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United States Folklore

The Rooster and the Pearl

The Rooster and the Pearl

    Scratch. Scratch. Peck. Cock was strutting around the yard, busily looking for good things to eat. Peck, peck scratch. He gobbled down a piece of barley-corn with greedy satisfaction. Yum!

    No Room: A Christmas Legend

    No Room

      Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, on the night before Christmas, a little child was wandering all alone through the streets of a great city. There were many people on the street, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, and even gray-haired grandfathers and grandmothers, all of whom were hurrying home with bundles of presents for each other and for their little ones. Fine carriages rolled by, express wagons rattled past, even old carts were pressed into service, and all things seemed in a hurry and glad with expectation of the coming Christmas morning

      I'm All Right

      I’m All Right

        We knew right from the start that Johnny was going to be a soldier. Even as a child, all his concentration was on the military. So we weren’t surprised when he joined the Marines right out of high school…

        Wait Until Emmet comes

        Wait Until Emmett 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”…

          The Brothers' Revenge

          The Brothers’ Revenge

            The blizzard was raging fiercely around them as the brothers stumbled down the long road. they were miles from any farm, and knew they had to seek shelter or freeze to death. So it was with gratitude that the two brothers spotted a saloon and pushed their way through the door.

            The Devil's Christmas Gift

            The Devil’s Christmas Gift

              Away down South, an old custom dictates that if someone comes up to you on Christmas Day and says “Christmas gift” before y’all do, why y’all are obliged to give that person a present. Mind you, the custom does not say what sort of present y’all should give! But those of us who hail from the South consider ourselves to be gentlefolk. The gifts given and received in this manner are good enough to keep the custom alive and well…

              Davy Crockett and the Frozen Dawn

                One winter, it was so cold that the dawn froze solid. The sun got caught between two ice blocks, and the earth iced up so much that it couldn’t turn. The first rays of sunlight froze halfway over the mountain tops. They looked like yellow icicles dripping towards the ground.

                Rising of Gouverneur Morris

                The Rising of Gouverneur Morris

                  Gouverneur Morris, American minister to the court of Louis XVI, was considerably enriched, at the close of the reign of terror, by plate, jewels, furniture, paintings, coaches, and so on, left in his charge by members of the French nobility, that they might not be confiscated in the sack of the city.

                  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.

                    Der Belznickel

                    Der Belznickel

                      My sisters and my baby brother danced about the house, whispering to each other excitedly about the coming of der Belznickel on that snowy December 5th evening, the day before the Feast of Saint Nicholas. According to the stories, the good Saint Nicholas chains up the Devil on the eve of his Birthday – December 6th — and makes him visit all of the children in the village to see if they have been behaving themselves and deserved the attention of Kirstkindel.

                      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.

                        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…

                          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…

                            Eavesdropper

                            Eavesdropper

                              There is an old tale which claims that at midnight, on Christmas Eve, the cattle will kneel in the barn and speak with one another. Once an old Maryland man decided to test the tale by hiding in the barn at midnight to listen. So he climbed a rope to the window in the hayloft. He lay down on the rough gray boards, covered himself with hay and waited…

                              Ghosts of Red Creek

                              The Ghosts of Red Creek

                                A small party of gentlemen on the day before a crisp, cold Christmas, started from Gulfport in a large four-wheeled wagon for a thirty-mile drive into the wilderness of pine and a week’s sport after the deer. The tract of pine forest extended for miles with only a few habitations scattered through it. Red Creek drained this region into the Pascagoula River to the eastward.

                                Legend of Babouschka

                                The Legend of Babouscka

                                  It was the night the dear Christ-Child came to Bethlehem. In a country far away from Him, an old, old woman named Babouscka sat in her snug little house by her warm fire. The wind was drifting the snow outside and howling down the chimney, but it only made Babouscka’s fire burn more brightly.

                                  The First Christmas Tree

                                  The First Christmas Tree

                                    At the time when the Christ Child was born all the people, the animals, and the trees, and plants were very happy. The Child was born to bring peace and happiness to the whole world. People came daily to see the little One, and they always brought gifts with them.

                                    No Fear

                                    No Fear

                                      He had just passed an abandoned missionary Baptist church when the forest grew quiet around him. The cicadas stopped singing, the night creatures went silent, and the breeze died to a whisper. In the silence, he heard something sliding through the trees on his right.

                                      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.

                                          First Day of School

                                          Haunted Classroom

                                            She was brand-new history teacher to the school and had been preparing her first lesson in her mind for weeks. This was her very first teaching job, and she wanted it to go well. The night before classes began, she couldn’t eat and tossed and turned restlessly all night. Up early, she was in her new classroom, sweeping the floor, tidying the desks, and putting up welcome signs just after dawn.

                                            The Soldier

                                            The Soldier’s Ghost

                                              I’d just reached the old the hunting trail that led to the other side of the low gap. It was a short cut that sliced nearly two miles off my trip, which sounded good to me. But I never used the trail at night, because it was reputed to be haunted.

                                              Maco Ghost Light

                                              Maco Ghost Light

                                                There was once a railroad conductor named Joe Baldwin who was working for the newly rebuilt Atlantic Coast line. The year was 1867, and the railroad had expanded to include a small station in Maco, North Carolina. Joe was assigned to the very last car in the train, and he executed his conductor duties to the best of his abilities aboard his assigned car. Then one night, something went wrong. Terribly wrong.

                                                Phantom Diner

                                                Phantom Diner

                                                  A couple were driving through Spokane, Washington one evening. They were hungry and tired and needed a break. Unfortunately, they were also broke. The wife went through her purse and the glove department and under the seats of the car, trying to drum up enough spare change to get them some kind of meal. She’d collect about eight dollars in quarters, dimes, nickels and a few dollar bills when her husband called her attention to a sign post reading: Steak and Eggs – $3.85. It was attached to a motel-diner combination in downtown Spokane.

                                                  Bloody Mary Returns

                                                  Bloody Mary Returns

                                                    My stepmother was vile. I guess most kids think that when their father remarries. But in this case, it was true. She only married Father because he was rich, and she hated children. There were three of us – me (Marie), my middle brother Richard and my youngest brother Charles. We were the price my stepmother Gerta paid for being rich. And we were all that stood between her and inheriting Father’s money when he died. So she took steps against us.

                                                    Goblin of Easton

                                                    Goblin of Easton

                                                      There was once a monk at the mission who loved money and power more than he loved God. He would hear the confession of the good folk who attended the mission, and then would blackmail them into giving him gold and silver to keep their darkest secrets.

                                                      La Mala Hora

                                                      La Mala Hora

                                                        My friend Isabela called me one evening before dinner. She was sobbing as she told me that she and her husband Enrique were getting divorced. He had moved out of the house earlier that day and Isabela was distraught…

                                                        Phantom lovers of Dismal Swamp

                                                        Phantom Lovers of Dismal Swamp

                                                          He couldn’t believe it when she fell ill just a few short weeks before their marriage. His betrothed was beautiful, strong, and healthy, but she just faded away before his eyes. He held her in his arms as she gasped out her last breathe, and was inconsolable long after her body lay buried beside the Dismal Swamp…

                                                          The Future

                                                          The Future

                                                            She was nervous and excited as she approached the psychic’s store. Normally, she didn’t go in for fortune telling. But her best friend had visited the psychic a few months ago, and everything the woman had predicted came true. Everything!