NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. VII, No. 2, Summer 1951
NEIGHBORS—THE WERWOLF OF PENNSYLVANIA
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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