Appalachia Games

Old Granny Wiggins Is Dead

Old granny wiggins is dead game

I came across the game Old Granny Wiggins Is Dead in the Foxfire 6 Book. The name grabbed my attention, then after I read the entry I decided it was a game I would have played when I was a kid if I had only known about it-heck I might play it now if I can find someone silly enough to play it with me.

In the Foxfire 6 Book Pearl Bates described the game like this:

You get as many players as you want sitting or standing in a circle. We usually sat outside in the grass. The the lead person says, “Old Granny Wiggins is dead.” And the next person says, “How’d she die?” And I say, “She died this way,” and I do something like wave my left hand up and down, and keep on waving it, and that next person has to start waving his or her hand the same way. I repeat the same sequence with every person in the circle until they are all waving the same hand. When we’ve come all the way around the circle and they’re all waving. I start a new round and add some motion this time like waving the other hand the same way. We go all the way around the circle until everyone is waving both hands, now. Then we used to add patting one foot and go all the way around, and then add patting the other foot, and then bobbing our heads. When everyone in the circle then is waving both hands and patting both feet and bobbing their heads, I give a signal and we all fall over dead on top of each other. We’d get a big laugh out of how we’d fall. We always did pretty much the same sequence with the hands and feet and head, but I guess you could add other signals like wagging a shoulder or something if you wanted to.

Have you ever heard of the game Old Granny Wiggins Is Dead? If not would it have been a game you would have played?


*Sources Foxfire 6


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  • Reply
    Thylias Moss
    December 8, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Sounds exactly like what I used to play in Cleveland, Ohio, about 50 years ago! “Aunt Donna’s Dead” –same game!

  • Reply
    RB Redmond
    May 9, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Never heard of it, but sounds like a good way for girls and guys to meet each other in the old days if they all fall into a pile at the end.
    Don’t you think? LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ima Joyner
    May 8, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Old Granny Wiggins is dead? What a shame! Who stands to inherit her fortune? Look, what a fine estate she inhabits. Oh, to be an heir! Just look at the hints of her wealth. Such a fine manor. 6 over 6 windows! A singled roof! Two chimneys! The roof of the addition is only slightly askew. An awning! And what a luxurious coach that waits to attend her. Who are the pictured gentlemen? Her personal staff perhaps? Does she leave behind any children? Grandchildren? Who stands to come into all she has accumulated? Oh to be a descendant of Granny Wiggins!
    Lets think this over. Wiggins? Wiggins Creek? The place of my birth! Maybe? Could Granny Wiggins be my long lost great great grand aunt? Nobody knew what happened to her. To claim my birthright as her heir, would I have to also accept the immature activity for which she is remembered? A writhing giggling mass of prepubescent humanity. Never! Not Me!
    Alas! I would have to settle for a life of wiggling digits and waving hands? Of spontaneous laughter with no apparent cause? Of no fear of the future? Of no guilt for the past? Can my aloof existence be sustained in such a place? And at such a pace? Oh well, I’ve done it before, I can do it again. I’m in the game!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Sounds like a good game. I appreciate the effort you put into your blog.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    This is similar to “Johnny One Hammer” – the rhyming verse is sung (Johnny works with one hammer, one hammer, one hammer; Johnny works with one hammer, then he works with two! – usually the next number is shouted and may be accompanied by mock moans and groans.) The first “hammer” (the left hand), then two “hammers” (both hands), three “hammers” (add one foot/leg – depending on position), four “hammers” (add the other foot/leg), then five “hammers”, and finally – “then he fell asleep: all participants collapse totally out of breath and giggling.
    During my substitute days it was not unusual to be called for an unexpected emergency and have no lesson plans. I’m not an athletic person, but when in this situation for and entire day of early childhood through third grade on a rainy day, “Johnny One Hammer” and “The Hokey Pokey” kept the little ones moving and entertained; but, Boy! was I sore for the next several days!!!!
    I’m also having a vague memory about “My Magic Machine” – or something like that. It also involved a variety of motions which accumulated but the motions also had to connect with the next person. It looked a little bit like the scene from Sound of Music when they sang the bridge from “So Long, Farewell”. My brain is not being cooperative today – does anyone else recall something like this?

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Hi Tipper,If only I was physically younger I would join you.We wont worry about our mental age.LOL God Bless.Jean

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I never heard of this game, but
    just like the other ones, sounds
    like fun. It would have been a
    hoot just to see all my grandgirls
    going thru these silly motions and
    falling to the ground. I know they
    would like it…Ken

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Makes me think of this jump rope chant & count:
    Mother, mother, I am sick
    Call the doctor quick, quick, quick
    Doctor, doctor, will I die?
    Yes my child but don’t you cry.
    How many cars will be at my funeral?
    Counted jumps till the person missed & then began again.
    I think we were probably more morbid than today’s kids.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    May 8, 2013 at 9:59 am

    This sounds like a fun game, but what I want to know, who was old Granny Wiggins and how did she get this game named for her?
    Did she have some rattle and shake disease? Did she rave and wave her hands until she fell over and family members thought she was dead. Maybe she got back up and next time she waved and hopped and patted her foot around til she lost control and her head wobbled as she fell. Could you imagine poor old Granny Wiggins, such a gentle and kind Granny except for these occasional quirks and to interchange the sequence of these fits she would waggle her shoulders…
    Bless her heart, I had an old great aunt, that would sit and rock, and shake…I was so afraid of her. I was only seven or eight. She was happy, but I didn’t know it at the time, since I was told by my grandmother not to bother her. She lived to 103 with not a care in the world. Worse ways to live I guess…
    Thanks Tipper,
    I’d play this game with you but you would have to help me after I fell on the ground out of my roll-lator!!! LOL

  • Reply
    Gina S
    May 8, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Old Granny Wiggins didn’t die at least not in my childhood memories. I can see a gang of kids having fun with the game though. When the sun decides to shine again, I believe I’ll teach it to the grands. Maybe their old Gigi can work away some of that ever-abundant boy energy. Thanks for sharing old games. They recall lots of memories.

  • Reply
    Brian Blake
    May 8, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Reminds me of childhood stories of “old gentleman rabbit” Uncle Wiggly Longears.

  • Reply
    Kent Lockman
    May 8, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Yup, another of the silly games a group of 30 mature adults used to play at our Old Christmas Gatherings. It’s amazing how much fun adults can have playing like children.
    Marianne Lockman

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Sorry, but I never played the game. However, I’d like to see what you and your family look like if you decide to play the game. It might look like a football pileup. I will feel sorry for whomever is at the bottom.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    May 8, 2013 at 8:21 am

    that’s my kind of game! Sounds fun no matter how old you are.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 8, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Is that Granny Wiggins in the picture? That game does sound fun, silly but fun. I can just imagine a group of girls falling into wild giggles at the end.
    If we can get the girls to join in I’ll play it with you!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 8, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Oh, this sounds like so much fun! Never played it but I would have had I just known

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 8, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Depending on the number of people in the circle this game might turn into a cardiovascular emergency for us old folks. We might fall down and not never get up!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 6:24 am

    I’ve never heard of this game, but if you DO find some people to play it with you, Tipper, I’d definitely click to watch the video!

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