United States Folklore



The Spooky Series
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United States Folklore



A Baker's Dozen

Back in the old days, I had a successful bake-shop in Albany. I had a good business, a plump wife, and a big family. I was a happy man. But trouble came to my shop one year in the guise of an ugly old woman. She entered my shop a few minutes before closing and said: “I wish to have a dozen cookies.” She pointed to my special Saint Nicholas cookies that were sitting out on a tray. So I counted out twelve cookies for her...

A Gift from Saint Nicholas

Claas Schlaschenschlinger was a wealthy cobbler living on New Street in New Amsterdam. He was a contented bachelor who could afford eight - eight mind you! - pairs of breeches and he had a little side business selling geese. He cut quite a figure in New Amsterdam society, and was happy being single, until he met the fair Anitje! She was as pretty as a picture, and Claas fell head over heels for her. He was not her only suitor, by any means. The local burgomaster was also courting the fair Anitje. But the burgomaster was a stingy, hard man, and in the end, Anitje gave her heart and hand to Claas...

Adventure On the Rogue

We were up-river with a tour group looking at all the natural beauties here on the Rogue River when I spied a young sasquatch hiding in the shadow of a tree near a gravel bank. I swung the tour-boat around so we could get a better look, and all the tourists exclaimed and took pictures. It is not too unusual to see a sasquatch in the spring. That is the time they migrate through here to their summer stomping grounds up North...

Arkansas Traveler

One rainy autumn, a traveler got lost in the mountains of Arkansas. He was tired and hungry, and so was his horse. Night was approaching. All at once, he saw a cabin. A squatter sat on the porch fiddling the same tune over and over...

Aunty Greenleaf and the White Deer

< Aunty Greenleaf was a scrawny old woman with a wild thatch of gray hair and a crooked nose. She lived in a hut surrounded by pines just outside Brookhaven, and she sold herbal remedies to the folks in town. Mostly, people avoided her, except when someone got sick because it was said that Aunty Greenleaf was a witch. Her home remedies worked too well to be natural. Folks figured she had to have help from the devil or one of his familiars...

Babe the Blue Ox

Well now, one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south and even the snow turned blue. Late at night, it got so frigid that all spoken words froze solid afore they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before...

Bear Lake Monster

If you travel to Bear Lake in Utah on a quiet day, you just might catch a glimpse of the Bear Lake Monster. The monster looks like a huge brown snake and is nearly 90 feet long. It has ears that stick out from the side of its skinny head and a mouth big enough to eat a man. According to some, it has small legs and it kind of scurries when it ventures out on land. But in the water - watch out!...

Blue Hen's Chicks

A Delaware man went to war during the American Revolution. For entertainment, he brought with him two fighting cocks. When asked about these chickens, the soldier said slyly: "They are the chick's of a blue hen I have at home." ...

Brer Fox Goes Hunting

Well, it was a crisp autumn day, don't ya know, and Brer Fox, he decided he wanted to go hunting. He'd made his peace with Brer Rabbit a few months back, and he thought it would be a fine thing if they went hunting together. So Brer Fox stopped by Brer Rabbit's place and invited him to come along.

Christmas Gift

Away down South, an old custom dictates that if someone comes up to you on Christmas Day and says "Christmas gift" before y'all do, why y'all are obliged to give that person a present. Mind you, the custom does not say what sort of present y'all should give! But those of us who hail from the South consider ourselves to be gentlefolk. The gifts given and received in this manner are good enough to keep the custom alive and well...

Cowboys in Heaven

After cow punching for nigh on fifty years, a Texas cowboy went on to his reward. There was considerable excitement in heaven when he reached the pearly gates...

Crows are in the Corn

It happened in Georgia not long ago, that a farmer and his wife decided to sleep late, like the rich folk do. It was a beautiful Sunday morning, the kind that brings all God's creatures out to play. But not these farm folk. No, they just slept and slept and slept...

Crystal Mountain

According to the latest reports, there is a crystal mountain residing somewhere in Wyoming. You can't see nothing of it, it being clear straight through. But folks hereabouts reckon its about three miles around at the base, on account of all the bones of birds which killed themselves crashing into the danged thing...

Der Belznickel

My sisters and my baby brother danced about the house, whispering to each other excitedly about the coming of der Belznickel on that snowy December 5th evening, the day before the Feast of Saint Nicholas. According to the stories, the good Saint Nicholas chains up the Devil on the eve of his Birthday – December 6th -- and makes him visit all of the children in the village to see if they have been behaving themselves and deserved the attention of Kirstkindel.

Eavesdropper

There is an old tale which claims that at midnight, on Christmas Eve, the cattle will kneel in the barn and speak with one another. Once an old Maryland man decided to test the tale by hiding in the barn at midnight to listen. So he climbed a rope to the window in the hayloft. He lay down on the rough gray boards, covered himself with hay and waited...

Echoes

Following the Homestead Act of 1862, many Scandinavians pioneered the lands of the mid-West. These frontier settlers worked hard, and were justly proud of their new home in America. They were not above boasting about their new country, especially to settlers who came from the old...

The Future

She was nervous and excited as she approached the psychic's store. Normally, she didn't go in for fortune telling. But her best friend had visited the psychic a few months ago, and everything the woman had predicted came true. Everything!

Fur-Bearing Trout

Now it happened that there was a mining camp in Colorado where more than an average number of the miners were bald. An enterprising hair tonic salesman from Kentucky decided to take advantage of this golden opportunity, so he made the trip north. It was a rainy summer evening. The salesman was headed towards the mining camp with four bottles of hair tonic under his arm. As he was crossing one of the trout streams which lead to the Arkansas River, the salesman slipped and dropped two bottles of hair tonic into the water. The bottles broke, and the hair tonic spilled into the stream...

Ghost Handprints

My wife Jill and I were driving home from a friend's party late one evening in early May. It was a beautiful night with a full moon. We were laughing and discussing the party when the engine started to cough and the emergency light went on. We had just reached the railroad crossing where Villamain Road becomes Shane Road...

Ghost Pilots of Times Square

He had just graduated from Harvard University and was living in Manhattan. He loved the city and was beginning to feel at home on its streets. World War II was raging in Europe, and like all other good citizens, he followed the headlines daily and did his part for the boys overseas...

Ghost of Pearl White

When I was a kid, my grandparent’s bought a huge old boarding house in Jersey City. It had once housed the actresses working for a big silent film studio across the street, but the film studio was long gone, and the boarding house was unused. My grandparents converted it into a 3-family home...

Ghost that Followed Me Home

I have a fascination with genealogy, which is what started all the trouble. My next-door neighbor and I were fellow hobbyists, and we often supported each others search for long-lost ancestors. We would spend hours pouring over stacks of dusty country records, wandering through poison-ivy strewn graveyards, and getting lost on back lanes trying to find the homes of retirees who remembered what our forbearers were like way back when...

The Grave

A young woman lay suffering on her deathbed, her stillborn baby lying against her chest. Her young husband crouched close, stricken with grief. His beautiful wife crooned a lullaby to her dead baby, her voice growing fainter as death drew near. Finally, she looked at her husband and asked him to bury her back East, beside her dead mother. Choked with grief, the young husband agreed...

Green Lantern

There once was a lighthouse keeper who had lived on St. Martin's Island with his children, whom he loved dearly. They were all alone there, for the mother had died long before. Wanting the best for his daughter and son, the keeper had insisted that they continue their education, and for this purpose had purchased a small dory for them, which they rowed across to the mainland each day to attend school.

Greenhorn and the Mule Egg

Well now, there was a chap that got real sick of working in the big city. One day, he quit his job, packed up his wife and kiddies, and hi-tailed it out to Kansas to become a farmer. Bought a big parcel of land with a grand old barn and some fields just ready to plow and plant...

Haunted Christmas

The soft thud of following footsteps echoed behind him as he hurried through the snowflakes toward home. They kept pace with him, quickening when he quickened and slowing when he slowed. It was creepy. His flesh crawled at the sound and he sped up, cursing himself for walking home alone from the midnight Christmas Mass.

Headless Horseman

One cold winter night, early in the New Year, a certain Dutchman left the tavern in Tarrytown and started walking to his home in the hollow nearby. His path led next to the old Sleepy Hollow cemetery where a headless Hessian soldier was buried. At midnight, the Dutchman came within site of the graveyard...

Henry Hudson and the Catskill Gnomes

On September 3rd of 1609, Henry Hudson sailed the Half Moon into the mouth of the great New York river that later bore his name. The explorer and his crew journeyed north for several days, trading with the native residents and searching for the fabled northwest passage to the Orient. By the time he reached the area that would become present-day Albany, Hudson knew that he had not found the passage for which he sought. Reluctantly, he turned the Half Moon and sailed back down the river...

Hoop Snakes

Now the Pennsylvania hoop snake is something to be reckoned with. It is long, and its colors vary with the type of whisky you've been drinking. But everyone agrees that you can tell a hoop snake from a regular snake by the way it moves. When a hoop snake travels around, it grabs its tail (with the poison stinger at the end) in its mouth and rolls along until it sees something it wants to sting. Then it whips the stinger out of its mouth quick enough and lashes out with its tail...

I'm All Right

We knew right from the start that Johnny was going to be a soldier. Even as a child, all his concentration was on the military. So we weren't surprised when he joined the Marines right out of high school...

Idaho Potatoes

We here in Idaho are right proud of our potatoes. Our fields are so chock full of potatoes that you can hear them grumbling when you stick your ear on the ground. "Roll over, yer crowding me," they say...

Invisible Hands

A couple of Welsh miners came to Nevada to help mine the Comstock Load. They were quite a pair of tricksters, yes sir! It got so bad that no one would believe anything they said, 'cause if'n they did, the Welshman would make them look like a fool. But they were popular. The miners dearly loved a laugh after a hard day working in the mine...

Jack and the Corn Stalk

Once, a Kansas farmer sent his son Jack to check on the growth of the corn in the field. Now Jack was not a tall lad, so he decided to take a ladder with him. When he found a nice big stalk of corn, he leaned the ladder against it and climbed up until he could reach the first joint. From there, he proceeded to the top of the cornstalk, and looked out over the field. There was enough corn there for a rich harvest...

Jean Sot Guards the Door

One day, Jean Sot's mother wanted to go to town. "Now Jean," she said, "I want you to guard the door. "Yes, Mama," Jean Sot agreed.

Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed was a hermit and a wanderer who was welcomed wherever he went in the Ohio territory. Everyone loved him, in spite of his unkempt appearance. He always carried a sack full of apple seeds to plant, and walked barefoot all year round. He knew the frontier woods better than anyone. Even the Indians respected Johnny Appleseed for his courage.

The King of Sharks

One day, the King of Sharks saw a beautiful girl swimming near the shore. He immediately fell in love with the girl. Transforming himself into a handsome man, he dressed himself in the feathered cape of a chief and followed her to her village...

La Llorona

Once there was a widow who wished to marry a rich nobleman. However, the nobleman did not want to raise another man's children and he dismissed her. The widow was determined to have the nobleman for her own, so the widow drowned her children to be free of them...

Lincoln Death Train

I'd been transferred to the Hudson Division of the New York Central system, and was working the rails on the main line between New York and Albany. I was on the late shift to start with, since I was a bit of a night owl. After six weeks of stomping the tracks and mending the rails, I was feeling right at home in my new job...

McLoughlin's Ghost

Dr. John McLoughlin came to the Pacific Northwest with the Hudson Bay Company and fell in love with the area. After losing his job (he was fired for giving supplies to settlers), he bought land in the Willamette Valley and founded the town now known as Oregon City.

Milk Bottles

She was just another poor, bedraggled woman, struggling to feed her family. He saw them all the time, their faces careworn, and blank. The Depression had created hundreds of them. He was one of the lucky ones who still had his grocery and money coming in to feed his family...

Mississippi Mosquitoes

A visitor to Mississippi decided to take a walk along the river in the cool of the evening. His host warned him that the mosquitoes in the area had been acting up lately, tormenting the alligators until they moved down the river. But the visitor just laughed and told his host he wasn't to be put off from his evening constitutional by a few mosquitoes...

Moll DeGrow

Moll DeGrow was a wicked witch who once lived on Gully Road in what is now Newark, New Jersey. She took delight in the misery of others, and made things miserable for the folks living near her. If a neighbor slighted her, she would sour their milk. If anyone called her a witch, she made their dogs turn vicious. People were very cautious around Moll De Grow...

Never Mind Them Watermelons

Well now, old Sam Gibb, he didn't believe in ghosts. Not one bit. Everyone in town knew the old log cabin back in the woods was haunted, but Sam Gibb just laughed whenever folks talked about it. Finally, the blacksmith dared Sam Gibb to spend the night in the haunted log cabin...

No Trespassing

Peggy and her boyfriend Tommy were driving down a lonely stretch of highway at dusk when a thunderstorm came crashing down on them. Tommy slowed the car and they crept their way past a formidable abandoned house. Plastered all over the fences and trees were NO TRESPASSING signs.

Ocean-Born Mary

Elizabeth and James Wilson were Irish immigrants from Londonderry, Ireland. In 1720 they set sail for America. They had been granted some land in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and were hoping to start a new life there...

Old Man Moses

It's not hard to catch a meal in New Hampshire, no sir. Take my neighbor, Old Man Moses, who lives down a piece from me. One morning, Old Man Moses went out his kitchen door and found twelve turkeys on his fence...

Olde Fort Mifflin

There is only one word for Fort Mifflin during a reenactment. LOUD! My ears were ringing as I hurried inside the ammunition mound, according to my assigned role. The mound muffled the sound of canons a little bit. But I still reckoned I'd be deaf all day tomorrow!

Palatine

The Palatine gleamed in the sunlight as she set out with a full crew, a long list of passengers, and a hull full of merchandise for the American Colonies the winter of 1750-1751. Certainly, there was no indication that morning of the destiny fate had in store for her...

Paul Bunyan Tames the Whistling River

The Whistling River - so named because twice a day, it reared up to a height of two hundred feet and let loose a whistle that could be heard for over six hundred miles - was the most ornery river in the U.S. of A. It took a fiendish delight in plaguing the life out of the loggers who worked it.

Pecos Bill and Slue-foot Sue

Now, Pecos Bill had a way with wimmen. No doubt. He had dozens of wives during his time. But his one true love was Slue-foot Sue. She was his first wife - and she could ride almost as good as Bill himself...

Phantom Drummer

Now when Colonel Howell of the British Army chanced to meet the daughter of the wealthy farmer Jarrett, who owned land near Valley Forge, he fell head-over-heels in love. Howell had a bit of a reputation as a womanizer, but it faded away after he met Ruth. The girl had a brother serving under Washington and none of her family liked the red coats, but so overwhelming was Howell's love for her that it conquered the reluctant maiden's heart...

Phantom Lovers of Dismal Swamp

He couldn't believe it when she fell ill just a few short weeks before their marriage. His betrothed was beautiful, strong, and healthy, but she just faded away before his eyes. He held her in his arms as she gasped out her last breathe, and was inconsolable long after her body lay buried beside the Dismal Swamp...

Pickled!

Dr. William Kiel, a radical preacher who broke from the Methodist church, formed his own church and decided to emigrate with his followers to the Pacific Northwest. He promised his nineteen year old son Willie that he could lead the wagon train, but his son died of malaria four days before the departure date. Determined to keep his word to his son, the doctor had his son's coffin lined with lead and filled with One Hundred Proof Golden Rule Whiskey.

Piece By Piece

There once was a crazy ghost over Poughkeepsie way that got folks so plumb scared that nobody would stay more than one night in its house. It was a nice old place, or was, until the ghost began making its presence known. It got so no one would enter the house, not even kids on a dare, and you know what they are like!...

Red Dwarf of Detroit

The infamous Red Dwarf (Nain Rouge) of Detroit was reputed to be the foul offspring of the Stone God, who only appeared when there was to be trouble. The Red Dwarf was called "The Demon of the Strait" and its appearance heralded disaster. Cadillac, founder of Detroit, encountered the Nain Rouge while sitting on the bank of the Detroit River.

Sachs Bridge

I do not know what exactly draws me back to Sachs Bridge each time I visit Gettysburg. I just know that I feel compelled to drive there and take pictures. Of course, it is a beautiful spot - a covered bridge that was used by the Confederate Army to cross the creek when they withdrew from Gettysburg. But after all, how many pictures can you take of the same place? Well, okay, if you are a photographer, that is a silly question! But really, I am only an amateur, so why I personally felt compelled to record the bridge over and over was a mystery my boyfriend was obsessing about as he drove through the darkening countryside one evening in the late fall.

Shadow Train

A miner was on his way to Dos Cabezas, where here heard there was good prospecting, when he found himself lost and alone in the flats just north of the Dragoon Mountains. In the blistering sun of midday, his burro dropped dead from heatstroke and the prospector knew that he would shortly follow if he did not find shelter and something to drink.

Spuyten Duyvil

Once in old New Amsterdam, there was a brave trumpeter named Anthony Van Corlaer who would blow his trumpet when Peter Stuyvesant wanted to call the people together...

Shaggy Dog

There once was a woman traveling home from England who lost her pooch somewhere between Salem and Springfield. He was just about the shaggiest dog in the entire world; so shaggy you couldn't tell which end was which until his tail started wagging...

Skeleton's Lantern

We were on our way back to Yuma following a futile attempt to find Pegleg's lost gold mine out in the heat and dust of the desert. We stopped to make camp for the night between a rock and a hard place, and soon my friend Eddie was snoring loud enough to wake the dead. I drifted off myself, and started dreaming about the pretty girl I was engaged to marry...

Talking Mule

A farmer owned a mule which he used for work all week. But being a Church-going man, he let the mule rest on Sunday. One Sunday, the farmer had to go to a funeral. So he sent his son to saddle the mule. "Since when do I have to work on Sunday?" asked the mule...

Telltale Seaweed

Two sisters were motoring through Cape Cod late one stormy night in the early 1900's when their car broke down in an unpopulated area. Seeing an old, neglected house nearby, they went to the door and tugged on the bell-pull. When no one answered, they looked through a nearby window whose shutter was banging in the bitter wind. The window was broken. Through the window, they could see a library. The dust lay heavy over everything...

Tommy Knockers

Tommy Knockers are the spirits of departed miners that help miners find ore. They also knock on the walls of the mines right before a cave-in. When you hear a Tommy Knocker knocking, it's best to depart the area right quick. They have saved the life of many a miner who has been in a danger. Some folks say that the very first man to hear the sound is jinxed, but that is not always the case...

Twist-Mouth Family

A while back there was a family I know of - a mother, a father, and several children. Four of them had mouths that were twisted into strange shapes. The mother's mouth twisted up while the father's mouth twisted down. The sister's mouth twisted left while the younger brother's mouth twisted right. The eldest son John's mouth was perfectly normal...

Wait Until Emmet Comes

A preacher was riding to one of the churches on his circuit when darkness fell. It was about to storm, and the only house nearby was an old mansion which was reputed to be haunted. The preacher clutched his Bible and said: "The Lawd will take care o' me"...

Wampus Cat

They say that the Wampus cat used to be a beautiful Indian woman. The men of her tribe were always going on hunting trips, but the women had to stay home. The Indian woman secretly followed her husband one day when he went hunting with the other men. She hid herself behind a rock, clutching the hide of a mountain cat around her, and spied on the men as they sat around their campfires telling sacred stories and doing magic...

White Lady

In the early 1800s, the White Lady and her daughter were supposed to have lived on the land where the Durand Eastman Park -- part of Irondequoit and Rochester -- now stands. One day, the daughter disappeared. Convinced that the girl had been raped and murdered by a local farmer, the mother searched the marshy lands day after day, trying to discover where her child's body was buried...

White Wolf

She snapped awake out of a deep sleep, screaming aloud in terror. In her nightmare, a large white wolf had been chasing her around and around the house, gaining on her with every step until it finally pounced on her and ripped out her throat. She lay shaking for hours, unable to sleep after such a terrifying dream.
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