Mountain Mary was Faith Healer or pow
wow doctor who practiced Braucherei in the Oley Valley of PA. She
renowned as a Holy Woman,
and the first census in the late 1700’s classified her as Abbess,
suggesting that she might have had religious followers, or a church of
her own, or the census taker thought she did. Here's a
mysterious encounter with a woman who claimed to be Mountain
Mary in the 1980's--it is from my ©2007 novel Further From
She was at once ageless and very old. A shock
of grey hair framed bright blue eyes. Her skin was seasoned with
wrinkles, fine and numerous, like soft, expensive leather. Deeper
creases, or what Dutch call “roontzel,” appeared next to each eye when
she smiled. Her pithy beauty must have been really striking in
youth. Her expression was serene, almost saintly.
“I grow erps like parsley, sage, rosemary, and
thyme. ‘Kräuter’ my Mum call’t em. Grow wetchtaples
too, carrots, spinach, beans. In my garten. Go ought
sometimes pickin vild erps. Goot vons grow in da voots bottom off
dese’here cliffs. Such as ginseng. My name’s Mountain Mary.”
Beaner looked skeptical as she responded, “MOUNTAIN
Mary, eh? Who are you really?”
Mary laughed and said, “Wass ich nicht weiss macht
mich nicht heiss!”
Beaner looked puzzled.
“What ya don't know von't hurt ya!” Mary added.
“Yeah, right!” Beaner replied.
Beaner’s skepticism came from the fact that Mary had
a dubious reputation in Beaner’s neighborhood. She was eccentric,
but that was normal enough. The problem was that she called
herself a “holy woman.” The neighbors said she claimed to be the
faith healer who lived in the hills around the Oley Valley near the end
of the seventeen hundreds. Mountain Mary actually died in
1819. This woman was obviously not really that Mountain Mary,
although it was said that her real name was, indeed, Mary.
“Yah, I practice braucherei. Pow wows!” Mary
“Yeah, right!’” Beaner said again, thinking
about the stories her parents had told her.
A woodpecker hammered on a distant tree and then
gave its chuckling call.
Ricky hadn’t heard the stories about Mary, and so he
proceeded as though she was exactly who she said she was.
“What do you do?” He asked.
“Help people. Heal em, or help em heal
demselfs. Make em feel better anyvays. Drop up my place an
visit sometimes! Right dahn from Beaner I live.”
“How’d you know my name?” Beaner blurted out.
“We live neighbors doan vee? Vhy vould’nt I
know yoah name!”
“Come on, Ricky. We’d better get on home!”
“Yeah, I guess, Beaner.” Then, looking back at
Mary, Ricky said, “Thanks for your help. You might’a saved my
life! I’d like to come visit sometime.”
“Gute! I’ll teach ya bought braucherei.
Pow-wowing. Only simple schtuff. Vee pow-wowers ain’t
suppose ta talk bought it. Leastvays I’ll teach ya bought erps an
roots an schtuff in my garten.”
“Come ... on ... let’s ... go!” Beaner
said and pulled on Ricky’s arm to speed him along as they walked toward
Beaner’s home. She couldn’t wait to tell him the “truth” about
On the way back to where they’d stashed the motor
bike and scooter, Beaner said, “I tell you she’s crazy! Crazy!”
“Seemed nice enough to me.”
“I didn’t say she was ‘evil.’ I said
‘crazy!’ She thinks she’s a woman that died almost two hundred
years ago. Wouldn’t you call that crazy? The funny thing is
she does have people come visit her for help, like when they’re sick or
sad or something. My pop says they’re probably as crazy as she
“Well, I’d like to go visit her sometime.”
©2007 Further From