The Esperance Witch
An excerpt from a story published in the Schoharie County Historical Review (Spring-Summer 1993)
The traditional story is that a Frenchman settled opposite the Village on the Duanesburg side of the creek with his family. Soon after this, the husband died and the widow was left to care for her children in her own frugal French way. Soon gossips spread word that she was a witch. Witnesses said they had seen her take off her apron, lay it on the creek, and pole herself across. She would later pick up the apron dry and put it back on. Other stories told of dying cattle and sick children that were blamed on her. The witch was also supposed to have caused the death of a Mr. McDuffie. When he was drawing a log for the new school building he suffered a crushed leg that had to be amputated, which eventually led to his demise. Sour milk and even a storm were blamed on her presence. The Town's folk met in a solemn conclave to decide her fate. Some say they met in the 1824 stone church, others say it was at the 1814 schoolhouse. Never-the-less, a silver bullet was made from a silver spoon by Storrs Messinger, the local silversmith. The men went to the widow's house and shot her. Different versions suggest she was shot through a window or while she was in bed or cooking with two small children on the floor playing beside her. Then they took her, put a stake through her heart and buried her on the opposite side of the creek to keep her spirit from crossing the water and revenging her death. Another story has her buried beneath pine or willow trees on the Conover Road so that the roots would keep her from rising from the grave. This story has been passed down from generation to generation. The source of the story appears to have been the silversmith himself, Storrs Messinger. Besides being a silversmith and jeweler, he was postmaster from approximately 1845-1885 and lived to be past 90 years of age. His grandson, Storrs Seeley remembered his grandfather telling it and was quoted by historian Archie C. Montayne. Mr. Seeley said that anyone who came into Town usually talked to his grandfather. He also remembered seeing the rolling machine the silversmith used to roll out the silver and the convex dies to form the spoons.
He worked from circa 1820 to 1885 as a silversmith and jeweler in Esperance NY
Appointed from 1845 to 1885 as Postmaster in Esperance NY
He appeared on the 1855 census taken at Esperance NY, listed as a silversmith.
He was a partner c 1870 with Avery Brazee in Esperance NY as MESSINGER & BRAZEE. Listed in the 1872/1873 Gazetteer and Business Directory of Schoharie County
He appeared on the 1870 census taken at Esperance NY, listed as a jeweler.
He appeared on the 1880 census taken at Esperance NY, listed as a postmaster.