Witching a Well!

January 17, 2019 — 3 Comments

Most of us have heard of witching wells. Some believe but most don’t. Well-wishers or dowagers as they were called in the past were thought to be real witches. In the last 200 years the “art” of well witching has gained some practicability.

Even with modern science disclaiming dowaging ability to find water call your local well driller and ask how do I find where to drill a well? The answer will probably be, call old Jim who lives out by you and ask him to find me a drill place. I use him all the time.”

If you don’t believe in well witching I don’t care. I do, I’ve seen it done several times and have even done it myself. I will tell you the story of my Uncle Rush.

Uncle Rush Isley lived in the woods down by Hartsville. He and aunt Gertie lived very primitive in the woods. They always came to the Isley reunion and my dad always had long talks with uncle Rush. In 1956 dad built a house on Howard Road at Greenwood and at the reunion that year asked Uncle Rush if we could come down and dig some trees in his woods. Sure he said. Just wait until the leaves all drop because that the best time to move them. So later that fall we went down to Hartsville and Uncle Rush walked us through the woods pointing out different trees just by the bark. We dug up about 6 trees and took them home and set them out as soon as we got there. As a note they all lived except one. The spot we set it in killed 3 trees over time and finally dad moved the spot.

While we were visiting and digging trees the conversation turned to wells and well witching. Uncle Rush asked if the well driller had witched the well. Dad said he didn’t know but maybe Uncle Rush could come up next spring and check out the new house and see if he could find the well.

You see in the 1950’s the well pipe did not have to above ground level. So the well was under the sidewalk to the front door. No sign of a well anywhere. Later Uncle Rush and Aunt Gertie came up and spent a Saturday with us. Kind of as planned the conversation turned to well witching and Uncle Rush ask where he could get a peach tree forked limb. Dad didn’t know so we went for a drive checking out the fence rows along the way. Soon Uncle Rush said stop. There is an elderberry, it will do. So we stopped and cut a fork off the tree and headed back home.

As soon as we got out of the car Uncle Rush started trimming the branch and soon the fork was ready for use. He showed me how to hold the fork; palms up and grasp the 2 forks as hard as you can. He let me walk around with the fork for a while with no results. He then took the fork and started walking a pattern in the yard but to no avail. So Uncle Rush told dad there is no water in the front yard and dad said come up here on the side walk for a minute. As soon as Uncle Rush got to the spot where my dad was the fork bent straight down. My God he said you have a great well.

I asked if I could hold the fork again and guess what, nothing. No movement at all. I’m sure I looked greatly disappointed and Uncle Rush walked around me and reached around and took ahold of my wrist. Wow I could not keep the fork from bending down toward the well. He claimed the ability to witch wells was electricity in your body. After that I spent the next hour or so witching water wells in the back yard and barn lot. I found 3 or 4 places and Uncle Rush confirmed that there was water where I had marked. I was and maybe still am a well witcher. I don’t know about that but the last time I tried to witch a well, about 10 years ago, it still worked.

So if you need to have a well drilled, just for the heck of it, find a dowager to show you where to drill.

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

Edited and approved by Linda

3 responses to Witching a Well!


    I remember….. Thanks Richard for the memory!!!

    Sent from my iPad




    I love your ponderings. I always learn something new ! Thank you for enriching our lives with new knowledge. Janey

    Sent from my iPhone




    Great article!


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