March actually has a week devoted to World Folktales and Fables. It’s held each year during the third week of March to encourage exploration of the lessons to be learned from folk tales, fables, myths and legends from around the world. The tales vary from culture to culture, but often share common morals, themes and characters. Here, we’ve shares some Old West folktales and legends to tell the next time you’re sitting around the campfire or in the backyard exchanging stories that will amuse and surprise. We’ve come up with some “morals learned” of our own. Have a peek.
The “Lost Dutchman Mine”
Wild West history is filled with tales of old gold, silver and copper mines. The most famous of these is probably the Lost Dutchman Mine. Jacob Waltz, a German prospector who searched for gold all over the U.S., said he found it in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains and was reported to say to his friends, “Near those mountains is the richest gold mine in the world.” However, he died before he could reveal the secret locale.
Treasure hunters have spent countless hours trying to find its alleged location, but its location has never been discovered.
Moral of the story? Don’t waste your time looking for other people’s treasures. Go out and find your own.
Cowboy Ghost Story
The Navajo believed in beings called “Skinwalkers.” They were medicine people or witches – not quite human and not fully alive, who disliked outsiders. They could morph into different shapes and mimic sounds and were ready to take out anyone or anything that crossed their path. Many Navajo don’t talk about them till this day for fear of consequences. In the Old West, specifically in California, Arizona, and New Mexico, cowboys quietly talked of these spirit creatures and when someone mysteriously vanished in the desert, the Skinwalkers got the blame.
Moral of the story? If you ever hear a story about Skinwalkers, just keep walking and don’t look back. You never know who might be listening.
The daughter of a wealthy confederate-sympathizing family, Myra Maybelle Shirley Starr (Belle), was a teenager living in Scyene, Texas, in 1864 when outlaws Jesse James and the Younger brothers used her family’s home to hideout. A few years later, Belle went on to marry three different outlaws. During her third marriage in 1880, she and her husband, Sam, were charged with horse stealing, a federal offense for which she served time. She was charged again in 1886 but was acquitted. In the meantime, her husband and an Indian policeman shot each other to death and Starr was murdered in 1889.The crime has never been solved.
Moral of the story? Make sure to screen potential spouses and buy your horses and their saddles the honest way.
Got some stories of your own tell? We’d love to hear them!