Do Not Migrate
J. W. Scarbrough

J. W. Scarbrough


In the Graveyard

J. W. Scarbrough: If you’re walking by the cemetery and you feel all hot flashing and like hot air will hit you, thats a spirit thats talking to you. We would be walking at night and moonlight shine on you you could see. Every time we would get to the cemetery we would be kind of afraid.

Shirley Holmes: Do not look back when you pass by the cemetery because somebody will be looking at you.

Shirley Holmes: When a person would die in a house it was going to come back a spirit, it would come back in that house. At night there is a light that flies by, and it jumps places, they call it the fi-foley and they say that was a dead person.

Gracie Baptiste: The only thing I can remember is that woodpecker.

Candida D’Avanzo: Like a woodpecker would peck on your house or anywhere in your area?

Shirley Holmes

Shirley Holmes

Gracie Baptiste: In your area, if a woodpecker pecks in your area someone is going to die in that area.


Shirley Holmes: A rooster will let you know. If he comes on to your steps or your porch or your door and he flaps his wings backwards, that was death.

Bertha Lee: If a rooster would crow in the middle of the day they would say that was hasty news and that means somebody is going to die.


Shirley Holmes: If a dog yodel, he will go all around the house and yodel, thats a sign of death.

J. W. Scarbrough: I heard if a dog howled four day in the morning its still a dog. But if a dog starts barking like 2 o’clock 3 o’clock in the morning they would say death was going to be somewhere in the community.

Gracie Baptiste

Gracie Baptiste

Daisy Jackson: If the dog still howls you know and its the second day, one more day, you know somebody is going to pass.


J. W. Scarbrough: Your driving down the road and a rabbit runs across the road in front of you and they say the rabbit is going to run over your grave. You stop to think and your driving down the road the cemetery might be ten miles from you.

You can be a king or a street sweeper,
But everybody dances with the Grim Reaper.

Robert Alton Harris


Shirley Holmes: If a big old tree, I mean its green like trees are green now would fall with all the leaves on it thats death. Thats a young person dying. With all the leaves on it that is death.


Elizabeth Sims: They would tell us all the time when we were in the graveyard don’t walk across the person’s grave.

Bertha Lee

Bertha Lee

Bertha Lee: Yea we couldn’t walk across the grave. They would say it was bad luck for the person living if you walked across the grave.

Daisy Jackson: The grave you know, you always go around, because disrespecting the dead.

Pastor G. Stanley Lewis: The only thing that was a taboo was to talk about what caused the person to die. No one said anything.


Joseph R. Stelly: One tradition that I remember from way back. They say that if you did not want that person to haunt you. You must touch them when you pass by the funeral. You must touch them.

Irene Green: Well they used to tell about if you were scared of a person, like you thought they was gonna come back and do you something, you would pin a pin on them.

Daisy Jackson

Daisy Jackson

Daisy Jackson: Yea a stick pin.

Irene Green: Put the pin on the dead person and she used a lot of pins.

Daisy Jackson: Yea my great uncle, he would always say, you know when I die I am coming back and I will take you with me. So when he did die. I had to go to that church, because I had to stick pins in him everywhere. “Where are all the stick pins coming from?” I said me you know I was scared, I didn’t want him to come back and get me.

Shirley Holmes: You know, you got the furniture out and put it in other rooms until the body was taken out of the house then it was brought back.

Covering Mirrors

Dora Lee Belton: Believe it or not covered mirrors after somebody died they covered it after thunder and lightning

Elizabeth Sims

Elizabeth Sims

J. W. Scarbrough: The only time you covered the mirrors was during lightning with a storm coming and lightning you take a white sheet and put it over. They would say with that lightning flashing it would hit that mirror.

Pearl Payne: They only covered mirrors when lightning, when lightning, usually you would only have one on the dressers you know and anytime there was lightning or thunder they was going make sure that they cover their mirror, cover their mirror, everybody is going to cover their mirror

Bertha Lee: When someone die, a mirror, you should cover the mirror if it was a mirror in the room where the person died in. I believe that they said that the person would be in the mirror.


Gracie Baptiste: I have heard, that when a person dies the clock stops.

Shirley Holmes: Well the clock stops, one time a person died the clock stopped and they started them back the next day.

Bertha Lee: We say that the time the person passed away the clock was stopped.

Pastor G. Stanley Lewis

Pastor G. Stanley Lewis

Joseph R. Stelly

Joseph R. Stelly

Dora Lee Belton

Dora Lee Belton

Pearl Payne

Pearl Payne

Special Thanks To

Ms. Gracie Baptiste
Ms. Dora Lee Belton
Ms. Irene Green
Ms. Daisy Jackson
Ms. Shirley Holmes
Ms. Bertha Lee
Pastor G. Stanley Lewis
Ms. Pearl Payne
Mr. J.W. Scarbrough
Ms. Elizabeth Sims
Mr. Joseph R. Stelly

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119