Ever hear of Kelly the Conjure Man?

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?

Go to a special form of information storage facility called a library.

Ask for a book about Arkansas folklore.

If they don’t have one, ask for help arranging an Interlibrary Loan.

Then, send Bosda Di’Chi of Tricor money. I wants my tree fiddy. Or any old 1920’s Style Death Rays you got layin’ 'round.

What kind of help is that?

I have spent many happy hours since childhood rummaging through the local libraries. But I thought maybe someone in this international community might have information readily available and willingly shared, information that may not even be found in standard texts.

Thanks a bunch.

OK–humor aside.

I have over 25 books written by Robert E. Howard ( I recommend the recently published volume “Nameless Cults”, whic is a great collection of Howard’s Cthulu Mythos writings).
So I can speak with some confidence when I recommend that you take Howard’s facts with a grain of salt. He was always more interested in creating a well-told tale than in sticking to the facts.

Maybe a search for African-American Folklore or Folktales might help?