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IN THIS EPISODE: One of our Weirdo family members has asked if I wouldn’t consider doing an episode on man’s best friend – but as this is Weird Darkness I couldn’t very well just pull a bunch of stories of dogs saving lives of lost children, or walking hundreds of miles back to their families after being left behind on a trip, or solving a crime by sniffing out drugs in an airport. So in this episode we’re talking about dogs of the supernatural kind – the ghostly dogs, the specters and phantoms in canine form.

“Ghostly Dogs and Phantom Hounds” from LookAndLearn.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/bbnfdtyc, Anomalien.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/xznp7j4, Ancient-Origins.net: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/vavhruuj, TransCeltic.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/d8s3mhhd, and MysteriousBritain.co.uk: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2cwk3kxr,https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/f385mrjm

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Originally aired: August 02, 2021


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Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.

Coming up in this episode…

One of our Weirdo family members has asked if I wouldn’t consider doing an episode on man’s best friend – but as this is Weird Darkness I couldn’t very well just pull a bunch of stories of dogs saving lives of lost children, or walking hundreds of miles back to their families after being left behind on a trip, or solving a crime by sniffing out drugs in an airport. So in this episode we’re talking about dogs of the supernatural kind – the ghostly dogs, the specters and phantoms in canine form.

If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!



The ghost of John Tregeagle has the impossible task of emptying a lake with a small shell riddled with holes. And should he feel like escaping, the phantom pack will soon drive him back.

It is said that you can hear them baying almost any night on the lonely wastes of Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor, a ghostly pack of huge hounds for ever in pursuit of their quarry. But terrifying though they may sound, the passing stranger has nothing to fear, for the Demon Dogs are chasing someone as ghostly as themselves. His name is, or was, John Tregeagle, and he is paying for the crimes he committed during his life.

Whether one believes in ghosts or not, a man named John Tregeagle undoubtedly lived in Cornwall during the early part of the 17th century. According to legend he not only murdered his wife and children but used his position as a magistrate to escape detection and amass a fortune unfairly confiscated from other people’s estates.

As his life drew to a close Tregeagle seems to have grown apprehensive about his chances of being admitted to Heaven, and gave away enormous sums to the Church in the hope that he would be allowed to rest in peace.

The accounts of Tregeagle’s ghost date from shortly after his death, and no other British phantom can claim quite such a complicated legend to account for it. According to Cornishmen, Tregeagle’s desperate gifts to the Church were in vain, and shortly after his death a defendant in a court case succeeded in calling up his ghost as a reluctant witness.

Calling up John Tregeagle was one thing, but getting rid of him once the case was over was another. After having tried in vain to make him go away, the local wise men decided that the safest course was to keep their unwelcome visitor so busy that he wouldn’t have time to cause trouble. Accordingly they thought up a task that was calculated to daunt even the hardest working of ghosts.

Tregeagle was given a sea shell riddled with holes and ordered to use it as a scoop with which to empty a deep lake in the middle of Bodmin Moor, while a terrible pack of demon dogs stood guard over him.

The ghost of the wicked magistrate is still hard at work today, although he is frequently driven to distraction by his impossible task and runs away, only to be rounded up by his savage guardians.

Another version of Tregeagle’s everlasting punishment has him moving all the sand from one Cornish bay to another, while the swift moving currents in those parts promptly undo his work by moving it all back again.

The legend of John Tregeagle calls to mind similar stories from other parts of the world. The tale of the Wandering Jew and that of the Flying Dutchman both feature men who are trapped on Earth for ever, unable to find peace as they suffer the consequence of what they did while they were alive.

Unlike most accounts of hauntings, there is never any attempt to make the story of John Tregeagle even remotely believable. That the man himself was a real person is beyond question; it is only his adventures as an earth-bound spirit that one dismisses as folklore. The real ghosts are the phantom dogs, and it seems likely that Tregeagle’s adventures have only been introduced in order to account for them.

Accounts of spectral dogs turn up with extraordinary regularity in Britain, which at first sight is curious. A nation known throughout the world for its liking for dogs might be expected to choose some other kind of supernatural animal to dread. But both Cornwall and East Anglia are well haunted by dogs that not only look horrifying but are often thought to be harbingers of doom into the bargain.

Norfolk is a flat county, thinly populated, with mile upon mile of lonely coastline bordering the grey North Sea, and anyone who walks alone along the Northern coast road between Hunstanton and Cromer has to be very unimaginative not to think of the possibility of meeting Black Shuck.

Black Shuck is a huge, black, ghost of a dog who haunts that road, loping along it in a special, lazy trot. He has been seen so often and for so long that the expression “shuck trot” has entered the local language to describe this particular stealthy movement. Sometimes he announces his arrival with an appalling howl, but more often than not he just lopes along silently. Norfolk fishermen believe that anyone who meets Black Shuck will die within a year.

The more fanciful versions of this four-legged ghost credit it with having eyes as big as saucers, but generally Shuck is accepted as being remarkably like any other large black hound. The fact that so many fishermen believe in him is accounted for by the fact that Shuck is thought to have lived his non-ghostly life as a fisherman’s dog.

During a storm, two men lost their lives at sea, and their bodies were washed up on the beach, several miles apart. One man was buried at Hunstanton, and the other at Cromer. Unknown to anyone, one of the dead men had been accompanied by his dog, and the animal managed to swim ashore, half-dead from exhaustion.

When it recovered it was unable to tell which grave belonged to his master, and so he pads along the country road for ever, visiting first one churchyard and then the other.

If one really believes in ghosts, this would appear to be a reasonable enough explanation. But if one goes far enough back into the history of Norfolk, one recognizes. Black Shuck as a very early European import.

“Shuck” almost certainly is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word scucca, meaning a demon. The Saxons always associated demon dogs with death, and old sayings such as “The Black Dog is at his heels” meant that a person was dying.

BREAK #1=====

We’ll look at more examples of ghostly hounds in history when Weird Darkness returns.


Throughout history, the multi-cultural phenomenon of large, supernatural black dogs have appeared in legends, folklore, and numerous modern eye-witness reports.

Characteristically, these phantom canines are larger than most ordinary dogs and are always black in color with fiery, red eyes. They usually appear for only a few moments, then vanish into thin air. Sometimes they are benevolent, but more often they are sinister and vicious. Sometimes called “Hellhounds”, phantom dogs are usually associated with death or the devil. Some claim these dogs accompany a black-robed figure assumed to be the devil, while others believe these animals are shapeshifters, a disguise of the devil.

Whatever name you wish to call them, large Black Dogs with fiery, red eyes reportedly raided European churches several times during the middle ages.

They would enter a church service (usually during a severe storm) and appear to be searching for something or someone; and on August 4, 1577, in Bongay, England, a large black dog ran down the aisle of a church, killed two people in attendance and badly injured another.

Many people report ghostly canines crossing roads in front of cars, then vanishing into thin air as the car approaches.

Numerous Black Dog sightings occur in cemeteries, and some speculate the phantom creatures patrol and protect the graves of the dead. These sightings appear to be concentrated in New England.

Legends of headless or limbless graveyard dogs surround slave cemeteries in the South. While most encounters with these dogs are of a vicious nature, some mourners have claimed to have been comforted by these creatures.

A particularly interesting legend of a supernatural black dog is found in the high-altitude forests of Hanging Hills, Connecticut. A friendly, small dog is blamed for the deaths of several experienced hikers and climbers in the area. Local legend warns:

“If a man shall meet the Black Dog once, it shall be for joy; and if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time, he shall die.”

Although this sounds like a local legend to add mystery to the already spooky landscape, or to explain the tragedies of those who have died in the hills, documented encounters with the dog suggest there is the truth behind the warnings.

In the early 1900’s, a geologist, W.H.C. Pynchon, encountered the little black dog and found it to be good company while hiking. Pynchon’s second encounter with the dog was with a friend, who had seen the dog on two occasions.

They were climbing to the summit of one peak and was surprised to find the little black dog waiting for them. It soundlessly barked, and Pynchon’s friend suddenly lost his footing and plunged to his death.

That was his friend’s third encounter with the mysterious black dog. Pynchon soon learned of the legend of the black dog and related his story to the Connecticut Quarterly.

Surprisingly, Pynchon returned to the Hanging Hills a few years later, and his body was later found near the same place his friend had died. Many speculate that Pynchon encountered the little dog a third and final time.

There is a similar phenomenon known as banshee dogs. Banshees are spirits found in Celtic lore which appear to people as an omen of impending death or often are only heard wailing loudly after someone has died. Several reports depict Banshees appearing in the form of an ordinary dog.

One day, a large friendly German Shepard appeared in the backyard of an elderly Massachusetts couple. No one saw it arrive, but the grandchildren began playing with the dog and it seemed happy to stay with them, refusing to leave the property and staying close by the grandfather’s side.

Soon after the appearance of the strange dog, the grandfather suffered a heart attack and, after spending several days in the hospital, was beginning to fully recover. At home, however, the dog grew more and more agitated and moaned loudly, unable to be comforted.

Unexpectedly, the grandfather suffered a second heart attack and died. The mysterious dog disappeared while the family was at the funeral and was never seen or heard from again.

Some reports of black dogs, however sketchy, have been associated with big cat sightings in England and, in even fewer cases, UFOs.

However, in most reports of phantom dogs, they exhibit supernatural abilities that suggest they are more than a stray animal. Dogs have always played a large role in ancient religions (the jackals of Egypt and Cerberus of Greek/Roman literature) and their image and symbolism are reflected in modern times.

Primarily associated with British legends, stories about black dogs, ghost dogs, or hellhounds are present in almost every region of the world. Perhaps the first things to come to your mind when thinking of eerie ghost dogs are evil images, death omens, or even the two-headed dog Cerberus from Greek mythology. The immense popularity of dog legends is not a surprise, since dogs were humanity’s first domesticated animals – the man-dog partnership has been traced back to the Paleolithic era and lasted for thousands of years.

No other place in the world holds more legends, or sightings, of legendary black dogs than the United Kingdom. Each region might even have its own version of the tale, with different names given to the black dogs too, such as: Black Shuck, the Gurt dog, Padfoot, Barguest, the Harry Hound, the Yeth hound, and the Grim.

Like most legends, the origin of this one is hard to establish. Mark Norman, who has been researching the legend of black dogs in England for many years, has traced the earliest accounts in English literature dating back to 1127. According to Norman’s studies, black dogs can take different forms, but a few common traits are present in all descriptions: they are very large creatures, with shaggy coats, and big glowing eyes (usually red in color).

Different details make the dogs unique, such as having a chain around their necks, been headless, or even having human faces. Some legends describe the ghost dogs as huge, even as big as a house; others say they walk on their hind legs . The dark beasts are notorious for disappearing into a mist and leaving no trace of their eerie visits.

Although these supernatural animals are most often depicted as malevolent creatures bringing bad luck, black dogs have also had benevolent connotations – as protective spirits attached to a family or a location, such as roads.

One benevolent legend involving a black dog is told by Johnnie Greenwood from Swancliffe. The man described being followed by a black dog while walking at night in the woods. The creature remained by his side until he emerged out from the trees. Years later, two prisoners confessed that they wanted to rob and murder Johnnie during that night in the woods, but they decided otherwise after noticing the presence of the big black dog accompanying him.

James Barnes relates another very popular black dog story from Dartmoor: “On Dartmoor, the notorious squire Cabell was said to have been a huntsman who sold his soul to the Devil. When he died in 1677, black hounds are said to have appeared around his burial chamber. The ghostly huntsman is said to ride with black dogs; this tale inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write his well-known story The Hound of the Baskervilles”.

Let’s just say that it is better to never have an encounter with a ghost dog because, most often, there is nothing you can do to stop the creature if it is out to do you harm. There are ways to ward off the malevolent beings, but these tend to be vague. In regions dominated by the Christian faith, it is said that simply wearing a cross or having a picture of a saint would be enough to keep the black dog away.

Other superstitions involve carrying a coffin nail, sprinkling fresh water on the ground behind you as you walk, or keeping a pair of iron scissors with you. In addition, it is said that you should avoid crossroads, moving bodies of water such as rivers and streams, woods, or long stretches of field. Those restrictions would have made travel near impossible in the past!

There are so many black dog legends that you could easily indulge for years in the richness of these tales. For those who are interested in knowing more about other legends involving ghost dogs, these are some more regions to look into: guardian hounds in shamanic lore, Welsh legends, Finnish mythology, Northern European myths, North American legends, Asian legends, Greek myths, stories in almost every region of the United Kingdom, myths involving the constellation Canis and the star Sirius, and lastly, the legendary creature’s presence in pop-culture – such as the Harry Potter character ‘Sirius Black’.

Many scholars have attempted to explain the reasons behind black dog legends and their popularity across the globe. Their interpretations range from lessons in folkloric tales to unknown phenomena described by our distant ancestors. No one can provide one answer encompassing all the legends perfectly.

From the beginning of our history, humans have been endangered by wolves, which were much larger than their domesticated cousins in most locations around the world. This could explain the malevolent nature of some ghost dog tales and their reputation as hellhounds. Other reasons might be associated with stories told to children in order to prevent them from wondering into dangerous places. Another explanation is related to the hidden dangers of smuggling routes.

All or none of these could explain the local black dog legend closest to you. Whether they bring good or evil tidings, black dog stories are still present and thriving all over the world.

Throughout the Celtic lands there are many stories of ghosts – canine and otherwise. Usually the disembodied soul or spirit of a person, but these tales of the unexpected can also be about various other animals. One of which is that of the Moddey Dhoo which is the Manx Gaelic name for Black Dog. A phantom black hound that reputedly haunts the ruins of Peel Castle (Manx: Cashtal Purt ny h-Inshey) on the west coast of the Isle of Man (Manx: Mannin). One famous story about the Moddey Dhoo involved the soldiers who in the past were responsible for guarding and securing the  castle.

Even in  those days the Moddey Dhoo was known about and feared and the soldiers would always travel in pairs to safeguard against the dreaded hound. However, one night, in 1666, a soldier emboldened by the false courage of alcohol, decided to undertake the task on his own. He ridiculed the concerns of his colleagues who pleaded with him not to go alone. The other soldiers became increasingly concerned when he failed to return.

Eventually, they heard blood curdling screams but were too frightened to come to the aid of their stricken comrade. They knew it was the fearsome Moddey Dhoo ghost dog that had the soldier at his mercy. After a short time the door burst open and the lone soldier who now stood before them was almost unrecognisable. His look of terror spoke volumes. His eyes wide with terror, his face a deathly pallor. His clothes were ripped to shreds and he was covered in blood. He did not say anything of his experience and sat silently in front of the fire. There he remained, not moving or speaking. Three days later he died.

Some say the Moddey Dhoo still roams the grounds and hidden passages of Peel Castle.


We’ll get back to the undead dogs when Weird Darkness returns.



We’ve spent most all of our time Europe – but that doesn’t mean the black shuck doesn’t show up in the Americas.

Legends of black dogs and phantom hounds are widespread throughout the Chesapeake Bay region, which was one of the earliest areas settled by the English. The tales of British black dogs were combined with werewolf traditions and typical ghost stories, as well as possibly with cryptozoological sightings of weird creatures, to create a tradition that is like the Britsh ones, and yet unlike them at the same time.

The tiny village of Warfieldsburg in Carroll County is haunted by a black dog. Recounted by Maryland folklorists Annie W. Whitney and Caroline C. Bullock is the story of two men who were riding along near the Ore Mine Bridge at dusk around 1887. They saw a large black dog which passed through a fence, crossed the road, and passed through another fence. Whitney and Bullock also recount the tale of a man who stood under a tree near a bridge, possibly the Ore Mine Bridge, because he was told a phantom black dog would come by. The dog appeared, and according to him the dog followed him for a brief time before vanishing. Yet another instance was of a man who saw a black dog dragging a length of chain. This black dog can apparently never appear more than once to the same person, and it is said that the crack of a whip near it will cause it to vanish. In some variants of the story, the dog is the phantom of Leigh Masters, a notorious Carroll County landowner who was supposedly quite cruel. Masters is also associated with the haunting of Avondale, his manor house.

There was a case in 1975 in which a group of motorists supposedly struck a large black dog standing on a road near Warfieldsburg. They felt the impact of the strike and felt the animal under the wheels, but when the car passed by the black dog was standing in thre road, baring its teeth at them before vanishing.

Perhaps the oldest ghost story of Maryland is that of the Blue Dog of Rose Hill. Near the town of Port Tobacco (Charles County) is a rock covered in reddish discolorations. Called the “Peddler’s Rock”, it supposedly marks the spot where a trader was killed at some point in the latter part of the 1700s. In true ghost story fashion, there are many variants of the tale. Some have it that the body was found lying on the rock, some that the body was buried. Some have it that the victim was not a trader, but a returning Civil War soldier. In any case, the man’s money was left behind, and his dog – a great blue-tinged mastiff almost black – was killed during the murder. After the crime, the men returned to seize the treasure and warded off by howling and were charged by a large, luminous dog.

During the Civil War, men under the command of General Joseph Hooker supposedly tried to retrieve the peddler’s treasure but were, like the murderers, frightened away by howling and the approach of a large hound. I don’t know of any confirmation of this story, but in the early 1860s General Hooker was, indeed, engaged in maneuvers around Washington, D.C. (the number of camp followers attached to Hooker’s army, by the way, were the source of hooker, a common slang term for prostitute). As recently as February of 1971, locals claimed to hear the howling of the dog coming from the vicinity of the Rock.

It could be just another variant of an urban legend or a wholly separate story, but the city Frederick (Frederick County) has its own Blue Dog of Rose Hill. The grounds of Rose Hill Manor off Route 355 in the northern part of the city are also haunted by a phantom blue dog. This blue dog was the pet of a previous owner of the manor. The owner had buried treasure “six feet from the old oak tree” on the property. The ghostly dog appears at midnight, wanders the grounds, and vanishes as mysteriously as it appeared. Now-deceased Maryland researcher Mark Chorvinsky of Strange Magazine investigated the tales of the Frederick Blue Dog.

“Snarly Yow” is the name given to a phantom hound which haunted a section of the National Pike near Turner’s Gap (Frederick County). The hound was first mentioned by Madeleine V. Dahlgren in 1882. Her book South Mountain Magic details no less than a dozen sightings of the beast. One account is from a Daniel Mesick, whose father kicked at a huge dog near Dame’s Quarter. His foot passed directly through it. Sticks, rocks and even bullets were recorded as having passed through the beast in Dahlgren’s accounts. Other accounts have stated that the dog left physical traces and frightened horses to the extent that they threw their riders. The dog was seen numerous times by a minister at a small church in Glendale. A staple of Frederick County legendry for years, the Yow was seen in 1962 near Zittlestown. In this instance, it was headless, white, and drug a chain along behind it.

The South Mountain area is also the traditional home of a number of werewolves.

The Fence Rail Dog is an enormous hound, nearly ten feet in length, which haunts a stretch of Route 12 near Frederica in Delaware. Mentioned by Charles J. Adams III, a Pennsylvania-based author on paranormal topics, the dog appears in the wake of automobile accidents on the road. Not much information is at hand, but as folklore from around the globe speaks of dogs as a sort of psychopomp, or spirits which guides the dead to the afterlife, its appearance in the wake of death may be an interpretation of this.

The Brandywine Creek State Park in northern Delaware near Wilmington is home to appearances of a large dog or fox which is often seen to rise up into the apparition of Gil Thoreau, an outdoorsman. Once again, not much information is known on this creature.

It isn’t technically in Maryland or Delaware, but in the northern portion of the small finger of Virginia on the Delmarva Peninsula is a feature called Bullbegger Creek. There is also a nearby village called Bullbegger. British readers will be familiar with the term, which referred to a phantom or goblin that haunted several regions across the isle. Traditions do exist in Virginia of free-roaming humanoid phantoms which change into black dogs, but I can’t place those traditions geographically and can’t say definitively whether this accounts for Bullbegger Creek’s name. It is certainly an odd name, however! I wouldn’t doubt there are some sort of traditions are around there.

As can be seen from the above cases, the phantom hounds found in this region of the eastern United States are both similar to, and different from, the British cases. Chain-dragging seems to be a fairly common feature of the accounts, as it is in the cases of the Gytrash and other English hounds. Only the dog haunting Warfieldsburg is reputed to follow individuals as is common in the British lore. Another common feature of the stories (also common to Pennsylvania lore, as will be discussed later) is a clearly phantasmal nature, and in several of the instances the dog is clearly defined as the phantom of a specific individual.

An interesting facet of the case is that the dog traditions seemed to for the most part die off in the 1970s, the late 1960s and 1970s being the timeframe that Bigfoot sightings began in earnest in Maryland. Also interesting is that some sightings, particularly of Frederick County’s “Dwayyo” in 1973, do have a rather canine cast to their features. One wonders whether some of what are reported as Bigfoot sightings are actually sightings of black dogs.

It is probably no coincidence that many of the oldest counties in Pennsylvania share the names of counties and regions of England (Berks, Bucks, Chester, Lancaster, Westmoreland, York) and that like Maryland and Delaware, dealt with in a previous article, Pennsylvania also has a number of tales of phantasmal dog-creatures. These are more dissimilar from the British black dog legends than those of further south; apparently the original tales were mixed with Native American traditions in the northern part of the state and the folklore of the German and Dutch settlers in the southern, as well as with more traditional ghost and werewolf legends to create a unique whole. Several types of phantasmal canines are reported from Pennsylvania.

First are what would seem to be “traditional” black dogs. These are relatively rare in Pennsylvania lore.

Second are the cemetery dogs, canine creatures which apparently haunt graveyards and are often seen in or near them. On occasion, they are said to be the phantoms of specific persons.

Third, and most common by far, are the spook wolves, which for the most part seem to be normal wolves with a few supernatural attributes (often these are derived from the werewolf myth) similar to the Beast of Gévaudan.

Tucked in the northern corner of Lancaster County, the tiny village of Adamstown boasts at least four ghosts. One of these is a small black dog, who appears seemingly at random and follows pedestrians before vanishing as mysteriously as it came.

Sometime around 1900, Henry W. Shoemaker recounts, authorities sought a Silas Werninger for the murder of two men in Youngmanstown (near Belfast in Northampton County). The man barricaded himself in his home. His pursuers set the home on fire to flush him out. The man responded by slitting his own throat. His burned corpse was buried in a grove of oak trees and after a brief while a large black wolf emerged and eluded hunters. A witch named Granny Myers told locals to exhume the body of the man, and bury it alongside the body of his mother in a consecrated cemetery. When this was done, the wolf vanished.

Charles J. Adams III cites the story of ghostly activity at the Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg, Monroe County, part of which was the appearance of what appeared to be a lion-headed dog. The sound of a whimpering dog was sometimes heard even when the phantom was not seen. The mall was formerly an old mill.

A tiny cemetery lies on Old River Road near Marietta, in Lancaster County, the family plot of the Grafs. Tradition cites that anyone walking the perimeter of the cemetery seven times by the light of a full moon will die. Also, the cemetery is reputedly haunted by a canine apparition seen near the grave of Hans Graf, one of the earliest settlers of Lancaster County. I recall hearing this story several times while in high school.

A number of phantom black hounds have been reported in the large hilltop cemetery at the end of Akeley Lane near Lock Haven University in Lock Haven, Clinton County. I’m not sure whether these dogs could have any relevance to a black, smoky form seen moving through the halls of Sloan Hall, the university art building adjacent to the cemetery. A 2009 article in the Lock Haven Express mentions that there are several Indian burial grounds in the area.

A phantom wolf supposedly haunts this ridge south of New Hope. Information on the wolf is scarce (read non-existent) but I find it interesting that a number of sightings were reported in the last few years of the so-called Yardley Yeti, which despite the name was a dog-like creature, from the region around New Hope.

Mentioned by Charles Fort, a tale emerged from Pittsburgh of two men who encountered a frightful apparition in a city park. A small black dog walked in front of the men and said “good morning” to them. “I speak for myself,” it said. When one of the men moved to grab the dog, it moved to avoid him and said “don’t touch me.” The man didn’t listen, and was burned by contact with the dog.

Henry W. Shoemaker recounts the tales of this creature. George Wilson of Wayne Township (in the mountains south of McElhattan, Clinton County and very near Sugar Valley, see below) long suspected that another Wayne resident was a witch who took the shape of a wolf at night. He shot a large brownish wolf in the foreleg with a silver bullet. Soon afterward, Wilson said, the supposed witch was found with a broken arm. Sometime in the 1850s or thereabouts, Wilson shot a three-legged wolf, again with a silver bullet.

On the Paul farm not far from Snyderstown in Northumberland County there lived an old hermit. The man had the local reputation of being a “woolfmann”, or werewolf. In the 1850s, the daughter, May, befriended the old hermit, who would often sit on a log and watch her tend the sheep. It was said that wolves which came in to prey on the sheep would be scared off by the sight of the old man. One night a local farmer shot a large gray wolf, which he tracked to a hut where the “woolfmann” lay dead. The area where his hut stood became known as “Woolfmannsgrob”, the werewolf’s grave. May Paul later claimed that in subsequent years, wolves would never prey on her sheep. At times, she said, a large gray wolf would appear, snarling at the interlopers. Was it the ghost of the “woolfmann” protecting her?

Folklorist Charles Skinner mentioned this phantom in his book American Myths & Legends. The creature, as the name suggests, was a huge white wolf which inhabited the Cornplanter Reservation and was associated in particular with the Jacobs clan of Native American huntsmen. It was said that sightings of the white wolf were “bad medicine” and portended misfortune. Skinner states that Jim Jacobs, the elder of the family, saw the white wolf and shortly thereafter was killed in an accident. The white wolf later plunged over a ravine rather than be killed by hunters, and vanished. Some research revealed that, while Skinner cited Venango County as the haunt of the wolf, the story probably actually originated in Warren County. Henry Shoemaker mentions that a great number of wolves infested the Cornplanter Reservation (further research has revealed that the Reservation is now beneath the waters of Lake Kinzua) and that a record-sized wolf was killed in the Kinzua region. Could the white wolf have been this record-setter, mythicized and mixed with black dog legends? Jim Jacobs was also a real figure: born Samuel Jimmerson Jacobson, he was supposedly killed by a train in Bradford County in about 1880 and the story most likely dates from the late 1870s or even 1880.

Henry W. Shoemaker recounts the story of a huge white wolf seen in this region of Clinton County near Loganton. First encountered by Philip Shreckengast, the white wolf killed livestock and generally made itself a nuisance. The people of Sugar Valley sought the aid of Granny McGill, a witch, who suggested that a black lamb, born under a new moon in the autumn, be tied near a trap. The plan worked and the wolf was captured. John Schrack of Carroll had the pelt, which had shaggy hair like a sheep or goat rather than the short hair of a wolf. The head of the wolf was reputed to keep wolves away from Jacob Rishel’s sheep paddock, to flash green light from its eyes at night and to move its jaws.


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All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.

Sources for this episode include LookAndLearn.com, Anomalien.com, Ancient-Origins.net, TransCeltic.com, and MysteriousBritain.co.uk.


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Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” – 2 John 1:6

And a final thought… “It’s okay to have flaws. That’s what makes you real.” – Unknown

I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.


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