York County’s Hex murder: 5 more quick facts about the forever fascinating witchcraft case


Whatever images come to mind about powwow practitioner Nelson Rehmeyer, here he is in a photographer at a somewhat younger age than at the time of his death at the hands of a trio in November 1928. In a caption under another photograph of Rehmeyer in “Trials of Hex,” author Ross McGinnis wrote: ‘Nelson Rehmeyer, the victim, murdered at his home in Rehmeyer’s Hollow … . On Monday night, (John) Blymyer and (John) Curry were his guests; on Tuesday night, his killers.’ Also of interest: York County’s Hex murder: 5 quick facts about the forever fascinating witchcraft case

Here are 5 more quick facts, taken from notes I prepared from various sources in preparation for a PCN appearance with Ross McGinnis about the Hex murder of 1928:

1. Longtime York Daily Record/Sunday News column Jim Hubley wrote about the Hex murder: “Actually, I was at a smart age at that time, along with friends, and we had fun teasing girls. We would ‘hex’ them if they ignored us. In little time, we forgot the ‘hex’ fun.”

My comment: So, while the world watched what has been compared to the Salem witch trials, some local young folks had fun with it. Therein is a good lesson for those looking to preserve memories of the trial.

2. Arthur H. Lewis interviewed 90-something powwowwer Leah Frank of Spring Grove. The interview provided a glimpse into the primitive art of white magic, a popular form of healing in those days:

Leah Frank: “I don’t mean those that don’t have the power inside ‘em ’cause they’ll never learn no matter how much they want to. Some of ‘em try but I always say to ‘em, ‘If you can’t stop blood, you’ll never be a powwower, so don’t waste your time.’”

“What I’m referrin’ to is those that got the power but don’t want to use it. It ain’t easy; you have to work hard and it makes you mighty tired to try for people.”

Arthur Lewis: “Mrs. Frank did not elaborate upon the curriculum required before the neophyte can become a full-fledged practitioner. She did say, however, that after ‘blood stopping,’ which, incidentally, she claims can never be taught and must be known congenitally, the next training step is wart removal. After that come the many other branches of the discipline concluding with cures for the opnema, St. Anthony’s fire and finally tumors.

Mrs. Frank also holds to the orthodox belief, one shared by the majority of her colleagues, that an instructor in powwowism or witchcraft may impart his knowledge only to members of the opposite sex.”

3. 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.

4. The York Daily Record/Sunday News reported about the York Emporium creating a CD of ‘Long Lost Friend,’ this bible of the white magic movement. Nelson Rehmeyer was a practitioner of those healing arts.

The newspaper reported that ‘Long Lost Friend’ 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.”

York Emporium owner 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 told the newspaper with a laugh.

5. The Hex case was the topic of a full-length Hollywood film, “Apprentice to Murder,” released in 1988 and starring Donald Sutherland. York native Howard Grossman, the film’s producer, returned home for the world premier at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.

Plus 1:

Famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow criticized the Hex murder trials, which caused a media sensation akin to that of O.J. Simpson or Anna Nicole Smith in our time: “Our belief in capital punishment as a deterrent is just another form of witchcraft. Apart from the mass desire for revenge, there is a subconscious desire to rid ourselves of what we believe to be an evil person.”


This York Daily Record/Sunday News photo inside the murder house in Rehmeyer Hollow shows burn marks in a floor joist and staining on the floor boards marking the place where Nelson Rehmeyer was murdered.

Also of interest:
To see all Hex Murder posts/photos from the start, click here.

Or if you prefer, click on these individual links with their extensive collection of photographs:  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.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
This entry was posted in Archives, all posts, Books & reading, Cops & courts, Events, Explanations/controversy, For photo fans, Hex murder, Local journalism & Web, Local landmarks, Pain & trauma, Uncategorized, Unsung/obscure sites and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to York County’s Hex murder: 5 more quick facts about the forever fascinating witchcraft case

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