This weekend my daughter, son-in-law, and three grandsons are going camping up in the northern part of Wisconsin. As we were talking about how great camping will be, my oldest grandson who is nearly eight years old talked about catching a bear or, at least, a wolf while he was up there. We had a short discussion about who would win in either confrontation – boy or animal – and reached a general consensus that maybe catching either one wouldn’t be a great idea.
However, that conversation sparked an idea for this week’s Freaky Friday. So, now I’m going to introduce you to the Wolf Girl of Devil’s River.
Even though the story ends in southern Texas, our story begins in Georgia where John Dent and his trapping partner, Will Marlo, are working along the Chickamauga River trapping animals and selling their hides for a neat profit that they would split.
However, as luck would have it, John meets the love of his life, Mollie Pertul, a local girl. John informs Will that he won’t be continuing his usual business arrangement, but will be selling his hides himself and taking all the proceeds. Will is not happy with that arrangement and an argument ensues. The argument ended badly for Will who is stabbed to death by his former friend and business partner, John. And since they decided to have their argument in a very public place, John has to hightail it out of town, bringing the love of his life with him.
The two end up in southwest Texas near the Devil’s River, which is near the present-day Del Rio, Texas. They built a brush cabin away from the river and John starts trapping beaver. Now another group of settlers soon comes to the neighborhood, a group of American colonists led by Dr. Charles Beale. They camp next to Lake Espontosa, near what is not Carrizo Springs.
Not long after they set up camp, a group of Comanches raided the main Beale camp and massacred most of the inhabitants, throwing the bodies of the victims into the lake. According to the website Mysteriouspeople.com “Even at this time Espontosa Lake had acquired a reputation for ghostly goings-on, this incident adding to the store of ill-luck and sorrow centering on what, to this day Mexicans consider a haunted location, the name Espontosa meaning ‘frightful’.”
So, back to John and Mollie. By this time Mollie was pregnant, actually, Mollie was VERY pregnant, so they really didn’t want to try and travel. One night in May 1835, Mollie went into labor. And, of course, it was in the middle of a terrible thunderstorm. John knew he needed help, so he rode to a goat ranch in the Pecos Canyon and begged for help. As the Mexicans on the ranch prepared their horses to ride to his aid, John was struck by lightning and killed. The goat herders tried to follow John’s directions, but night fell quickly, which delayed their arrival to the cabin.
When they finally arrived the next day, they found Mollie Dent lying dead outside the cabin, but there was no sign of the child she obviously gave birth to. However, there were fang marks on the woman’s body and numerous wolf tracks over the area, so the goat herders assumed that the infant had been either devoured or carried off by Lobo wolves.
The website Texasescapes.com continues the story. “But this was just the beginning of the story. Ten years later, in 1845, a boy living at San Felipe Springs (Del Rio) reportedly saw “a creature, with long hair covering its features, that looked like a naked girl” attacking a herd of goats in the company of a pack of Lobo wolves. The story was ridiculed by many, but still managed to spread back among the settlements. Around a year after this incident, a Mexican woman at San Felipe claimed she had seen two large wolves and an unclothed young girl devouring a freshly killed goat. She approached close to the group, she said, before they saw her and ran off.
The woman noticed that the girl ran initially on all fours, but then rose up and ran on two feet, keeping close to the wolves. The woman was in no doubt about what she had seen, and the scattering of people in the Devil’s River country began to keep a sharp watch for the girl. There were similar reports by others in the region during the following year and Apache stories told of a child’s footprints, sometimes accompanied by handprints, having been found among wolf tracks in sandy places along the river. A hunt was organized to capture the ‘Lobo (or Wolf) Girl of Devil’s River as she had now become known, comprising mainly Mexican vaqueros. On the third day of the hunt, the naked girl was sighted near Espontosa Lake running with a pack of wolves.”
Eventually, the cowboys were able to separate her from the pack and capture her. She fought, bit, and howled the entire time. Finally, when they shot one of the wolves who was trying to free her, she fainted, and they were able to transport her to a small cabin. They gave her food and water and did what they could to make her comfortable.
That night she began to howl, and soon there were answering calls from the wolf pack that surrounded the small cabin. The pack then attacked the corrals, causing the cowboys to run outside to defend their horses, goats, and cows. During that time the girl escaped and then the howls abated, and the wolves and the girl crept back into the wilderness.
In 1852, a surveying party of frontiersmen said they saw at close range, sitting on a sandbar, a young woman suckling two wolf cubs. As soon as she saw the men, she quickly grabbed the pups and dashed into the breaks at such a rate that it was impossible for the horsemen to follow.
There were subsequent reports of “human-faced” wolves in the area right up until the 1930s and in 1937, author L.D. Bertillion wrote, “during the past forty years I have in the western country met more than one wolf face strongly marked with human characteristics.”
Freaky enough for you?