Queen Bevers – The Witch From Victoria
It’s usually terrible when you hear about witches because no one thinks witches are good. So, when I came across the story about Queen Bevers – the witch from Victoria, I had to write about it.
In Victoria, Missouri, everyone thought Prudence Bevis, AKA Queen Bevers, was a witch. Except, this lady didn’t care what others thought of her, and in fact, she enjoyed the notoriety.
How did Prudence’s reputation get started?
Her story started in Victoria, Missouri, when her husband Thomas Bevis received 502 acres from the Spanish government. From those acres, Bevis created the small town. Everything was peaceful until Bevis died in 1826. Then overnight, stories about how Prudence tormented her neighbors began circulating through the town.
Prudence became Queen Bevers, the witch of Victoria, and the people blamed her for every horrible event in the town.
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer, Jeremy Kohler, wrote an article about the town’s most famous citizen. In the article, he stated no one knew why the name changed or how she got her nickname. However, many older townspeople had plenty of stories about the beautiful woman.
Queen Bevers turned fellow-townsman Aaron Cook into a horse; then she rode him to a ball and left him tied all night to a plum bush. He eventually was changed back and proceeded to tell everyone who listened how he was not a happy camper about being tied up all night.
Another story tells of how one of the town’s girls became sick with an unusual disease. Of course, the family blamed the illness on Queen Bevers. They had no reason to blame her except the whole town suddenly thought she was a witch. The family contacted a witch doctor in one of the lower counties. She found a hairball in a boil on one of the girl’s limbs. A witch had cursed her, but the witch doctor found a remedy and cured her despite the witch.
Of course, Queen Bever’s escapades don’t end there. It’s told how she had to be present at a child’s birth. The story doesn’t tell why she had to be present, only that she did. Once she jumped astride a bull and swam across the flooded Joachim Creek to see the child.
Queen Bevers was married to Thomas Bevis for 28-years with no rumors of her being a witch. The townspeople believe she became a witch after her husband’s death. After those years, the articles I researched say nothing about why Prudence became a witch. Nothing in my research says she was a witch before she married either.
These unanswered questions didn’t stop stories about Queen Bever’s power. A man who claimed to be a great hunter stated that Queen Bever’s once made disparaging comments about his hunting. The next thing he knew, he couldn’t shoot accurately anymore. It was the witch’s fault.
Another person refused to sell her a cow, and the next day that same cow only produced blood milk from then on. Bessie’s owners had to round her up because she jumped the fence and ran away. It took them over a day to finally catch the run-away cow.
Queen Bever’s husband died in 1826, and she died in 1858. So, for over twenty-eight years, she terrorized Victoria, Missouri. However, not everyone believed the stories. Judge John L. Thomas gave an address before the Old Settler’s Association of Jefferson County. He talked about how Prudence Bevis’ biography shows her generation’s culture and beliefs.
He addressed the fact of her being a witch with tongue-in-cheek. Thomas explained he heard it through another respected citizen that Queen Bevers was a witch. Everyone in town believed she was and that everyone far and wide blamed her for everything wrong.
Then regaled the association with some of the many stories told by the townspeople to prove she was a witch. After retelling a few of those fantastic stories, Thomas stated that her life would fill a book. He ended the address by saying that Queen Bevers’ was a “remarkable woman.”
Thomas thinks people thought she was a witch because of her uncommon beauty. The fact she was Irish and Cherokee and thirty years younger than her husband didn’t help either. However, the birth of her daughter soon after Bevis died caused a major scandal. The good townspeople thought Judge Thomas was the father and not her husband because Thomas and Prudence were seen together numerous times.
Queen Bevers didn’t mind all the fuss or the reputation because many stories tell how she laughed when people accused her of being a witch.
When her husband died, she inherited nothing. Everything went to Bevis’ first wife and daughter. It makes you wonder why she stayed for many years after his death. She could have left at any time, but she chose to stay and what a life this lady lived.
No matter what everyone else said or did, Queen Bevers’ lived her life the way she wanted. Proud and unafraid. A moral many of us could learn today.
Queen Bevers will live forever in people’s memories as the witch of Victoria, Missouri. Yet her epitaph should read, “What a remarkable woman.”
Featured photo by snowwolff courtesy of Pixabay