A Screaming Queen's Ghost and More Spooky Encounters that Haunt Us
A Screaming Queen’s Ghost and More Spooky Encounters that Haunt Us

A Screaming Queen’s Ghost and More Spooky Encounters that Haunt Us

Khalid Elhassan - October 23, 2022

A Screaming Queen’s Ghost and More Spooky Encounters that Haunt Us
Flowing Wells High School today. Pinterest

This Teacher Thought Spooky Rumors That She Was a Witch Were Lighthearted Fun

As Ann Stewart described it later: “I like to get kids involved. I teach American literature, among other things. Although I’ve never had a unit in the occult, we do delve into early American folklore and witchcraft. It was good fun and it stimulated them“. So she played along with the banter. She never said she was a witch. However, whenever students asked if she was one, she did not deny it. Instead, she replied with a variant of “Well, I have all the signs. What do you think?” What they – and the school administration – thought got her fired.

In 1970, to heighten her students’ interest in literature, Ann Stewart had suggested that they find out what astrology is all about. That further enhanced the rumors about her involvement with the occult. Later that year, a junior high school teacher invited her to speak before her eighth graders about folklore and witchcraft. As part of the presentation, Mrs. Stewart dressed up and played the part of a witch. When those eighth graders arrived in Flowing Wells High School that fall, many of them fueled the rumors that Mrs. Stewart really was a spooky witch.

A Screaming Queen’s Ghost and More Spooky Encounters that Haunt Us
Contemporary coverage of Ann Stewart’s firing for witchcraft. Spirits Rising

This Conservative Community Did Not See Witchcraft as Fun and Games

Ann Stewart didn’t think much of the kids’ whispers that their English teacher was a spooky witch, and dismissed it as all in good fun. Unfortunately, Flowing Wells was a particularly conservative community. Many students, their parents, and faculty members at the high school did not get the joke. On November 27th, 1970, Stewart was suspended for: “teaching about witchcraft, having stated that you are a witch in a way that affects students psychologically“. She was also alleged to have been insubordinate, discussed subjects beyond the curriculum, been a bad influence on students, and aggravated other teachers.

The suspension of an American teacher in 1970 for witchcraft became international news. In conservative Flowing Wells, Stewart became a pariah, shunned by neighbors and former friends. She appealed to the school board, but it confirmed the decision to fire her. So she sued in court, and there won on grounds that the board had violated the legal procedures for dismissing a tenured teacher like Stewart. The court ordered her reinstatement, but as of February, 1972, she had not returned to her job, and it is unclear if she ever taught at Flowing Wells again.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

American Folklore – Joseph Bonaparte and the Jersey Devil

Dodwell, Henry – The Founder of Modern Egypt: A Study of Muhammad Ali (1931)

Encyclopedia Britannica – Joseph Bonaparte

Historic Royal Palaces – Historic Hauntings at Hampton Court Palace

History Collection – 30 Ghosts of Historical Figures That May Still Walk Among the Living

International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1, (Feb., 1995) – The Military Household in Ottoman Egypt

McCartney, Clarence Edward, and Dorrance, Gordon – The Bonapartes in America (2008)

Mental Floss – The Last King of New Jersey: The Suburban Life of Napoleon’s Brother

Military Heritage – Count Dracula’s War on Islam: A True Story of Power, Cruelty, and Betrayal

Mount Vernon – Ghost Stories: Washington’s Ghost Haunts Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon – Great George’s Ghost: Josiah Quincy III and His Fright Night at Mount Vernon

Museum of Unnatural Mystery – The Real Dracula: Vlad the Impaler

Muslu, Cihan Yuksel – The Ottomans and the Mamluks: Imperial Diplomacy and Warfare in the Islamic World (2014)

New York Times, December 5th, 1971 – Teacher is Upheld in Witchcraft Trial

New York Times, October 24th, 2008 – Digging Up the Home of That Other Bonaparte, in New Jersey

Only in Your State – Most People Don’t Know a Witch Trial Took Place Right Here in Arizona

Rawi, Egypt’s Heritage Review – Coffee With the Pasha: The Story of Egypt’s Most Famous Massacre

Stroud, Patricia Tyson – The Man Who Had Been King: The American Exile of Napoleon’s Brother Joseph (2014)

Treptow, Kurt W. – Vlad III Dracula: The Life and Times of the Historical Dracula (2000)

Tuscaloosa News, March 31st, 1971 – ‘Teacher-Witch’ Loses Her Job

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