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‘Trials of Hex’ helps make sense of notorious York County murder case

J. Ross McGinnis, long-time attorney with York’s Stock & Leader firm, simply did a wonderful job in his “Trials of Hex” of telling the story of the Hex murder.
The story line is simple: A trio set out to remove a hex on one of them cast by a practitioner of powwow, later described as a witch. In the process, the practitioner, Nelson Rehmeyer, was killed. The three assailants were convicted in York County Court in 1929.
To give some flavor for McGinnis’ admirable work, I’ve excerpted the opening lines of his 454-page book:

Come back with me to an earlier time, a simpler time, a time before the Great Depression, before World War II, when many people throughout the land and in York County fervently believed that there were mysterious forces that were not of this world and not of human creation.
The year was 1928. For most people, it was a pretty good year. The Kellog Peace Pact had been signed in Paris, the country was still basking in the afterglow of Lindbergh’s Trans-Atlantic flight, and the economy was moving forward to an unprecedented level of prosperity. Unfortunately, here and there some folks were not participating in the general mood of optimism and goodwill.
For John Blymyer, 1928 was not a good year. For as long as he could remember, the years had not been good. His wife had left him, two of his three children had died, he had great difficulty in staying regularly employed and he wandered aimlessly about the streets of York and the surrounding countryside, with the witches he imagined always in pursuit.
John boasted that he possessed “great powers” in witchcraft, that those powers were shared by three generations of his family, and that he had inherited these so-called powers from his father, Emanuel — Emanuel made the claim shortly after the murder that the family was “gifted in pow-wowism.” John’s grandfather, Andrew, was a “pow-wower” who had passed the “powers” to his son, Emanuel. After the murder, Emanuel made the statement that John was a most potent practitioner and that he believed John would find a way out of his troubles. Neither John’s mother nor his father appeared to be greatly disturbed by their son’s difficulties.

As stated in previous posts, Arthur Lewis wrote the original book on the Hex case. That book, “Hex,” is far less authoritative, lacks any sense of place and simply does not read as well as McGinnis’ book.
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 , 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.

Nelson Rehmeyer, victim in the Hex murder case, is seen in an inset to this photo of his house where the crime took place. Courtesy of Ross McGinnis.