The bulk of the following is from “Wizzard Clip,” by W.W. Laidley, published in the West Virginia Historical Magazine Quarterly, January 1904
Part 2 of 3
“In about a week afterward, his barn was burnt and his cattle all died, the crockeryware in his house, without any visible agency, was thrown upon the floor and broken; his money disappeared; the heads of his turkeys and chickens dropped off; and chunks of burning wood would leap from the fireplace several feet out into the floor, endangering the building unless promptly replaced.
“Soon the annoyances, which were then destroying his peace, assumed a new form. The sound of a large pair of shears could be distinctly heard in his house, clipping in the form of half moons and other curious figures, his blankets, sheets and counterpanes, boots and shoes, clothing, etc.
“This was all in one night, but the operation of clipping continued for upwards of three months, a small portion of it only being done at a time, but the inexorable shears never being silent twenty-four hours at a time.
“By this time the news of these strange proceedings was spread through the country for thirty miles around.
“An old Presbyterian lady of Martinsburg, hearing of the clipping that was going on at Livingston’s—to satisfy her curiosity, she went to Livingston’s house. Before entering the door she took from her head her new silk cap, wrapped it up in her silk handkerchief and put it in her pocket to save it from being clipped. After awhile she stepped out again to go home, and having drawn the handkerchief out of her pocket and opened it, found the cap cut in narrow ribbons.
“Many other phenomena are stated and testified to by many witnesses. The long continuance of this mysterious clipping had now aroused the country for many miles around.”
According to a 2003 article in the Wall Street Journal, Livingston begged a local Episcopal minister for help. The man, named Alexander Balman, had been a chaplain in the Revolutionary War, but his courage did him no good with the Clip. One account claims he “attempted an exorcism, and was famously abused by the scornful spirit, so that the prayerbook he used was found subsequently in one of the rooms, in a place which indicated no great respect for our admirable liturgy on the part of the ghost.”
As a result of this, Mr. Livingston turned in desperation to some local conjurers or magicians, one of whom promised to banish the evil spirit if paid a good sum in advance, but refused the job when the shrewd old farmer offered to pay him double that amount – after he succeeded!
The West Virginia Historical Magazine Quarterly article picks up the thread again: “Three daring and adventurous young men from Winchester came to Smithfield declaring their utter unbelief in the reports and offered to sleep in the house all night and to face the Devil himself, if he were the author of these doings.
“But as soon as they became comfortably seated in the house, a large stone was seen to proceed from the fireplace and to whirl around the floor with great velocity, when they took to their heels and made their escape.
“The condition of poor Livingston had become deplorable, he had lost much rest, and his imagination was so worked upon by his nocturnal visitor that his health began visibly to fail.
“Shortly after this Livingston had a dream. He thought he was climbing a high mountain and had great difficulty in the ascent. He had to labor hard, catching at roots and bushes, and moving forward slowly by their aid. Reaching the summit, he saw an imposing personage, ‘dressed in robes,’ as he described it.
“After contemplating for some time the person in view, he heard a voice saying: ‘This is the man who can relieve you.’ His wife heard him groaning in his sleep and she waked him; thereupon he communicated to her his dream and said he did not know of any minister who wore robes, but he would make inquiry in the morning.
Sources: The Mystery of the Wizard Clip, by Father J. M. Finotti, Baltimore, 1879
Mystery of the Wizard Clip, by John B. Piet, West Virginia, 1879
The Mystery of the Wizard Clip, Our Lady of the Rosary Library, Prospect, KY
“Haunted House,” by Mark Gauvreau Judge, The Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2003