A Wellman Bestiary
Within the Wellman landscape are creatures born of not only his imagination but also from the fairy tale beliefs of early European settlers and from Native American mythologies. Because of his mix of actual folk legends with his own creations, it is often hard to find where real history ends and Wellman's begins. In fact something Wellman thought he had created on his own has surfaced as a truly believed-in creature. "As for the race of beings called Shonokins, against whose activities Thunstone repeatedly exerted himself, I had thought that they were my own invention. But various readers assured me that the Shonokins were fearfully known by name in various parts of the country, including New England, upstate New York, the Ozark Mountains and California." Manly Wade Wellman - Introduction to LONELY VIGILS

This is only a small collection of the creatures and people found in Wellman's supernatural writings, but they are ones that I feel represent a singular Wellman style. I'll try to update this as I find more representative material and get suggestions from others.
A ncients:A lost and forgotten race that predates the Indians, which mined for gold in Black Pine Hollow. "Shiver in the Pines" 1954

 Anisgina: A Cherokee word used to mean "different kins of pure down bad creatures. It doesn't mean only the ghost of dead folks a-using round to get into mischief, but like wise other sorts of things that aren't ghosts exactly, but aren't a natural kind of either thing." -THE OLD GODS WAKEN 1979

 Bammat: "...something hairy-like, with big ears and a long wiggly nose and twisty white teeth sticking out of its mouth." Like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, the Wooly Mammoth is believed to still roam the back woods of the mountains of America. - "The Desrick on Yandro" 1952

Behinder: No on can rightly say what it looks like "...for it's alway behind the man or woman it wants to grab." Silver John did see it once though: "Then I knew why nobody's supposed to see one. To this day I can see it, as plain as a fence at noon, and forever I will be able to see it. But talking about it is another matter. Thank you, I won't try." - "The Desrick on Yandro" 1952

Culverin:"...can shoot pebbles with its mouth." - "The Desrick on Yandro" 1952

Flat: "It lies level with the ground, and not much higher. It can wrap around you like a blanket." - "The Desrick on Yandro" 1952

 Gardinel:"They look some way like a shed or cabin, snug and rightly made, except the open door might could be a mouth, the two little windows could be eyes. Never you'll see one on the main roads or near towns; only back in the thicketty places, by high trails among tall ridges, and they show themselves there when it rains and storms and a lone farer hopes to come to a house to shelter him. ... The few that's lucky enough to have gone into a gardinel and win out again... tell that inside it's pinky-walled and dippy-floored, with on the floor all the skulls and bones of those who never did win-out; and from the floor and walls come spouting rivers of wet juice that stings. ... and all at once you know that inside a gradinel is like a stomach."-"Why They're Named That" 1963 also see "Come Into My Parlor" 1949

Kalu: "The Indian word means a bone. Why Kalu was named that nobody could rightly say, for nobody who saw him lived to tell what he looked to be. He came from his place when he was mad or just hungry. Who he met he snatched away, to eat or worse than eat." And then: "Bones, yes - something like man-bones, but bigger and thicker, also something like bear-bones, or big ape-bones from a foreign land. And a rotten light to them. So I was for a moment that the bones weren't empty. Inside the ribs were caged puffy things, like guts and lungs and maybe a heart that skipped and wriggled. The skull had a snout like I can't say what, and in its eye-holes burned blue-green fire." -"Nine Yards of Other Cloth" 1958


Khongabassi: Also known as the FrogFather, it is a giant humanoid frog creature which protects the amphibian life in the swamps. "He's lived there since the world was made. The oldest ones say he dug the waterways and planted trees along them. And the frogs are his children." - "FrogFather" 1946

Little Black Train: A ghost train running on the High Fork Railroad. Spawned by a curse during a love quarrel that ended in the murder of the engineer of the train. The Little Black Train is destined to come back and take away the guilty. - "The Little Black Train" 1954
Living Skeleton:"Bones like these, long worn bare and scattered apart and now joined and made to live by words of power, they'd wake up hungry. They'd be starved for food. If they got food, maybe they'd put flesh back on themselves, be themselves as they'd been once before..." -"Can These Bones Live?" 1981
Old Devlins: Also known as Devil Anse. "The McCoy crowd named me that. My right name's Captain Anderson Hatfield." The ghost of one of the casualties from the ongoing feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. - "Old Devins Was A-Waiting" 1956 
One Other: On Hark Mountain, "Down in the Bottomless Pool's blueness wasn't a fish, or a weed of grass. Only that deep-away sparkly flash of lights, changing as you spy changes on a bubble of soap... mountain folks say he's got the one arm and the one leg. That he runs on the one leg and grabs with the one arm, and what he grabs goes with him into the Bottomless Pool; that it's One Other's power and knowledge that lets witches do their spells next to Bottomless Pool." - "One Other" 1953

Rafe Enoch: An 8 foot giant, who can control the weather, bringing on storms and sending them away at his whim. It is believed that he is a descendant of the Titans written about in the Book of Genesis in the Bible. - "Walk Like A Mountain" 1955


Raven Mocker: One of the nastiest of the Cherokee Anisgina, they are possibly an Indian version of the vampire. A flock of creatures that swoop down on a weak or dying person, sucking out their life and blood. Sometimes attacking even the healthy if they are controlled and bid to do so. They are humanoid in form but short, around five feet tall, wrapped in what looks like cloaks or blankets, but are possibly wings. They are dark and hard to see, with a knobby round head, squashed down with a wide ugly mouth and pink-glowing eyes. - AFTER DARK 1980

Shonokins: They are an ancient race, an aboriginal "people of the land" who went into hiding with the advent of man. But they are plotting their return. The Shonokins reason their takeover of the world because the humans aren't fit to run the Earth and it's time for the true caretakers to return to power. Humanoid in appearance except for a look of displacement from the modern world, cat-like eyes, and their index fingers are the longest on the hand. Usually they dress in dark hand made clothing and wear broad brimmed hats. AFTER DARK 1980, "The Shonokins" 1944, "Shonokin Town" 1946

Skim: "And above the tree tops sailed a round, flat thing, like a big plate being pitched high." - "The Desrick on Yandro" 1952

Toller: "It's the hugest flying thing there is... its voice tolls like a bell, to tell other creatures their feed's near." - "The Desrick on Yandro" 1952

Ugly Bird: The familiar of Mr. Onselm, an evil country sorcerer. It is a giant buzzard-like creature, but bigger. Possibly related to the Indian legend of the Thunder Bird, a giant eagle capable of carrying away children and small adults. "Then I made out the thin snaky neck, the bulgy head and long stork beak, the eye set in front of its head -- man-fashion in front, not to each side. The feet that taloned onto the sack showed pink and smooth with five graspy toes." - "O Ugly Bird" 1951


For more strange creatures from North American folklore, take a visit to the online version of the book
FEARSOME CREATURES OF THE WOODLANDS  by William T. Cox & Illustrated by Coert Du Bois

The Voice of the Mountains original content © Daniel Alan Ross, Paul F. Olson & Mark Cannon. 
Reproduction prohibited by law unless granted by original author.
Contact: shonokinx AT yahoo DOT com