A “Long Line” of Superstitions #52 Ancestors

superstitionsGrowing up my mother had a superstition for everything. First of all, she was a Triskaidekaphobe. What is that you ask? It is the fear of the number 13. She would not do business with any store where their address had a number 13 in it. She made my dad redo the trellis he built for our patio because it had 13 slats. But mostly she didn’t like me because I was born on the 13th. Her life was controlled by superstitions. We couldn’t tell our Friday night dreams on a Saturday because it would come true. She killed my pet parakeet that my dad gave me for my birthday because a bird in the house brings death. If someone gave us a plant we could never say thank you as that will cause the plant to die.

I always wondered why she was like this. Then I met my Grandpa when I about 10 Food plateyears old. He too had lots of superstitions. If you leave by the back door you have to come back in the same way. If you got up from a rocking chair and it continued to rock it would bring evil to the house. One of the strangest things he did was while eating. He had to have all the food on separate plates because food touching on a plate would make you sick and die. My poor Grandma had lots of dishes to clean.

Over the years I had many of my Smith family tell me stories of our superstitious ancestors. My 2x Great Grandpa James McGowan was Superstitious about his fishing, believing it was very unlucky for someone to ask a man on his way to go fishing where he was going. Any time this happened to him he would turn back because he knew the question was an evil spell.

spilled saltMy Great Grandma Asenath Walt believed that at night demons/ghosts would creep around her home and try to gain access. She kept a large container of salt by both the front and back doors for when visitors came. Upon answering the door she would take a scoop of salt and place it across the doorway. If the person was not a “demon/ghost” they could cross over the salt with no problem. The salt would have kept out any non-human who wanted to enter. I guess she never thought that a “demon/ghost” would probably not come knocking on her door, they would just come in!

My 2x Great Grandmother Elizabeth Marsh believed that Satan inhabited ALL snakes and she was afraid of them. She seldom ventured far from home on foot for fear of encountering one. If she did have to go somewhere she always carried a gun to shot them with.

From my research I found superstitions going back several generations. No wonder I adhered to so many of these growing up. 

Do you have any superstitions in your family?


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

4 thoughts on “A “Long Line” of Superstitions #52 Ancestors

  1. Ok this was an interesting story! I think I have heard all of these before but to have them all in one group…wow! Makes you wonder how they ever got the courage to move about doesn’t it? Great story.

  2. Our family doesn’t wash clothes on January 1. The superstition is that if you do then you will ‘wash’ someone out of the family (or someone will die). We haven’t washed clothes on that day for as long as I can remember, but someone usually dies every year. My mother can never explain how that happens. But it’s a great conversation starter for our New Year’s Eve.

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