Dr. Buzzard

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Ostensibly the original Dr. Buzzard was both one of the most well-known and, at the same time, mysterious African American root doctors in the United States of the early 1900’s, especially along the coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina – called by some the Gullah coast after the African American ethnic group who predominantly live in this Lowcountry region -- where he called home. Hailing from Saint Helena Island just off the mainland of South Carolina, it could be said that Buzzard ruled the region, and everyone knew of his abilities, but few would openly talk about him. Due to this fact, many details of his life are veiled in secrecy. Clients would come from all over the nation to seek his services, most notably for his famed work on legal matters for those charged with a crime. Various sources state his given name to be Stepheney Robinson – also spelled Stephany or Stephney, depending on the report – born anywhere between the years 1860 to 1885. He died in 1947, supposedly of stomach cancer. The exact location of his grave is a secret, known only to a select few, to keep it from being pillaged from seekers of graveyard dirt or other remnants of the famed conjurer.

There are multiple tales of how Dr. Buzzard obtained his ‘mantle,’ the source of his powers. One such tale says that he learned his skills from his father, a purported witch doctor, who was trafficked from West Africa to the United States during one of the last known smuggling runs in the late 1850’s. It is said that Buzzard himself shared the tale that he received his mantle when a mockingbird landed on his head, from that point forward he had what he called “the sight.” Stories of his power are legendary. In one account it was said that Dr. Buzzard had in his possession a magical seashell which was a direct line to Satan that he would use to contact the devil should anyone cross him. Another account shared a story of an ill-fated Gullah fishing expedition in which the fishermen, having had incredible success in their endeavor, overloaded their large boat with fish and had to make the return trip in their smaller boat. A storm killed all involved. Not long after, the boat loaded with fish returned to port on its own with a buzzard perched on top, providing the proof needed that this was the work of Dr. Buzzard. He was most well-known for his practice of “chewing the root” -- a practice of releasing a root of a sacred plant’s magical power by chewing on it -- and spitting the powerful juice wherever possible to manipulate the outcome of a court case. Witnesses to Dr. Buzzard’s courtroom appearances would say it was guaranteed to be a spectacle when he arrived on behalf of one of his clients.

By all reports Dr. Buzzard was a striking presence whenever he would appear in town. Some might even say ominous. Descriptions reveal him as a gaunt man. He was known to wear loose, black clothing wherever he went. His eyes were constantly hidden behind a pair of blue-purple tinted glasses regardless if it was day or night. This was to ensure no one could look directly into his eyes, believed by many conjure doctors to be a means of controlling an individual’s will.


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