The Eastern Shore, like most places with a long history, has its share of legends that are scoffed at in the light of day, but aren’t as funny after the sun goes down.
In the old days, Shore folk talked of will-o-the-wisps or jack-o-lanterns. These mysterious marsh lights would appear at night, hover and dance in the near distance, luring the observer towards them. They were said to protect treasure, but to follow one was to court a watery grave. Children and lost travelers were particularly susceptible to their glamour. Science suggests decaying bacteria beneath the marsh’s wet soil release gasses create the heatless blue or white illuminations, which is far less disturbing hypothesis than is the beckoning of evil fairies or the souls of stillborn children that were once believed to be the culprits behind the phenomenon.
In 1712, a woman from Talbot County was prosecuted in Maryland’s last…
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