Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Seer Of Millerville, Alabama

Seers and soothsayers of various sorts have always fascinated me. I won't say they impress me, because usually they don't. Here in the southern United States we have always had our share of these types. Quite often they are religious in the traditional sense and see no conflict whatsoever between their "gift" and the Christian religion.
In the middle portion of the state of Alabama there is a small hole-in-the wall place known as Millerville. That tiny community was home to Amanda Vanzandt “Rena” Teel (1894-1964), or "the seer of Millerville," as she has come to be known. 
Legend has it that she was born with a a caul covering her face - a sure sign of possession of the gift of psychic insight. Of course it is often hard to pry truth from legend with these folk. Old timers have stories to tell - no doubt often much embellished - and so these stories often remain alive for many years.
Rena Teel, a Baptist, was known for her ability to find lost objects. She allegedly would read coffee grounds. But she supposedly had psychic insight that allegedly went back to her childhood.
However that may be, perhaps her most famous case was in assisting to find a lost child, two-year-old Ricky Tankersley after wondering off into the woods with his pa's hunting dogs one cold February morning in 1949.
According to newspaper reports contemporary with that event Ricky's father, L.C. Tankersley credited Mrs. Teel with helping him find his son. He went to her hoping she could assist him. She told him where to go to find his son. He went there without finding young Ricky, so he returned to the seer. She told Mr. Tankersley he "hadn't gone far enough." Upon returning to the targeted location he heard the dogs barking. They were protecting young Ricky and had slept on top of him to keep him warm - which probably saved his life.
Well, anyway, that's the way Mr. Tankersley told it.
When Rena Teel died she was buried in Clay County Alabama's Big Springs Baptist Church Cemetery. Gone, but far from forgotten by folks who remember her and have stories of how she touched their lives.
Now I just mentioned one story of the many that make up The Legend of Rena Teel. Click that link for a rather lengthy account of some of her other exploits from someone who did have some first hand knowledge of the seer of Millerville.  
Like the author of the article I linked above, I wonder how to account for things such as these. I grew up around this sort of thing. I was raised in a Pentecostal church, where "the gift of prophecy" was supposedly in practice. I have witnessed some rather uncanny predictions come true, including some by my parents. In fact, I have had my own share of premonitions and insights.  

I'm not a dogmatic type of person. I think that isn't a very sensible thing to be. There is so much to learn, to ponder, to experience. And time is so limited!

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