The legend of Wizard Clip is a part of Eastern Panhandle folklore. About 1800, as one version of the story goes, the Adam Livingston family took up residence near Middleway, Jefferson County. One evening a stranger asked for a night’s lodging. Falling sick, the stranger told Livingston he could not live until daylight and must see a Catholic priest before he died. Livingston, or according to some accounts, his wife, refused to have a priest enter the house. In the morning the stranger was dead.
The anonymous stranger was buried nearby, and soon strange things began to happen at the Livingston place. Burning logs jumped from the fireplace and whirled around the floor. One morning, a wagoner asked Livingston why he had blocked the highway by stretching a rope across it. When the teamster drew a knife and slashed at the rope, the blade passed through without cutting the rope. The same phenomenon was experienced by other travelers. A sharp, clipping noise was heard in Livingston’s house and all the family’s clothes, tablecloths, and bed coverings were slit in the shape of a crescent. One lady, complimenting Mrs. Livingston on her fine flock of ducks, heard the ‘‘clip-clip’’ of invisible shears and saw them decapitated. Similar events followed.
One night Livingston dreamed of a man in religious garments who appeared to be conducting a ceremony, and a spirit whispered to him that this person might relieve his trouble. Local clergy were unable to help, but Father Dennis Cahill, a Catholic priest, was found, and the scissors were no longer heard after the priest visited the home. In gratitude, Livingston deeded land to the Catholic church, and the tract known as Priest’s Field now belongs to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
This Article was written by William D. Theriault
Last Revised on December 04, 2012
The Legend of Wizard Clip. The Strange Story of Harpers Ferry. Martinsburg: Thompson Brothers, 1903.