By Judd Hambrick Special to the Daily Journal
Aberdeen, Miss., August 8, 1994: In Virginia, they are known as “witchers.” In Texas, they are called “grave witches.” In Mississippi, they are referred to as “grave dousers.” In Monroe County, his name is Emory Morgan. All of the above people do the same thing: They find bodies in unmarked graves, using two bent wires held loosely in each hand.
Morgan, 67, who is retired from the FBI and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, held his two wires most of the day on Saturday finding the unmarked graves of the Westbrook family.
Frank Westbrook, who currently lives in Ennis, Texas, but whose ancestors lived on a high bluff along Wolf Creek in Monroe County in the mid-1850’s, had asked Morgan to find the Westbrook homeplace cemetery. Morgan delineated the family gravesites this weekend.
Using physical descriptions of the deceased and who was buried next to whom – all found in the Westbrook family Bible – both Morgan and Westbrook were able to ascertain exactly who was in at least two of the 20 graves that were found – the great-great-great-grandmother and great-great-great-grandfather. After more than 150 years, name markers will finally be placed above each of their graves. A Westbrook wooden marker will be driven into the ground as a headstone on all the other graves.
Morgan described how he does grave dousing:
“Whenever humans alter their body composition – like in a grave – electrical charges are changed. Bodies, therefore, can be detected electromagnetically underground, using two bent wires held loosely in each hand so the wires can move freely. I just walk along until the wires start swinging. From the movement, I can tell the person’s shape.
“The wires can follow the outline of a person’s body in the grave, and I can tell if it is a man or a woman or a child – if the body is tall or short or thin or fat.” He says, “Dousing is part electricity and part psychic powers. I have both.”
Morgan says he understands that many believe all this dousing is mere “hocus pocus” and not real. But, he dismisses such skepticism.
Morgan says, “I have proved what I do is real dozens and dozens of times over the years. I don’t charge for finding family graves. I prove my powers by people taking me to a grave of a person I don’t know. After dousing, I then describe the person who is buried there. Then, they become believers. I prove I can do what I say I can do.”
Morgan said he first learned he had the electromagnetic ability in 1967. By chance, he helped plumbers find underground waterline pipes in his neighborhood of Falls Church, Va,, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Morgan says plumbers often use dousers to find hidden lines. “They just don’t talk about it much,” he says.
The Westbrook family holds a reunion in the Aberdeen area every few years. They will place the grave markers on the appropriate graves that Morgan found, as soon as possible.
Emory Morgan, who still lives in Monroe County near Aberdeen and is now 83, still douses for graves throughout this area. He’s found several thousand unmarked grave sites in and adjacent to the Old Aberdeen Cemetery. He’s helped archaeologists and police find bodies over the years in various places in Mississippi. He’s also found undesignated mass Civil War gravesites scattered throughout Northeast Mississippi.
For instance, near Saltillo on the Old Natchez Trace where 13 unknown Confederate soldiers are buried, Morgan says those 13 are only the beginning. He says between 1,500 and 2,000 other soldiers are buried all around those 13.
But like so many things in our lives these days, technology is encroaching on dousers just like technology is encroaching on us all. More and more, scientists, sociologists, police and archaeologists are using high technology machines – utilizing hyperspectral imaging – to find what they are looking for. The dousers of old might go the way of the horse and buggy, the pony express and cathode ray tubes in TVs. Despite all the changes currently occurring, dousers still seem to possess unique abilities that no technology can take away. That is why both now and forever – regardless of the twists and turns of history – grave dousers will always be a part of all our Southern Memories.