Tag Archives: Texas

San Antonio Haunted Train Tracks

Context: 

The informant–ZG– is an 18 year old male born and raised in San Antonio Texas. The train tracks to which the informant is referring are located near the San Juan Mission and have become a popular tourist destination for self proclaimed ghost hunters.

Piece:

A story that I heard growing up and I actually did witness was south of San Antonio. There’s these railroad tracks, and supposedly in the eighteen hundreds a train was coming by and it killed all these small children. I don’t know what they were doing playing on train tracks. That was their fault. But if you go at night and you set your car in the middle of the train tracks–the train tracks are no longer in use–the ghost children will push your car across the train tracks. My mom and I went back in 2014 or 2013. We had this huge pickup truck. And we went over and, we parked on top of the train tracks and it’s actually like a line of people. And what do you know we put our car in neutral and… Wow! Our car was pushed across the train tracks from the little children. It was incredible.

Analysis:

Despite the popularity of the San Antonio train tracks said to be haunted by ghosts of children killed in an accident, there is no proof that such an accident ever happened at those specific tracks or in San Antonio. The legend could be a cautionary tale warning children about the dangers of playing around the train tracks or an explanation for the phenomenon that occurs when a car is put in neutral when stopped over the tracks.

Legendary Figure: Davy Crockett Fountain

Context: The informant is among two peers of mine who grew up in Texas. My peers began sharing and comparing amusing and humorous pieces of folklore from their hometowns, as well as discussing how the folklore has worked to shape their families’ beliefs and southern values.

Text:

Informant: Okay, so one of my branches of family is from a place called Crockett, Texas, which is a small town near Jasper, Texas, which is a small town near Tyler, Texas, which is a small town near nothing. And, in Crockett, Texas, the claim to fame is that there is this water fountain that David Crockett… and if you know anything about Texas, you know that David Crockett is a Texas history folk legend… took a drink out of one time. And that’s why the whole town is named after it! So, the first time I ever visited that part of my family, I was like six. Everyone was making this big deal about it. They were like, “Oh, we have to go see the Crockett Fountain.” So, I thought it was going to be this gorgeous fountain. No. It was like this… this tree? I just distinctly remember there being a family of bugs living in the water, and my family being like, “Drink from it! Everyone drinks from the Crockett Fountain!” And I was like, “No.” I think you’re supposed to get like good luck or something from it because you’re drinking from the same place as the folklore guy. Everyone is like, “David Crockett took a drink here, so you should, too!”

Informant’s relationship to the item: The informant found this piece of folklore regarding Davy Crockett and his legendary fountain to be very amusing. He expressed disbelief that people would believe in its magical properties, or that he could somehow earn good luck from drinking the same water as Davy Crockett. He did not seem to understand why someone would be willing to brave the sanitation risks in order to take part in an old and seemingly unfounded superstition. The Crockett Fountain clearly holds a lot of significance for the informant’s extended family, as they found it important to organize a family outing to the legendary site. While the informant did not personally share their beliefs, he was able to recognize the site’s importance to his family members. Additionally, the fountain’s association with Davy Crockett, a legendary frontiersman, solider, and American politician, is clearly significant to Texas citizens.

Interpretation: The Crockett Fountain in Crockett, Texas serves as a prime example of folklorist Jame George Frazer’s theory of sympathetic magic, particularly contact or contagious magic. His theory describes the belief among folk groups that certain objects contain magic or good luck that can be spread through touch. Another example of this concept would be when people wear or use lucky items during tests, sporting events, or theatrical productions because they believe the items contain magical properties that will improve their performances. The famous site also reveals how some superstitions have legends associated with them. The spring’s association with David Crockett, the American frontiersman and politician who has become a legendary figure in many southern states, reveals the root of its significance to the people of Texas. His military service in the Texas Revolution and his death in the Battle of the Alamo has framed his existence as being synonymous with Texas folklore.

Works Cited:

To read more about James George Frazer’s theory of Sympathetic Magic, refer to:

Dundes, Alan. “The Principles of Sympathetic Magic.” International Folkloristics, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999, pp. 109-118.

Texas Mythological Creature: Jackalope

Context: The informant is among two peers of mine who grew up in Texas. My peers began sharing and comparing amusing and humorous pieces of folklore from their hometowns, as well as discussing how the folklore has worked to shape their families’ beliefs and southern values. An excerpt of their conversation can be found below.

Text:

Informant: So, I grew up in Texas and there are a lot of different mythological creatures concerning Texas wildlife. And one thing that people talked about a lot was the jackalope, which is a combined animal of an antelope and a jack rabbit. And it came up a lot when I was going on school field trips to go camping. We went on these camping trips called O.L.E (Outdoor Learning Explorations), and they would tell us not to go out alone at night because the jackalopes would come after us. And so, that really terrified me, so I didn’t go out at night because of the jackalopes. What’s interesting is that people would have these things, like taxidermied jackalopes, on their walls in Texas, and I was like always so confused about why they had jackalopes on their walls. Like, how did you hunt it down? Could you not have died from a jackalope attack? And what’s interesting now looking it up is that it is the state mythological creature of Wyoming, so I guess it’s not just a Texas thing. But yeah, I really thought the jackalope was real until super recently when I Googled it because it was such a big part of my childhood.

Informant’s relationship to the item: My informant seems to be fully indoctrinated into the mythology of her home state; even though she is 20 years old, she only discovered recently that the jackalope is not a real creature — a testament to the large role it plays in the childhoods of children who grew up in her community in Texas. The presence of manufactured taxidermy jackalopes in people’s homes likely added to her confusion about the state of the jackalope’s existence. Additionally, the informant describes growing up in fear of attacks from the jackalope — a fear that was taken advantage of by figures of authority in her life in order to keep children in line.

Interpretation: It is interesting to hear how adults use the existence of the jackalope, as well as its purported vicious nature, as a scare tactic to keep children in line. The creature appears to serve a similar role in tight-knit southern communities as early fairy tales did, which were geared toward teaching children both moral and practical lessons. Belief in the creature, or at least knowledge of its legendary status, seem to be deeply ingrained in the psyches of Texas citizens. Additionally, the practice of cryptozoology, or the act of hunting for legendary creatures appears to be associated with the rumored existence of the jackalope. The manufactured  taxidermy jackalopes found in people’s homes probably add to the folk belief in their existence. Also, the fact that taxidermy jackalopes are a widespread folk item in Texas means that jackalopes, and the product made in their likeness, are likely an important aspect of Texas’s (and, apparently, Wyoming’s) tourist economies.

Works Cited:

To read more about the legend surrounding the jackalope, as well as the man who first created the legendary creature, refer to this 2003 LA Times article:

Oliver, Myrna. “Douglas Herrick, 82; on a Whim He Created ‘Jackalope’.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 23 Jan. 2003, www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2003-jan-23-me-herrick23-story.html.

 

 

Matthew McConaughey arrest story

Content:
Informant – “Have you heard the story of Matthew McConaughey’s arrest? It’s a local legend at this point. So McConaughey lives up in Westlake. And apparently, one night, he was making a lot of noise so his neighbors called the police. When the police arrived, they went around the back of the house and there was Matthew McConaughey, completely naked, smoking a joint and playing the bongo drums. Imagine being the officer to see that. McConaughey is living his best life.”

Context:
Informant – “I don’t know if it’s true. I think it is. I don’t know where I heard it from though. It’s like a famous story in Austin.”

Analysis:
I think the story is so popular because it humanizes an A-List celebrity. Here’s a critically acclaimed actor, someone we put on a pedestal, breaking social norms and restraints and generally acting ridiculous.

Haunted House in Crockett, Texas

Collector: Do you have any ghost stories you could share with me?

CW: Yes, when I was a young girl growing up in my hometown of Crockett, Texas there was a house located on the edge of our town that everyone believed to be haunted. It was a very old beaten down brown house with all the windows boarded off. It was said that a very old man who we called “Old Man Hinkle”, lived there but no one had seen him in years, so everyone thought he had passed away and his ghost haunted the house. However, when me and friends would go by the house it was always very spooky. We could hear noises coming from the house but never any lights or anyone coming in or out of it. I remember one time some kids from our town claimed to have gone inside one night and saw a ghost in there but who knows if that was true. Another time  I was near the house and could hear what sounded like screaming but I never saw a ghost or went inside the house. 

Collector: What impact did this haunted house have on your childhood?

CW: It was my favorite thing on Halloween. On already such a spooky night for us kids we would always sneak off and go by the house. It always felt like such an adventure and was very fun for me and my friends. 

Collector: Did the whole town believe the house was haunted?

CW: All the parents knew that it was just an abandoned house of course, but for us kids it was widely believed and everyone seemed to know about it. 

Collector: What do you think about the house now?

CW: Well, since I do not believe in ghost I don’t believe it was haunted or anything. But, when I go home to visit my family in Crockett I sometimes go by it and it gives me fond memories especially of my Halloweens growing up. I also wonder whether or not the kids in Crockett still believe it is haunted or know about “ Old Man Hinkle”.

Context: This informant is a sixty five year old woman that was born and raised in Crockett, Texas. She has moved around the world since leaving Crockett to go to college. However, she still frequently visits the town. This performance was collected in person at her home in Palm Desert, California

Analysis: This legend is an interesting one because it sounds a lot like ghost stories and haunted house stories seen in popular culture. It has all the aspects of many movies and television shows, like a small town, scary house, and kids wandering near the “haunted house”. It seems to be a unique part of her communities folklore and a unique part of my informant’s childhood.