Long ago, in the early 1700s, a retired ship’s captain named Edward Dimond lived at the foot of Old Burial Hill, in a house still known as the Old Brig. He was called Wizard Dimond, and many people believed, as he did himself, that he had special powers. The Wizard often wore a large cape and was a tall, imposing and respected old man. On stormy nights, Wizard Dimond could be found up at the top of Burial Hill, cape swirling in the wind, railing at the forces of nature and calling out to the fishing schooners at sea. He called the vessels and their crews by name and shouted commands to the forces of nature. He demanded that the winds and rough seas become calm and send the ships safely home to Marblehead harbor.
When local wives and families were worried, they paid a visit to Wizard Dimond’s house. They begged him to intercede for their loved ones to keep them safe. There were many tales from sailors and fishermen who said that when on board ship they clearly heard Wizard Dimond’s voice above the wind and waves calling them home.
Wizard Dimond also helped people when they had troubles on land. One time, a poor widow of Marblehead was the victim of theft. All her wood for the winter had been stolen and she came to Wizard Dimond for help, afraid that she would freeze to death in the coming winter. Old Dimond discovered the thief, chastised him for his evil deed and made him replace all the wood. Then he also enacted a magical punishment. He put a spell on the man so that he had to walk all night with a heavy log attached to his back that he couldn’t remove. He was forced to walk back and forth from his house to the widow’s cottage from sunset to sunrise without stopping. By morning he was dropping with fatigue, and surely must have learned his lesson. The Wizard’s spell also made those who would steal from defenseless widows think twice about it.
Moll Dimond Pitcher was born in 1738 at her grandfather Wizard Dimond’s house on Orne Street in Marblehead. Her father, Aholiab Dimond, was a cordwainer or shoemaker, and he had an apprentice named Robert Pitcher. Moll and Robert fell in love and were married. They moved to Lynn and lived at the foot of High Rock. Their cottage soon became famous because visitors made their way there to consult Moll Pitcher and have their fortunes told. Many came looking, as Moll had inherited her grandfather’s special powers. She had the ability to see into the future, and her skill as a Prophetess became famous. It was written that “Royalty of Europe as well as simple maids of America sought to learn the future from her.”
Moll is said to have predicted the outcome of the Battle of Bunker Hill. General John Glover of Marblehead escorted Moll Pitcher to Cambridge to see General George Washington, where she raised his spirits greatly when she foretold the outcome of the Revolutionary War. British generals, including Burgoyne, Pitcairn and Gage also consulted the oracle. She is said to have gained more information from them than they did from her, and to have secretly passed it on to Elbridge Gerry of Marblehead, acting as a double-agent to help the patriotic cause.
Moll Pitcher was certainly the most famous fortune teller ever known on the North Shore. Sailors and sea captains refused to leave port if Moll predicted a bad voyage. Treasure hunters also consulted Moll, but she scoffed at them, saying, “Fools; if I knew where money was buried, do you think I would tell you?”