The Gunnymen: Virginia Eastern Shore Horror Story


Two sailors, heading north for some well deserved shore leave, pass through Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a rustic countryside stippled with quaint little farm towns, and the childhood home for one of the sailors. Cruising down the lonely roads at twilight, the local recalls The Gunnymen, something of childhood bogeymen for the area. The Gunnymen, thick, ugly men in white rubber boots and shiny steel hooks that stalk the streets for people when they haven’t caught enough fish in their nets. But are these merely bogeymen, the result of wild imaginings from children as about local fishermen? Or is it possible that they’re real? When the sailors check in to a hotel for the night, they may just find out. Written by K.E. Moore.

Beware beware the Gunnymen,
The smell of ocean and rot,
And pray pray the Gunnymen,
Are pleased with what they’ve caught.

They march along in their white rubber boots,
Streaked with blood and guts
Searching for the Landfish,
When the seas have been a bust.

Big sharp hooks, all made of steel,
Pulled from fish’s gill,
And if their nets be empty,
You may be their next kill.

Beware, beware the Gunnymen
The smell of ocean and rot,
And pray pray the Gunnymen
Are pleased with what they’ve caught.

“What the hell was that?” Kevin asked, unnerved.

He turned to look at his companion. The glow of the dashboard cast the young man’s face in a pale greenish hue, the shadows of his glasses arching high and etched in deep black, looking like a wicked brow.

“I don’t know,” Dave answered in hushed tones. “Just something from my childhood, I guess.”

“What the hell kind of childhood did you have?” Kevin probed.

“A pretty quiet one,” Dave shrugged. One arm was draped over the wheel of the old Ford sedan while his free hand idly rested on a Mountain Dew bottle in the arm rest cup holder. Outside of the car, the world had been blanketed in twilight, the sky rendered in dark blues, lifeless oranges, and at the very horizon, a layer of red the consistency of blood. The pale headlights bathed the ever-flowing asphalt in feeble white-yellow as the pavement rushed beneath them in a constant whisper.

Kevin looked around, looked at the landscape that had, less than an hour ago, been filled with lush green foliage interrupted sporadically by small towns barely large enough to warrant welcome signs. When there were buildings, they were all eroded by time, faded paint peeling away to reveal gray, rotted timber. Ancient churches leaned and slouched while gas stations coated in rust sported hand-painted signs promising cheap cigarettes and the best fireworks on the Eastern Shore.

On the radio, a DJ with a raspy voice introduced “The Midnight Special,” with the kind of smooth flair that reminded Kevin of Wolfman Jack.

“That’s right,” Kevin said, returning his attention to his friend. “You grew up around here, didn’t you?”

Dave turned to look at Kevin, the shadows from his glasses sliding over his features, cutting deep gashes across his face. “Yeah. I mean, probably half an hour inland I guess. But if you’re raised on the Eastern Shore, you hop from one town to the next when you get your first car.”

“Dude, if you want we can stop off by your home. Let you catch up with some friends and family,” Kevin said with a tinge of guilt in his voice.

“Nah,” Dave shook his head as he turned his attention back to the road. “You know my parents passed on a while ago, and…” He trailed off.

Kevin knew his best friend long enough to know when to let the native Virginian be, and when to prod a little further. “But?” he prodded.

“When you grow up in a place like this,” Dave started to explain. “You join the Navy to get out, not so you can come back. Just sayin’.”

Kevin nodded. He looked out the window at the shadows as they slipped by while on the radio CCR were singing about what the sheriff does to those that gamble. “So who… what… are the Gunnymen?”

Dave let out a soft chuckle. “Bogeymen.”


Propping the steering wheel on his knee, Dave unscrewed the cap to his soda bottle and spit out a thick ribbon of tobacco juice before explaining. “Not really bogeymen. The Gunnymen are water people. Fishers, crabbers, that kind of thing. But growing up as kids, they were kind of scary, you know?”

Fishing Boat from Virginia Horror Story The Gunnymen

“Not really. What’s so scary about a fisherman?” Kevin asked. He thought of the jolly man in yellow slickers that adorned the pack of fish-sticks he kept in the freezer. Being afraid of a fisherman was like being afraid of the Jolly Green Giant, as far as Kevin understood.

Dave’s head leaned over to the side just slightly, and Kevin noticed his face soften a little, almost as though he were digging deep into the memories of childhood. “They could look scary, sometimes. The Gunnymen were big men, covered in blood from gutting fish all day. And the boots, they had…”

“White rubber boots,” Kevin finished for Dave.

“Yeah,” Dave nodded. “Big men covered in blood and wearing white rubber boots. They talked funny, too, you know? Had this weird accent, I ain’t never heard it nowhere else.”

“Dave,” Kevin chuckled. “You have a weird accent I ain’t never heard nowhere else.”

Dave clicked his tongue. “How you gonna do me like that, homie?” he said in his best impression of an urban accent.

“Just stop,” Kevin shook his head. “You’re embarrassing yourself.”

“Okay. But did you ever think maybe you got a strong accent too?”

“Me?” Kevin scoffed. “I’m from California. We don’t have accents in California.”

The two friends slipped into the kind of banter from which their friendship was forged. Around them, the last slivers of light from the dying sun had finally evaporated, leaving the Ford that carried them along the lonely stretch of highway in a darkness that was only interrupted by a few feeble, hazy stars, and the odd street lamp here and there.

“We can grab a hotel, you know?” Kevin mentioned when he looked over and saw that it was nine o’clock by the car’s dashboard.

“I was kind of planning on driving through,” Dave said.

“Why?” Kevin responded. “We’ve got two days to be in New Hampshire. The rehearsal dinner isn’t even until Saturday, and while yes, I would love to see if there is someone single and smokin’ hot in the bridal party that I can escort to the main event, I’m pretty sure no one will even notice if we are a little bit late.”

Kevin hadn’t even known that there was a rich branch to his family tree until after he had joined the Navy. His parents retired well, left California for New England, and reconnected with some cousins that were so wealthy that they had things like yachts and hired staff and a “home in the Hamptons.”

It just so happened that one of these cousins, a debutante by the name of Claire, was marrying someone nearly as rich as she was and Kevin had been invited with a plus one. As Kevin was currently between train-wreck relationships, he decided to bring along his best friend and most trusted wing-man for what had to be one of the best parties this year.

The only thing that stood between the two young sailors and a bevy of young, rich, sorority co-eds was the drive up the East coast from where they were stationed in Southern Virginia.

This was, in Kevin’s estimation, the single best week of leave he could have ever imagined since joining the Navy.

Dave looked down at the dashboard. “I think we got a town up ahead in about fifteen minutes, we’ll see about stopping there, all right?”

Kevin didn’t even catch the name of the town when the empty, black, countryside was replaced with shabby single story houses and weather-beaten country stores. In fact, the only way he knew for sure that they were in an official town at all were the street lamps, orange and dull, their cones of light casting long shadows like black tears down the faces of the buildings that huddled against the road.

“Should be somewhere around here,” Dave muttered as he brought the Ford to a slow crawl.

“Well, whatever this place is, at least it has a nightlife,” Kevin said as he pointed out his window. A blue neon sign glowed atop a low wide building, declaring it to be “The Waterin’ Hole.” Outside a middle-aged couple were groping and smoking cigarettes. “Ew,” Kevin whispered to himself as he watched the man’s leathery, baseball-mitt-like hand slither over his companion’s dimpled thighs. He was about to crack some joke about how old people shouldn’t be allowed to have sex when the light caught the woman’s face.

Kevin only saw it for an instant, and what he saw was probably more illusion than reality, the product of the dim street lamps and muzzy shadows, but her face looked caked in make-up, like a clown, but with features that were cracked and jagged. Where those cracks drew insane lines across her painted face, there was an inky, ugly, blackness beneath, almost like liquid, like beneath her skin she was nothing but sickly black fluid, thick and suffocating.

“Yeah buddy,” Dave whooped. “We’ll go find us somewhere to crash for the night and hit that place up.”

“Or we could turn in early,” Kevin said, trying not to sound too upset by the face he had just seen.

“You vaggin’ out on me K-nuts?” Dave teased. “I’ll have to remember this moment when we get back to the ship. Everyone will want to hear the story about how K-nuts, the great and powerful, turned into a dripping vagina right before my very eyes.”

Kevin aimed a middle finger at Dave. “Don’t turn your head, pay attention to the road. I don’t want you to wreck just because I’m flipping you the bird.”

Dave laughed. “After all this time, you still gotta learn how to relax man.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Kevin groaned.

The Ford crawled into a gravel parking lot beneath a faded sign declaring that they have just reached the “Eastern Shore Royal Suites.” With one look, Kevin could tell the sign was lying. It wasn’t even a good liar, the letters looking warped from all of the chipped paint and missing light bulbs underneath, while the “vacancy” sign barely flickered alive with its ghostly red neon glow.

There wasn’t even a pool, just a single row of units stacked two high with bland tan bricks and green paint peeling off the weather-beaten doors. Kevin scoffed.

“It’ll be fine,” Dave tried to convince him. “Besides, probably the only place in this town.”

“And what town is that, exactly?” Kevin asked as his eyes continued to drink in his lodgings for the night. The rooms all faced the kind of church you would expect to see in Smalltown Hicksville, USA. White paint, black roof tiles, and a steeple complete with cross and bell at the top. There were only two other cars in the parking lot, and Kevin couldn’t help but ask himself what those poor souls did to end up in a shit hole like this.

Dave frowned. “I… You know, I’m not sure. Come on, let’s go.”

Even before entering the fish-bowl lobby of the motel, Kevin imagined the clerk behind the counter to be some scrawny redneck with wiry gray whiskers and three teeth. He’d be wearing a wife beater and a ball cap with a tractor logo on it.

That is, if the clerk didn’t end up to be Anthony Perkins anyway.

And Kevin was almost right. He scored on the attire and the whiskers and even the teeth, only the desk jockey was about two hundred pounds heavier than what Kevin had imagined. Still, he was thinking he was close enough for a win.

“We need a room,” Dave said. Kevin noticed his friend had let his voice slip into a deeper accent, but that was nothing new. Dave was the kind of guy that fit in anywhere, he knew how to blend.

The man behind the counter, who Kevin thought looked a little more like Jabba the Hut than Anthony Perkins, grunted, scratched at a ragged hole in his wife beater, and replied, “Two beds?”

There was a sense of warning in his tone, something dangerous and disapproving in the way he strung out the vowels, and turned the word “beds” into a multi-syllabic affair. Dave and Kevin looked at each other and commenced the “Of course we aren’t gay,” dance—chuckling in embarrassment and scoffing until one of them finally had the composure to say, “Yeah, of course.”

The clerk grunted and nodded before turning to the cork-board full of keys behind him.

“Be more homophobic, South,” Kevin huffed on the way to their room.

“Dude, relax,” Dave said.

“Just sayin’,” Kevin mumbled. “Not like two separate beds would keep us from getting’ it on if we were gay.”

Dave opened the door to their room, revealing something that had come straight out of the 1970’s, wood paneling, shag carpet, and all. “We are not going to get it on,” Dave insisted.

Kevin clicked his tongue. “I know,” he snapped. “Look, let’s just get settled in and go. I think I’m ready for that drink now.”

The two men hauled their suitcases in from the trunk of the car. Dave was about to see if there was anything in his luggage he needed for the night when, bewildered, he asked, “What in the hell are you doing?”

“Bible and remote,” Kevin explained.


“Come on, we’ve shared rooms before. You didn’t know this?” Kevin said as he quickly opened and shut the doors of the particle board dresser upon which stood the ancient looking television. “I have to find the remote and the bible every time I stay in a hotel.”

“But you don’t watch TV and you don’t believe in God,” Dave pointed out.

Kevin stood and stared at Dave as though he had just tried to explain how two plus two really adds up to forty-five. “So?”

“You know how I never asked why you got the nickname K-nuts?” Dave said as Kevin went back to his search.

Kevin plucked a small green bible from one of the drawers, thumbed the pages rapidly, and put the book back where he found it. “Yeah.”

“This is one of the reasons why,” Dave finished.

Kevin found the TV remote in the night stand. The TV popped and hummed to life, and just as the picture on the screen started to make sense, it fell dead again, all of that life, all of those faces, crashing back into a single white-hot glowing point in a field of black emptiness. “Oh,” Kevin said. “Cool. I’m ready, are you?”

Dave just shook his head and marched out of the motel room with Kevin in tow.

There are thousands of bars just like the Watering Hole. Christmas lights were strewn about all year-long and any normal light bulb was dimmed or turned completely off around sunset time—the goal being to allow people to see each other, but not so well that beer goggles couldn’t take care of the rest. Country music played loud enough to make one raise their voice, but not so loud that you had to shout. And it was always new country too, more like rock and roll with a cowboy hat on, sometimes even dipping into hip hop, all for the sake of attracting younger crowds. The idea was that if you wanted to get sauced while listening to Hank Williams Sr., or Patsy Cline, that’s what they made living rooms for. Pool tables were illuminated by hanging lamps with beer ad shades, and the girl behind the bar was way too hot to be interested in anyone trying to pick her up, but interested in anything else that might net a decent tip.

Kevin was just glad the lady with the creepy face had gone.

“I can’t believe you like this shit,” Kevin growled over the glass of his beer as Dave bobbed beside him as he sang about how he had friends in low places.

Dave clapped Kevin on the shoulder hard. “C’mon man! This is real Virginia son, not Norfolk!” Dave hoisted his beer in the air and hooted. Elsewhere in the dim din of the bar, someone appreciatively hooted back. “That’s what I’m talkin’ about,” Dave grinned.

“You know Garth Brooks isn’t from Virginia, right?”

“Man, shut up and drink your beer,” Dave growled back good-naturedly.

The two friends drank only as sailors could drink—hard and heavy like it was a competitive sport. Beers were followed by shots which were followed by more beer. By the time Dave pointed out the two girls at the other end of the bar, Kevin was already way passed the buzz-zone and was now officially drunk.

“Nuts!” Dave said, his bloodshot eyes swimming towards Kevin’s general direction as he grabbed for his friend’s arm. “I said K-nuts?”

“What man?” Kevin frowned, secretly pleased with Dave using his nickname. Kevin pretended to hate when people called him K-nuts, but he had never had a nickname as a kid and always wanted one. To sell his false displeasure, Kevin yanked his arm from Dave’s grip.

“Check them out over there!” Dave said, at once whispering and shouting at the same time. “I mean day-umn, right?”

Kevin appraised the girls in question, attempting an aloof, casual glance. There was just enough sobriety left in Kevin for him to, on some subconscious level, realize he was leering, but screw it. Who cared? By lunch time tomorrow he and Dave would be halfway through Maryland, if not all the way up to Delaware. “They all right,” Kevin nodded.

“All right…” Dave shook his head. “You, my friend, are hard to please. Let’s buy ’em drinks.”

Dave was already whispering to the bartender when Kevin started trying to shake his head.

Another beer, another shot, and Kevin wasn’t exactly sure how he came to be seated next to a simple but pretty brunette named Kim. Apparently they at one point in the evening thought it was funny that their names both started with the same letter, and whenever either one of them started to lull in the conversation they would return back to that fun fact like a swimmer striking for the safety of the pool wall.

“Well, Kim with a K,” Kevin chortled. “I gotta admit, meeting you makes me a little sad.”

She giggled in a way that triggered a warm tingling sensation within Kevin that he was almost positive was not associated with the alcohol. “And why is that, Kevin with a K?”

“I’m here for one night only babe. My companion here, whose name I should point out does not begin with a K, and I are on our East Coast Tour.”

“Like rock stars?” she asked.

“Almost exactly like rock stars,” Kevin nodded.

“However will I go on?” Kim smirked at him.

Kevin draped an arm around her shoulder and placed his free hand on his chest. “I’m sure you will power through. Besides, if you are a very good girl, we’ll be coming back through here on our way back home in a few days.”

“Lucky me,” she said. Kim tried to make it seem sarcastic, but as drunk as he was, Kevin could tell that there was a genuine spark between them. “What has you and your friend traveling?”

“I got a super rich cousin getting married in The Hamptons,” Kevin explained. “Taking Dave up in the hopes he can get laid. Poor guy, he’s hopeless with the fairer sex.”

“Clearly,” Kim scoffed, her eyes focused just over Kevin’s shoulder. Kevin turned to see Dave lip-locked with the unnamed blond girl who came to the bar with Kim.

“Fluke of nature,” Kevin waved off.

A few hours later, Kevin and Dave stumbled out of the bar, hunched over and laughing. Dave tried to lean against Kevin for support, but when Kevin swayed so hard he almost collided with the concrete, Dave pitched forward and slammed into the roof of the Ford. This sent the friends into a fresh wave of laughter.

Dave’s boots crushed against the gravel of the parking lot as he fished around in his pockets. He was still chuckling while Kevin leaned against a brick pillar and grabbing at his stomach. “Duuuude,” Kevin moaned, “I’m pretty sure I need to make a call.”

“Earl?” Dave chuckled.

“How did you…” Kevin began before his cheeks inflated like a puffer fish and he dashed off into the shadows. As the air-filled with the sound of Kevin retching and a wet slapping sound like someone pouring out a bucket of pig offal onto the ground, Dave’s hands went from one pocket to the next.

“What the hell?” Dave mumbled. His accent was thicker now than ever—thicker than Kevin had ever heard before.

Wiping a globule of vomit from his chin, Kevin grunted, “What’s wrong?”

Dave leaned a hip against the car. “My keys. I don’t know where…”

Kevin’s head started to clear. He was still buzzed, but after the puke session he could think again. Hell he could even walk again almost in a straight line. “Bartender bro. She took ’em.”

“Ah,” Dave nodded and rested his head against the roof of the car.

“Come on, brother,” Kevin said. He pulled Dave off of the car and ducked his head under Dave’s shoulder to help him walk. “The motel is only a few blocks from here. We can walk it.”

“Like old times,” Dave muttered with a grin on his face.

Kevin grinned. He couldn’t begin to count the number of nights where one of the pair was half-carrying the other back to the ship or the barracks, hoping to make it before curfew. A single memory popped in Kevin’s mind, clear and bright. In a gruff voice, Kevin barked, “K-nuts! If you don’t hurry your fat ass up, you and your mother are fucked!”

Dave screamed with laughter. “What’s your mom gotta do with it dude!” he replied. The memory was buried in the past by now, wrapped in cotton and mothballs. But on the first port they visited in the Navy, Dave and Kevin went out with a senior petty officer to a bar. The trio got extremely drunk, and with only twenty minutes left to go until curfew, someone finally checked a clock. The petty officer in question, neither Dave nor Kevin could remember his name at the moment, started yelling at the duo to pick up their pace or they weren’t going to make it to back to the ship before curfew. This sparked one of the most infamous events of the entire cruise when the petty officer shouted the potential repercussion to both Kevin and his mom if he didn’t make it back on time.

Dave, who had never been good at keeping quiet when he ought, instantly snapped back, “what’s his mom got to do with it, dude?” Dave and Kevin tortured the petty officer with this at virtually every port call since.

“I think,” Dave squeezed out in an uncomfortable, high-pitched, voice, “that I’ve got to give Earl a call too.”

“There’s a tree over there brother,” Kevin pointed. A few seconds later Dave was spewing sick at the trees roots, each time dramatically growling, “Eaaaaaarrrrrrrllll!”

“Everything come out okay?” Kevin teased.

“You should quit the Navy and be a comedian, douche,” Dave snapped back.

Kevin nodded. He placed a hand on Dave’s shoulder and smiled, “You know what? I’m glad you dragged me out tonight.”

“I know,” Dave smiled back. He looked like he was about to say something else, but after casual glance down the street, Dave instantly froze. His hand, resting on Kevin’s shoulder, clenched. Searing jolts of pain pierced through the gentle alcohol-induced haze. “Ow!” Kevin hissed. “Dude!”

“Run,” Dave whispered.

“Ru… What?” Kevin responded, confused.

Dave looked Kevin in the eyes and said, more confidently this time, “Run!”

Kevin turned to look down the same street at which Dave was looking a moment before. Steam wafted off of the grass in ethereal swirls, turned gray and orange in the glow of the arc-sodium street lamps. Weather worn business fronts cowered in the darkness, cut in stark shapes of dull orange and black, and the road that separated them carried on, straight, lighting bolt cracks crawling along the paved surface. The road carried on into blackness.

Kevin was about to make some comment about how drunk Dave must still be when he finally saw it. Poking out of the black night, he saw at first a face, mist caressing its hard edges like a deadly lover. It was squat, inhuman, a wide, flat nose and a brow that hung so low the eyes looked like nothing but dark, empty pits.

Just as Kevin was coming to grips with this thing that stared at him from the distance, there was movement, and another face stared at him. This face had a large, jutting jaw and teeth that extended up over the top lip like a bull-dog. Its eyes hung low and wide, pale in the orange glow of the street lamp. This faced huffed, catching the chill of the night air and sending faint streams of steam floating off into the sky.

Another face after another appeared until Kevin was staring at five horrific faces all in a row. He opened and closed his mouth, desperately searching for some words that fit the scene before him, that conveyed the terror that suffocated him with the shadows that managed to escape the glow of the streetlights. Nothing came out.

He looked back at Dave for an instant, at his friend’s features, a mask of fear, his blue eyes wide and stupid behind his glasses, his mouth contorted in a strange grimace. Then a small spear of light caught Kevin’s attention, and he looked back at those faces and the single hook, sharp and curved to a cruel point, that materialized from the darkness.

The first face, took a step forward and Kevin could see the full figure of the thing, a bloated stomach peeking out beneath a stained wife-beater shirt, and ruffled work pants stuffed into a pair of large, white, rubber boots streaked with something foul and wet and black in the dull light.

“Run,” Dave whispered again.

Before Kevin made the first move, his heart was already racing, his mouth dry as though made of cotton. He didn’t speak, he didn’t yell. All Kevin could do was put those hideous faces behind him and pump his legs as hard as they would go.

The night became a shaky blur as the store fronts quaked by, the whole world jumping and lurching with each forced step. Kevin could hear the hollow thuds of Dave’s feet smacking against the pavement out of time with his own, his labored breaths loud and hoarse, muffled by the sound of his heart pounding in his ears. Underneath it all, Kevin could hear them, whatever they were, speaking in some strange, alien tongue, their voices the sound of gravel crushed against more gravel.

He couldn’t understand the words they called after him, it was nonsense, gobbledygook. Gobbledygook—wasn’t that the language of goblins? Where had he heard that? Were they goblins? Bent, twisted creatures come to stalk them, hunt them, rip the flesh from their bones and feast on the raw meat even as his heart continued to pump blood into the open night air? Even as he ran, Kevin couldn’t stop at least a small part of his brain from trying to make out what the ghastly creatures were saying. “Lamfish,” and “Guh’em,” cackled after the duo, the words taking on a crazy physical essence of their own with long arms wrapped in thick wood-like muscle and fingers bony and as sharp as the steel hook that glinted in the night.

They ran, not daring to look back, searching for sanctuary in a night that had gone from being friendly and filled with the pleasant torpor of booze, to being dangerous and intelligent. Kevin could feel eyes all around them, hunting them.

“Down here!” Dave called, and Kevin followed as they hooked a left down a residential street. Lined with large trees beginning to shed their leaves for the impending autumn, the houses down this lane were already asleep, all of the windows dark like emptied eye sockets, no lights except the occasional porch light, the small glowing pools doing little more than to etch their own little territories against creeping shadows that stared at the two as they fled.

Kevin had always been a stronger runner than Dave, but not by much. When he felt the acidic sting in his thighs and the ache in his lungs like a punch to the chest, he knew his friend had to be doing worse. He spared a glance over his shoulder and saw Dave’s eyes glazed over, sweat streaking down his face as he gulped for air that refused to fill his lungs.

Kevin slowed, and Dave, his whole body exuding an air of gratitude, shuddered to a stop behind them. Both men bent over, hands pressed against their knees as they sucked in air. “Holy shit,” Kevin wheezed. “Either… Either we just ran from your… grade school bogeyman, or just… a bunch of fishermen working a late shift. I’m… I’m not sure which is funnier,” Kevin remarked, gasping for air.

He looked over at Dave who looked like he might die any breath now, and laughed. Dave scowled at Kevin, but the scowl turned into an embarrassed grin, and Dave sat down hard on the ground, the grin collapsing into quiet chuckles.

“What did you call them again?” Kevin asked. They were in the parking lot of a gas station across the street from a drug store. It was a testament to how small the town was that the gas station was closed and the pumps were turned off, casting Kevin and Dave into shadows that hid them from the glare of the streetlights.

“Gunnymen,” Dave answered. “Just fishermen, like I said. They got the white boots and they talk funny, but they’re just fishermen.”

“Yeah,” Kevin nodded. “Scary fishermen.”

Dave laughed again. Finally, after Dave was sure he had caught his breath, he climbed back onto his feet and looked around. “Where the hell are we?”

“Man, I don’t know. I still don’t even know what the name of this town is. Sucks, I bet I could have got with that girl on the way back, too.”

“Yeah, right. I bet you don’t even remember her name,” Dave scoffed.

“Kim with a K,” Kevin responded with indignation.

“Whatever,” Dave waved him off. “We need to find the motel.”

“It’d be nice if there was anything open in this backwater hell-hole,” Kevin muttered.

Dave nodded. “Yeah, well, there ain’t so we better get going.”

They stood at a three-way intersection and looked around. In the direction where no road led, there was nothing but trees and darkness that glared back at them, expectant, almost asking them to come, get lost in the shadows and gnarled tree trunks that promised to swallow them whole. Down one of the roads tall, ancient buildings of brick and broken glass stood over the street like shadow covered sentries nearly as imposing as the blackened forest.

Both Dave and Kevin looked back the way they came and though they both knew it was silly to be afraid of a few fishermen getting home in the middle of the night, neither wanted to admit out loud that they were still too spooked to go back down that road.

That left only one road. At least there were street lamps and store fronts down that way, even if they were carved into sharp shards of orange and black, and the shadows did strange things when they moved. Without having to talk, Kevin and Dave both knew that this was the only option.

They pressed on into the lonely street. They traded stories, none of them new; they had served together long enough that they had heard all of the stories. They both were in most of them. It didn’t matter. They told the same old stories and same old jokes for no other reason than to fight back the fear that had flooded their veins only moments before.

It worked, for the most part. After two blocks, the adrenaline had mostly drained from Kevin’s system, and Dave was breathing and speaking normally again. Kevin suspected that this, too, would end up being one of their stories, one they would tell when they got back to the ship in a week, the one where they got drunk off their ass, puked, and ran from some old, fat fishermen. Kevin grinned at the thought, and looked up and over at Dave as he recounted the story of the “shot of death,” when he saw something just past Dave that stopped him fast, the words dying in his throat.

Dave stopped after a few more steps and looked at Kevin quizzically until his gaze followed Kevin’s eyes to the alley just to the right of Dave.

There, cloaked in shadow, stood the bulky mass of one of the Gunnymen. His eyes, swallowed by blackness, were hollow, and his large steel hook hung at his side. He grinned, a rivulet of spittle descending from his lips like a spider on a thread. Slowly, the Gunnyman raised the hook up to his cheek, the tip pressing in, giving that wretched face a dimple. Blood beaded up before falling down in a hot, slick ribbon, and soaking into his wife-beater shirt.

“Oi lamfish,” it grunted as it drew the point of the hook down along its face, drawing a violent black-red line to his chin. It started to laugh as it slowly stepped out of the shadow of the alley.

“Sweet holy Jesus, run!” Kevin cried, but Dave didn’t wait to be told. Both men tore off down the road while behind them they heard the cackle of the Gunnyman oozing after them.

They made it another few blocks when a shadow emerged ahead of them, tall and hulking, the hook dangling from its hand a nightmare curved to a deadly point. Dave yanked at Kevin’s shirt to turn left, but as they made to run down the side street, they nearly ran headlong into another one of the Gunnymen. This one was short and bulky with large, ugly muscles piled up on top of another. It grinned wide, showing only a handful of rotted teeth as it raised its hook and swiped at them.

Kevin let out a squeal as he watched the deadly point slice the air less than a foot from his face. Again he felt Dave tug on his shirt, and Kevin propelled himself backward, almost stumbling over his own feet as he tried to turn around.

The only way left was draped in darkness, the tall brick buildings looming over the street and glaring down. Kevin could almost feel the dark lane grabbing him, pulling him inside, swallowing him as jagged, sharp, teeth-like bricks closed down upon him.

But they ran, lungs screaming for more air, legs feeling like they were on the verge of shattering into pieces. “Come on, Nuts!” Dave screamed. Behind them, he could hear the Gunnymen shuffling and chuckling, and babbling in that strange tongue of theirs.

The street lamps had all gone now and Kevin’s eyes were straining to make out the shapes that closed in on them from all sides. His body yelled at him to give up, to quit, that whatever horror waited for him at the end of the Gunnymen’s hooks couldn’t be as bad as the agony that tore at his muscles and shredded his bones.

“I… I can’t… Stop… Dave…” Kevin gasped. Dave tugged at him once more, but Kevin resisted. He had to resist. If he ran one more step he was sure his shins were going to snap in two.

Wheezing, Dave halted and turned to Kevin. He reached up with one hand and cupped the back of Kevin’s neck and pulled him close. Instantly Kevin was transported to earlier days. Dave had always been the strong one, the one that kept his head when it felt like the world was going to fall apart. When Kevin thought he was going to fail his first physical fitness test in the Navy, this is what Dave did. Dave had grabbed Kevin by the back of the neck just like this on the day before their ship was to be deployed for six months, and the day Kevin found out their chief was looking to send him up to the Captain for screwing around on watch.

And every time Dave said the same thing, the same words he said again in the darkness with the Gunnymen stalking them, threatening to rip them open with the sharp hooks. “We’re gonna get through this, all right?”

Even in the low light, Kevin could see Dave’s eyes, calm, focused. No matter how high-strung Kevin got, Dave knew how to bring him down and keep him tethered to reality. “We’re gonna get through this,” Kevin nodded.

“But we got to run, okay?” Dave said. “We got to run and we don’t stop until we find the motel or a sheriff’s office or something. We can stop when we get safe, you got it?”

“I got it,” Kevin said.

“Say it,” Dave said, his voice adopting a stern, paternal tone.

“We can stop when we’re safe,” Kevin dutifully responded.

Even in the midst of all this craziness, Dave found a way to smile. “There we g—,” he started to say, but there was a quick flash of light, and the voice died in Dave’s throat.

At first, Kevin wasn’t able to comprehend what the hell happened. His friend was talking, encouraging him to press on, and then there was light, and everything froze. Only after a breath did Kevin realize the glint of light came from the hook now deeply embedded in Dave’s chest. A black flower of blood blossomed on his shirt and Dave finally screamed.

Kevin screamed also as he watched as the Gunnyman materialized behind Dave. This was the first one, the one with hollow, empty eyes and squashed facial features. Up close he was even more terrifying, his shaggy black hair draping down along his neck in oily black curls, and his flat, lifeless lips bent into a rubbery smile.

He smelled like dead fish.

“Run!” Dave yelled through his pain drenched screams.

Kevin ran. He ran for the light, fighting off the shadows of the oppressive red brick buildings, trying to find his way back to the orange street lamps. He turned first left, then right, twisting his way through the black labyrinth until he found himself staring at water. Docks stretched out over the oozing, oily black water while sail boats bobbed lifelessly on its surface. It felt dead here, like Kevin had just stumbled upon a watery cemetery.

Sleeping Town at Night from Virginia Horror Story The Gunnymen

“Oi! Lamfish!” came the gurgling cry of one of the Gunnymen, and Kevin yelped as he again pushed himself into a sprint, heading in a direction he hoped would take him back to the light. Behind him he could hear the clomping of rubber soles on pavement. The whispered mutterings of the Gunnymen in their foul language swept in between the buildings, riding on the night breeze, promising a slow painful death at the end of a hook.

When he saw the first pool of orange light, Kevin almost thought it was a trick on his eyes, but soon he was able to make out the gas station, dark and dead, that place where he and Dave first realized that the men they fled from weren’t just kindly old fishermen, but the bogeymen of Dave’s childhood.

Ahead and to the right. Kevin knew he just had to keep going forward and to the right. That would take him back to the bar, back to the hotel. When he finally escaped the oppressive shadows of the tall brick buildings, it felt almost like diving into a pool of cool water, invigorating his muscles with new-found hope.

Kevin spared a quick look over his shoulder and saw, buried in the shadows, tiny orange specks of light, the telltale reflections from the Gunnymen’s hooks like angry, deadly stars closing in on him. This only prodded him to run harder, up the well-lit street, looking for the first intersection that would keep him in the light and take him back to the motel.

The whole time he heard them, the Gunnymen, cackling and stomping, the smell of rotting fish filling his nostrils. At every intersection he could feel them, waiting patiently for him to take a wrong turn, to come sprinting into their pointy hooks so they could open him up. As he ran, Kevin could envision watching his intestines slip from the gaping hole they would slice into his gut, blood gushing over his legs in a hot, sticky torrent.

And yet, he didn’t actually see them anymore. He could hear them. He could smell them. Kevin could easily convince himself they waited for him around the next turn, but just as he knew he was about to impale himself on their steel, they were nowhere to be seen.

Finally, he saw something that made him nearly weep with joy. The old Ford sedan, parked alone in front of the Watering Hole. No keys. They were with the hot bartender, probably on her dresser as she slept unaware that one of her customers had already been murdered while another was running for his life. Despite the car being useless, though, it meant he was close to the motel. Up the street a little, a left, and a quick right and he would be safe.

A clanking thud ripped through the night, and Kevin watched in horror as a Gunnyman hopped onto the hood of the car. This one had a long face and wire hair that jutted out at all angles. It scowled at Kevin with teeth sharpened down into points. It scowled as it drew the tip of its hook across the roof of the car sending metallic squeals piercing through the night in a song of agony.

Kevin veered to the other side of the street, his eyes wide as he continued to gape at the Gunnyman. It took the hook and drew a deep red line across its belly, small runners of blood slowly crawling down his groin as he declared, “Wanme suh’ lamfish!”

The Gunnyman jumped off of the car just as Kevin drew even with it and Kevin screamed as the demonic figure clomped after him in his blood-streaked white rubber boots.

“I’m gonna get through this. I’m gonna get through this,” Kevin repeated as his legs pounded against the concrete. He let Dave’s words become his mantra as he fought furiously to hold onto just enough sanity to get him to safety.

“Lamfish!” the Gunnyman cried again, and to Kevin’s relief the voice was further back now. He could do it, he could outrun the Gunnymen.

Kevin made the left at the next major intersection only to see two Gunnymen waiting for him. He didn’t have time to change direction. He was going to die. He wasn’t going to get through this.

He kept running right at them, his eyes unable to look at anything but the hooks waiting to rip him apart. Their smiles opened impossibly wide revealing brown and yellow teeth and long, lolling tongues beneath dead eyes. They raised their hooks high in the air.

And just as they swung down Kevin hopped to the right, the steel passing so close he could hear the low whooshing sound of them cutting through the air. As he sped past them, he could hear them howl in contempt followed by their white rubber boots punishing the ground as they trampled after him.

Another right and he could see the glow of the motel sign. Despite the pain flowing through his body like blood, Kevin ran faster, faster than he had ever run in his life as the sound of the Gunnymen in pursuit faded away. Goddammit, he was going to get through this.

Kevin crashed through the lobby, nearly tearing the door off of its hinges. “Call 911!” he screamed, jolting the night clerk out of a deep sleep so hard the plump old man fell to the floor.

“What in the great screamin’ blue Jesus?!” the man hollered.

“Call 911!” Kevin ordered, his hands pressed against the counter. “Call them now!”

“Now hold on, son. What in the hell are you fussin’ about?”

“Gunnymen,” Kevin panted, his body finally realizing it could recover from all of the running. Kevin’s muscles ticked and popped and his lungs involuntarily gulped at the air.

“Them’s just fisherman, boy. The hell’s wrong with you?”

“Those… fishermen,” Kevin spat, “killed my friend, and they’re coming for me.”

“Killed?” the night clerk asked.

Kevin took a deep breath and hissed. Since watching Dave die, it was the first time he allowed himself to even think about it. They’d been best friends for how many years now? And now Dave was gone. An empty pit opened up inside of Kevin as he began to consider all the things they would never do together, the wife he would never marry, the kids he would never have.

When Kevin spoke again, his voice was thick and traced in tears. “They killed him. And they’re coming to kill me too.”

“All right, son, just… you relax. You get to your room, lock the door, and I’ll call the sheriff. We’ll get this sorted,” the night man said.

Through his tears, Kevin nodded, and stumbled out of the lobby. It felt almost as though he had to pull himself to their room. No, it wasn’t their room anymore, it was his. Dave wasn’t here to share it with anymore.

Without thinking, Kevin looked behind him and saw the silhouette of a hulking figure beneath the glow of the vacancy sign. The shadow held in its hand a large, sharp, hook.

Kevin darted for the door to his room, his hand jammed in his pocket, trying to find the key. He yanked it out of his pocket with such force he could hear the change of his pocket rain down on the cement walkway. Almost there. Almost there.

Behind him he heard the crunching of the Gunnyman’s feet on the gravel lot. He smelled the rotting fish on the air. In his hands, the key shook and lurched as he tried to force it in the lock.

“Wanme suh’ lamfish,” he heard in a croaky whisper. The voice was practically over his shoulder now.

The key slid home and with a violent twist, Kevin yanked open the door. He Slammed the door shut behind him and listened with dread as something scraped down along the wood.

Kevin turned the door lock and fumbled with the bolt until it was securely in place before he reached for the light switch and flicked it on.

Before he turned around, Kevin could smell it, the stench of rotted fish and pungent sweat. Slowly he pivoted around to find the motel room full of Gunnymen, all of them thick in yellowing wife-beaters and blood coated white rubber boots. They grinned at him all at once, those leathery faces shifting and pulling back to reveal their vile, putrid teeth.

“Don’t. Please. Don’t kill me,” Kevin pleaded. “Please don’t.”

Tears rolled freely down his cheeks as the Gunnymen laughed at him. The Gunnyman with the hollow eyes lowered his gaze on Kevin and his voice oozed from his lips like tar, “We ain’t gon’ killya.” He shook his head, his greasy hair flapping about his temples. “Tha’s fo’ Dabey.”

As if on instruction, the Gunnymen parted, and the door to the bathroom creaked open. Dave stepped out wearing a fresh white wife-beater and clean white rubber boots. Beneath the shirt, Kevin could see a faint red smear where there should have been a large, gaping hole.

“Dave?” Kevin wined. “Is this some sort of prank? Because if it is, not fucking funny man.”

Dave smiled. It was that smile that he always wore when he was amused at Kevin fretting over something stupid. He wore that smile as he crossed the room and cupped the back of Kevin’s neck and pulled him close.

“Not a joke, brother,” Dave said. “See, this is a… it’s a right of passage. If you’re gonna be part of the Gunnymen, you have to catch a landfish.”

“Landfish?” Kevin asked stupidly, but even as the word left his lips, it all made sense. The whole night, that is what they were saying. “Wanme suh lamfish,” really meant, “Want me some landfish.”

“You’re getting it,” Dave smiled in approval. “Landfish. People. Just like a regular fish, to get a landfish, you got to bait the hook, and reel in slow. If you pull it up too fast, it’ll come off the line and swim away, but if you get the fight just right, it’ll follow you all the way into the basket.”

“Dude, you’re my best friend!” Kevin spat. He tried to tug his way out of Dave’s grip, but the comforting hand behind his neck clamped down and held him firm.

“This a gud’un, Dabey,” one of the Gunnymen grunted.

“I know,” Dave said to Kevin. “Best friends, and I couldn’t do this without you. I…” Dave stammered and looked away for a moment. “Thank you. You don’t know what this means.”

“Dave,” Kevin hissed through tears. “Come on, man.”

“It’ll be over quick, I promise,” Dave said.

And there was pain. Hot pain, pain unlike anything Kevin could have imagined followed by a hot wet sensation that spilled all down the front of his pants. In a strange region of Kevin’s quickly fading mind, he wondered how much of the wet was from his own blood, and how much was from urine.

There was a thick, heavy, slapping noise on the ground, and as Kevin drifted away into darkness, he heard Dave whisper, “We’re gonna get through this.”

“I promise.”


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The Spirit of Thomas Lester: Haunted House Story


Poor, road-weary Thomas Lester decides to spend the night in a haunted house. Never a good idea! A Southern ghost story told by Yomi Goodall. Recorded for the Tour of Southern Ghosts. Story used with permission of ART Station, Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Log cabin fireplace, Asheville North Carolina

Public domain photo from Library of Congress.


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McDow Hole – Anatomy Of A Texas Ghost Story


Spooky Texas legend of the McDow Hole, where ghost sightings of pioneer woman Jenny Papworth and her baby have long been reported. Historian Bob Hopkins brings us the definitive study of this and other hauntings.

I first heard the legendary tale of the Ghost of the McDow Hole in the fifteenth year of my youth. It was near Halloween in October 1975 when a friend related the tale of the ghost that haunts a creek bed in rural Erath County and naturally I believed every word of it in the twilight of an evening spent with friends telling ghost stories. I would again hear the tale over the years while living in North Central Texas. It wasn’t until my chance encounter of meeting an author of the legend in 2002 that my curiosity began to peak and like any good investigator I felt it my duty to dig deeper into the hundred year old tale of pioneer folklore to see how much of the story was true and how much was fabricated. I would discover many similarities in fact and fiction that I believed would leave any reader with the same curiosity that I felt as it related to the described events which make up the unique and unsettling story of a supposed lonely spirit that has made it her business to scare grown men half to death and continue to search for justice in a land haunted with violent but actual events.

In the early 1850’s a company of Texas militia were trailing a band of raiding Comanche near a creek bed in an area that would later become part of Erath County. The riders saw a column of black smoke within a half mile of their location. Quick to investigate they arrived to find a small wood and sod cabin in flames. Nearby was the body of a young woman, a young man and a boy. All three had been killed and scalped. The body of an infant was found not far away. The unit, of which, a young Wesley Hickey was a member, buried the four tortured bodies near a live spring that fed into the nearby creek and marked the graves with large non-inscribed stones. The pioneer family was unknown and records of the event were not kept but were passed down to Hickey’s family members. Ironically, fifty or so years later, Wesley Hickey’s son, Joe Hickey, would purchase the very site in 1909, regardless of his father’s warnings to stay far away from the spot known as the McDow Hole.

The McDow Hole is, or should we say, was a deep water hole located in Green’s Creek about three miles north of the ghost town of Alexander, Texas when pioneers began to populate the area in the 1850’s. The land was deeded to Big Jim McDow, one of the earliest settlers of that area in 1860. In those days water sources were crucial to pioneer families. The water hole was a spring fed portion of Green’s Creek that had a natural bedrock bottom which kept the water from drying up during long dry spells. Since the hole of water was located on land owned by McDow, it quickly gained the name of McDow Hole and was an important source of water for people and livestock for many years. Over the course of several years the McDow became a hot spot of activity and many unfortunate deaths.

Haunted McDow Hole, Greens Creek, Erath County Texas

McDow Hole as seen today, Erath County, Texas. Photo by Bob Hopkins.

In 1909, a young Joe Hickey lost his wife to sickness. Joe and his two children, Euna, age eight, and Author, age six, where so overcome with grief and loneliness that they left their lonely place south of Stephenville and purchased a 104 acre farm about a mile south along Green’s Creek from Ruby Long in Dublin Texas. Their new farm was just up the hill from the McDow Hole which had already gained notoriety as a place of sadness and horror and well reputed by local pioneers to be haunted.

When Joe Hickey purchased the farm there were two houses already there, each about one hundred yards from the creek. Joe and his children moved into the larger home as the other was occupied by tenant farmers, Norton and Pearl Sewell, who were busy with the cotton harvest. One of the homes had belonged to Bill Keith, a pioneer who moved into the area about the same time as the McDow’s. Keith left the home and moved away after coming face to face with the ghost that haunted the watering hole.

By 1920 the remains of the home belonging to the family slain by Indians was partly still visible and now part of the Hickey’s cow pen, with a long rock walled shed, which stood where the first house had been built back in the 1850’s. The rock base of a door step, flush with the ground was in the cow pen gateway as a reminder that others had come before them. Upon moving into the house Joe was asked by the Sewell’s if he was aware that the place was haunted. Joe told them he’d heard the rumors but didn’t put much stock into such notions. Joe asked them if they’d seen the ghost as Norton laughed and said they’d not seen it but knew of several reputable people who had as far back as the 1870’s.

Pearl told them the ghost is a woman who appears or disappears at will down at the deep part of the creek. Sometimes she walks on top of the water crying for her baby. Joe didn’t know what to think. He had a cousin who claimed he’d seen the ghost a few years back walking on the water and wouldn’t go near the creek again.

In September 1911, Joe married a girl named Bessie and life was again worth living. In 1916, Bessie gave birth to their second daughter Dieletta who would recount her childhood memories of growing up on Green’s Creek and the family’s encounters with the legendary ghost of the McDow Hole. In 1996, at the age of 80, she published a book about her wonderful memories entitled” Hickey Pioneers”. The book is not a ghost story, rather a family biography but several descriptive chapters of the family’s experiences with the ghost of the McDow Hole lend more credible evidence that something from beyond the veil may have been haunting the land that her family loved and the hollow of Green’s Creek.

One afternoon in 1921 when Dieletta was very young her mother was sitting on the front porch. She saw a woman coming down the road approaching their home. She called to Dieletta’s older sister, Jewel, to drag another chair out to the porch – company was coming. By the time Jewel and Dieletta got the chair out on the porch no one was there. Her mother looked up the road in wonder and said she’d seen a woman coming down the road toward the house. When she reached the yard gate, she disappeared. She thought at first that it was their neighbor, Myrtle Jordan coming to visit. She was graceful and slender wearing a long skirt.

Her mother was obviously left confounded as to how anyone could just vanish in front of her eyes. The event left the entire family in an uneasy and anxious state but the strange event would only be the first of several encounters of the ghost for the Hickeys. Dieletta recalled that her father, Joe Hickey, came from the barn a few moments later and sat down in the chair Jewel had fetched. He asked his wife if she believed it to really be a disembodied spirit of which she replied with a rapid, “No.”

She said, “The Scriptures teach that the soul goes back to the Lord, and the body returns to dust. Why would the spirit of any departed person want to traipse around here? Does she come into being only for our benefit, wishing us to see her? Would she be out there, aimlessly walking about, even if we were not here?”

Joe said, “That is the reason she is a mystery. We don’t know what she is, where she came from, or where she goes. I do believe that she wants to be seen. I haven’t mentioned it, because I feared that it might bother you, but I saw the ghost one day. Everyone else calls her a ghost so I might as well too. One day when I was plowing in the big bottom, a woman came walking along the fence, going toward the creek. I was riding on the cultivator. When I got up close, she disappeared, just as if someone had extinguished a flame. I have only seen her that one time.”

“You are right,” said her mother. “Whatever it is, the thing is harmless. She does want to be seen, however, I believe. The Brakeman on the Stephenville/Alexander train told me that she will appear in front of the train, on the railroad track, up so close that he can’t help but hit where she was standing. He cannot stop in time. Then when he gets the trained stopped, to go back and see if he hit someone, there is nothing there. I think that she enjoys playing pranks on people. That happened where the tracks go near the creek about half a mile away. Let her have her fun. I stay too busy for games, with all the work we have to do.”

The strange and perplexing incidents continued to take place on the Hickey farm. One day Dieletta and her older sister Jewel went to the spring near the creek for some cold drinking water. Some distance behind her sister, on the way back, Dieletta was carrying two small pails of water. Suddenly Jewel dropped both buckets of water from her hands. She began to run, looking down, and behind at her feet occasionally as she ran in a panic while screaming all the way to the house.

As Dieletta rushed to the house Jewel was crying uncontrollably as her mother cradled her in an attempt to calm her. Jewel explained between sobs that a dog was chasing her. Dieletta explained that she was right behind her and didn’t see a dog. Jewel said that she didn’t see it either, but could clearly hear it. She said it was growling and snapping at her legs. She could hear it snarl and gnash its teeth together. It was panting, loudly, like it had been running. She kept walking faster and it kept striking its teeth together, right at her heels. She dropped the water pails and ran.

The dog sounds, Dieletta reported, were never heard by any of their family after that day. But the haunting of the water hole and strange events on the farm continued. So why would a family stay on a place that was haunted? Dieletta may give that answer in describing her mother.

She said her mother, Bessie, was not easily excited. She always took everything at its face value. If a thing happened it happened. Working constantly, she cooked, cleaned, cared for her family and did outside work on the farm, as well. She also spent much of her time helping others. She was friendly, but reserved and dignified. One time, Dieletta asked her mother why she wouldn’t mention seeing the ghost to friends and neighbors.

Her mother said, “There are some things better left untold. People only believe that which can be explained. I can’t explain something that I can’t touch or show, like a woman who disappears. If I told that I saw a ghost, someone would invariably say there is no such thing as a ghost. That would be the same as telling me that I lied. You know that I do not speak falsehoods. They would either think that I made it up or imagined it. The good Lord knows I never sat there and imagined a thing that fanciful, when there are so many real things to occupy my mind, like cooking, getting the dishes washed, the butter churned, the coffee ground, and a dozen other chores finished in time to get some sleep before time to get up and do it all over the next day.”

Many folks came to the creek for various reasons. They came to hunt, to fish, to picnic, and others came to listen for the ghost, many in fact. One afternoon about 1922, a buggy carrying two strange men pulled up and stopped in front of the Hickey home. The two men got out and introduced themselves to her father Joe, who’d met them at the front door. They asked permission to camp on the creek because they wanted to do some fishing near the old McDow Hole. Joe told them about a good campsite. They said they hoped to catch some fish to cook for supper. Making their stop brief, they were soon on their way down to the creek.

McDow Hole, Erath County, Texas

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McDow Hole, Erath County, Texas 32.094937, -98.243523 Story: McDow Hole - Anatomy Of A Texas Ghost StorySpooky Texas legend of the McDow Hole, where ghost sightings of pioneer woman Jenny Papworth and her baby have long been reported.

The following morning, Dieletta and Jewel went down to the creek for fresh water when they noticed that the men had set up camp near the path that led to the spring. Their horse was tied to a tree. The men had not built a fire, although there were some sticks of wood piled near a clearing not far from the buggy. After the girls filled their water pails they returned to the house. They told their father that they had happened upon the camp and there was no evidence that the men had spent the night there. Joe immediately went to check it out for himself and water the horse. The girls tagged right behind him.

Joe led the thirsty horse to water a short distance down the creek from the spring. He and the girls saw where the men had been fishing. It was evident that they had left in a hurry as two cane poles were floating in the water and near a stringer of fish. Joe noted that the fish had probably been there since the day before. He told the girls he couldn’t imagine where the two men went but it was evident that they had most likely left shortly after they had arrived the night before. The girls took the fishing poles back to the buggy. Joe took the horse to the barn and fed him some grain then turned him out in the grass lot to graze. Shortly after, the family heard a car coming from the direction of Alexander. The driver was Lois Cannon, a good neighbor whose residence was across the creek and approximately two miles beyond. The two missing fishermen were with him.

Lois was laughing when he came to the door and Joe asked the three men into the house where Bessie poured coffee for them all. Lois told Joe that the two men had deserted their camp last evening after seeing the ghost. Both men then chimed in excitedly to confirm their claim. One of them named Pete, explained that the fish had just started biting good when this woman came walking down the creek, right up on top of the water.

His friend, known as “Shorty,” confirmed Pete’s claim and said that was the last of their fishing. The two reported that they had crossed the creek and were fishing from the other side when they saw it. They said they were too terrified to come back across the creek to the horse and buggy so they took off in the other direction. Both men were covered in scratches on their arms and faces from running through briars and thick undergrowth along their exit. Their clothing was torn and spotted with blood.

The men ran through the fields and woods until they saw the lighted windows of a house which turned out to be Mr. Cannon’s. The two stayed the night at the Cannon’s until Lois could return them to the Hickey’s for their horse and buggy. Shorty asked the group, which now included the whole Hickey family, if anyone had ever seen a woman walking on top of the water, just as smoothly as if she was walking on the floor. Joe said he hadn’t but was aware of some others that had. Pete said he wouldn’t go back there at night for a million dollars. Lois headed back home and Joe fetched the men’s horse and helped them with their buggy. The Hickey family saw the incident more humorous than frightening and that was the last time anyone ever saw Pete and Shorty anywhere near the McDow.

One evening, many months later, Joe had a very strange thing happen. While going to the kitchen for a drink of water in the dark of night, he was kissed on the cheek by some uncanny creature. He found it totally unexplainable. He reached out to grasp the unseen person of whom he thought was playing some kind of joke on him, but no one was there. With kerosene lamp in hand he searched the house but found no one. Dieletta remembered her father as a person of seriousness and gravity, certainly not the kind of man who would go about telling folks of such a nonsensical experience of being kissed on the cheek by some supernatural being. Joe knew he’d felt the lips and heard the smack but other than that there was no one there. Joe and Bessie were much too busy to theorize about explanations of such phenomena as a ghost. All they knew concerning the ethereal creature was that it was something beyond the natural course of nature.

One day Joe called the family together to say, “We all know by now that there is something here beyond our understanding. Your Mother saw the woman who disappeared in front of the house. I saw the woman vanish from sight one day while I was plowing. Jewel was chased by an invisible dog, which she could hear, but not see. Shorty and Pete saw the woman walking on top of the water, as others have also seen her. What I’m trying to get at is how do you children feel about the ghost? If you are afraid, we’ll sell out and leave. You may see it yourself. Whatever the thing is, we know it will not hurt anyone. It can cause a person to hurt himself, however. The fear alone can make you feel uncomfortable or even be harmful to you. Fear can have a bad effect on a person, who gives into it.”

The girls told Joe the only thing that really frightened them was the thought of leaving Green’s Creek. They had their favorite places to swim, the place with the rock bottom.

Bessie said, “We do realize there is something here beyond the ordinary. You may never see it. I hope you won’t. However, if you should see the woman who disappears, or if you have an experience similar to that of your father’s last night, we don’t want you to be frightened out of your wits and take off running like Pete and Shorty did. We will even move away if you feel afraid of the spook, or whatever it is.”

The family voted unanimously. Green’s Creek was their home and no ghost was going to run them off. The Hickeys stayed.

In October 1933, Dieletta Hickey married Mr. C.E. Watson, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James and Louella Watson from Leon County, Texas. The newlyweds had only been married for a few days when they spent the night with her parents back on the farm. Dieletta had been asleep for a short while when she was awaken by her new husband calling her mother in the middle of the night.

In the darkness of night C.E. called out to Bess as to what she was doing primping in the dark. Bess answered from the other bedroom. The two bedrooms were side-by-side with no hall between them. Dieletta’s mother came through the door wearing a robe over her gown with a kerosene lamp in her hand. C.E. explained that he had just seen a woman standing in the moonlight, in front of the dresser, doing something to her hair and thought it was Bess. When he called her the figure disappeared. He reported that the moonlight was bright that night and it was almost as light as day in front of that window. He said the woman was facing the dresser, doing something to her hair.

Dieletta had been born in the house and lived there until she’d gotten married. The ghost, or whatever the apparition was, had never shown itself to her so she couldn’t take it seriously. Dieletta wondered why a ghost would kiss her father on the Cheek. She then decided to try to go back to sleep as her mother and C.E. continued talking.

Bess asked C.E. if he’d heard of the McDow Hole ghost. He told her yes, while he was staying with his sister and her husband, Viola and Bunt Westmoreland. He said he saw a woman who disappeared. They lived on the Maloney place, near the branch that runs into Green’s Creek. He was walking home from Alexander one evening when he got to where the road crosses the branch; he met a woman dressed in white. Even her shoes and hose were snow white. She came walking through the deep mud, in that branch, and her shoes remained as white as ever. He said he’d come face-to-face with her. She disappeared just like this woman did in front of the mirror and that’s when he took off running. He didn’t stop until he reached home and got into bed.

The next morning he told Bunt what he had seen. His brother-in-law told him not to tell Viola because she would be afraid, and would want to move. Bunt admitted that he had seen the woman before. Bunt said the woman had come up to the cow pen, several times, where he was milking. He said she would sit on a stump for a few seconds, as if she was watching him, and then disappear.

Bess reported that house where they lived is not far from the railroad tracks where the men on the train use to see the ghost. She would pop up on tracks in front of the train, they said. They would not have time to stop the train, because she would be right in front of them by the time they saw her. When that would happen, the engineer always stopped to see if he had run over anyone. There was never anyone there.

Dieletta and C.E. moved to Dublin not too long after the event and once again, the family simply tried to put the ghostly night aside and get on with life. About four years passed and C.E. had enough of farming. The age of small dry-land farms was almost a thing of the past. They were being consolidated into ranches or dairies. Single row cultivation pulled by horses or mules were being replaced by tractors. A few years back there had been no need for insecticides, but then came the boll weevil which attacked area crops and had become more destructive each year. The entire American South had become devastated by a bug. It had become necessary to poison cotton fields and C.E. decided to work for wages from then on, which gave them more time to visit Dieletta’s parents back on Green’s Creek.

While on a visit to the farm one Sunday evening in the late summer of 1937, the four adults were sitting on the front porch, talking. Dieletta and C.E.’s daughter, Patricia had gone to bed in the guest room. Dieletta’s father, Joe, was not well as his health was declining. The family had been trying to get him to go see a doctor but Joe Hickey was not the kind of man to seek medical attention. Dieletta went into the house to check on the child and returned to the porch and as she was settling into her chair, a woman came into view over the crest of the hill in front of the house. Outlined in the sky by the setting sun’s afterglow, she was stepping lightly, as if half-floating and half-walking, along the road leading to the house. Her long, full skirt stood out below her small waist as if she were wearing crinolines.

Dieletta knew that the woman she was seeing was not an earthly being, but a supernatural figure, beyond the natural or ordinary course of nature. She could now imagine how she was able to walk upon the water. She was gliding lightly over the surface of the ground as if her feet were not touching the earth. At first, she didn’t mention seeing the woman. Having heard skeptics say that if one person mentioned seeing a ghost, that others present would imagine they had seen it too.
C.E. was the first to speak up and tell the others that the ghost was approaching the house as the others quietly confirmed hoping the specter would finally come close enough to show her face. The wraithlike creature advanced slowly, walking straight toward the house. Within a few yards of the house she stopped and turned, cutting across the corner of the lawn and to the road that leads to the creek.

“I want a good luck at that woman!” said Bess as she got up and left her chair at a brisk stride. She followed the creature as C.E. got up and went with her. The apparition was walking very slowly with her back to Bess and C.E. From the porch, Joe and Dieletta watched the three of them. When they almost caught up with the mystery woman, she vanished quickly. Bess and C.E. stopped too and glanced at each other in an awestruck and frustrated manner. They disappointedly returned to the porch and sat back down.

The group sat in silent excitement and wonder pondering the ethereal event when Bess supposed that they had just experienced a sacred occasion. As the others became puzzled by her remark she explained.

“I mean no one but God can make a woman appear and disappear. That which we just witnessed is a manifestation of His power. Because He has given me the optical capacity to see something that few people are permitted to see, I can still feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. It tells me that God has sent an angel to visit us.”

“Maybe so,” said her father. “The angel of the Lord did appear to help people all through the Bible. There is no place in the scriptures where it says they will not continue to do so.”

The Hickey’s were, like most rural folks of their day, devout Christians who studied Biblical scripture thoroughly and could come to some general meaning that perhaps the ghost was actually an angel of God. Such meaning helped them cope with the mystery over the years.

That was the last time the family would see the woman on their farm but not the last time they would experience strange happenings nor understand the cruelty that evil people could hand out to folks like the Hickeys. The day after the Hickey’s ghostly event, Joe Hickey finally saw a physician who prescribed him medicine that proved useless and his condition worsened. He was hospitalized in Glen Rose for two weeks as a doctor informed him that little could be done for his ailment. Joe asked to go home and the doctor agreed. Dieletta, C.E. and their daughter Patricia stayed with Joe and Bess throughout the rest of Joe’s illness, occupying Dieletta’s old bedroom. The first night Joe returned home, the family placed him in his bed and attempted to make him as comfortable as possible. Joe rested well that first evening until the strange tapping began. The noise commenced in his bedroom wall and sounded as if someone were lightly tapping it with a hammer. The strange tapping continued intermittently throughout the night. No one in the house was able to sleep sending a haunting feeling throughout the home. Further investigation did not yield any source of the noise.

Dieletta gave him his medication so he could get some sleep. The noise faded away shortly after dawn. The knocking continued in Joe’s room, keeping him awake at night. Dieletta and C.E. moved Joe into her room and moved into his much to Joe’s disapproval as he believed they would be kept awake as well.

As the family retired for the night, C.E. and Dieletta waited for the knocking to begin at the persistent time it always had, but soon, C.E. was sound asleep. Dieletta had to get up in the middle of the night to give Joe his medication when she noticed the knocking had ceased. Morning came and still, no knocking. The strange tapping was never heard again. Joe Hickey died six weeks later on October 31, 1937. He was buried at Bowman Ridge Cemetery, just up the road from the family farm.

By all accounts, Joe Hickey was a man of good nature and reputation. He raised his children with the fear of God and a decent understanding of the Christian scriptures. He and Bess didn’t have a lot but they did have love for their children and family was the center-point of their existence on the farm. Hard work and dedication was expected of all. But even with such goodness, something wicked befell the family. A stranger determined to cause consternation and worry plagued the family for several years.

About a year after Dieletta and C.E. had married they moved to a farm that C.E. and his father had rented just west of Dublin. One afternoon Dieletta’s 13 year-old brother Nez came for a visit. He had walked four miles. Nez told them that the smoke house on the farm burned two nights prior. Dieletta was shocked knowing that her mother and father were so cognizant of fire and took every precaution around any open flames. Nez told her it was arson. He said his mother saw the man but he was wearing a mask. The man meant to do them harm. He said the man had entered the home and was seen in Joe and Bess’s room with a club in his hand. Bess woke up and reached for the gun as the intruder ran, but soon after, the smoke house was on fire.

In the fall of 1935 the arsonist struck again. This time he had burned the barn and the wagon filled with cottonseed that Joe was going to take to town to have ground for feed. The wagon wasn’t in the barn, it was well away from it but the arsonist had poured kerosene on it and set it on fire. There was nothing left standing except the house and the two long rock walls where the sheds had been.

In October, 1938, C.E. and Dieletta were living in Comanche, Texas. They had made a trip into town one evening to find her mother Bess waiting on them. A friend had brought her to Comanche from Dublin. She told them the arsonist had struck again, this time burning the house and all its contents. She and Jewel, Dieletta’s sister, and her three children had been there alone. They had barely escaped with their lives having been awakened by the sound of the roaring flames and choking black smoke in the middle of the night.

Bess sold some cattle which gave her the ability to buy some furniture and rent a small house in Dublin. No one ever knew why anyone would target the Hickeys with such cruel intentions. In late 1938, she sold the lower part of the farm to some family friends from Stephenville. Bess Hickey died on January 8, 1940. She was laid to rest in Bowman Ridge Cemetery near Joe.

In 1976, well into their fifties, Dieletta, C.E., and her brother Nez made one last visit to their old place near the McDow. There was nothing standing where the house and out-buildings once stood. Even the rock walls which once held the sheds in place where gone. The old live oaks where the house had once stood now wavered in the breeze to the lonely sound of a whip-o-will. They went to the creek in a nostalgic manner. The springs that had supplied them with years of fresh drinking water had long dried up and there was no sign that they had ever existed. The water in the creek was green with algae as it stood still and silent.

After a while they walked back up the hill to the old home place. There was a log lying on the ground where the old house had been. As it was growing dark, the three sat down on the log. C.E. sat between Dieletta and Nez as they talked of days gone by, grieved by the passing of time and change of seasons with a longing for those who had departed. Suddenly, a bright light sprang up from the ground in the place where Dieletta’s bedroom once stood, the room in which they had moved Joe into when he died. The light, about five feet high and twice as wide glowed against the black of night. Irregular tongues of radiance shot forth, illuminating the area where the house once stood. Then, it went away, like someone flipped a switch. It was gone and darkness once again filled the evening. Soon after, the three loaded up and departed the old farm for the last time, bewildered at the strange light and the perplexed memories of the ghostly woman who haunted their lives for so many years.

But the Hickey’s were only one family of literally hundreds of people who had reported the ghost of McDow’s Hole. The reported hauntings of Green’s Creek go back as far as the 1870’s.

The original story of the our ghost was first documented on paper by a local Erath County nurseryman named Joe E. Fitzgerald who was born in 1876 near the haunted hollow called McDow Hole. Mr. Fitzgerald established his business in Stephenville in 1900. He took a great interest in politics and once ran for Congress. He wrote numerous newspaper articles including the now infamous McDow Hole ghost. Joe was a great story teller and a man fond of his beloved Erath County and the colorful characters, both good and bad, that laid its foundation. In the early 20th century, he gathered and wrote of the memoirs of his experience and those of local pioneers. He passed his stories on to his daughter, Stephenville educator and author, Mary Joe Clendenin who published many tales of the ghost of Jenny Papworth, one specifically entitled,” The Ghost of the McDow Hole, based on stories told by Joe Fitzgerald”. Professor Clendenin (1924-2012) was Professor Emeritus at Lubbock Christian University.

She said, “I had always heard stories of the McDow ghost hole. Whether or not they are true is not for me to say. As kids we spent several nights, or parts of nights inviting the ghost to make an appearance. And several times we left the place in a great hurry, from our own tales and night sounds. To my father, however this ghost was very real.”

Joe Fitzgerald did believe the ghost to be true so much so that he made a public claim in an interview with Courtney Tidwell, an agent with the Soil Conservation Service based out of Amarillo in 1934. Mr. Tidwell gave the interview to the Associated Press where it was picked up by many papers during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Since then the story has been told and retold in magazines, books and newspapers all over the country. It was Joe’s youthful experiences that solidified his belief in the ghost of the McDow Hole and that belief obviously stayed with him throughout his life.

Joe Fitzgerald, by all accounts, was a reputable man by those who knew him and not known for fabricated tales. His boyhood experience with the un-natural near the McDow left him with a wonder of the origins of something that mankind has no answer for. His only outlet, like so many was to document its uncanny manifestations and speak of the haunting as much as possible with no attempt to conclude that he imagined any of it. His original tale has unfortunately been lost to time but later in life he did relate several stories in newspaper interviews. The following article was found in the Nolan County News, June 17, 1934 and documents Joe’s belief in the ghost.

The unknown author reported “This story was told several years ago by J.E. Fitzgerald, a citizen of Erath County and well-known as a nurseryman all over the south. It is one of the best ghost stories I ever heard and I believe readers will agree with me.”

Joe reported, “When I was a barefoot boy, as almost all boys were at the time, we would gather around the candle light with its shade and listen to father and mother tell about the ghost of the McDow. Some such nights the cows would come home late, and in the cow pen my mother would tell us about the ghost of McDow. We would get closer and closer together and on the way to the house, we would expect the ghost to jump out of the fence corners.

The ghost of the McDow is a true story. In the years gone by there was something supernatural about this famous hole of water. It was something that made you feel creepy. Sixty-five (circa 1870) years ago Green’s Creek was one of the prettiest streams in the world. As you approached the creek, there was oak timber and then a glade and down near the creek grew some of the most magnificent pecan trees on earth. Then you left the oaks and looked along the creek, you could see a picture that no words can describe and no painter can depict. And the McDow Hole itself, it was fed by springs and in the dense shade made the water nice and cool. I imagine the ghost, when it comes back at this time, if it does, is sorely disappointed with its old haunts, for it finds now only a muddy branch. The work of man has ruined the whole scene.

About 70 years ago a woman and baby were killed on the bank of the McDow. It was claimed that they were killed by Indians though there is nothing about it in any history and really, she was killed by a white man. Just a few years ago this white man died. On his death-bed he described the killing of the woman – in fact, he confessed to two of his attendants.”

Joe spoke to one of those attendants and he was sure the white man killed the woman instead of Indians, as accursed. According to Fitzgerald, the woman was buried on the banks of the McDow, but about 1905 her bones were moved to Alexander.

Another newspaper article ran on September 9, 1942 in the Paris News, the article was entitled “The Ghost of Erath County,” The article quotes Fitzgerald reporting, “About 60 years ago Erath County, as well as other counties, was infested with cattle thieves. At that time there was a different kind of sedative used on law-breakers to what they use now. It was called “ropium,”and when a man was lulled with ropium, he seldom woke up. One morning when the sun rose there were five limp forms dangling from a big pecan tree that grew on the bank of the McDow. And there were two other ropes dangling but without anyone on either.

Seven cattle thieves had been hanged on one pecan limb, but the weight of seven was too much and bent the limb down so one could get his feet on the ground. No use to call names, the man who got his feet on the ground cut the rope from his neck and cut his neighbor down. He said his neighbor was a fool for dying as he had a good pulse when he was cut down. The man who cut himself down went to the field where a man who afterward became prominent in politics and banking in Erath County was plowing as a boy. This gentleman told me that the man’s neck was swollen as big as his head, and our young boy lost no time getting away from him. He had seen a ghost that could walk and talk. Anyway, the man went to Oklahoma and still lives near Duncan.

And then came the real ghost, or was it several ghosts? Bill Keith, who was an old pioneer, built a small cabin on the creek to be near living water. But he did not stay long. One night he knocked on the door of a neighbor’s house nearly a mile away after seeing that ghost woman. Then he moved on to Live Oak about three miles away from the McDow. He preferred to drive his cows that distance and haul water that far to get away from the haint.

A man by the name of Hammonds moved into Keith’s cabin. In less than a week’s time he was found partly sitting up in his bed stone dead. What had killed him, the ghost? Or was it natural causes? We all thought it was the ghost and it would have been difficult indeed to make such men as H.B. Keyser and W. B. Kittrell believe it was anything else than terror that killed Hammonds.

R.T. Long was one time Sheriff in Erath County. He owned a farm near the McDow. He said he had heard and seen the thing, whatever it was. He argued for some time though that it was a panther; then he thought some kind of hog until he saw it with his own eyes while gathering his cows late one evening. He said that there was no one on earth that could describe the feeling that came over a man when he was near the McDow after sundown. You were scared whether you saw anything or not.

One day a man by the name of Deem Kalb was driving his cows to the water hole. A man by the name of Bobbitt lived on the old Long place west of Green’s Creek. Mr.Kalb heard screams in the direction of the Bobbitt home. He thought the Indians were murdering Bobbitt and all his family, but when he got to the Bobbitt home they were all safe and sound but badly scared for they had also heard the screams. No one could explain this, but Bobbitt soon moved away. When the Cotton Belt Rail Road was first built one Engineer actually quit because he thought several times he had run his train over a woman and had actually stopped the train to hunt for the supposed woman there. It was my privilege to see the ghost of the McDow or some unexplained object on two occasions. A man by the name of Miller had rented a place near the McDow. It must have been about 10 O’clock broad open daylight when we stopped at the end of the rows to let our horses rest. We looked toward the woods and saw a woman coming. Miller said, “Who on earth can that be?” No one lived that way for several miles.

The woman walked across a corn patch then down into a cotton patch. Then she suddenly disappeared. But the peculiar part of it was the ground was soft and a real woman could not have walked along there without leaving tracks. Neither of us was very superstitious and had believed the McDow ghost was imagination until that day. That is something I have never been able to explain.

Mr. Miller and I decided to go to Green’s Creek fishing one night. We were having extra good luck and had fished until after mid-night. We were just talking about going when we used up the bait we had on the hooks, for we had enough big perch for two or three meals. And then something happened. The moon was almost behind the big pecan trees. All at once it seemed a big bug dropped in the water. It buzzed around a minute and then began to grow. And then a cloud began to form, something like a puff of smoke. I saw the form of a woman emerge from the smoke. Miller ran against me and I awoke to the fact that I was more than a mile from the McDow and still at a full trot. We had left our fish. Kind reader, you may say this was all imagination, I feel it was not. Some of those people who lived back then were just as devoid of fear as anyone today.

Had you ever thought it seems that in some way Erath County has possessed a jinx? There have been many peculiar happenings near Stephenville and Dublin. The murder of the woman and baby was one. Then we had the startling Snow Case and another peculiar case south of town. Even in Stephenville many years ago I heard screams and the memory will go to my grave with me. A woman and her baby was killed at the old McDow Hole, there have been several murders along Green’s Creek. At least one of them was never solved and never will be. Anyhow, I have often wished that that old pecan tree on the banks of the McDow could tell its history.”

As reported by Fitzgerald, sometime in the 1880’s, one time Erath County Sheriff, R.T. Long claimed he’d first encountered the ghost woman late one evening when he went to feed his hogs. He’d found that the hogs had gotten out of their pin and naturally ended up down at the watering hole. So, he went to fetch them. He claimed he’d never been afraid of any tales of the haunting woman and didn’t give them much respect but also didn’t see any particular need to hang around her stomping grounds any more than necessary.

It was just near sundown when he trotted off to the creek after those hogs, just when the shadows get real long. He strolled along with some hesitation as he was about a hundred yards from the creek when he saw a woman walk up from the banks into the pasture holding a baby in her arms. The woman was as visible as it had been his wife walking, she walked just as natural, he said. She had her head ducked looking at the baby. She had a shawl over her head which was also wrapped around the child. He said he stopped and watched her and spoke before she got too close because he didn’t want to frighten her. That’s when she simply disappeared into thin air. Just like that, she just faded away. He was perplexed and uneasy, rounding up the hogs with most haste while he kept a keen eye out for the wraith. But, thankfully, she didn’t return that day.

He then reported that the very next time he went toward the creek, the same thing happened again, scaring him half to death. He claimed from that day on, he just avoided going to the creek no matter the need. In the following spring, he and his wife needed some farm help and decided to hire a young man named Jake.

Long tried to tell young Jake about the ghost and advised him to avoid crossing at the McDow whenever possible, but Jake just laughed and said there was no such things as ghosts. That was before fate stepped into Jake’s young life and convinced him otherwise. According to Long, Jake was quite the lady’s man and it didn’t matter which lady. He’d gone to a dance near Dublin and was returning late. Suddenly, Long and his wife Ruth heard a horse galloping up to the house in a full run when suddenly Jake came through the door. The boy was as white as a sheet. They just helped him to bed and spoke no more about it that night.

The following morning Jake was up and all talk. He claimed that while returning home last evening he was crossing the creek at the McDow when a woman came off the opposite bank in the moonlight, just floating in mid-air and stepped upon the rear of his horse, right behind his saddle. Then she seemed to go up in the air a few feet and land again on the horse’s hips. Jake said he wasn’t scared at first, terrified was a better description. He reached for his gun and fired, but when she came again and in the same undisturbed manner, he just couldn’t stand it no more and spurred the beast to a full trot, never looking back. He never crossed Green’s Creek at the McDow after that and was a sure believer in ghosts from that day on.

It was in the year of 1902, that a young farmer by the name of Will Petty and his wife, like everyone else in the area, had to haul water from the McDow because of drought. The Petty’s would come down to the McDow with three barrels in their wagon. It would take a whole team of horses to pull the wagon out of the creek. It was late evening just before the sun went down that Will and his wife went down to get their load. Will was standing with one foot on the hub of the wheel dipping up the water while Mrs. Petty poured it into the barrel.

They’d just got the first barrel full and were starting on the second when Mrs. Petty glanced up at the bank she was facing. There she saw the woman with the baby in her arms. She just stopped and stared with a cold look as Will attempted to hand her the bucket. He then looked up to see what was causing such a horrified look on her face. That’s when he saw the thing. The ghost simply stepped off the bank into thin air slowly coming down on the water and started moving toward them. The Petty’s didn’t stay to welcome her. They never did know how they got out of there so fast but they never returned to the McDow for water.

Over the years the ghost continued to mystify the people in the area and many came to the McDow to get a glimpse. Some of the stories have been told and retold, many embellished and many faded into folklore. Mary Jo Clendenin found an old newspaper clipping from a paper dated 1920, though there was no name or heading on it she did clarify that it was in a classified ads section and read:

“A few weeks ago there appeared a letter in a paper published in Erath County, a statement that the McDow Ghost was dead. That I would never walk the earth again. False, every word of it. The man who wrote that wants me to be dead. It makes him think too much of the old days. There is also a woman in the town of Stephenville who could tell some wonderful things about me and do you know that a few years ago a man died in the county, a man who I have haunted for many years. And when he was on his death-bed, I stood over him, to remind him of the awful past.

When my husband and I built our little cabin on the banks of Green’s Creek we were very happy, but one evening when my husband was away, the Indians came and killed me. At least they were dressed like Indians but they were not. They were white men dressed up like Indians. I have haunted these men these many years. And on his death-bed the man I have mentioned told two men that I constantly appeared to him. That he knew I had come after him for the last time. One of these men still lives in Erath County, another near Paint Rock.

When the supposed Indians had murdered me they did not know what to do with my baby and cruel demons that they were, they threw it far out into the water, and its voice has cried from that dark hole all these years. Yes, I am the ghost of the McDow and there are people still living that know I am real and why I exist.”


It was never known who actually wrote the statement or why. The tales of the ghost are far too many to relate in this writing. But it is apparent that the ghost was still very active within the 20th Century and opened a whole new chapter on the haunting as documented by Mary Jo Clendenin. It was her book, “The Ghost of Jenny,” which tells the story of Jenny Papworth, a pioneer woman whose husband had to leave the farm for a period of time and while he was gone Jenny and her infant child were murdered by a suspected cattle rustler. Soon after, her ghost began to reappear along the banks of the McDow as well as throughout the surrounding area. She is witnessed by various farmers, including Bill Keith and the Hickey family.

The story by Clendenin is fascinating and uses many details from her father’s accounts. It was also documented in 1971 by Jean Arden Schuetz in her book “People-Events & Erath County” and in Frontier Times Magazine in September 1971, however the names of the main characters, Charlie and Jenny Papworth, are not historically located in records of Erath County, but the Keith’s, McDow’s, and several others are. It is not known if Clendenin romanticized or embellished her father’s stories or used pseudonyms to protect the reputations of local folks who were still alive and may not have desired their names be attached to strange tales.

According to Schuetz, the Papworth’s arrived on Green’s Creek on May 15, 1860. Charlie Papworth was a nephew of Jim McDow. Charlie and Jenny Papworth, along with their infant son, Temple, purchased the land at the McDow from a squatter. Clendenin then tells the story that Jenny gave birth to a girl about four years later. Charlie Papworth’s parents both died in 1865 and willed him their belongings which were shipped to Texas but the nearest railroad was in Texarkana where Charlie would have to travel by wagon which took him several weeks. Upon his return he found that his wife Jenny and the baby had disappeared but his son was safe with the Keith family. Jenny Papworth and the baby were never seen again. His son Temple was found by the Keith’s hiding under a bed. He was never able to give an account of what happened to his mother and infant sister but did say that the man who entered the home was white and spoke English.

A man named W. P. Brownlow, though the name was suspected to be a ruse, was quick to blame the Comanche for the disappearance but no trail of Comanche could be found by a search party. Soon, a neighboring farmer told Charlie that he had seen Brownlow talking to Jenny near the creek on the evening she disappeared. Charlie began to suspect Brownlow who in fear devised a plan to paint Charlie as a horse and cattle thief and one morning, just at the break of dawn several hooded riders arrived at the Papworth place where they took Charlie, along with six other men who were rounded up near Proctor, Texas and hung them from a tree on the bank of the creek. Charlie was the last to be hung and the weight of the other men enabled him to touch the ground with his feet. His son was able to cut his father loose with a knife. Charlie recognized Brownlow and some of the other vigilantes and knew if he stayed he was going to have to kill them or they would kill him. Later that morning, Charlie walked to a neighbor’s home with a swollen neck and purchased a horse. He and his son left for the Oklahoma territory and never returned to Erath County.

Brownlow moved to Cranfill’s Gap and died in 1885. While he lay dying he reported to have been haunted by the ghost of Jenny Papworth and confessed to strangling her and the baby after she had witnessed him meeting with known cattle thieves near the McDow. He reported that he threw the bodies down a shallow seep hole near the creek and covered it with rocks and dirt so the bodies would never be found. Then he conveniently blamed the Comanche for her disappearance as to keep anyone from looking for her on the property.

The Papworth cabin set empty for a few years but Bill Keith would use it in the hot summers as a respite while his cows grazed and watered at the McDow. One August evening he and his thirteen year old son decided to stay for a few days at the cabin. The first night in the cabin both were awakened by someone touching them on their foreheads. At the same time Keith reported that there was a strange chill in the cabin and scratching sounds coming from the door. The third night in the cabin he was once again awakened by the strange scratching at the door. When he opened the door to investigate he saw Jenny Papworth standing there holding her infant daughter before disappearing. He and his son were terrified so much that they barred the door and exited the cabin through a very small rear window. As they ran from the place they heard a woman screaming. The Keith’s moved away from the area shortly thereafter. Soon others began to witness the ghost of a woman at the McDow and the haunting would last for over a century. Regardless, whether the Papworth family existed or not, one thing remains the same…someone or something haunts the McDow Hole on Green’s Creek.

Long-time Erath County resident Wes Miller of Morgan Mill reportedly swam and worked the land around the McDow Hole since 1927 according to Abilene newspaperman Brian Bethel in a 1996 article in the Abilene Reporter-News. “Often Miller’s mules would become skittish around the old watering hole as he felt a presence around him.” One time he and some young companions came to swim when a preternatural chill seemed to fill the air. He and several of his companions built a fire, but it scattered and went out as if from a great down-draft of ice-cold air.

“I heard the story from my granddad,” said Miller, “Who told me about it in the 1920’s. He said, These events that happened in the 1880’s are true, both recorded in folklore and verified through people I knew that had known those directly involved. They’re a part of history.” On the subject of ghosts, he said he felt more-or-less accepted by whatever presence he felt at the McDow, although he admits he wouldn’t stay there at night.”

Many believe it a reasonable idea that something haunts the old McDow Hole on Green’s Creek in Erath County, but what about more recent accounts. Is the ghost still active? In 1998 Clendenin reported on her website “ A Word Edgewise,” that she received a call from a man in 1996 who reported that he and a lady friend decided to investigate the haunt of the ghost on a bright moon-lit night at about 1:30 in the morning. As the two arrived at the bridge near the McDow the woman was too frightened to get out of the vehicle so the man decided to walk down the creek alone to see what he could see. The woman grew braver and stepped from the vehicle as both witnessed the figure of a woman materialize from a vapor-like column. Though her facial features were not visible, there was no mistake of the woman when she showed them her baby. The terrified couple didn’t wait around to see what came next as they quickly fled the area.

In 1970, an article in the Empire-Tribune, reported about a group of girls who got a completely different scare. It was Halloween night of that year when Jo Stem and a couple of friends took their daughters with friends to the McDow for fun. The teens were transported to the hollow in the back of a pickup as they told ghost stories and retold the Papworth tale. They parked the truck and hiked into the creek bed wrapped in winter gear as it was reported to have been one of the coldest Halloween nights in many years.

As the group was walking along the banks Jo and her friend saw what appeared to be a grown man with a sheet over his body with nothing but two eye holes cut in the fabric walking eerily along a fence line not far from them. Thinking it to be her husband she was not alarmed. When the group got ready to leave they approached their truck to see the strange figure walking away from the vehicle. Once they got to the truck they found all the pillows the girls sat on in the truck bed to be cut to pieces. Later when they got home Jo found that it was not her husband dressed as the ghost. The strange person was never identified and the event was considered another hostile happening along the banks of the McDow.

An unnamed businessman in Dallas related that he had come face-to-face with the ghost of the McDow Hole in the winter of 1980 and the experience changed him forever. At the time he lived in Irving but was visiting a friend who lived in Stephenville for the weekend. On Saturday night he and his friend were accompanied by a third friend who told him that they were going to go see a ghost. He smiled and agreed as it sounded like a splendid adventure because he didn’t really expect to see a ghost but rather some kind of teenage prank that boys are known and expected to play on one another.

The three boys jumped into a beat-up 65’ Chevy pickup and travelled to the outskirts of town then onto an old dirt road that seemed to go on forever through acres of three foot tall sticks coming up out of the ground on both sides of the road. Then it was explained to him that they were sapling Pecan trees as they were on the property of Wolfe Nurseries. After a couple of miles the boys made a right turn at a huge withered Oak and drove a bit further to where the road went downhill into a grove of trees. At this point they parked the pickup on a one lane bridge that spanned a creek bed with a larger body of water just to the north of the bridge. The scene was illuminated by a full moon, a great backdrop for one of his buddies to unfold their scheme to scare him.

After a few minutes of intense anticipation, nothing happened. He asked what it was all about and his friend said they were there to see the ghost of McDow Hole. The others explained the old ghost story about the woman searching for her baby and pretty much scares the living daylight out of people. He reported that he was quite impressed with the story and told them that it sounded like a bit of folklore and the story combined with the setting was doing a good job of giving him the creeps. He did believe that legends, stories and folklore are good for a scare but real paranormal happenings were not possible.

The three boys sat in truck facing the dry creek bed for about an hour and a half discussing different aspects of the tale and the region. After a while they started getting very cold and cramped; all three being pretty tall and one a bit on the hefty side. He told the other two he was tired and ready to go. At this point he was more convinced than ever that they had brought him to the McDow as a joke but couldn’t understand why no one had surprised them yet.

It was then that one of the other boys pointed and said “Look!” He was in the driver’s seat and pointing toward the creek bed next to a dark depression. He reported that he had done some pretty hair-raising things in life; canoeing in flood-swollen rivers, rescued capsized boaters in strong currents, nearly fell to his death while rock climbing but to this very day, he had never had an adrenaline rush like the one he had at that moment. Though he had 20/20 vision and had been sitting there for a couple of hours in the moonlight where his eyes had become accustomed to the light level he still strained his eyes, trying to refocus, because his mind simply could not register what he was actually seeing which was apparently the ghost of a woman.

In describing the ghostly figure he said that she drifted in and out of focus or clarity. It seemed that she was young in appearance, wearing a long pleated skirt or dress with long sleeves. She had long, wispy hair and not really an unpleasant expression on her face, which was plain, but somewhat pretty. He explained that she had an “earthy” look. The woman appeared white and translucent, almost smoky or cloudy and then would slowly become less “see-through,” and her features would sharpen, much like bringing a camera into focus on a subject.

There was a large rock in the creek bed, a short distance from the hole, and she would be sitting on it for a short time, then completely disappear, then the next moment, she would “sharpen” and be standing a short distance away in front of the water hole. It seemed that she was looking in their direction the entire time, but he wasn’t sure if she was actually looking at them or whether she had knowledge of their presence. The boys were entirely shocked, much like a deer caught in the headlights. Over the years he has attempted to decipher the whirlwind of emotions that ran through his head in a short amount of time that night years ago. Amazement, terror, joy, remorse and anticipation as he sat there stunned for less than a minute or more.

He finally pried his eyes away from the specter and shifted his gaze a few degrees to his friend who looked at him as well. He could tell by his look of astonishment that he was having the same thoughts as they stared at each other dumbfounded. He turned to look at his other friend who had an entirely different expression – astonished, but combined with a huge grin…much like a child’s look on Christmas morning upon viewing Santa’s visit.

The boy with the smile said, “Just wait until she starts walking down the creek screaming!” in a very excited tone. The other two boys thought immediately against waiting for anything and decided to leave but it was then that the real terror set in. They had been parked with the radio on for better part of two hours; the battery barely had enough power to crank the motor. As the motor slowly churned he looked at the specter again, which had not moved or changed its demeanor. Thankfully the motor roared to life and the terror eased and the three were on their way. He took one last look as they drove away and saw her simply standing in the same place.

As the boys headed back to Stephenville they didn’t discuss it much though his heart raced with fear and anxiety the likes he’d never known. The next morning at the breakfast table his friend’s mother asked what they did the night before and they told her they had gone to McDow Hole to see the ghost. She smiled and didn’t look horribly surprised, which he found quite peculiar as she had seen it before too. He moved on in life and lost touch with his friends but has never really come to any understanding of what he saw that night in 1980 which left him in awe and wonder of things in life which forever stay a mystery. He never went back to Stephenville again.

In 1996, another young man related a similar story. He said he and a few friends were out looking for thrills on a boring Saturday night when they decided on a visit to the McDow. He said only two of the members in the car saw the woman form from a glowing mist before they sped off in a cloud from sheer terror and psychologically transformed. He said her glow didn’t seem to reflect off of any of the surroundings but the trees did block her light. As he was watching in a stupor the girl in the front seat saw the specter and began to scream once she too began to realize what she was witnessing. The driver, who did not see the figure didn’t need to be convinced as the screams of his friends was proof enough to leave. The woman passenger, like so many witnesses before her, couldn’t catch her breath momentarily and finally composed herself enough to say, “It was her! I saw her! It was her! She began to cry as fear overwhelmed her.

Since the group was only there for a few seconds only two of them saw the ghost but since the man didn’t want to be ridiculed he said nothing. However, he said that what he’d seen was vivid. He has never since nor before witnessed a ghost and never wants to again. In 2003 a young man from Dublin reported that he had been to the McDow many times as a teenager and never witnessed anything. It wasn’t until one night at the age of twenty- three that he and three others went to the McDow when they too witnessed the same ethereal figure of the woman who approached them. The man said it changed his view of spiritual matters forever and he would never go near the McDow again. The event for him was truly terrifying and any thoughts of joking about the ghost were long dismissed.

Summer days along the McDow looked like a world away one hundred years ago as farmers cultivated cotton and corn and the land was alive with wildlife and dreams of those who lived long before us. Today the area appears much different with modern homes and dairy farms and the deep waters of the creek have long filled with sediment. But as summers have turned to autumn and those faded into winters, years turned into decades and that a century past has yielded no answers for generations of long ago who shared the creek with something they could not explain.

So does the ghost of the McDow Hole still linger among the banks of Green’s Creek in Erath County? Almost 140 years have passed since the first sighting of the ghost. Most legends or stories of haunts tend to fade away after a short period of time but in the case of the McDow Hole, such isn’t the case. It has been reported that the human mind can easily misinterpret what it sees. This happens when our eyes fix on something while our mind searches memory banks to recall information of things we already know or have observed. In the fleeting seconds of observation the mind can easily discern input to identify what it is we are looking at but sometimes our eyes can register purposed information instead of factual leaving one confused or misinterpreting what he is observing or expecting to observe. And such a hypothesis may explain some ghost sightings however, with over one hundred years of people seeing virtually the same phenomena in the same place one can only believe that perhaps there really is some validity to the ghost of the McDow Hole in Erath County.

And perhaps on a cold winters night as the waxing moon lowers and the naked limbs clatter in a north wind she lingers in her world. A world far removed from those she knew and loved. As a great chasm separates us from the world of the dead we are left with only wonder of her purpose and her life perhaps as a lonely spirit chained to her own anxiety and revenge. So, she waits, for what we will never know but if you happen upon her one moonlit night be cognizant of her struggle for a time and a people that linger forever in her heart.


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Watson, D. (1996), “Hickey Pioneers – A Partial History of Captain Wesley Hickey Family,” Chicago, Ill., Adams Press

Clendenin, M. (1992), “The Ghost of McDow Hole; Ghost Stories Told by Joe Fitzgerald”, New York, New York. Adams Publishing

N.A., “Men of Unquestionable Truthfulness Believe They Had Seen Something,” Nolan County News, 17 June 1934.

N.A., “The Ghost of Erath County”, Paris News, 9 September 1942

Clendenin, M.J., (1992), “The Ghost of Jenny”, Lubbock, TX; Cotton Publishing.

Schuetz, J. A., (1971), “People – Events & Erath County – Papworth Haunted McDow Water Hole & Hanging Tree,” (First Revised Edition), Published by Ennis Favors.

Brian Bethel, “Legendary Ghost Still Lingers in Stephenville,” Abilene Reporter News; 1996.

Clendenin, M. (September 2000), “Old Ghosts Never Die; They’ve Been There and Done That,” (retrieved October 11, 2001; http.//

Erin Cooper, “Murder Still Lingers,” The Empire Tribune; 28 October 1971.

Frontier Times Magazine, “Haunted Waterhole, September 1973 Issue.


Irwin Tarheel and the Fair Folk: Louisiana Folktale


Louisiana twist on the legend of the Fair Folk, written by Sam McDonald.

You see it all started many years ago in Shreveport, Louisiana. These days Shreveport is the third largest city in the entire state of Louisiana, but in those days Shreveport was just a tiny little settlement on the banks of Red River. Captain Henry Miller Shreve, from whom the city gets its name, was still clearing off the great log jam. Before the good captain arrived you could drive a horse and buggy all the way across the river. Everyone was very excited about the new opportunities the new waterways would bring the little settlement, but that isn’t what this story is about.

MVI 2620 Red River Bridge in Shreveport

It was around this time there lived a fellow named Irwin Sherwin Tarheel. He was the son of an Indian maiden and a white settler. You see mixed race marriages faced a lot of prejudice back then, and poor Irwin had been dealt quite a few knocks in this life. One day Irwin was taking a walk out in the woods to go fishing at his favorite stream. When he got to the stream he came across a group of boys messing with a turtle that was flipped on its back. Irwin, never one to let a helpless creature be tormented, quickly shooed the boys away and gently put the turtle right-side up.

The turtle looked at Irwin and in a tiny voice it said. “Oh, thank you kind sir! I thought I’d never escape those tormentors.”

Irwin nearly jumped back four feet. He’d never heard a turtle utter so much as a single word before! When Irwin looked back the turtle was gone and in its place stood a beautiful young lady with raven-black hair, copper skin and a dress like a goddess of some ancient land. At this point Irwin was so terrified that he tried to back away, but he tripped over a log and fell flat on the ground.

“W-who are you? What are you?”

A strange girl giggled. “I have many names, but you can call me Red Ears. Now hurry and get up, everyone is waiting for us!”

Irwin looked and, sure enough, the girl’s ears were as bright and red as a ripe tomato. Irwin wanted nothing more than to run to his home, draw the curtains and huddle underneath a blanket. Still, there was no telling what else Red Ears could turn into, and he wasn’t so keen on finding out the hard way. After a while, and well after it had started to turn dark, Red Ears lead Irwin to a clearing of sorts. The bright lights, joyous music and wonderful smells told Irwin everything he needed to know. Red Ears had led him to a party!

Irwin didn’t get invited to many parties, but he soon found himself as the guest of honor. Red Ears made a point of introducing Irwin to everyone at the party and telling of how he saved her. Irwin had a grand time as he danced up a storm, sipped on sweet drinks, ate tasty foods and generally felt like he’d found some place he belonged. Soon, however, Irwin noticed that there was something a little off about the people throwing the party. Some of them had hooves like deer, others had eyes like cats and a few had scales like alligators!

Irwin nearly lost it all together when a man with an alligator head and deer antlers walked up to him. “You’re the Mr. Tarheel I’ve been hearing so much about?”

“I, uh, yes. May I ask who you are?” Irwin stammered.

“Oh, dear, where are my manners? My name is Chief Cernunnos, and you have earned my daughter’s hand in marriage. Now don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll make a fine husband for Red Ears.”

“But who are all these people? They don’t look right.”

Chief Cernunnos gave Irwin a big alligator smile. “Well now, that depends on who you ask. Some would say we are gods, while others would say that we are demons, and yet others would call us spirits. But if you want to call us something you may call us The Fair Folk. We really are quite reasonable.”

Irwin considered what the chief had told him. The Fair Folk had certainly been more kind and welcoming than anyone he’d ever met, but he had his suspicions that all was not as it seemed. Both of his parents had told stories of tricksters who lured unsuspecting traveler’s to all sorts of horrible fates. If he could only slip away to see if anyone else had heard of these strange people.

Red Ear and Chief Cernunnos tried their best, but Irwin insisted that he needed to go attend some matters in Shreveport, though he promised he’d be back as soon as possible. Reluctantly, they sent Irwin on his way, but not before Red Ear gave Irwin a tiny pouch. She instructed Irwin to absolutely never open the pouch under any circumstances. It didn’t take Irwin long to find the path he’d taken to get to the Fair Folk’s part, but when he made it out of the woods he did not find the Shreveport he remembered.

Shreveport had grown from a tiny little settlement into a city of glass towers and strange metal carriages that drove without horses. Irwin searched and asked around, but everyone he’d ever known was gone. The more he searched the more Irwin realized the horrible truth. Everyone he’d known was dead because he’d been away for over 160 years! There wasn’t any point in staying in Shreveport so Irwin decided to make his way back to the Fair Folk.

Unfortunately, Irwin soon found himself completely disoriented. There had to be something that would remind him of the way back. Irwin decided to ignore Red Ear’s warning and see if the pouch held a clue. What Red Ear hadn’t told Irwin was that the pouch contained all of the years he would have aged if he hadn’t stayed at the Fair Folk’s party. As soon as the pouch was opened Irwin aged until he was a feeble old man.

As if carried on a gentle breeze Irwin could hear Red Ear’s voice say to him, “I told you not to open the pouch.”

With that Irwin crumbled into dust and was carried away on the wind. The white man brought many things with him when he colonized this land. Perhaps a few Fair Folks decided to come along for the ride.


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The Boo Hag Woman: Song Inspired by Georgia Witch Story The Boo Hag


Song based on Georgia witch story “The Boo Hag” about a man who suspects his beautiful new bride might be a witch. Song written and performed by Frank Whitaker. Original story written by Veronica Byrd with Craig Dominey.

Way out past the salt marsh, by a creek that leads to sea;
There is a spooky four-room shack beneath a twisted live oak tree.
A strange young lady lived there with a man she’d met in town.
Her perfect skin, it lured him in, but after ‘while he found;
That she was creepin’ out at night;
And she was slippin’ out of sight;
And she hardly ever acted right at all.


He thought she might be cheatin’ on him, but his friend said, “Son;
You done married yo’self a Boo Hag, and she’s slippin’ out for fun.”
“Boo Hags shed their skins at night, like evil spirit crones.
They suck the air from young men’s lungs;
And try to crush their bones.
She may look good by the light of day;
But at night, she’ll never stay;
And if a man can’t slip away, she’ll ride his back until he falls;”
And I said . . .

Boo Hag Woman, get on back – I don’t believe the things you say!
You can’t spook me with your sweet-talk, Girl —
I’ve got to live to see another day.
It is a sin to shed your skin.
You gon’ get got, I guarantee –
Boo Hag Woman, get on back from me.


Now, to get rid of a Boo Hag, there is just one thing to do –
If she can’t get back in her skin, then her Boo Hag days are through.
So late one night, when she went away, he searched around the shack.
Her slimy skin was hangin’ in a closet in the back.
He took the salt and the pepper down;
And he shook it all around;
Inside that skin that he had found, ’till he was done.

She came back ‘fore the morning, when the sun was ’bout to crest; And she said, “I am a Boo Hag, and Lord knows, I needs my rest.”
But when she slipped back in her skin, and gathered it around;
That skin, it started smokin’, and it made a bubblin’ sound.
And then that lyin’ witch;
She started jumpin’ from the itch.
He saw her body start to twitch and melt there, in the risin’ sun;
And I said . . .


He boiled her Boo Hag body in a barrel full of tar;
And poured himself a brand new roof, that hasn’t leaked so far.
And now, he lives there all alone, beside that crooked stream.
That Boo Hag taught a lesson, ’cause she was not what she seemed.
If there’s a pretty girl you know;
Then you’d better take it slow;
‘Cause there’s no tellin’ where she’ll go;
When she slips-out at night;
And I said . . .


. . . I don’t want no old Boo Hag attack, I said;
Boo Hag Woman, get on back from me.