see one of Dr. Gainer's works translated to Kindle is particularly pleasing to me, because it not only signifies the worth of the text, but it makes me wonder what he would have thought of an electronic reader. Having the Kindle edition available insures that this text will always be available to students and to anyone who wants to know more about early Appalachian culture.

I hope that "Folk Songs From the West Virginia Hills" also will be preserved in Kindle edition some day, for generations of students to come.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Granny Sue on June 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This collection is a rare treat. The information contained in its 177 pages is a goldmine for writers, folklorists, and storytellers. Want to know how to cure a wart, stop a bleeding nose, or to tell when rain is coming? It's all here. Ghost stories, tales of witches, weather and nature lore, tradtional mountain social activities and folk remedies combine for a great read.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By PATRICK on July 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am Patrick A. Gainer, whose name my late father, Dr. Patrick W. Gainer gave me so I would not be called "Junior". Any review I might give would be biased by my love and respect for him and his scholarship. All I can say is that I doubt any one who reads this book will disagree with me.
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By Daniel on September 25, 2014
Format: Paperback
I absolutely love this book. Our entire 4th grade class constantly checked this book out of our school library (over 30 years ago!) to the point it fell apart. All of us read and re-read the book, until at last it gave up the ghost....if you will pardon my play on words. Fortunately, I found new copies for sale several years ago, and I excitedly snatched up a copy. I still read through it periodically to this day. This book, which contains stories in and around the area in which I live, has so much sentimental value to me. The stories are written in the vernacular of the people telling the stories, which helps preserve the culture of the time. I was so pleased to see this being available on Amazon, and I thank the family for making this part of our culture available to the world at large. By modern standards, some might find the stories juvenile, given the almost daily dose of paranormal tv shows, horror films, and other media. But, if you keep in mind that these stories come from a time when TV was not prevalent, and people's beliefs were not as complicated...this book holds a simple purity of yesteryear. I will end as I began. I love this book.
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I love this book! I have read it several times now. The Ghost Stories are my favorite ... they are written as the old people told them. That makes it a lot like you're actually hearing Granny or GrandPa tell it. The Witch lore is interesting too. Of course the Signs are very much like the stuff GrandMa and Great GrandMa would tell, except they would say " It's an Omen". Like ... if you hear a hoot owl outside your window at night, it's an omen of an upcoming death. This book would call that a "Sign", not an "Omen", but the beliefs are the same. If you like info about the old time beliefs, get this book! If you like true Ghost Stories, get this book! If you need to know how to stop a Witch from hexing your churn so it won't make butter ( which is very serious indeed ), get this book!
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By Daniel L Pratt on January 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having recently moved near West Virginia, I decided this would be an interesting read, and it is. It reflects the author's decades-long research into the folklore of West Virginia, with lots of ghost and witch stories, superstitions and local dialect. Some readers will find of particular interest the author's account of the origin and true meaning of "Trick or Treat" at Halloween. The subtitle "Folklore of the Southern Appalachians" is surprising since everything results from research within West Virginia, which is not especially far south. Some of the sayings and superstitions are known in the Pittsburgh area and beyond.
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