Tag Archives: neglected folklore

WEREWOLVES OF DETROIT

Mascot FOUR original pics

Balladeer’s Blog

Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this look at two neglected werewolf legends from Detroit. 

werewolf-of-detroitI. Jacques Morand – Roughly 300 years ago Jacques Morand was in love with Genevieve Parent. Unfortunately for him Genevieve decided to join a convent. When Morand could not change her mind through pleading he turned to threats, which drew warnings from Genevieve’s father and brothers.

In desperation Jacques sold his soul through one of the White Witches of the Woods. In return he gained the unholy power to turn himself into a werewolf after dark. After preying on Genevieve’s father one night he followed that up the next by picking off one of her brothers. Continue reading

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THE GALLOWS MAN: NEGLECTED HORROR LEGEND

Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this slice of pure Americana.

gallows-manTHE GALLOWS MAN – This is another neglected American horror legend which has been presented in many different versions over the years. Ralph Sutherland was born in 1702 in either New York City or a town near the Catskills, depending on the version.

Sutherland was born into the New York gentry but in his adult years his drinking and gambling eventually embarrassed the family enough that they stopped associating with him. After boozing, whoring and gambling away a large part of his money Ralph was left with just one reasonably-sized home surrounded by a stone wall. He had enough funds left to maintain that house and took in an indentured servant – a beautiful teen girl from Scotland.

Sutherland’s foul and obnoxious nature soon led the girl to flee. In a rage Ralph mounted a horse and tracked her down before she got far. The black-hearted man tied the terrified girl to his horse and rode back to his home, but was either so furious or so drunk that he inadvertently dragged the poor female to her death. Continue reading

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THE RED GNOME: HALLOWEEN SEASON CONTINUES

Another neglected American horror legend from Balladeer’s Blog to help celebrate Halloween Month.

THE RED GNOME

Red GnomeThis red-hued hobgoblin has plagued Detroit for over 300 years. The Red Gnome was one of the supernatural entities created by the Native American deity Glooskap to protect his people. When European  settlers began to populate the area the figure did what he could to protect the native inhabitants but when that proved futile he turned his attention exclusively to tormenting the newcomers. 

The Red Gnome was short in stature and often mistaken for a child when glimpsed from behind. The hobgoblin has rotten teeth and breath that can kill if the creature so chooses. Anyone tricked into kissing the Red Gnome is said to die immediately. In addition this ageless being has ruby-red eyes that can shoot fiery rays. 

In 1701 Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (yes, as in THAT Cadillac) battled the Red Gnome, which plagued him until he had lost all his fortune. The hobgoblin’s fiery eye-beams would cause frozen ice on the Detroit River to melt under skaters or racers, plunging them to their deaths in the icy waters below. In warmer weather he would cause small boats to capsize and then drown the passengers.  Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FIFTY: 1980s SLASHER VERSION

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT IN THE 1850s, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer Day of JudgmentThe previous 49 installments of Fool Killer lore have seen the neglected folk figure in a variety of roles: Political and cultural vigilante, slayer of lynch mobs, battler of war profiteers, foe of the Ku Klux Klan in the Reconstruction South, bastard son of a supernatural entity, guardian of Melungeon Gold, old west gunslinger, steam-punk policeman and so much more.

In honor of the Halloween season this post will look at the Fool Killer as a 1980s slasher. And I don’t mean the Fool Killer/ Angel of Death figure from the horror film A Day of Judgment (1981). I mean a true 1980s slasher in the mold of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and others. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-SEVEN: JUNE 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART FORTY-SEVEN – Among the Fool Killer’s targets in the June of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s publication:

*** “The Four Hundred,” the contemporary term used for the moneyed and privileged of New York City. (Coined by Ward McAllister) Pearson and his version of the Fool Killer detested them and viewed them the same way we of today view the corrupt Democrat and Republican career politicians plus the corporate and Silicon Valley robber barons.  

*** Dancing schools. As I often point out, Pearson’s Fool Killer had qualities that would annoy BOTH the political left AND the political right of today. Many right-wingers would disapprove of their hostility toward the robber barons, while many left-wingers would disapprove of the strange religious zeal which lay behind Pearson’s hostility toward dancing and dancing schools, which he found “sinful.”

*** Husbands who did nothing but drink booze, play cards, smoke, swear and chew tobacco. Drowning was his preferred method of killing such men.

*** High Society women of New York, for their latest folly. It had become (very briefly) fashionable to walk the streets with a small calf (yes, a small calf) on a leash instead of the fru-fru poodles they had been walking with til the present. Today on Social Media we see that there are still imbeciles who will do ANYTHING just because they’re told other people are doing it.

*** Frederick Forest Berry, for authoring The Torch of Reason, because of the way Berry used reason to criticize religion and belief in God.

*** Danville, VA Police Chief R.E. Morris, who, after serving for 6 years, turned out to really be an escaped fugitive named Edgar Stribling (Pearson accidentally spelled it “Stripling”), a convicted murderer who had been on the run for 13 years. Continue reading

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THE INDEPENDENCE DAY “SPEECH” THAT NEVER WAS

Declaration of IndependenceFor the most part the silly conspiracy theories about the establishment of the United States are good only for laughs. One of my favorites, however, features a speech from a mysterious figure usually associated with Freemasons, Rosicrucians and/or the Bavarian Illuminati of Adam Weishaupt.

I don’t believe for one minute that such an enigmatic man showed up and tipped the balance toward ratifying the Declaration of Independence with a fiery, impassioned speech. However, I DO believe that the wording of that fictional tirade is pretty moving and nicely captures the feel of Independence Day.

Here is the relevant part. I’m omitting the ridiculous section where this mystery man supposedly made Nostradamus-style predictions about America’s future.

Independence Hall“They (the British) may stretch our necks on all the gibbets in the land. They may turn every rock into a scaffold, every tree into a gallows, every home into a grave and yet the words of that parchment can never die!”

“They may pour our blood on a thousand scaffolds and yet from every drop that dyes the axe a new champion of freedom will spring into birth. The British king may blot out the stars of God from the sky but he cannot blot out His words written on that parchment there. The works of God may perish … His words, never!”  

“The words of this Declaration will live in the world long after our bones are dust. To the mechanic in his workshop they will speak hope. To the slave in the mines, freedom. But to the coward kings these words will speak in tones of warning they cannot choose but hear.” Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-SIX: MAY 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer picPART FORTY-SIX – Items of note in the May of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s version of The Fool-Killer:

*** Pearson’s Fool Killer figure targeted money-obsessed clergymen and pretended they wanted a new version of the Ten Commandments emphasizing profits.

*** The Fool Killer targeted the way so many corrupt millionaires were suddenly overcome with “medical ailments” when they were being investigated or after getting sentenced to prison time. 

*** In another of the surreal satirical bits which Pearson was writing more frequently, this month he had the Fool Killer encounter a medical abomination called the Composite Man. The Fool Killer visited the Rockefeller Institute in New York (called the Rocky D Oilyfeller Institute in Pearson’s odd stylistic blend of Frank Baum and Walt Kelly with Bullwinkle & Rocky).

              The reason for the visit? Our title character wanted to check in on the latest work on medical transplants. The doctors at the institute surgically removed the lone healthy body part on a variety of their most far-gone patients and sewed them all into a lone figure called the Composite Man and the Pieced-Up Man interchangeably.

              The Composite Man had the head of a preacher, the chest of a drummer, the heart of a lawyer, the stomach and bowels of a farmer, the left arm of a blacksmith, the right arm of an editor, one leg of a dude and the other leg came from a tramp. The competing portions of the Composite Man’s anatomy not only prevented him from accomplishing any one undertaking but resulted in him breaking into his component parts and dying within one day of his release. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-FOUR: FEBRUARY 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART FORTY-FOUR: Among the Fool Killer’s targets in the February of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s publication:

*** Religious leaders who were more into money than anything else. As Pearson and his version of the Fool Killer pointed out: “When the dollar rules the pulpit, the Devil rules the pew.”

*** The frivolous fashionistas who decreed that men’s coats and vests must now be “corset-cut” and their pants be more form-fitting. (Remember, they also targeted the way fashion trends arbitrarily changed women’s clothing, too.)

*** Sir Oliver Lodge, a famous spiritualist of the time who warned that the walls between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead were “wearing thin in places.” Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY TWO: DECEMBER 1910

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART FORTY-TWO – The targets of James Larkin Pearson and his Fool Killer in the December 1910 issue:

*** Women who chewed snuff, whom they called “Snuffragettes.” As more proof that it’s tough to categorize Pearson, he always praised and defended actual Suffragettes. Yet he condemned women who wore pants and chewed snuff.   

*** Fire and brimstone preachers, whose brand of religion they called “cheap.”

*** Horace Fletcher, “The Great Masticator,” who was famous for insisting people should chew their food until it was liquefied before swallowing it. He claimed that even MILK should be “chewed” around in the mouth to ensure it was properly mixed with saliva before swallowing it. Fletcher insisted this would maximize the nutritional benefits.

*** Spiritualists who claimed that former president Theodore Roosevelt was being controlled from beyond the grave by Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar and Napoleon.

*** Youngsters who smoked cigarettes. 

*** Silk-hatted tycoons who looked down their noses at farmers. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-ONE: NOVEMBER 1910

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer timelessPART FORTY-ONE – Lore: This month a Rodman Gun was added to the Fool Killer’s growing arsenal of weapons.

Targets in the November of 1910 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer:

*** People engaged in the literal buying and selling of votes in the midterm elections.

*** German scientists at Nuremberg (which in 1910 had none of the associations we make with it today) who announced successful tests with a remote-controlled ship. A small, crewless boat had been controlled wirelessly from up to 18 miles away. Even firing and reloading weaponry had been set up mechanically. The tests were set to move on to larger ships next.

*** The “Ass-ociated Press” as Pearson and his Fool Killer always called it, for the way it was overhyping the birth of a calf to Official White House Cow Pauline Wayne.  Continue reading

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