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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. VII, No. 2, Summer 1951

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Vol. VII, No. 2, Summer 1951

Henry W. Shoemaker

WHEN a great Pennsylvanian like Governor William Alexis Stone gives an almost firsthand werwolf story in his autobiography, The Tale of a Plain Man, there is ample reason for a place for the werwolf in Pennsylvania folklore. No doubt other Pennsylvanians of equal stature have experienced such visitations or heard of them, and a book made up of werwolves from every county in Pennsylvania might be assembled. One might include stories of the vampire, too, that sinister sister monster to the loup-garou. Most of the following stories were told to the writer as a small boy in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, a cross section of the last frontier, where the Indian power receded and the white man’s came in, almost in our own time. The writer’s principal informants had known Peter Pentz, the famous Indian fighter, so near was the Revolutionary period to the age the writer lived in. Clinton County, rugged land of the Fair Play Men and outpost of the Great Runaway, was one of the last regions in Pennsylvania opened to white settlement, and fifty years ago the old tales were almost universally known.

One of the tales Pentz told around the Quigley family’s blazing open fire (in what would be now the season of All Hallows, in the ghost month of the Indians, when the warriors return and travel their old paths and sometimes tap on the window lights with their tomahawks as they pass and see an old foe seated within) has been handed down, and from the writer’s recollections the glimpses of real life at the time of the Runaway are recorded.


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