Burned Alive as a Witch, The Legend of The Battletown Witch

Sara B

Leah Smock was born in 1818, near Battletown, Kentucky, now Meade County, Kentucky. Leah was a beautiful, intelligent woman, a natural healer who used herbal remedies to cure the sick.

Many also believed she could predict the future and had ¨the second sight.¨ During the 1800s, being beautiful and intelligent was already a threat, but add in a strong intuition, and she was a triple threat to those around her; many said she was a witch.

Leah loved animals, and they were drawn to her. When she was not working, she was wandering through the woods or hanging out with her friend, Indian Joe; a Native American and many believed he taught her about the healing properties of plants, as was used in his Cherokee culture. Some say that she might have also been a descendant of the Native Americans.

Many around town said that Leah cast spells on people and animals. Two examples are one day, Leah wanted to hold a baby and was not allowed, and the baby died a day later. On another day, Leah wanted to pet a local horse, and the owner forbade, but Leah pet him anyway, and the horse ended up dying.

There are two versions of this story: Leah cursed the baby and the horse for not being allowed to hold or pet them, and they angered her. The other story is that Leah felt something was wrong with them and wanted to use her healing powers to help.

There were other rumors saying she controlled the crops in the area and that if you were not on her good side, your crops would fail. In the eyes of the townspeople, Leah was a witch intending to harm those around her.

One of the last rumors involved two boys following and harassing Leah; they said she was walking with the foxes and wild animals. The boys went missing that night, and when they got asked what happened to them, they claimed that Leah had her animal friends chase them. Ultimately, the townspeople got tired of her games and decided to do something about it.

August 21st, 1840 Leah's parents went into town, which was a full day of travel, with a horse and wagon. When the townspeople saw they had gone and she was alone, they went in for an attack. First, they grabbed Leah, tying her up with a rope, hogtie fashion. Next, they placed her in the smokehouse and locked her in; they then set fire to the smokehouse and watched her burn alive.

When her parents returned, the only thing left was her burned remains. There is a story that when her mother saw the burned smokehouse, she saw her daughter's ghost and asked ¨why didn't you save yourself¨, there was no response.

She was buried at the back of the property. Now, there is a Cemetery called The Elizabeth Daily cemetery. Leah Smock was 22 years old and the first witch burned in Kentucky.

However, this is not the end of Leah. After she was buried, a hunter saw her spirit wandering around the woods. The people of Battletown took action and covered her grave with stones.

It is said that people see her ghost in the woods and around her grave, still. She is recognized by the ropes tied around her wrist, waist, and neck, surrounded by a purple haze, and dressed in a white gown.

Many people still make the hike to her grave, and it is a dangerous walk. The area is full of copperhead snakes and venomous snakes surrounding her grave, and the risk of seeing her spirit is high. Do not remove stones from her grave, as it has been known to cause bad luck to those who do.

If you live in the area check out The Battletown Witch Festival, on October 29, 2022.

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I share legends, myths, and bizarre history, sometimes news. Living nomadically since 2018, currently in Colombia.

Pasadena, CA
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