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Local History

Wolf Man

 From A Traveling Court, based on Investigation of War Claims by Wiley Britton, 1926.

"Many years ago the special examiner [see note below] had read of lycanthropy, a form of insanity in which a man imagines himself to be a wolf, but as he had never talked with anyone who claimed to have knowledge of such a case, it did not make an impression upon his mind as a reality.  This peculiar mental condition of a man that makes him imagine he is a wolf and causes him to leave home and wander of nights along lonely paths or roads and in country graveyards or cemeteries, howling like a wolf, seemed more like a fairy tale than a reality.

"In the course of his work the special examiner received such a claim for investigation in Lawrence County.  The claimant, a Mrs. Speakman, widow of a Mr. Speakman of the Eighth Missouri Cavalry, alleged in her application that her late husband received an injury in the service that brought on mental delusions of a peculiar kind and that gradually grew worse up to his last illness and death; that he would have fits of depression or melancholy and imagine himself a wolf and leave home frequently of nights and that she would hear of him wandering along lonely roads and in grave yards howling like a wolf, but that he was not considered dangerous during these illusions or delusions when at home or at large.  In his later years he was possessed of the delusion nearly all the time.

"In all claims of this nature, or mental illusions, the special examiner generally went into a very full history of the soldier prior to and during his service up to alleged injury, as to whether he had ever manifested any of the symptoms of the illusions which it was claimed had resulted from the injury of service origin.  But the testimony of claimant and the witnesses examined, who knew him prior to enlistment, showed that he was a normal young man, mentally and physically, up to his enlistment and that they had no doubt that his condition since discharge was due to the injury received in the service.

"The soldier had lived in the same neighborhood after the war that he had lived in up to his enlistment and there was not much trouble in securing testimony of persons who had known him nearly all his life, of his mental condition and strange actions after the war.  There were grown persons who could remember when they were children of hearing of him imagining himself a wolf and of going about of nights on country roads howling like a wolf.  Most persons who were grown up at the beginning of the war in that section and who lived in the country had probably heard from their homes of night wolves howling in the forests, particularly in the wintertime.  The writer is able to recall very distinctly, when a child, of going out with other children in the early part of the night to listen to wolves howling in the forests."

Note: the special examiner is referring to the author.  He was a special field examiner for the United States Pension board based in Springfield, Mo. during the mid 1890's.

If you would like to read other books by this author, here are some online:

The Union Indian Brigade in the Civil War
Memoirs of the rebellion on the border, 1863

Here are some books you might find interesting, too.

True werewolves of history by Donald F. Glut.
Werewolves : a field guide to shapeshifters, lycanthropes, and man-beasts by Bob Curran.
The encyclopedia of vampires, werewolves, and other monsters / Rosemary Ellen Guiley ; foreword by Jeanne Keyes Youngson

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