Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Whippoorwills IV

There are few folklore scholars as diligent and hard working as the now retired William Lynwood Montell formerly of Western Kentucky University. His Ghosts Along the Cumberland: Deathlore in the Kentucky Foothills set a new standard in scholarship. He also quotes the Frank C. Brown collection of North Carolina Folklore , Durham, 1952, which is noted in the brackets below when there is a parallel.

Whippoorwill death lore:

The cry of a whippoorwill is a sign that someone is going to die. [Taylor County, KY, 1966. The informant, female, born 1909 in Green County, KY.]

Montell states that Brown (coded #5330) also collected this logia “If a whippoorwill alights near a house and sings, it is a token of death. " Brown also mentions that this logia has traces in Europe and the United States. This same logia was located in Adair County, KY in 1963.

When a whip-o-will {sic} calls out at night, the number of times he calls will be the number of days before a death in the family. [Barren County, KY, 1966, female, born 1946 in Barren County]

If a whippoorwill stays near your home, there will be a death withing twenty-four hours. [Taylor County, KY, 1965, female, born 1937, Taylor County - - Brown #5332 states “If a whippoorwill cries at you back door, you will hear of a death within twenty-four hours."]

If a whippoorwill hollers close to the house, there will be a death in the family. [Taylor County, KY, 1966, male, born 1938, Taylor County.

If a whippoorwill lights on a sick persons’ bed post and sings, death will follow. [Green County, KY, 1967, female, born 1895, Green County].

Soo… we see that in both North Carolina and Kentucky the whippoorwill death legend was pronounced.

p. 40, 41, Ghosts Along the Cumberland: Deathlore in the Kentucky Foothills, University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1975

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