Volume VII, No. 3, Spring 1980



Edited by Melinda Stewart

Collected by students in Ellen Massey's Ozarkia classes

As far back in man's history as one wants to go, there have been tales of spirits, witches, or dark deep evils. These stories are usually handed down many times before they are forgotten.

Many stories have been told on dark, cool nights around the campfire, fireplace or potbellied stove when the only noises you could hear outside were the winds howling through the trees, an owl in a nearby tree and maybe a lonely coyote on a distant hill.

Usually the tale was about a place you would never be or a person you had heard of but didn't know well. Sometimes the stories dealt with a phenomenon that would take place just once. Once in a while you'd hear of one about witches or the devil himself.

In any case these stories were usually successful in giving a welcome break in the regular routine for the adults or scaring any young children listening.


One dark night a man who had been visiting some sick relatives was riding home under the light of the moon. Since there had been rumors of a large panther roaming the country, preying on night riders, the man was a bit apprehensive, and so he rode a little faster. When he did this, he threw off the timing of the large cat which was getting ready to pounce upon him. When the cat jumped, he missed the man, but its claws sunk deep into the horse's flanks. The horse took out in a full gallop, with the man barely hanging on, and the cat stuck in its flanks. Fortunately, they were near home so the man jumped off the horse and ran in the house to load his gun. He came out of the house and shot the panther. The explosion knocked the cat's claws out of the horse's flanks and with a loud yell the cat took off into the woods.

The next day, the man's horse had no trace of the gashes of the cat's big claws He later learned, however, that an old woman, believed to be a witch, had been found shot to death, with the flesh and hair of a horse under her nails.


This is an old tale of long time ago which is said to be true. It starts when a cowboy about thirty was going across state to Kansas. As he was riding along, he began to get tired. When he spotted an old white streaked house up the hollow about a half mile off he rode up and yelled. A little old fat. woman came out. He asked her if she could put him up for the night. She agreed very kindly and yelled at her boy to come and put his horse up.

That night about eleven-thirty the cowboy got thirsty, and went to the well in his underwear for some water. Near the barn he heard the boy talking to his mom. "Well Ma, what are we going to do with this one? The back yard is full with the rest of the other boarders."

The young man turned white and ran for two miles to neighbors to tell them. They got the law out to the old streaked house, and sure enough, they found over a hundred skeletons in the back yard. He was sure glad he got thirsty.


A friend of mine told me this story. In a small town that she was raised in, there was a man who ran a mill. During the busy season he would work late. Since his wife was getting tired of it, she cast a spell on his mill and placed a cat in it to foul up one of the grinding wheels. Every night for a week the mill stopped. The miller was telling his friends about it one day, and one of them knew a lot about witchcraft. They were both there when the mill stopped, and the witch expert noticed a cat with its paw on a little wheel. The man hit the cat with a knife which stuck in his paw as he ran off. So, anyway, when the owner of the mill came home that night and told his wife what happened, she got very pale. He looked at the sheets on the bed and then at her hand. It was bleeding from what looked like a knife wound.


A stranger came into town and was bragging how brave he was, but the townspeople knew something that would make anyone's hair turn white. They told this man a story about a Civil War soldier that was killed in a battle near town, and every night at that place you could see his brass buttons on his uniform gleaming from the road. So the man went out to see if the wild story was right and saw what seemed to be the brass buttons, but upon closer examination, he saw that it was really some kind of plant that glowed in the dark. Today we know this as foxfire.


As far as I can remember, people have been afraid to go around or even near Deadman's Creek. The legend goes back to when people were first coming into these parts. Because it was the highest ground around, they had to get here through a riverbed. Many times they would be robbed or killed by outlaws who would leave the settlers' bodies to rot.

Well, many years later after people were settled in their homes, they began to hear sounds from the riverbed. So they sent one of the men of the town to see what it was. When he came back he was as white as snow, and after they finally got him settled down, he told of all the ghosts flying around, and how there were wagons all over the place with blood pouring from the dried up riverbed.

Well, he died that night. Since then not one person has gone near that place, and on certain nights when the wind is cool and the moon is behind the clouds, you can still hear the ghosts of Deadman's Creek.


The Oak Grove Schoolhouse on the Old Wire Road was supposed to be haunted by the ghost of a man who was hung there by Bushwhackers during the Civil War. One time four men riding by the schoolhouse on their way home from a dance, saw a grinning, bald-headed stranger peering out through the window. When they looked at him up close, they noticed the stranger had no eyebrows or eyelashes. The hillmen addressed the strange figure, but didn't get any reply. Finally one of the boys fired several pistol shots which smashed the glass of the window, but the stranger continued to grin at them through the broken panes. Then two of the boys kicked the door in and searched the schoolhouse, but the room was apparently empty. The two fellows who remained outside, however, could still see the smiling stranger, sitting just inside the broken window, directly in line with more than one bullet hole.


Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

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