Witchcraft in Forgottonia – Episode 6: The Strange Tale of James Spiva


We conclude our series about the social & cultural history of witchcraft based on the book “Witchcraft in Illinois” by folklorist Michael Kleen (check out Michael’s bio below). Please note, the primary purpose of this series is to apply historical skills to this topic and share some interesting info that we find along the way. Our final episode examines the bizarre story of James Spiva which occurred in McDonough County, Western Illinois in the mid-1800s.


  • #1 – The SPIVAS arrive in WESTERN IL
  • #2 – The SPIVAS make FRIENDS with …the FRIENDS (um…we’ll be sure to explain this one)
  • #3 – Why we shouldn’t always listen to advice from our brother: James Spiva Accuses a dying woman named Elizabeth Friend
  • #4 – James Spiva accuses his wife of witchcraft: Why you still shouldn’t always listen to your brother’s advice
Elizabeth Friend’s broken headstone in Harmony Cemetery outside of Bentley, IL in Hancock County


About the Author

To learn more about this topic, check out the book “WITCHCRAFT in IL” by MICHAEL KLEEN. Michael Kleen is a writer, historian, and folklorist from Illinois. He has an M.A. in History from Eastern Illinois University and an M.S. in Education from Western Illinois University. He is best known for his work about Illinois folklore, but he is also a freelance columnist and speaker on politics and popular culture. Michael has written several books, including Haunting Illinois: A Tourist’s Guide to the Weird and Wild Places of the Prairie State, Paranormal Illinois, and Tales of Coles County. He is also the founder and proprietor of Black Oak Media, an independent publishing company.

Links to Past episodes of Witchcraft in Forgottonia

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