Polly Webb, Witch

Polly Gilliam Webb, Accused of Witchcraft at Testament Baptist Church
Updated June 19, 2009

The following article on Testament Baptist Church is written from information furnished by Harold Blankenship, Mrs. Pearlie M. Dies and J. F. Russell all of Lafayette, TN. and by Elder R.D. Brooks, Carthage, TN. This article written by Betty M. Scott appeared 26 Jan 1984 in the Macon County Times.

Mary "Polly" Louise Gilliam Webb was the wife of Daniel Webb. They were married 3 Oct 1803 in Prince Edward County. Mary was born 14 Feb 1782 in Prince Edward. She was the daughter of James Gilliam, Sr., and Frances Hopkins, his wife. Daniel Webb, was born 22 Apr 1779 in Halifax County. Daniel and Mary are buried in the Old Hepzibah Cemetery, Henderson County, TN.

Their tombstones read as follows:

Eld Daniel Webb
Born Apr. 22, 1779,
Died Mar. 22, 1855,
Aged 75 yrs, 11 ms.

Mary G. Webb, wife of Eld. D. Webb,
Born Feb. 14, 1782,
Died Oct .8, 1858,
Aged 75 yrs., 7 mos. & 24 days.,

Inscribed below their names and dates:
They were members of the Regular Baptist 60 years,
of which time Eld. D. Webb served in a ministerial capacity 50 years
and was opposed to Missions in all its forms.
Though worms our poor bodies do claim as their prey
Will outshine when rising the sun at noonday.

Testament Primitive Baptist Church, Macon County's oldest church, is located 5 miles from Lafayette on the Akersville Road.

The Church has been moved 4 times since its constitution, but never ceased to have services and still believes in the Articles of Faith upon which it was constituted in 1812.

Testament Church was organized on February 8, 1812 at the Gap of the Ridge with 10 original or charter members: William Smathers, Nancy Smathers, George Terry, Hannah Terry, Mary Ann Terry, John Meadow, Sallie Meadow, Louis Meadow, Henry Woodcock and Samual Walner.

The minutes of that organization record 7 members of the presbytery, two elders, and five deacons. The elders listed are Elder Daniel Parker and Elder Henry Roark; the deacons: Young Larnarle, William Henson, Edward Barbour, Ursulsa Holland and John Weatherford.

Little is known of any of these men except Parker, Roark, and Weatherford. Deacon John Weatherford was from the Hopewell Baptist Church at Castalian Springs and Elder Daniel Parker was his pastor there. We have no specific information available on Elder Henry Roark. However, we do know that William Roark was pastor of Old Puncheon Camp Baptist at that time. We also know that William Roark lived in Tennessee near the Kentucky line on Puncheon Camp Creek.

The old minutes book of the Testament Church record the existence of a church of Salem on Trammel. The information does not state whether Trammel Creek or Trammel Fork, which leaves one to think that it was on Trammel, near Coatstown, later called Westmoreland. The Salem Church was mentioned early in the Testament minutes, possibly being the Mother Church, although it is not stated thus.

Elder Daniel Parker served as the pastor until 1816, at which time his work in Tennessee was ended.

The following charge of witchcraft against Polly Webb is taken from the minutes of the Church records:

October 11, 1817 - Charges against Polly Webb.

No. 1 charge that Polly Webb, wife of Daniel Webb, member of the Baptist Church did say that she did take of witchcraft.
No. 2 - That said Polly Webb was going from Isaac Dillons on a certain day - that she was so confused that she crossed the road six times without seeing it. Terry said, "How could she know that she crossed the road six times when she did not see it."
No. 3 - Charge that on the same day while on her way home, her creature saw something and that said Polly wished she could see what the creature saw, and there appeared two little black things on each side of the path to whom she spake as follows: "You think to scare me but you cannot - I know who you are and if you don't give me the way I'll turn you into your right shapes and show who you are and when asked by a certain person if she could turn them into their right shapes, Polly replied, "Yes I can and will if they don't let me alone."
No. 4 - Charge that Polly stated that a witch could not look her in the face and then denied it.
No. 5 - Charge that Polly stated that she took witchcraft off of a horse.
No. 6 - Charge that Polly stated that she made a woman sit still for 2 hours to punish her and then speaking low to said witch commanded her to go to the table and take up the candle who obeyed and gave the candle a whirl and went out of doors and returned no more.
Charges were also made against Brother Webb for defending his wife.
December 13, 1817 - the charges against Sister Webb respecting witchcraft taken up. After a patient and deliberate investigation of the subject, the church with the help of the aforesaid, are of the opinion that she be returned to her seat in Church.

May 9, 1818 - Brother Daniel Webb gave up care of the Church. Dismissed by letter June 12, 1819.
February 7, 1819 - Polly Webb excluded for unchristian like spirit after being dealt with by several of the members trying to persuade her to make acknowledgements as she was first in the transgression. She decided not to forgive them nor have fellowship with them and this is the Churches accusation against her.

  • Scott, Betty M. "Testament Baptist Church" Macon County Historical Society Newsletter. Vol. 1 Issue 3 (September 1985): 7-8.