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Famous Folktales

A Gift from St. Nicholas

A Gift from Saint Nicholas

    Claas Schlaschenschlinger was a wealthy cobbler living on New Street in New Amsterdam. He was a contented bachelor who could afford eight – eight mind you! – pairs of breeches and he had a little side business selling geese. He cut quite a figure in New Amsterdam society, and was happy being single, until he met the fair Anitje! She was as pretty as a picture, and Claas fell head over heels for her. He was not her only suitor, by any means. The local burgomaster was also courting the fair Anitje. But the burgomaster was a stingy, hard man, and in the end, Anitje gave her heart and hand to Claas…

    A Baker's Dozen

    A Baker’s Dozen

      Back in the old days, I had a successful bake-shop in Albany. I had a good business, a plump wife, and a big family. I was a happy man. But trouble came to my shop one year in the guise of an ugly old woman. She entered my shop a few minutes before closing and said: “I wish to have a dozen cookies.” She pointed to my special Saint Nicholas cookies that were sitting out on a tray. So I counted out twelve cookies for her…

      Haunted Christmas

      Haunted Christmas

        The soft thud of following footsteps echoed behind him as he hurried through the snowflakes toward home. They kept pace with him, quickening when he quickened and slowing when he slowed. It was creepy. His flesh crawled at the sound and he sped up, cursing himself for walking home alone from the midnight Christmas Mass.

        Wait Until Emmet comes

        Wait Until Emmet Comes

          A preacher was riding to one of the churches on his circuit when darkness fell. It was about to storm, and the only house nearby was an old mansion which was reputed to be haunted. The preacher clutched his Bible and said: “The Lawd will take care o’ me”…

          La Llorona

          La Llorona

            Once there was a widow who wished to marry a rich nobleman. However, the nobleman did not want to raise another man’s children and he dismissed her. The widow was determined to have the nobleman for her own, so the widow drowned her children to be free of them…

            Llorona, Omen of Death

            Llorona, Omen of Death

              They say that the Llorona was once a poor young girl who loved a rich nobleman, and together they had three children. The girl wished to marry the nobleman, but he refused her. He told her that he might have considered marrying her if she had not born the three out-of-wedlock children, which he considered a disgrace.

              El Muerto

                After getting the lay of the land, so to speak, frontier man Bigfoot Wallace moved from Austin to San Antonio, which was considered the extreme edge of the frontier, to sign up as a Texas Ranger under Jack Hayes. In them days, Texas was as wild as the west could get. There was danger from the south from the Mexicans, danger to the wet and north from the wild frontier filled with Indians and desperados, and to the east the settlements still had problems with the Cherokee Nation…

                Joaquin Murietta: Bandit of the Goldfields

                  Joaquin Murietta and wife Rosita lived with his older brother Carlos in California. The three Mexican immigrants were living on a small, successful farm and the men were also working a claim near Hangtown. However, the other miners living nearby tried to run them off, telling them that it was illegal for Mexicans to pan for gold or hold a claim. The Murietta brother’s ignored their threats and continued to live peacefully on their farm and work in the gold-fields.

                  John Henry: Steel driving man

                  John Henry: The Steel Driving Man

                    Now John Henry was a mighty man, yes sir. He was born a slave in the 1840’s but was freed after the war. He went to work as a steel-driver for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, don’t ya know. And John Henry was the strongest, the most powerful man working the rails.

                    The Trickster Tricked

                    The Trickster Tricked

                      Rabbit and Terrapin met near the stream one morning. It was a lovely clear day, and they both basked in the warm sunshine and swapped some stories. Rabbit started boasting that he was the fastest runner in the world. Terrapin wasn’t having any of that! No sir!

                      The Little Red Hen

                      The Little Red Hen

                        Little Red Hen found a Wheat Seed that, if planted, would grow up and when ripe it could be made into flour and then into bread. But what should she do with it?

                        Resurrection Mary

                          There was a dance that night at the Oh Henry Ballroom, so he slicked back his hair, jumped into his red convertible and cruised down Archer Street, hoping he’d meet a pretty girl. He was a shy fellow who found it hard to talk to girls. Bolder men always danced away with the prettiest girls before he got up enough nerve to say hello. But tonight, would be different. Tonight, he would sweep one of… Read More »Resurrection Mary

                          Bloody Mary Whales

                            Old Man Whales was an evil man who loved money more than anything in the world, except his wife.

                            Bloody Mary, Quite Contrary

                            Bloody Mary, Quite Contrary

                              “Mary, Mary…” the half-heard whisper woke her in the darkness before dawn. 
                              Darkness.  How appropriate.  These days, it seemed as if her whole life was in darkness. 

                              Cow's Head

                              Cow’s Head

                                Oksana lived in a small house on the edge of town with her father, her stepmother and her stepsister. Oksana’s stepmother disliked Oksana, favoring her true daughter, Olena.
                                Soon after her father’s remarriage, Oksana found that all the housework fell to her while Olena idled her days away

                                Gollywhopper's Eggs

                                Gollywhopper’s Eggs

                                  Well now, when old Johnson came to town, I knew there’d be trouble. That Yankee Peddler was a scoundrel if ever I saw one. But I was laid up with my rheumatism when he arrived, so I couldn’t do anything about it.

                                  Wendigo

                                  Wendigo

                                    The storm lasted so long that they thought they would starve. Finally, when the wind and swirling snow had died away to just a memory, the father, who was a brave warrior, ventured outside. The next storm was already on the horizon, but if food was not found soon, the family would starve.

                                    Bloody Mary

                                    Bloody Mary

                                      She lived deep in the forest in a tiny cottage and sold herbal remedies for a living. Folks living in the town nearby called her Bloody Mary, and said she was a witch. None dared cross the old crone for fear that their cows would go dry, their food-stores rot away before winter, their children take sick of fever, or any number of terrible things that an angry witch could do to her neighbors.

                                      Raw Head and Bloody Bones

                                      Raw Head and Bloody Bones

                                        Way back in the deep woods there lived a scrawny old woman who had a reputation for being the best conjuring woman in the Ozarks. With her bedraggled black-and-gray hair, funny eyes – one yellow and one green – and her crooked nose, Old Betty was not a pretty picture, but she was the best there was at fixing what ailed a man, and that was all that counted.

                                        Pele’s Revenge

                                          Ohi’a and Lehua loved each other from the moment they first saw each other at a village dance. Ohi’a was a tall strong man with a handsome face and lithe form. He was something of a trickster and was first in all the sports played by all the young men. Lehua was gentle and sweet and as fragile as a flower. Her beauty was the talk of the island, and her father was quite protective of his only child.

                                          The Maid of the Mist

                                            She lost her husband and her hope at a young age, and the beautiful girl could not find her way through the sorrow upon sorrow that was her lot in life. So she stepped one day into her canoe, singing a death song softly to herself, and paddle out into the current. Soon the canoe was caught by the rough waves and hurtled toward the falls. But as it pitched over and she fell, Heno, the god of thunder who lived in the falls, caught the maiden gently in his arms and carried her to his home beneath the thundering veil of water.

                                            Black Magic

                                            Black Magic

                                              Mad Henry was a hermit who lived alone in a decrepit mansion at the edge of town. Rumors were rife about the wild-eyed man. Some folks said that he was a magician who called upon the powers of darkness to wreck havoc upon his neighbors. Others called him a mad doctor who could restore life to foul corpses from the local cemetery. No respectable citizen in town had anything to do with Mad Henry

                                              Tommy Knockers

                                              Tommy Knockers

                                                Tommy Knockers are the spirits of departed miners that help miners find ore. They also knock on the walls of the mines right before a cave-in. When you hear a Tommy Knocker knocking, it’s best to depart the area right quick. They have saved the life of many a miner who has been in a danger. Some folks say that the very first man to hear the sound is jinxed, but that is not always the case…

                                                Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby

                                                  Well now, that rascal Brer Fox hated Brer Rabbit on account of he was always cutting capers and bossing everyone around. So Brer Fox decided to capture and kill Brer Rabbit if it was the last thing he ever did! He thought and he thought until he came up with a plan. He would make a trap! Brer Fox went and got some tar and he mixed it with some turpentine and he sculpted it into the figure of a cute little baby. Then he stuck a scarf and glasses on the Tar Baby and sat it in the middle of the road.

                                                  Dem Bones

                                                  Dem Bones

                                                    My granny was told as a child that Captain Kidd, knowing the law was on his trail, traveled up the Jersey coast looking for the perfect spot to bury his stolen booty. And he found it near a grove of gnarled, wind-swept pines on Sandy Hook. One moonless dark night, the Adventure Galley slid silently into harbor at Sandy Hook…

                                                    The Golden Hand

                                                    Golden Hand

                                                      He never paid much attention to the neighbors living on his city block until the day the pretty middle-aged widow moved in two doors down from him. She was plump and dark with sparkling eyes, and she always wore dark gloves on her hands, even indoors.

                                                      The Hairy Toe

                                                      Hairy Toe

                                                        Once there was an old woman who went out in the woods to dig up some roots to cook for dinner. She spotted something funny sticking out of the leaves and dug around until she uncovered a great big hairy toe. There was some good meat on that toe which would make a real tasty dinner, so the old woman put it in her basket and took it home.

                                                        Yellow Ribbon

                                                        Yellow Ribbon

                                                          Jane wore a yellow ribbon around her neck everyday. And I mean everyday, rain or shine, whether it matched her outfit or not. It annoyed her best friend Johnny after awhile. He was her next door neighbor and had known Jane since she was three. When he was young, he had barely noticed the yellow ribbon, but now they were in high school together, it bothered him.

                                                          The Hook

                                                          The Hook

                                                            Excerpted from Spooky Campfire Tales The reports had been on the radio all day, though she hadn’t paid much attention to them. Some crazy man had escaped from the state asylum. They were calling him the Hook Man since he had lost his right arm and had it replaced with a hook. He was a killer, and everyone in the region was warned to keep watch and report anything suspicious. But this didn’t interest her.… Read More »The Hook

                                                            Pecos Bill Rides a Tornado

                                                              Now everyone in the West knows that Pecos Bill could ride anything. No bronco could throw him, no sir! Fact is, I only heard of Bill getting’ throwed once in his whole career as a cowboy. Yep, it was that time he was up Kansas way and decided to ride him a tornado.