Halloween Month continues as Balladeer’s Blog presents another neglected American horror legend.


Francis WoolcottFrancis Woolcott lived in Copake, NY in the Berkshire Hills during the first several decades of the 1800’s. Always drawn toward dark and unwholesome studies, Woolcott deciphered markings on the side of a fallen meteor one day in his 30’s.

The markings formed the letters of an unknown alphabet Woolcott claimed, though they defied the efforts of others to understand them. Francis stated that the lessons he learned from the markings on the meteor empowered him with potent magic.

The sorceror lived comfortably off extortion, since he required tribute in the form of pork, beef, flour, cider and anything else that struck his fancy. The citizens in the area learned quickly that it was better to give Woolcott what he demanded rather than incur his wrath.

Woolcott the Sorceror had caused plow-beasts to stand still for days, had made cows give blood instead of milk, had caused crops to rot, roofs to collapse and other disasters to befall those who defied him. No organized attempts were ever made against him in mob form because of the frequent demonstrations of his sinister power.

He had caused pigs to walk upright and speak in ancient tongues. He had made children chirp like birds and fly around or walk up and down walls like spiders, until their parents had pleaded with him to stop.   

Francis Woolcott’s most notorious conjurations involved thirteen creatures he called his Night Riders. On moonless nights the sorceror would take to a grove behind his house and cause thirteen bats to transform into man-shaped beasts. Fallen trees and bundles of straw would transform into horses and the Night Riders would gallop off in all directions.  

Screams would sometimes be heard on those nights but the wise knew not to venture outside their homes at such times. No one ever knew the work performed by Woolcott’s creatures but it was assumed to be most unwholesome. By morning the Night Riders would again be bats and the horses would again be straw or fallen trees. 

When Francis Woolcott turned ninety he took to his sick bed and claimed to be dying. No clergymen would attend the fiend but a few of his neighbors worked up the courage to keep an eye on the sorceror to see what his ultimate fate might be.

One night a savage storm broke out with lashing rain and heavy thunder. At the stroke of midnight Woolcott’s body burst into purple flames and when his screams of agony at last subsided dead worms and flies were all that lay where his body had burned. 


© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Filed under Halloween Season


  1. Rachel

    Oh, well done Sir!!! This is amazing as always.

  2. Rachel

    Aw thank you. I love when “golem” or a form of it is in literature it always amazes me how transferable the golem is. I also loved the black river nuns, made me hungry for some reason…:)

  3. I love it! This could be expanded into a fabulous novel!

    • Thanks! I agree, and it’s one of those neglected tales that’s been floating around since the 1800’s with periodic embellishments. I got so tired of nothing but ghost stories of the past being dealt with I decided to show some love for a lot of these other old tales.

  4. This is some creepy stuff! The pigs walking got to me for some reason.

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