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United States Folklore

Drowned Man

    My supervisor radioed me just after sunrise on a warm summer morning in 1929 to report another incident aboard the shipwrecked E.C. Waters out on Stevenson Island.
    “A bunch of drunks were boozing and brawling on the boat last night,” he said in a grumpy tone that clearly indicated his lack of morning coffee.
    I sighed. Again! I had no idea why so many summer visitors flocked to the wreck of the old steamboat on Stevenson Island, which lay partially submerged beside a sandy beach…

    Swept Over: Ghosts of the Lower Falls

      Today the water drums of the Lower Falls in Yellowstone beat strongly, just as they did back in 1870 when the story which became a legend first took place. In those days, a group of five militia men and their Crow guide who decided to explore the little known Canyon of the Yellowstone. The explorers penetrate deep into the canyon region, keeping an eye out for signs of gold while they explored…

      Brer Bear’s House

        Well now, out of all the animals that live in the woods, Brer Bear had the biggest house. The house was warm and cozy on the inside, but it was also very crowded on account of Brer Bear having him a plump wife and two plump young ‘uns named Simon and Susannah.

        Higher Mathmatics

          Shmul and Benin, two of the wisest men in the town of Chelm, went one day to take a steam bath. As they relaxed in the luxury of steamy heat, they idly began discussing Benin’s upcoming trip to Dvimsk, debating how long it would take for him to drive to the distant town in his buggy…

          Dunkelberger Gravel Bar

            The gravel bar on our left is called, Dunkelberger gravel bar. The reason I mention it to you, is because it is one of the finest places on the whole Rogue River to fish from the bank. If you have a boat you can fish most anywhere, but if you’re consigned to the bank – and I know a lot of people who prefer it – then this is where you want to go.

            Boo Hag

              You know how they say some folks are lucky at cards and some are lucky at love? Well, that fit Bobby Hansen to a ‘T’. He was the best poker player in the county, but somehow he couldn’t find himself a bride. Oh, he proposed to several girls, and even got accepted by a few. But they always got cold feet a day or two before the wedding, and it was bye-bye Bobby.

              Babe the Blue Ox

                Well now, one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south and even the snow turned blue. Late at night, it got so frigid that all spoken words froze solid afore they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before…

                Why Dogs Chase Cats

                  Once long ago, Dog was married to Cat. They were happy together, but every night when Dog came home from work, Cat said she was too sick to make him dinner…

                  Johnny Appleseed

                    Johnny Appleseed was a hermit and a wanderer who was welcomed wherever he went in the Ohio territory. Everyone loved him, in spite of his unkempt appearance. He always carried a sack full of apple seeds to plant, and walked barefoot all year round. He knew the frontier woods better than anyone. Even the Indians respected Johnny Appleseed for his courage.

                    Ethan Allen

                      Ethan Allen, the leader of the Green Mountain Boys, who defeated the British at Fort Ticonderoga, was known as a gruff-mannered, hard-drinking man. But Ethan Allen had a gallant streak which would exhibit itself in unexpected ways.

                      Teething Toy

                        Well now, you’ve probably heard it rumored that here in Deadwood we have such a tough neighborhood that our babies teeth on guns. And the fact of the matter is, this is the very truth. I happen to know the lady who was responsible for the start of this rumor…

                        Jack and the Devil

                          Jack was a nasty fellow who beat his wife and kids and was an all around bad chap. So the Devil came and hauled the poor fellow away with him. On their way to hell, Jack asked the Devil if he was thirsty, and ol’ Lucifer said he was. So Jack somehow persuaded the Devil to turn himself into a coin so Jack could buy them both a drink from a handy tavern.

                          Pink

                            She was always in the garden. Day after day after day. It drove him crazy. Supper never came when he wanted it and he had to go outside and kneel down in the dirt every dad-blame time he wanted to have a conversation with his wife. When he complained, she told him to get his own supper. Ha! She knew he couldn’t boil water without burning it.

                            La Corriveau

                              Marie-Josephte Corriveau was a beautiful but ruthless woman. She married a good-looking man but soon grew bored with him. So late one evening, she stunned her husband with a blow to the head, then took a whip to his horse, which trampled him to death. The death was ruled an accident and La Corriveau was free to marry again.

                              Wrong Side Up

                                One spring in the early 1880s, a North Dakota pioneer was plowing his land. As he broke through the long prairie grass and turned it under in preparation for planting a crop of wheat, he noticed an old Dakota man watching him. When the pioneer stopped to rest, the old man approached him. The old man examined the plowed ground and finally picked up a clod of prairie grass which had been turned over by the plow.

                                Riverboat Racing

                                  An old lady from Kentucky was going to New Orleans with a load of lard to sell. It was her first time traveling by riverboat, and she was nervous because her friends had told her a number of stories about the dangers of riverboat travel–snags, collisions, racing with other riverboats. Before she got on the boat, the old lady made the Captain promise that he would not race the riverboat during her trip. The Captain agreed to her request.

                                  Sangamon County

                                    One of the old timers who lives here in Sangamon County, Illinois is always saying that Sangamon County is the only place on Earth which is more beautiful than heaven. Once, I asked him why. I mean, Sangamon County is beautiful.

                                    The White Dog

                                      A traveling salesman came to Goshen Hill for a few days, selling his wares from door to door. He was a friendly man with a warm grin and a joke for everyone. He was accompanied by a large white dog that rode on the wagon beside him; companion, friend, and guardian of his wares.

                                      The Headless Sentry

                                        A wealthy businessman who worked behind the political scenes both in Georgetown and Charleston owned a large plantation just outside Charleston. He often entertained business and political associates at the manor house, influential men who came from other colonies and abroad. When war broke out between America and England, the owner was reluctant to take sides, for his business was primarily supported by England…

                                        First Things First

                                          Well, the spring floods here in Vermont are mighty fierce, doncha know. One young farmer named Tom got trapped one year when the river started rising near his place. He watched the water creep up to his front porch, and then through the front door, and then on up the steps until he and his wife were trapped in their upstairs bedroom.

                                          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!

                                            The Fighting Roosters and the Eagle

                                              “That’s it!” Black Rooster crowed to himself when he spotted Red Rooster flirting with the hens again. “I’ve had it with that impudent Rooster. This is my farmyard, not his!”

                                              The Phantom Bellman

                                                I gasped a bit as I wheeled my heavy bag toward the white-trimmed double doors leading to the hotel lobby. I was having some trouble adjusting to the altitude in Yellowstone after living my whole life at sea level. My husband Frank, on the other hand, took to the elevation as one mountain-born, much to my annoyance. He’d already dragged the rest of our luggage inside the hotel and was checking in at the front desk as I doddered my way into the lobby and collapsed in a chair near the fireplace.

                                                Jean Sot Goes Fishing

                                                  Jean Sot was sitting gloomily on the dock of the marina casting a fishing line into the Bayou when his friend Boudreaux (Boo-dro) walked by. “Why are you so gloomy, mon ami?” Boudreaux asked his friend.
                                                  “Oh Boudreaux, I had a terrible dream,” Jean Sot said, waving the tip of his fishing pole for emphasis…

                                                  Why is a Black Cat bad luck?

                                                    Black Cats weren’t always considered bad luck. In early Egyptian times, dating back as far as 3000 BC, the domesticated cat became a symbol of grace and poise and was praised for its ability to kill cobras and other vermin.