The persecution of Old World German Protestants and Anabaptists in the seventeenth century-following debilitating wars, the Reformation, and the Inquisition-brought about significant immigration to America. Many of the immigrants, and their progeny, settled in the Appalachian frontier. Here they established a particularly old set of religious beliefs and traditions based on a strong sense of folk spirituality. They practiced astrology, numerology, and other aspects of esoteric thinking and left a legacy that may still be found in Appalachian folklore today.
Based in part on the author's extensive collection of oral histories from the remote highlands of West Virginia, Signs, Cures, and Witchery: German Appalachian Folklore
describes these various occult practices, symbols, and beliefs; how they evolved within New World religious contexts; how they arrived on the Appalachian frontier; and the prospects of those beliefs continuing in the contemporary world.
By concentrating on these inheritances, Gerald C. Milnes draws a larger picture of the German influence on Appalachia. Much has been written about the Anglo-Celtic, Scots-Irish, and English folkways of the Appalachian people, but few studies have addressed their German cultural attributes and sensibilities. Signs, Cures, and Witchery sheds startling light on folk influences from Germany, making it a volume of tremendous value to Appalachian scholars, folklorists, and readers with an interest in Appalachian folklife and German American studies.