Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mad Stones

Although I have heard about mad stones all my life, I have never seen one. According to those who are familiar with them, or say they are, a mad stone comes from the stomach of a cud-chewing animal such as  a deer or cow and is composed of hair and whatever the animal eats - a sort of hairball that has hardened.  Anyone owning a mad stone had a valuable property and it wasn't unusual for it to be loaned out to "draw up the poison" from the bite of a "mad" dog.

The value of a mad stone comes about when a rabid or "mad" animal bites a  human or another animal. To draw out the poison from the bite, a mad stone is boiled in milk and placed directly on the bite. When the mad stone is full of poison, it drops off the bite. The process is repeated until all of the poison is drawn out of the bite. The mad stone is very porous and absorbs the poison, so they say.

According to tradition, a mad stone should not be bought or sold, but may be shared with others. Does it work? Believers say it does. I do know it was used often during the lives of my grandparents and parents, but is rarely mentioned today.

Back in 1904, William Henry Newman, a boy living near Smithland, Livingston County, was bitten on the hand by a hog which had been bitten by a rabid dog that had "gone mad." A mad stone was sent for and applied to the bite. After several hours, the poison had been drawn out and the mad stone dropped off the bite. An account of this event appeared in the Paducah Sun of 7 July 1904. Did the mad stone work in this case? Hmmm, it does not say.

Have you heard of a mad stone being used on the bite of a mad animal? Although some of my relatives believed in them, I will reserve my judgment until I see one in action.

Published 31 October 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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