Did You Know about the Witches of Winnsboro?

Most of us have heard about the Salem witch trials but did you know that almost 100 years later Fairfield County, South Carolina had its own witch trials?

In the late 1600s, witchcraft hysteria began to run rampant in the village of Salem, Massachusetts, resulting in the hanging of several of the accused. A lot of people are familiar with that story. But do you know the story of the witches of Winnsboro?

Almost 100 years after Salem, in 1792, a similar witch hunt broke out in Fairfield County around the town of Winnsboro.

Mary Ingleman was a German immigrant that resided in Fairfield County, South Carolina. A plague of sorts swept the town, and in their panic, the townspeople accused her of witchcraft.

Farmers testified that Ingleman was responsible for using her magic to hurtle a cow through the air, breaking its neck as it crashed to earth. Another local claimed she had levitated people off the ground using spells. There were also rumors that suggest she was adept at transfiguration, going so far as claiming that she turned a young man into a horse and rode him into a meeting with Satan himself.

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Philip Edward Pearson, a doctor who knew many of those involved, wrote, “In the year 1792..a court composed of witch-doctors, was held at the house of a Mr. Thomas Hill, five miles below Winnsboro. Four persons were tried, found guilty and punished by stripes and burning their feet at a bark fire, so that the soles came off.”

Ingleman and three others were illegally tried in a local farmhouse. Court records show that Ms. Ingleman was able to successfully sue her persecutors and win a small settlement.

Although the fine was never paid, as the men found guilty of the illegal assault and battery of the accused witches fled the area, Mary Ingleman was allowed to live out her life until she eventually died of old age.

Mary’s ghost is said to still haunt the Fairfield County courthouse,