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Was Barthney Jane the ‘Witch of Woodcliff’
As you reach the Woodcliff through the cemetery, he began passing by her house on their way straight ahead, not looking to
Baptist Church Crossing, telling the story of his ancestor to church. The old man said she either side as she was led through
look over in the cemetery. that he called “the old witch.” would cuss the church-goers as the darkness by fire light.
Amongst them is the grave Barthney Jane Swafford, he said, they passed; she would stand out A.J. and Barthney Jane had
of a woman that even some acquired a reputation of being on her porch or in the yard next to about 10 children. Most lived to
of her family said that she just a little peculiar. She went the road and jump up and down raise their own families. All of
was a “witch.” through the woods gathering and shout to them, “Hallelujah!” them, the old man told, became
By Dale Welch things such as roots, berries, tree “She was the very picture of good Christian people, except for
dale@hilltopexpress bark, mushrooms and the like. evil,” the old man told me. “For one, who turned out, “as fierce
“O’ course ye know thar’s a
This was not an uncommon thing instance, she might brag about and evil as her mother.”
witch buried over here in this old
in the late 1800’s – nearly every- making old farmer Brown’s cow Barthney Jane died on June 18,
church cemetery, don’t yuh?” the
body did that. go dry or certain wells in the 1899. Husband Alexander Jeff
old man asked, pointing across
It was what she did with these neighborhood go dry.” died a few years later on May 12,
the grave yard toward another
wild things that was different. Some people came to her house 1903. They are both buried in
Other folks used the things they for one reason or another. It was the Woodcliff Church
We were in an old church ceme-
gathered as food or medicine. mostly out of fear of her that Cemetery. Their many
tery at Woodcliff, near Monterey,
Barthney Jane used them to mix some in the community called on descendants are as close as
hunting for the tombstones of
potions – love potions and, sup- her when something went wrong Woodcliff Road and as far as the
some of my relatives and had
posedly, evil potions, too. with their livestock or family “four corners of the world.”
A.J. and Barthney Jane Neal
found them. Were some of my
She was born Barthney Jane members were sick. They would
family was buried in the ceme-
Hammock on May 4, 1834. She ask her for a potion for a cure.
tery, are the bones of simple hard
married Alex Jeff Swafford, who Mean as she was, Barthney Jane
Henderson Tudor’s false teeth
working religious folk. (Okay,
was born April 1, 1840. was afraid of one thing – the
some of my relatives who lie in
As an old woman, she was an woods at night. If she had to trav-
By Dale Welch
quick trip down the street to see if either find them or get a new set.
other nearby cemeteries turned
avowed atheist. She lived just up el after dark, she would get some-
he could find them by his bed- They weren’t to be found. The
out to be mean, moonshining cut-
the road from the church and one to go with her, carrying a Henderson Tudor had been a side. They weren’t there. Now, work crews had to head out.
cemetery where she is now lantern. She never explained it, railroad man since he was old where could they be? He As the day ended, the East crew
As the old man and I walked
buried. She would torment people but she would keep her eyes enough to work. In his later years, searched for them all the way were gathering up their tools.
he was responsible for taking care back down the street, the path to Wiping sweat, they got their last
Crazy George’s Bridge...
of the railroad work crews, the railroad building, but could cup of cool water before heading
preparing them for their daily not find them. back. To their surprise, when they
Truth is stranger than fiction
assignments and cooking for False teeth weren't easy to come dumped out the water from their
them at their building, now used by. He told his concerns to both jug, out came Henderson Tudor’s
By Dale Welch
by the Lion’s Club, just past the East and West crews. It was- false teeth. They had been drink-
where the old depot sat (and will n’t long before it would be time ing from that jug all day!
Has everyone heard the story
again, in a few short years). to head out to work, but they They told him about their find
about Crazy George’s Bridge.?
One day as he was finishing up, knew and loved the old man and and gave him back his teeth,
Trains are crossing under it again
he noticed that he was missing his helped him search, but to no which literally put a smile back
after all these years. Just past
false teeth. He couldn’t really avail. on his face. But, from then on,
where you see the WCTE-TV
remember wearing them to work He would just have to gum they were a little more careful
tower and up through Rattle
early that morning, so, he made a everything he ate until he could about eating and drinking.
Snake Cut, there’s the bridge.
The old story goes something
Sehorn Inn stood west of
like – There was an old night-
watchman who looked for fallen
rocks and other dangers along Standing Stone in 1800s
those cuts deep into the moun-
By Dale Welch
wife, Mary Graham Sehorn. Sehorn died, leaving his wife and
tians as the railroad winds its way
According to family history, they children to run the inn. It was
up Monterey Mountian, criss-
Crazy George’s Bridge from the Dome car earlier this year on an As the railroad meanders up the
had married on Oct. 23, 1799, in related by family that the
crossing the Old Walton Road
inspection train heading east. Photo: Dale Welch/Hilltop Express
mountainside to Monterey, it Jefferson County. Sehorn’s daughter, Catherine
(Woodcliff Rd.)
criss-crosses the Old Walton The Walton Road (offically about the visits of Gen.
One night George, the night-
from his coon dog. Nothing stopped at Woodcliff Baptist
Road several times. The Walton called the Cumberland Andrew Jackson. As a
watchman was killed by either
doing, Narman told Holloway. Church to let the folks know what
Road was completed around Turnpike) was the dividing young girl, she would sit
falling rock or the train. But, yet
His momma would be worried. had happened. Young Martha
1795 from Carthage, in Smith line between what was then, in his lap as he timed is
he still sets out his warning
So, Narman set out up the tracks Jane was in the crowd. As soon as
County, to Fort Southwest Point, White and Overton County. boiled eggs with his pocket
lantern to be seen late at night if
for home. she heard, she jumped up and
now Kingston, in Roane County. Putnam County wasn’t watch. He was Attorney
there is danger ahead.
The next morning was Sunday. cried in anguish and then, fainted.
The road was 15-feet wide and formed until just before the General at the time, but
Now, sometimes truth is
Martha Jane kept watching for She would never get to marry the
free of stumps. It was to be lev- Civil War, in 1854. The even visited later after
stranger than fiction.
Narman to take her to church, love of her life. There would be
eled on the sides of hills and have Sehorn Inn was on the south becoming the President of the
Narman Stamps and his sweet-
but he didn't show. Down at the no children, like they were plan-
bridges or causeways built over side of the road, in White County, United State.
heart, Martha Jane Neal (not her
night shack, Holloway began his ning. Her dreams were dashed.
streams. Mile markers blazed on but the family owned 199 acres Later, Mary Sehorn married
real name) attended revival serv-
tour walking the tracks to check Narman was buried and life for
trees or signs appeared every just across the road in Overton Benjamin Walker. They oper-
ices at (everything else including
for debris before the train came family and friends moved on, but
three miles. Toll gates and County ated the inn, but moved to
other names are real) Woodcliff
back down the mountain. He not the same as it would have
inns (called stands) at various Only three short years after Arkansas and died before
Baptist Church all week. Plans
walked a few feet up the track been. Holloway's coon dog gave
points along the road. coming to Standing Stone, John 1860.
were being finalized between the
and found Jarman's hat. birth to her litter of puppies. He
One stand was the Sehorn Stand.
couple for a marriage ceremony
"Crazy kid,"" he thought, "I'll let Narman's family come and
Traveling eastward, it was locat-
at the church, just outside
save it for him." A few more pick out the one they wanted.
ed on the right, a little ways
Monterey, in a couple of weeks.
steps up the track was Holloway There's been a many of trains
before you get to what is now
They hoped to raise a lot of kids,
found Jarman's watch and picked that have passed the old rail-
1691 Harristown Rd. (off Hwy 62)
Grant Lane. To see the location,
even on what little Jarman was
it up. Just around the bend, he road cut, and even in this
Behind New Ace Hardware
you have to turn your head a
making sawing logs.
found what he feared the most, modern age, there'll be many
sharp right as you get to the clear-
Fri., Oct. 10 & Sat., Oct 11
After revival services closed for
Jarman's body cut into pieces. more. As you pass under
ing to see where it once stood.
Lots of Everything
the night, Narman walked Martha
Holloway ran for help. Doc Goff, “Crazy George’s Bridge,” in
The Sehorn Stand, called the Old Records, Furniture, Old Jewelry, Appliances
Jane home, arm in arm. He
the local undertaker came down the train, or drive over the
Standing Stone Inn, was built in
& Clothing
kissed her and told her good
on a flatbed rail car and picked bridge in your automobile,
1806 by John Sehorn Jr. and his
night. Before he went home, he
up the pieces he could find, plac- kinda tip your hat in respect.
Ralp Mackie
decided to go down and see Jerry
ing them in a bag. The train
Holloway, the nightwatchman
who had a shack set up near the
railroad cuts at the crossover
bridge near the Stamps
Cemetery. Holloway, who
worked for the Tennessee Central
Railroad, had the job of keeping
debris, falling rock and varmints
off the railroad, so that trains
could pass along the rail without
iurple ountain
having to stop for every little
thing. Time was money. S
LLCQuilt Shop,
On his way from Martha Jane's,
Quilt Shop, LLC
he had a few nips from a bottle of
liquor he had secretly hidden in Saturday
his coat pocket while at church.
By the time he made it to the
shack a few miles down
October 11
Woodcliff Rd., he got a little
Jerry Holloway, a kind man, October 11
enjoyed the visit with his young
friend. They talked about coon
hunting and coon dogs. Jerry had
Fabric • Quilting Accessories • Lessons
a dog that would soon give birth
Join Us for Quilting Bee
to a litter. Jerry knew that the
young man had too much to
Tuesdays 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
107 W. Commercial A
Bring UFO’
s or Learn to Quilt!
He tried to get Narman to stay
Hours: Mon. – Sat. 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
the night, helping him run the
track up and down. He was
107 W. Commercial Ave.
afraid that the young man would
get lost or fall. Holloway even
Hours: Mon. – Sat. 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
promised him the pick of the litter
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