Tag Archives: Historical Legend

Apache Tear Mountain

‘ In Arizona, there is a mountain called Apache Tear Mountain. Back in the mid and late 1800s, the Apache people lived around this mountain. They were peace-loving and wonderful people. They raised their families in this area, but at one point, the Apache that lived around there went to war with another Native American tribe. The tale goes that the warriors of the Apache tribe met and fought the other tribe on top of the mountain. They fought and fought and fought… Many warriors of the Apache tribe were killed. At the end of the battle, the wives and daughters went to the top of the mountain and saw their family members… grandfathers, fathers, uncles, and brothers… dead from battle. The women wept and cried, and as they cried their tears fell down the mountain and turned to beautiful black glassy stone which then turned into obsidian… the Apache tears.’ – PB

Growing up, PB and his dad would travel to Pima, a town in central Arizona. It was on this drive his dad would always remind him of this legend that many people in Arizona know and share with others. His dad learned this from his father, who was actually a miner in central Arizona, mining silver, copper, tin, and manganese. PB remembers when he would travel to Apache Tear Mountain, he would ask for Apache Tears and would be brought beautiful black stones, stones of obsidian. He even went into the mountain on hikes and trips, and recalls that when he would dig in the soil, it would unearth even more beautiful obsidian. While he learned this from his father, PB has also shared this tale with his own family and children, taking them to the exact spot he grew up going.

This legend was told to me as a child, and has been a story I share with friends on road trips throughout the Arizona deserts. This piece of folklore follows many of the trends that lore is known for. It latches on to the cultural beliefs of the Native American peoples in Arizona and combines it with the legends that were told among these communities. While it can be assumed that these legends were adapted as they flowed through the many diverse communities who told them, this is still a key aspect of folklore; the adaptation of the tradition as it follows through many cultures. Furthermore, this legend combines the tradition and cultural beliefs with an origin for a mineral formed among a mountain, allowing the imagination to give reason as to why and how obsidian was created there in the first place. This tale also allows these communities to uphold the sacred connection to the land in central Arizona. History and legends are combined into one, giving a unique oral tradition to a tale told thousands of times.

Paul Revere

“So I went to high school in Boston, and we talked about Paul Revere in history class, probably because of our location and being in a city with so many historic sights—we even got to go on a class field trip downtown to see some of these sites he visited, such as the Old North Church, where Revere’s lanterns were hung as a first warning.
What I understood was that during the Revolutionary War, Paul Revere was summoned as a rider to carry messages across cities, and one day he got wind that the British soldiers in Boston wanted to go and arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were founding fathers, so he rode through Arlington and Medford (right by where I live) and yelled “The British are coming!” So that they’d be aware of this threat and could escape.
Later on I learned he didn’t actually yell that famous phrase, but I think the rest of the story mostly adds up.”

This was an in-person interview with another classmate of mine who told me about her experiences with this historical legend during high school. The text was taken from and recorded during our conversation.

Paul Revere’s legendary ride served as a symbol of bravery and patriotism, representing resistance against imperialism and tyranny. It also serves as a nice source of historical pride for the New England region with its many similar figures.

The Gentle Giant

Nationality: Spanish

Primary Language: Spanish/English

Age: 25

Occupation: Student

Residence: Madrid

Date: 3/28/2024


The Basajaun is a large, hairy human-like creature that we believe as Basques. He is believed to be a gentle giant, guardian of the woods, that helped our ancestors with agriculture and helped keep livestock alive. One of our mythological creatures that is believed to be the friend of Baque Shepherds. 


The participant has known this mythological creature for as long as he can remember and explains its origin from his hometown, Basque Country. He believes his parents first told him about it as they explained there were other entities that helped their agriculture. 


This mythological creature reminds me of the agriculturally used mannequin, scarecrow, as they most scare away predators from eating entering their agricultural lands. Although the Basajaun is more human-like and is able to communicate with the farmers. This myth relates more to the Basque country’s history though and their first homo-sapien ancestors, as they possibly encountered another civilization that taught them the intricacies of agriculture. 

The Whaley House

Context: Z is a 21 year old Filipino American man. Growing up with a close community of Filipino friends and family. Z went to an elementary school within California. This story was collected over a Discord audio call.

Z: “The one that I thought of the other day, which is ‘spooky’ but not really, is The Whaley House. Which is like the only ghost house I know of, like, a unified school district takes everyone in the school district out of class to go visit it for like a week. There’s like a bunch of weird stories, and I don’t know a lot of the history off of the top of my head, but I know there was a family that lived there in the 1800s, and they all had some untimely deaths. Then there was some guy who was hanged who got buried in the graveyard adjacent to it.” 

Intv: “So there were just a ton of stories surrounding the place?”

Z: “Oh yeah, and you know one thing that I think really contributed to that, were the people who would always be walking around in period dress, like era accurate garb to the 1800s and you’d wonder if you saw a ghost. You know, it’s supposedly one of the most haunted houses in America, but I’ve never seen a ghost there, and I don’t know if I really believe in all of it. I think it’s probably just an old house, but it at least made an old house fun.” 

Analysis: I find it very interesting that the Unified School District of San Diego actually pulls  children out of class for a week to go and study the myths of The Whaley House. While some historical activities are present (like children learning how early settlers panned for gold) it really is a week that glorifies to the children of San Diego just how important culturally folklore can be. As Old Town and The Whaley House are two major tourist attractions within an already tourist heavy city. 

Eilmer the Flying Monk

Main piece: There’s this, in the Abbey where my Gramps works, there’s a legend of Eilmer the Flying Monk. From what I remember, he is supposedly a monk who in the thirteenth century tried to fly by jumping off the roof of this abbey. And I don’t think he succeeded, but they call him the flying monk nonetheless. 

I definitely think it’s kind of farcical, it’s so British. Apparently he tried really hard… it is kind of referred to around Malmesbury, like there’s pubs named “Flying Monk” and there’s like, on the “Welcome to Malmesbury” sign, they have a sign about it. I think people just find it funny. 

People like to talk about him. He’s a fun kind of figure about the town that people know about. They’re like “this guy jumped off a roof in the 1200s and we’re never going to let him forget it”. You know, Malmesbury’s really small, it’s got a lot of history though, and I think that people just really like the image of a flying monk. Religion has a kind of social function there, but it’s pretty individual in their own take on spirituality and religion, but the center of the town is the abbey. The main street branches right off from that [the abbey]. And it’s kind of what people come to Malmesbury for. It’s a very small-scale tourist operation, people just don’t really come to Malmesbury. But when they do- I mean, the queen has been there – to the Malmesbury Abbey. My gramps met her there, once. 

I don’t think they have commercialized it that much. I mean, they have a 10k called the Flying Monk, there’s a beer, but I was never super aware of it being commercialized when I was there. It was just a story my dad told me. It might not even be Malmesbury companies that make it 

Background: O’s father grew up in Malmesbury, a town in Wiltshire, England. O has been visiting her grandparents (her grandfather is the town’s organist) and aunt, who still live there, once every year or two for a few weeks since as long as she can remember. He was the one who told her the story of Eilmer, and she finds it incredibly funny.

Context: When talking about Malmesbury, O immediately launched into a description of Eilmer the Flying Monk. Her grandfather (referred to as “Gramps” in the transcript) has been an organist at Malmesbury Abbey for decades, and O has spent a lot of time at the abbey with him, either spending time in the garden or in the graveyard of the church. 

Analysis: Malmesbury Abbey has a population of a little over five thousand, and much of its history occurred in the pre-Enlightenment era. As O said, the abbey is the center of a lot of the social life in Malmesbury, so it makes sense that their unofficial mascot would both connect to the historic events of the town, as well as the Church, even if it is in a fun, subversive way. Eilmer of Malmesbury was a real monk who in 1010 made an unsuccessful flying attempt using a primitive hang glider. It is believed that he broke both legs in the attempt (this was documented by historical William of Malmesbury). Although this is not widely known outside of Malmesbury or seen as a tourist attraction, the symbol of Eilmer of Malmesbury is seen as both a joke and a proud symbol of the Malmesbury people, an example Michael Herzfeld’s “cultural intimacy”, which is described as “the recognition of those aspects of a cultural identity that are considered as a source of external embarrassment but that nevertheless provide insiders with the assurance of common sociality” (Ginnging, 2)

Gingging, Flory Ann Mansor. “‘I Lost My Head in Borneo’: Tourism and the Refashioning of the Headhunting Narrative in Sabah, Malaysia.” Cultural Analysis 6 (2007): 1–29. 

“Eilmer the Flying Monk,” February 27, 2020. https://www.athelstanmuseum.org.uk/malmesbury-history/people/eilmer-the-flying-monk/.