The Witch of Pungo

The Witch of Pungo and other historical stories of the early colonies

Louisa Venable Kyle

Four O’Clock Farms Publishing Company, 1973

The introduction by the author: “This collection of stories was written at the request of the late Miss Louise Luxford of the Virginia Beach School system. . . .As often as possible, actual family names are used. There is a historical background for every story. However the stories themselves are fiction.”

Swift – Foot, A Brave Indian Boy – tells the story of the English landing at Cape Henry on the coast of what is now Virginia Beach in 1607 as observed by the young boy, Swift-Foot.

Christmas at Adam Thoroughgood’s House  – Christmas, 1675 is celebrated on a colonial plantation. Adam Thoroughgood’s house is still standing today and there is always a big celebration there at Christmas. So popular is that celebration that there are only a certain number of tickets available each day and the tickets are sold out early, usually by Thanksgiving.

The Witch of Pungo – July 10th 1706 – Grace Sherwood, the Witch of Pungo, is to be tried by water – she is tied up and thrown from a boat into the water. If she sank and drowned, she would be proved not a witch. If she could keep herself afloat by swimming, it would mean she was a witch and they would put her back in jail. (Weird, right?)

A Trip to Williamsburg – Spring, 1755, a trip to the capital of the Virginia Colony would take 2 days by boat up the James River in contrast to the 1 hour by car it takes today (however, the traffic is so bad 1 hour can easily stretch into 2 or more, which can feel like 2 days!).

The Lighting of Cape Henry Lighthouse – Thanksgiving Day, 1792, the first light house on the Virginia Colony coast was built and lit. It only took 130 years for the colonial and then state government to decide to do it and then pay for it. You see, government always works at a snail’s pace – whether it is 2015 or 1660.

Blackbeard’s Treasure – April, 1866, a young boy and his dog find a chest filled with gold buried in the sand off Cape Henry. He thinks it must be from Blackbeard because the pirate sailed out of Chesapeake Bay and attacked ships off Cape Henry.

Little Ella and the Windmill – 1870s, a young girl and her father set off for the windmills to have rye and wheat ground. In the coastal area there were no rivers or streams to make a traditional mill so colonists imported builders from Holland who built mills operated by wind – the traditional windmill.

These fictional stories are accompanied by brief notes on historical background. The stories are perfect for children and early readers (although you may not want to use the word “redskins” {used when the author referred to the native population} from the 2nd story – at least I found it offensive). But for the most part the stories are interesting and harmless. They would be great for a storyteller to learn and tell to groups of people.

Rating: 3 out of 5 paws because of its kind of strange to read a book with names of people and places you’ve heard of and yet kind of cool, too.

We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge, 2015; category: Read a book by a local author.

dec 24 2010Reviewer: BobbieSue

Grace Sherwood: The Witch of Pungo Grace Sherwood, The Witch of Pungo

Description Adam Thoroughgood House by Frances Benjamin Johnston.jpg Adam Thoroughgood’s house

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse - Chesapeak Bay, Virginia Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

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