Werewolf Fact of the Day

Werewolf Book 2e
ISBN: 9781578593675

What circa 1899 tale featured a hermit terrorizing Pennsylvania?

  • Rural residents were suspicious of a reclusive old man who constantly watched a local girl tend her sheep.
  • Although wolves harassed the flocks of the neighboring farmers, the girl's sheep were never troubled.
  • One day, a farmer shot a wolf, but never found its body.

The Northumberland Werewolf

In Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, circa 1899, many rural residents had their suspicions about a reclusive old man being a werewolf. While some scoffed at such stories as nonsense and superstition, the Paul family became uneasy when they noticed that the old fellow had taken an apparent liking to their twelve-year-old daughter, May.

Although they had never seen the man do the slightest thing that anyone could consider improper, it made them uncomfortable when he would sit some distance from May while she tended the family's sheep. They knew that their little girl was a lovely, cheerful child who seemed to lift the spirits of all those she encountered, and the elderly gent simply seemed to gain pleasure from watching her performing her daily tasks with the flock. From all they could ascertain, he never even spoke to her or disturbed her duties in any manner whatsoever.

Other shepherds found it strange, though, that while the wolves in the area were so bold that they could attack flocks of sheep in broad daylight, they never bothered the sheep that were tended by little May. Some had witnessed the wolves approaching her flock, then turn tail and run away. Such bizarre behavior on the part of the beasts only increased the gossip about the old man being a fierce werewolf that could frighten normal wolves away.

One night when the moon was full, a hunter spotted a gaunt old wolf skulking out of the underbrush and preparing to cross the road. Thinking of the twenty-five-dollar bounty on wolves, he took aim and fired. He could tell from the yelp of pain that his bullet had struck home, but the wolf staggered into the thicket. Deciding it was too dark for pursuit of a wounded wolf in such tangled growth, the hunter went home, resolving to return at the first light.

The next morning, he returned to the spot, followed the trail of blood, and instead of the carcass of a wolf, he found the body of May Paul's elderly admirer lying stiff and cold. This confirmed the local rumors about the man being a werewolf, and according to regional tradition, he was buried on the spot, which became known as die Woolf man's grob ("the wolf man's grave").

As the story goes, May Paul continued to tend her family's flocks in the same area for the next twenty-five years. Although wolves and other predators continued to harass the flocks of the neighboring farmers, May's sheep were never troubled. She claimed that the spirit of her werewolf protector still watched out for her and drove away the beasts of prey.

From The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings, Second Edition by Brad Steiger, (c) 2012 Visible Ink Press(R) Steiger's homage to the beast within provides meaty facts for the lycanthropic in all of us.

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