Mythical Monday: The Phantom White Wolf of French Creek

When I think of folklore, there are several creatures particularly suited for the mystical and eerie trappings of legends. Owls, cats, crows, and wolves immediately spring to mind. For today’s Mythical Monday, I stumbled over a a fireside tale about a town in West Virginia that was plagued by a mysterious white wolf.

In the mid-1800s an albino wolf began attacking and slaughtering livestock in and around French Creek. The residents hadn’t seen a wolf in years, leading many to believe the creature must be supernatural—especially given its ghost-white appearance. Fear blossomed and spread quickly, fueled by growing rumors.

a white wolfOne local farmer who lost several sheep to the wolf,  claimed he’d shot the beast three times, but the bullets had no effect. (Hmm…perhaps he should have used silver). Later the same month, the wolf was shot at close range, but again bounded away without being harmed. In the meantime, farm animals and pets continued to fall prey to the animal’s nighttime raids.

One of the farmers who lost a cow was a man named Bill Williams. In earlier years, when wolves dominated the countryside, Bill had been renowned for his prowess as a hunter. He’d killed hundreds of wolves, the bounties he’d collected allowing him to retire a wealthy man. Eventually turning from the practice, he took up farming, vowing never to hunt the majestic creatures again.

But the slaughter of his cow drew him from retirement. The townspeople and other farmers were relieved when he said he’d find and kill the albino wolf, putting an end to its reign of terror. Loading his rifle, he headed for an area the wolf was known to haunt. He took a small lamb with him and tied the helpless animal to a stake. Then he sat back and waited for the wolf to arrive, certain he would have an easy kill.

But fate was not kind to Bill.

When he failed to return the next day, several townspeople hiked to the area they knew he’d staked out. They found Bill with his throat mangled, his head nearly ripped from his body. In direct counterpoint to the grisly scene, the lamb was unharmed, still tied to the stake. Even stranger, there were no signs of blood or paw prints anywhere in the vicinity.

People believed the white wolf had exacted vengeance on Bill for breaking his vow to never hunt its kind. Others said the creature was a demon, for surely only a demon could do something so heinous and leave no trace of its passing. But why spare something as innocent as the lamb if that was the case?

A wolf in silhouette howling at the moonIt is unclear whether the white wolf continued to haunt the people of French Creek after Bill’s death, but tales of white wolves still circulate in remote areas of West Virginia.

According to legend, the ghost-like creatures slip from the darkness on nights illuminated by a full moon. They are impossible to catch or kill, and will simply vanish if cornered . . . only to return again when the full moon rises.

It makes you think twice about walking through the woods alone!

23 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: The Phantom White Wolf of French Creek

    • I think wolves are gorgeous, and really loved the photo too. As for Bill, maybe it goes to show there’s always an opponent better than you are. What an awful way for him to learn that lesson!

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  1. I love wolves, so this tale especially intrigued me and although I didn’t necessarily want Bill to die, I did want the wolf to survive. Now, having said that, I also want you to know that should I happen to be in the area during a full moon, I will keep a respectable distance!

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    • I’m with you on that, Debbie…I love wolves, but from a very safe distance! I can’t imagine being in the woods at night with a full moon illuminating the trees and then hearing a long eerie howl. *shudder* I’ll just stay indoors, thank you! 🙂

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  2. I love wolves! They’re absolutely gorgeous to me. Would I want to come head to head with one in the wild? Not even for a 2nd, but I’d love to watch them from afar! This was a new wolf myth to me. You always tell of some great ones! Thanks!

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  3. White animals, wolves, bears, whales, all had significance to ancient peoples and the legends filtered through into modern times.
    This is an especially interesting one. I’d love to know if the wolf attacks ended after Bill’s death. Thanks so much for another fabulous tale, Mae.

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    • I wish I could have discovered if the wolf attacks stopped too, Daisy. It certainly sounds like the wolf may have made its point and then loped off never to be seen again–or perhaps to new hunting grounds. I love tales of white creatures from myth and once wrote a paranormal romance used a white owl as a key figure. Another book I’ll have to dust off and rework someday.

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  4. Gorgeous wolf. I love mysteries associated with particular towns and regions. Evidently, Bill should have stuck to his guns (or rather, left them be).

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    • I enjoy tales related to specific areas too. It’s interesting to see the unique folklore of so many different regions. And yeah, poor Bill, definitely should have stayed retired! I’m sure no one else from the town volunteered to go wolf hunting after Bill was found!

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  5. Eerie post and a spooky closing sentence.
    What a gorgeous white wolf that is. I can understand the townsfolk wondering if he was something supernatural.
    I always enjoy learning something new on Mythical Monday (oops, it’s Tuesday now, isn’t it!).

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    • Well. I’m just now checking in again and it’s Wednesday, LOL. I guess I’m still in vacation mode. Whatever day you visit my Mythical Monday posts, always glad to have you drop by, Emma.

      Had I lived in French Creek at the time the wolf sightings were going on, I would have been in that group of townspeople convinced the wolf was a supernatural spirit. I only believe in coincidence to a point!

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    • Wow! I love your spin on this tale, Donna.:) Meek little lamb turns into vicious monster to exact vengeance on grizzled wolf-hunting veteran for using it as bait. You definitely put a writer’s twist on this tale, LOL. It’s got Scyfy movie written all over it! 😀

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  6. We live just up the road from 4 forks and our neighbor was working outside last summer. When he was walking up to his front porch is when he noticed two white wolves in his driveway. He did not have his gun on his side, so by time he went in to get it and came back outside they were gone. Since that day we always have a gun with us when doing anything outside. One thing to think about is the Indians that lived or traveled through this area. We have an Indian trail that goes through our family property a long with the many caves. I guess living in the mountains you have a lot more than you think you have too look out for.

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    • Fabulous story. Thank you for sharing!
      I’ve visited West Virginia on two occasions to research my Mothman novels and it is indeed “the mountain state”
      Indian trails, caves, woods….your corner of the world sounds mysterious and interesting. I love folklore and urban legends, including rumors of odd happenings like the white wolves in your neighbor’s driveway!

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      • Our family has always been interested in what can not be explained. I am originally from Ohio so urban legends our not far from home, since there are so many.

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