York Town Square

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Hex headache cure: ‘Tame thou flesh and bone’

This was Hex murder victim Nelson Rehmeyer’s copy of “The Long Lost Friend,” a target of his assailants.

Some enterprising bookshop owners are selling a CD-ROM of the book “The Long Lost Friend,” that became part of the Hex murder in York County in 1928.
The assailants in the murder case of Nelson Rehmeyer sought, among other things, the suspected witch’s copy of the book.
That book contains such advice as:

• To prevent cherries from ripening before Martinmas: “Engraft the twigs upon a mulberry tree, and your desire is accomplished.”
• To cure a headache: Say the following three times, pausing for three minutes after each repetition — “Tame thou flesh and bone, like Christ in paradise; and who will assist thee, this I tell thee (name) for your repentance-sake.” The book cautions that headaches caused by “strong drink” require a repetition every minute.
• To get rid of warts: Roast chicken feet, rub the warts with them and bury them under the eaves of your house.
Jim Lewin of the York Emporium bookstore has put the book onto disk, as described in a recent York Daily Record story:

“The Long Lost Friend” is the book of spells and incantations that played a key role in York County’s infamous Hex murder trials. According to J. Ross McInnis, a local lawyer who wrote a book about the trials, people in the region used to believe the book itself had magic properties.
Some would put a copy in the walls of their houses to ward off evil. Others, mistrustful of the book, would avoid it.
It even has a passage testifying to its own powers, stating that carrying the book will protect people from “enemies, visible or invisible”; drowning; burning; or even an “unjust sentence.”
Jim Lewin, however, won’t guarantee that carrying the CD-ROM of the book that he recently produced will provide any protection.
“Even if it counts for the electronic version, I make no claims,” Lewin joked.
He will guarantee, however, that perusing the book will give readers some fascinating insights into a form of folk medicine and magic that was widely practiced in Central Pennsylvania well into the twentieth century.
Lewin is co-owner of the York Emporium, a used bookstore at 343 W. Market St. in York. He and his fiancée and business partner, Pam Farrow, acquired the store about a year and a half ago. From the beginning, customers would occasionally ask if they had any copies of “The Long Lost Friend.”
As it turned out, a regular customer collected copies of the book. He lent Lewin and Farrow a couple.
They, in turn, converted the books to a CD-ROM format, which they sell at their store.
Lewin admitted that one of the reasons for choosing the electronic format was that it was easy and cheap. Still, the format gave them some opportunities to put the work in a broader context.
The CD-ROM contains both the English and original German versions. It also includes an 1889 scholarly paper on the “Folk-Lore of the Pennsylvania Germans” and the text of a popular 1942 book called “The Realness of Witchcraft in America.”
John George Hohman originally compiled and published “The Long Lost Friend” in the early nineteenth century.
He included a number of folk cures for afflictions ranging from warts to epilepsy, interspersed with domestic advice on
such matters as making hens lay egg and warding off rust on gun barrels. He even threw in a beer recipe.
Through no fault of Hohman’s, the book took on a certain notoriety in 1928. That’s when three men beat to death Nelson Rehmeyer, a powwow doctor from North Hopewell Township who they believed had put a hex on them, according to McInnis’ book, “Trials of Hex.” The three were trying to secure a lock of Rehmeyer’s hair and his copy of “The Long Lost Friend,” which they believed would break the hex.
The case has been in the news again recently, as Rehmeyer’s great-grandson is talking about opening the house where the murder took place as a tourist attraction.
The whole affair might not be the proudest moment in York County’s history, but it is a part of the county’s heritage nevertheless, Lewin said. He hopes his CD-ROM may help users understand it better.
“What we were thinking was that to understand the murders, you had to understand powwow,” Lewin said. “And to understand powwow, you have to understand ‘The Long Lost Friend.'”

For previous blog posts with extensive photographs about the Rehmeyer Hollow house, see:
Powwowing: ‘… It was here, and it had many adherents … , ‘Powwowing was done for good’, Hex headache cure: ‘Tame thou flesh and bone’, Relative: Evil in Hex murder came from outside, Hex murder fascinating tale of mysticism, occult: Part 1, ‘Trials of Hex’ makes sense of notorious murder case: Part 2 , Little-known facts about Hex murder trial emerge, Hex murder compared to O.J.’s, Anna Nicole Smith’s cases, Hex house visit offers surprises, Visiting the scene of the crime.