Is this guy a real part of Arkansas history or a piece of folklore or just a wild invention of a feverish pulp writer`s imagination?
IN 1931, Robert E. Howard wrote a little essay about Kelly, whom he claimed was a genuine person who had lived around the 1870s in Arkansas. Supposedly an African witch doctor with sinister powers, he developed quite a reputation in the area before mysteriously vanishing.
In the June 1936 issue of WEIRD TALES, Howard had a lurid thriller in print called “Black Canaan”, in which the freed slaves of a remote boondocks plan an uprising that will slaughter all the white people and make a king of their leader. Saul Stark is closely based on Kelly, although he goes beyond healing potions and love spells; Stark is into turning men into catfish monsters and raising the dead.
My feeble attempts at Googling have only resulting in finding the various editions where Howard`s story has been reprinted. So, in order to learn more about the real Kelly the Conjure Man, where better can I turn than here to the Straight Dope?