Real Duppy Stories : Did Agatha Peyton’s granny kill her boys?
Anybody over 100 years old must have many stories to tell. When THE STAR spoke with Agatha Peyton of Bowden Hill in St Thomas a few years ago, she was 105, and indeed had many stories to tell, including when Bowden Wharf was a place of much industry and commerce.
She is a part of the Bowden story in more ways than one. But Bowden is not even a shadow of itself, and she was in her final years, living in a yard where her ancestors' remains are lying not very far from her house. They are gone with their stories, leaving Agatha to tell hers.
In the conversation with THE STAR her countenance looked sad, and she dropped her head as she talked about how she lost her four boy babies.
Not one survived beyond the baby stage, and her only daughter also made the transition before her, at age 56.
It has been many decades since the boys' passing, but Peyton still did not understand what went wrong with her sons. She might just be carrying the burden of self-blame, as a result of what she heard from a man in her community.
Peyton and the father of the boys did not get on for many reasons, including his womanising ways. When she was fretful and sad, she would seek solace in the little cemetery in her yard.
There, she sat on her granny's grave and cried. And it seems like her granny's duppy heard her woes and decided to cross over into this realm and intervene.
Boy after boy just kept dying, and Peyton could not come to terms with the unexplained deaths. She recalled one case when she left one of them to attend to some pigs.
She heard the boy crying loudly. She rushed to see what was wrong, but was shocked by what she saw.
Blood was spewing from the child's navel, shooting into the air with great force. The helpless young woman watched as the blood flowed freely from the child until he turned white, and died.
Before that strange occurrence, nothing seemed to be wrong with him, as was the case of another boy whose eyes "just start to roll over" before he took a deep breath and passed away, just like that.
Then one day, a man in her community called her and asked her who a woman named Susan was. She said it was her grandmother, the woman whose grave she would sit on and cry.
The man told her that Susan instructed him to tell her that she, Susan, was the one who killed her babies because she did not like to see her cry.
And that more important, if Peyton should get pregnant again she would kill Peyton herself.
Peyton worried for a while, but was told not to, because her granny could not harm her. And she did get pregnant again. A girl it was, breaking the jinx of the dead baby boys.