The Legend of Soap Sally

The way I heard it, Soap Sally lived in a small mill town somewhere in Georgia, or maybe it was North Carolina or Tennessee. Anyways, wherever it was, Soap Sally lived on the top of a big old hill near the local swimming hole. She had three big black kettles in her front yard where she did the washing for the whole town. All around those three kettles she had long clotheslines stretched between crossed supports to hang the laundry up.

On a windy day her yard a beautiful sight, with clothing of all colors fluttering on the lines like flags of every nation. In fact, if you saw Soap Sally during the day you’d think she was just a regular little old washerwoman. But folks that lived in that mill town knew otherwise.

If you stayed around town after dark and looked up on that hill by the swimming hole, you could see the fire and embers still burning under those big kettles. See, Soap Sally did the washing by day, but by night she made soap. And it wasn’t any ordinary soap.

Sally roamed the town at night gathering up children who had misbehaved. She’d stuff them in a croaker sack, take them home, kill them, then use the fat in their bodies to make her soap.

Children around the town were constantly warned: “Be home by dark or Soap Sally will get you, “Stay out of those fields or Soap Sally will get you,” “If you don’t mind your ma, Soap Sally will come and get you!” The children who obeyed survived, while those who didn’t vanished as quickly as a soap bubble pricked by a needle. Some folks said that the parents of really bad children didn’t even wait for Soap Sally to come collect their wayward youngsters, they just gave them to her.

Years passed and Soap Sally died. Now before you breathe a sigh of relief, let me tell you, they say her ghost still roams the South every night. And rumor has it that she’s still in the soap-making business.

10 Comments

  1. Jim Broome July 13, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    Well son you’ve done it again!!! Soap Sally was a big part of the discipline handed out by my parents. She became a part of my life when I was about 3 years old. When I was around four or so I had slipped off from my mom and she didn’t find me for a couple of hours. After she gave me a good switching she said that Soap Sally had probably seen me and would come take me away. As you can imagine, I wouldn’t get out of sight of the front porch for months.

    • Rick Dalton July 17, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      AS above, 3 or 4 years old followed my dog across the corn field and got stu ck in blackberry briars
      when old Sope Sally started hooting and hollering how she like to take little boys and hide them far away.
      After a bit of crying I was rescued by my mother and a peach limb switch.

      This occurred around 1948 on property my dad had purchased from my grandfather (mom’s dad)
      who purchased the land from my dad’s uncle who was a grandson of my great, great grandfather
      or more who drew the land lot from the State of Georgia as they ran the Cherokee out of the
      Georgia reservations.

    • Jill July 18, 2017 at 11:36 pm

      I can still see my granddaddy laughing as my aunt told the story of Soap Sally and how they would cover up their heads at night so Sally couldn’t see them. She just knew Sally was peeping in the window.

  2. Debbie July 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    It was in a small town in v Ga.t was Thomaston

  3. Helen Maddox July 16, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Soap Sally sounds like an evil person. I would be afraid to get out after dark myself.

  4. Mike Graybill July 17, 2017 at 4:14 am

    I also grew up with stories of how Soap Sally would come and get us if we were bad.

  5. Roger Banfield July 17, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    That’s so funny ! As a kid I think most of us were kept in line by our parents telling us that there was something out there in the woods just waiting and watching to see if we were into any kind of mischief and we would be carried away ! Worked on me for sure ! I would play in the yard but kept a eye on them woods ! The second choice would have been to behave my self, but that easier said than done when your a kid.

  6. Uncle Bud -Pap July 18, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    I’m 90 years olr and grew up with tales f Soap Salley,Rawhide and Bloddy Bones ,tRagman and others that were used to encourage/discipline young children. After the Civil War ended and the freed slaves were rewarded/paid off with 40 acres and a mule the northern Carpet Baggers came and bought the 40 acres for a few Yankee coins the farms were Share Cropped by broke Southerners (form of slavery) and Slaves. I sat under a big shady Oak tree with ex Confederate Solders and ex Slaves which talked about all the tails used to manage their children.

  7. Amy Harlib July 21, 2017 at 2:59 am

    Very interesting variation on the theme of The Boogeyman will get you if you don’t behave!

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