THE WILD WOMAN OF THE NAVIDAD
~ 1837 ~
The following is condensed from THE WILD WOMAN OF THE NAVIDAD by Martin M. Kenney. Source: Legends of Texas, Publications of the Texas Folklore Society,1924, edited by J. Frank Dobie, Texas Folklore Society, 1924.
The narrative begins with an account of mysterious "barefoot tracks of two human beings" seen frequently in the settlements of the lower Navidad "about the year 1837." The tracks were small and thought by the witnesses to be made by a boy and the other "by a girl or woman of delicate feet." Watchdogs occasionally reacted prior to the visitors' prowling while at other times the Wild Woman - as "it" was later called due to the appearance of only the woman's footprints - would come at night and enter property, "stepping over dogs it would seem" without as much as a whimper from the animals. The Wild Woman had even entered houses while the occupants slept, pilfered bits of food, then slipped back into the darkness undetected. Later, according to the "legend," the discovery of a human skeleton led some to believe the Wild Woman's larger male companion had died. (What was done with the skeleton isn't mentioned.)
An earlier capture attempt failed. A second time the men waited, and... "...at a late hour" she came and as near as they had expected. The night was dark, but they could see the shadowy form. It was slim and apparently unclothed, but the color could not be distinguished. They sprang out to seize her, but, though they were active young men, she was more agile still, and bounded away as silently and quickly as the flitting of a shadow, and was instantly lost in the darkness..."
The riddle remained unsolved for years until a group of men "cornered a runaway male slave" in the area. Apparently local newspapers were satisfied the Wild Woman had been all along this poor, shivering, half-naked man who'd managed to elude capture. Yet the runaway-slave "solution" doesn't jibe with the Wild Woman's description (covered in "short brown hair") and speedy run as reported in the following segment of the narrative. (In some modern sighting reports Bigfoot keeps pace with galloping horses, a feat possible for no ordinary human.)
"...By this time a general resolution had grown up that this riddle must be solved. A more systematic and cautious plan was adopted. A number of hunters formed extended lines and drove through the woods with leashed hounds, while others, well mounted and provided with lassos, took stands. Several fruitless hunts were made, but at length the hunters became satisfied late one evening that the woman was in a neck of woods running out into a prairie something more than a quarter of a mile wide.
"The men with lassos took positions along the edge of this prairie while others drove through the skirt of the woods with the hounds. It was night before the men were well arranged, but a bright moon shone. It is well known that men accustomed to hunting with hounds, can readily tell what kind of game they are pursuing by the nature of their cry. Scarcely were the men at their posts when the hounds raised a cry never before heard. They were following the track of some strange creature. Presently the breaking of little sticks and the hurried rustling of brush near one of the lasso men announced the approach of something, which immediately bounded with a light and flying step into the open prairie in the bright light of the moon. It was the Wild Woman. She ran directly across the prairie in the direction of the main forest. The man was mounted on a fleet horse, and it needed all its speed to bring this rider to an even race with the object of his pursuit. But the horse was so afraid of the strange creature that he could not urged within reach of the lasso. Three times he came up but each time shied to right or left too far for his rider to throw, while the flying figure each time turned her course to the opposite hand and ran with the speed of a frightened deer. They were now nearing the black shadow of the great forest, which was projected far on the plain. Spurring his horse with angry energy, the pursuer came this time fairly within reach and threw his lasso; but at the instant of throwing, his horse shied as before, and the rope fell short. In an instant the pursued creature was in the shadow of a vast forest and further pursuit was useless. Though disappointed in capturing her, one point was gained: the man had a good look at her as they ran together across the prairie for several hundred yards. She had no clothes, but her body was covered with short brown hair. The rider did not see her face, as she was between him and the moon, so that when ever she turned toward him her face was in shadow. Once or twice he thought he caught a glimpse of wild eyes as she cast a frightened glance over her shoulder. She had something in her hand when he first saw her, but she dropped it either from fright or to facilitate her escape. After the chase this was sought and found. It proved to be a club about five feet long, polished to a wonder..."
The narrative goes on to say that for many years nothing was seen or heard of the Wild Woman until the capture of the above mentioned "runaway slave." Was she human, or perhaps Sasquatch?
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