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Water Witching

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Reprinted from January 21, 1965 edition of The Pocahontas Times
Water witching has bobbed up in conversations several times the past few months so we began to look for some information on the subject.
Did you know there is a fraternity of water witchers, known as the American Society of Dowsers with members in 30 states and Canada?
The art or gift of finding water is known variously as water witching, divining, dowsing and witch-wiggling. Some people consider it a gift but some modern scientists, through they can’t explain it yet, believe almost anybody can get results. They think there must be some peculiar reaction or current between a person and his hands and moving water under the earth. They also say it teaches humility to some budding scientists when they find that the ancient art works.
A forked, slender twig is used, usually peach, but cherry, willow, apple and others are also chosen; it seems wire, even coat hangers, may be used. As the witcher walks over a field, a fork of the stick in each hand, the stick pulls down, sometimes violently, where there is water under the ground. That’s the place to drill the well.
Well-drilling took us to the Pritt Brothers, of Droop, who do most of the well-drilling in Pocahontas County. First we talked to Elbert Pritt and he doesn’t hold much stock in water-witching but he said his son, Roger, and brother, Hill, had done some witching and had missed some, too. They have a big book on water witching. But it has failed at his home. They have gone down 245 feet and haven’t found water yet.
Talking to Hill Pritt, we found he thinks it works very well. He uses two bronze welding rods, one in each hand, and they turn together when he is over a stream of water. He can’t get wood to work very well but they usually hit water when he uses the rods. And he finds the rods will work for anybody. They work in towns locating water lines, or over any moving water. He says he has heard of it all his life – the county was full of people doing it – and he didn’t learn it from anyone in particular. He thinks that the water, being the only moving thing under the ground puts out some sort of current that causes the metal rod to pull down.
The Pritts drill about 150 wells a year and they drill where the owners want them to. Some people want it at a convenient spot; if they aren’t successful there they will take it where they can get it. Some people want to witch a spot, some people won’t have any thing to do with it.
Two notable successes lately have been at Joe Smith’s in the Brush Country, where a 200 foot well had gone dry. They found water at a little over 100 feet nearby.
At Charlie Moore’s place, above Marvin Chapel, a 194 foot well dried up. Three hundred feet away the rods found abundant water not nearly as deep.
Getting good water is mighty important and anything that helps is always tried.
Although it can’t be explained, water witching seems to work.

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