The Witch of Black Mountain may have been more than a legend
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There are several reasons that folks in Yuma's early days avoided climbing Black Mountain on cold, moonless nights.
First, that's when Widow Black was known to haunt her favorite hangout.
And secondly, there was the issue of the stinking stew that she loved to brew.
So goes the legends of Widow Black, who was probably better known to locals in her day by a different name: the Witch of Black Mountain.
Local history buffs love the Widow Black legend for lots of reasons, one of them being that she's likely more than just a good story.
“I think she was actually a real person,” says Don Swain, a Yuma fellow with a passion for Yuma history, especially when it comes to tales of the spooky order. “She probably practiced what we know today as Wicca. She was probably just an herbalist, a medicine woman.”
Articles in the Yuma Sun have mentioned Widow Black over the years, giving more credence to the fact that she was actually a living legend at one point. Swain theorizes that instead of whipping up charms and potions, Black was likely just making soap.
Black Mountain, also known as Black Hill, is privately owned land along 1st Avenue in Yuma. At the base of the hill is a large gravel pit.
But the Widow Black isn't without a supporting cast of characters. Swain says the legend includes tales of a gardener who acted like a protector to the witch. He was described as a loathsome fellow who, thankfully for him, was immune to his friend's odorous concoctions because he was blessed with no sense of smell.
Swain says that Black's gardener was faithful to the literal end. According to the story, when Widow Black died, her faithful friend kept a promise he had made to her and buried Black deep in the soil of Black Mountain. But it's said that the town folk got wind of the burial, didn't like what they heard and sent the sheriff up the hill to investigate.
But, as one might expect, the lawman found nothing.
Swain has his own theory. He thinks the gardener guy simply buried Widow Black really well.
“I think he just covered her up real good, so no one will ever find her.”