That said, the good news is that the oddity involves a witch. The bad news is, well, all the rest of it.
Today, in the chummily named town of Leonardtown, beside an old jailhouse dating from the mid-1800s that is currently used by the local historical society as a museum and information center, is a smooth, unobtrusive, anonymous-looking, pillow-sized rock set on a manicured bed of mulch. No signs or plaques explain why this rock seems so carefully placed.
It’s supposed to be the hand print of a witch.
St. Mary’s County is the site of one of the earliest successful English colonies in the U.S. territory and dates back to 1634, a little over a decade after Plymouth Rock and Jamestown. The witch legend goes back to the late 1600s and has been embellished here and there by local storytellers. However, the variations in the story don’t matter too much since there’s not much to embellish.
The end. Poor Moll doesn’t even get a goodbye curse for the good old folks of Leonardtown to pass down and blame their bad luck on. Nor were there any disfigured children, illicit relationships with demons, or dramatic trials, as are present in the witch stories of other states.
At some point in the 1970s, there was enough interest in this story that a rock was identified among all the rocks in that part of the forest as the one upon which Dyer expired. It was dug up and then transplanted to its current location as, I guess, a lure for tourists? Is Leonardtown on your bucket list?
To see the rock for yourself, since I’m sure my pics don’t at all convey its eerie majesty, set the GPS for 41625 Courthouse Dr., the address of the historical jailhouse, which shares a front lawn with the county courthouse. You can find the rock at the right front corner of the former of those two buildings.
Your first words, I predict, will be “Is this the right rock?”
Still, a wispy local witch legend is better than having no local witch legend at all. And at least we Marylanders can always fall back on the Blair Witch.