Witchin' and Dowsing Water

Operating a divining rod to witch or dowse for water on Muddy Creek


| August 2000



Some folks make fun of those who profess to have the ability to witch or dowse for water. The fact is that there are a lot of us who can operate a divining rod; be it a peach twig, a piece of welding rod or a pair of big, old wire pliers; and we can almost guarantee that where that old rod points there will be water for a well, if you dig right there. 

Uncle Walter was one of those kind of folks who knew how to dowse for water. He wasn't really our uncle, but MaMa always taught us to respect our elders and address those that were older by either "mister" or "aunt" or "uncle." When Walter came into our lives, it was just natural that we would call him Uncle Walter.

Now Uncle Walter was a man of many talents. He could catch more fish with a dough hook than most any one I ever saw. He could tie the most beautiful and useful knots in a piece of rope. He could use that old Barlow knife he carried to make the most wonderful things, like beautiful chains with the links all intertwined. He made them from one solid piece of wood too, he did. He taught me a heap of stuff that I would not have learned otherwise for sure. Try as I would though, I was never able to get the knack of whittling that wooden ball inside the box-like framework without bustin' something.

One of Uncle Walter's talents that he shared with me was witchin' for water. Soon after he came to live on Muddy Creek there was a real bad dry spell. It must have been in about 1917. Dad was out selling Liberty Bonds and signing up Red Cross members because of the war effort. It was the year before we had that humdinger of a snow that was so deep all the roads were closed. It was during that dry spell that Uncle Walter was called upon to do a heap of water witchin'.

Now you would think there would be lots of water down there at the foot of Red Hill. That old hill had given birth to a dozen or more running springs that spouted the cleanest and coldest water you could ever imagine. When you got down the road to Muddy Creek, however, those springs sure dried up fast.

I never knew if Dad had witched the big, deep well there on the Piper homestead, but it was a good one: 135 feet deep and it supplied the hardest, coldest water ever for three families, well nigh on to 70 years without falter.