Tag Archives: Headless Horseman

The Ghost of Temecula 

Background Information: 

The informant is a current student at USC and one of my good friends. They grew up in a smaller town in Southern California called Temecula. They never experienced this legend but they were told it via their neighbors.

Main Piece: 

ME: So can you tell me about the ghost of Temecula?

BF: So basically when I was growing up, the myth was that there was this ghost of Temecula, and like back in the old day, in the old town, which we have, which dates back to the early 1800s. Basically there was this cowboy who had a really bad interaction with the Native Americans, the Pechanga Indians, who were living there. So basically the story is, that he (the cowboy) upset them and got his head chopped off. Then the spirit of this cowboy came back to life and became a part of the tribe. And so if you ever did anything that upset the Native Americans, or disrespected them, or you didn’t treat the native land the right way, there would be this ghost, this cowboy, who is beheaded, on a horse. And even though he didn’t have his head he had a hat that was floating above his head. And basically the spirit would come and haunt you and torment you for like a week, if you ever disrespected the natives or anything like that. So that was something our parents always harped on. They would tell us, “be respectful” or “do good things, otherwise this ghost is gonna come haunt you”. 

ME: Did you ever see the ghost?

BF: I’ve never seen the ghost, but my neighbors will swear on their life, that when they were kids and they would like kick up dirt or do something stupid, and then in the night they would see this ghost come in through the doorway of their bedroom, he would like shapeshift through the wall, and he would just torment them for a week.

ME: That sounds pretty scary

BF: I’ve never experienced it, nor do I want to experience it, but that’s the myth from good-ole Temecula, and my neighbors are insistent, to-the-day, that they saw the ghost. 


This interview happened in-person at my apartment. 


This is an interesting interaction because the informant did not experience the ghost themselves, but due to the persistence of their neighbors, they believe it too. I think that this legend is largely focused on scaring little kids into not getting into any mischief, however I think it is interesting that the Native Americans are involved in this legend. The Native Americans within the legend seem to represent nature itself, which I feel like is a theme that occurs in other stories. Immediately when I heard this story, I thought of the legend of the Headless Horseman from the novel, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The Ghost of Temecula has a near-identical description to the Headless Horseman. The Ghost of Temecula seems to have different motivations from the Headless Horseman, and do not share much similarity past their description, but it is still very interesting. To read more about the Headless Horseman, follow here: Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Wildside Press, 2004.

El Sombrerón (Colombia)

Background information:

My roommate is Colombian and is the first one in her family who was born in the United States since her relatives all live in Colombia except for her direct family. She actively engages in the Colombian culture, speaking Spanish with her family and celebrating Colombian events and traditions. Therefore, even though she was born in the United States, she holds onto her Colombian roots and treasures her Colombian culture as she believes that her Colombian roots are a large part of what shapes who she is.


Main piece:

When asking my roommate is there was any other type of folklore from her Colombian culture that stuck out to her, she excitedly told me about El Sombrerón. She said that El Sombrerón was a very big fear of hers when she was younger as she did not enjoy being alone or in dark places and feared that he would come and attack her. My roommate explained that El Sombrerón, literally translated to “man in a hat” was a man that wore all black and had two very scary black dogs and rode a black horse. She interrupted her own story by saying that she did not enjoy the color black when she was younger, so this made El Sombrerón even more off-putting to her. She explained that he was a figure that would haunt and run after individuals who were alone in dark areas. Additionally, she added that the moon was an important part of this legend because it provided the only light for individuals to briefly see what El Sombrerón looked like, which made appearances more believable as many supposedly saw a man in all black with two black dogs and a black horse chasing them when they felt that they had encountered El Sombrerón. She says that her aunt and uncle told her about this legend when she was very young and that she feels grateful to have never run into him but is still a bit afraid of him if she is walking alone at night.


Personal thoughts:

I thought that this was a very interesting legend because it immediately reminded me of the legend of the “headless horseman” often seen in the United States and other parts around the world. I shared a similar fear of the headless horseman when I was younger and could therefore understand her fear as a child. I thought the addition of two dogs into this legend was interesting because I have personally never been scared of dogs and feel that this makes the story a bit more bearable.


For another version of this legend, see the following Headless Horseman legend told by S.E. Schlosser:

Schlosser, S.E. “The Headless Horseman.” The Headless Horseman: From Ghost Stories at Americanfolklore.net, americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/07/the_headless_horseman.html.