The Battletown Witch

Born in 1818 some say Smock was one of a line of powerful witches. But she holds the horrific celebrity of being the only witch to be burned-alive in America.

Leah Smock

In Battletown, KY there is an area of woods known as Lapland. It is a dangerous place for some to visit, the trees can be dense and rattlesnakes plentiful. There is also another reason to fear the woods. Over 175 years ago a young woman was branded a legend.

Leah Smock was born in 1818 before Meade County was even formed. She was reputedly the daughter of another powerful Kentucky witch. First-hand accounts of people who actually encountered the young woman known as Leah Smock portrayed her as an intelligent and beautiful woman. It has been suggested that she had powerful intuition and possibly second sight, through natural or supernatural reasoning. She was attributed with healing properties, either from herbal remedies or powers of her own. She was also a “seer”. She predicted the deaths of critically ill people. She was frequently right and her reputation for “knowing” the future spread through Meade County’s frontier community.

Her 22 years of life came to an end on August 21 of 1840. Her demise came when a posse of locals, fearful of her power, visited her father’s farm while Leah was alone. They viciously ended her life by putting her smokehouse and setting it ablaze. She was gifted with so many talents, but none of them saved her from her fate of being burned alive. Smock may have been gone, but she was not going to be forgotten.

Leah’s remains were given a proper burial at the local cemetery. Soon after, a hunter saw her floating at the foot of her grave, looking down at where she was buried; she was dressed in a white gown with cords at the sleeves and the waist, her long black hair flowing and enshrouded by a purple aura. Her apparition was missing below the knees. The townspeople took two wagons full of crushed stone and replaced the top three feet of dirt to keep her spirit down afterward – but it did not work. She continues to inhabit Lapland over 175 years later.

You can still find Leah if you know where to look. Nestled in a hilltop cemetery within a grove of trees, and forsaken for decades she still lies. Her earthly remains are covered with boulders and gravel, in an attempt to contain her. Along with Leah, the graveyard holds seventy or so old stones marking those that had come before. Leah’s stone is pointed and stands out from the rest. Her final resting place is usually accompanied by animals and even today you can still catch glimpses of the Battletown Witch.

Leah Smock’s pointed headstone in Betsy Daily cemetery.

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