S, a 19-year-old from Houston, Texas, says her fourth grade teacher, Ms. Q, told her about the Urban Legend of the Goat Lady. Ms. Q detailed her own experiences with the Goat Lady, having encountered her in the woods with a couple of her friends during childhood. Ms. Q recalled seeing the Goat Lady stand on her hind legs and stare with lifeless eyes, before barreling rapidly forth towards Ms. Q and her friends. S remembers being absolutely horrified by the retelling of the Goat Lady encounter. S’s family planned a hike in the woods for Easter weekend, but having just heard the story of the Goat Lady, S was terrified to go on the hike with her family. For a while, she was extremely hesitant to go into the woods at all.
According to legend, the Goat Lady is a woman resembling a goat-human hybrid that inhabits the woods of Eastern Texas and eats wandering children who trespass onto her territory. The legend is usually, as is in this example, shared by word of mouth.
Notably, the Goat Lady is said to live in the woods and eat children, which is a common theme in cryptozoology. The woods are often viewed as a liminal space, where fear of the unknown easily takes hold and strange encounters are likely. Often, especially in many early American towns, the woods were viewed as the boundaries of civilization, and beyond civilization, is the perception of savagery. In many cultures, especially Native American cultures, the goat is viewed as a symbol of fertility and sexuality. Therefore, it would make sense for the figure of a woman to be crossed with a goat, given that women are primarily viewed as potential mothers and the bearers of offspring. Additionally, women tend to be inherently more sexualized for these abilities. The Goat Lady’s practice of eating young children could be an obscure depiction of backwards behavior, which juxtaposes the accepted norm of women mothering children in a civil society. The opposite of bearing children is eating them; therefore, the Goat Lady could represent the backwards and savage antithesis to the expected status of mothers in women. Given that the liminal space of the woods is often considered a backwards realm beyond civil society, the Goat Lady can viewed as an emblem of female dissent in opposition to societal norms.
The informant–ZG– is an 18 year old male born and raised in San Antonio Texas. The hotel he references, the Crockett Hotel, is located in downtown San Antonio and was founded in 1836. David “Davy” Crockett (1786-1836) was an American frontiersman.
So I’m born in San Antonio Texas and I’ve been raised here most my life and I love this city. An interesting aspect is that we have a lot of ghost stories and hauntings in our city. We’re famously known for the Alamo, but we have this Davy Crockett conspiracy that he haunts the Crockett Hotel. Personally, I’ve never stayed a night there but it’s in the midst of downtown and has this giant green neon sign. And rumor has it that the night at 3:14 am if I remember correctly he will knock on your door. I would really like to think that they hire someone to stay up at 3:14 in the morning and go around knocking on people’s doors. I think that would be hilarious. But maybe it is the infamous Davy Crockett and his soul.
The ghost stories of San Antonio seem to a point of pride, at least through the informant’s telling of the ghost story, for the city. Despite being born in Tennessee, San Antonio tries Davy Crockett’s ghost due to his part in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.
TO is a junior at the University of Southern California, originally from San Antonio, TX.
Growing up in Texas, TO had lots of folk stories to share about the Alamo:
“Everyone in the Alamo died because they were slaughtered by the Mexican Army, but they chose to stay anyways and didn’t surrender…and then at the Battle of San Jacinto which ended the Texas Revolution, there was a kid there that was fighting, and I guess he was supposedly at the Alamo but he didn’t die because he was a kid and they let him go…the Mexican Army was losing this battle so they were retreating and this kid came upon a soldier, and obviously the Texans were shouting “Remember the Alamo!” And the Mexican guys were all shouting “me no Alamo,” trying to say they weren’t at the Alamo, and this kid who had escaped looked at one of them and said “me Alamo” and killed him.
Another one was about the Mexican surrender and the end of the revolution…the leader of the Mexican Army, Santa Anna, got shot in the foot. They were obviously losing so he put on a foot-soldier’s uniform, and was captured with the other foot soldiers. So he was trying to get away with just being a normal soldier, except then the other soldiers started calling him ‘el presidente’ – the Texans figured out who he was and eventually forced him to sign over Texas and retreat.”
These stories about the Texas Revolution aren’t necessarily found in the history books, and their origins aren’t clear, but they give Texans some great folk heroes to refer back to when talking about the Revolution. A lot of times the stories about battles and wars that are repeated aren’t necessarily true, at least not exactly the way they’re told – no one can really verify some of the stories about Paul Revere in the American Revolution, and often the real origins just aren’t as exciting. Folk stories like these about important events give the descendants a more lyrical way of sharing history with the next generation, and in general are just more exciting to tell.