Reprinted in AppLit with permission, from the James Taylor Adams Collection
U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College

Collected by James Taylor Adams
Big Laurel, Va.

NOTE: This text was recopied directly from a typewritten copy in the archives of the Blue Ridge Institute. James Taylor Adams (1892-1954) kept typewritten copies of the folktales he and others collected during the last thirty years of his life, while he lived in Wise County, VA. Any typographical errors or dialect spellings in Adams' typescripts have not been changed. For details on other tales in which people stay in strange houses overnight, see the Hainted House bibliography in AppLit's Annotated Index of Appalachian Folktales.

This tale has been published in Appalachian Folk Tales. Ed. Loyal Jones. Illus. Jim Marsh. Ashland, KY: Jesse Stuart Foundation, 2010.

As told by James W. Hays, jr., St. Paul, Va. He heard it from his father about forty years ago.


One time there was a man traveling through the country and night overtook him and he stopped at house to see if he could get to stay all night. The house was an old log house with a stick and clay chimney and an old woman came to the door and told him to come in, that he could stay if he could put up with their way of living.

So the fellow went in and founf they was just the old woman and two girls a-livin' there. After supper the old woman fixed him a bed and told him he could go to bed. He laid down but he couldn't sleep. Heard them slipping around and he was scared. After while he seed the old woman take down an old greasy gourd and start to grease herself. She said: "Through thick and through thin" and right up the chimney she went. The next oldest girl greased herself and she said: "Through thick and through thin" and right up the chimney she went. Then the youngest girl greased herself and she said: "Through thick and through thin" and away she went up the chimney. Now he wanted to know what they was up to and so he got up an greased himself out of the gourd and he said: "Through thick and through thin" and right up the chimney he went. When he landed in the yard there were all the women. The old woman said, "Away I go" and she jumped astraddle of a hog and away she went. The xxxx oldest girl done the same thing and the youngest, and then he said, "Away I go" and he jumped on a hog and away he went. They went on to the bank of a river thirty yards wide. The old woman jumped up and said: "Over I go" and away she went. The oldest girl said: "Over I go" and away she went. The youngest girl said: "Over I go" and away she went. Then he jumped up and said "Over I go" and he just sailed across the river after them. He looked back and said "That a hell of a jump for so little a pig to make." They come to a briar patch and the old woman said: "over thick and through thin," and she sailed over the thicket. The oldest girl said: "Over thick and through thin" and she sailed over after the old woman. Then the youngest girl said: Over thick and through thin" and away she went sailing over the thicket. The man said: "Through thick and over thin" and he rammed right through the briars and liked to tore himself all to pieces. But he got through. They went on till they come to a milk house. Old woman looked through the keyhole and seed a whole passel of milk and butter. She says: "In I go" and right through the keyhole she went. The girls they said the same thing and through they went. Then he said: "In I go" and he went through the keyhole too. They skimmed the milk and drank the cream and eat the butter and cheese. Then the old woman said "Out I go" and out she went. The girls said the same thing and out they went. The man said "Up I go" and he jumped up and got hung on the rafters. The man who owned the milkhouse found him there and had him arrested and they had his trail. Sentenced him to be hung and there was four or five thousand people there to see him hung. Just before they was to hang him he looked out and seed an old woman a-comin'. She was all greasy and she just parted the crowd and come right on up to the scaffold and up on the flatform where he stood with the rope already around his neck. She rubbed her hands over him and said "Poor fellow. Off I go" and away she went. He said "Off I go" and away he went right after her and when he landed he was a thousand miles from there and he never heard of the old woman any more.

[JTA-121 ] 600 words

Record Copy Made by Blue Ridge Institute to Replace Unstable Original, April, 1991

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