A GREAT many pioneers believed in “visions, dreams and queer feelings” and to these beliefs were added certain signs. These traditions they brought with them into the wilderness of Brady Township.
The early settler did not worry about the fertility of the soil. The soil had the humus of centuries, in addition to the potash produced by the burning of the timber, and the fertility from the stumps left standing in the cleared land, but the signs for planting were a worry.
There were two signs, the “up-going” and the “down going.” If the crop to be planted were to root deep, it must be planted in the “down going” sign, so that the roots would penetrate the soil. If the crop were one that required the opposite, then it should be planted in the “up going” sign.
Marriages were always consummated in the increase of the moon. The moon largely controlled the signs of planting as well. If the new moon stood on its end, the weather would be wet; if the new moon lay on its back it would be dry; and if the new moon appeared far in the west or to the northwest, it would be cold.
One man stated that if there were three signs in the Fish, followed by three in the Waterman and three in the Crab, if the wind then blew from the south, it would rain. Others believed that if the wind was from the south on the first day of September there would be a mild open winter.
A wide belief in witch-craft existed. The community had a “hex doctor.” The hex doctor was a man about five feet five inches tall, probably weighing a hundred and fifty pounds, and past middle life. He wore his shirt open to the waist, exhibiting a breast covered with a heavy growth of hair. When called upon, he exorcised the evil spirits, and prepared an amulet, which was tied in a little bag worn over the heart. Curiosity led some one to examine one of these amulets one day, and found a grasshopper and a couple of peculiarly shaped stones in the bag.
Of course there were witches. There would have been no use for a hex doctor unless where were witches.