Wolf Girl of Devil’s River
The cowboys managed to separate the girl from her wolf companions and cornered her in a canyon, where she fought like a wildcat clawing and biting frantically to keep her freedom. They finally managed to lasso her to keep her still, but while they were tying her up she began to make frightening, unearthly sounds somewhere between the scream of a woman and the howl of a wolf. As she howled, the monster he-wolf from whom she’d become separated appeared and rushed at her captors.
Fortunately one of the cowboys reacted quickly and shot it dead with a pistol, at which the wolf girl fell into a faint. Securely bound, the men were now able to examine the girl and noted that despite a body covered in hair and her wild mannerisms, her appearance was human. Her hands and arms were well muscled but not out of proportion, and she lacked the ability to speak, only making deep growling noises. She moved smoothly on all fours, but was rather awkward when made to stand up straight.
The girl was put on a horse and taken to the nearest ranch, an isolated two-roomed shack amid the desert wilderness. She was put in one of the rooms and unbound, the cowboys offering her a covering for her body and food and water, but she refused, cowering in the darkest corner. They then left her alone for the night, locking the door and posting a guard outside. The only other opening in the room was a small boarded up window.
But as night fell the cowboys heard terrifying howls coming from the wolf girl’s room. The strange cries carried through the still night air, unsettling her captors and soon finding answers from among the wolf pack in the wilderness beyond the shack. Soon there were long deep howls coming from all sides as the pack drew closer to the house, and occasionally strange howling screams from the girl answering them from inside her dark room.
Suddenly the large pack of wolves charged into the corrals, attacking the goats, cows and horses and bringing the cowboys outside shooting and yelling to drive them away. In all the confusion the wolf girl managed to tear the planks from the window and escape into the night. The howls soon abated and the wolves crept back into the wilderness. The next day not a trace of the girl could be found.
Devil’s River Sighting
Though there were a few unverified reports in the following years of a young hair-covered girl being seen with a wolf pack in the area, no one ever came in close contact with her. Meanwhile gold had been discovered in California and westward travel had increased significantly. In 1852 a surveying party of frontiersmen searching for a new route to El Paso were riding down to the Rio Grande at a bend far above the mouth of Devil’s River. They were almost at the water’s edge when they saw at close range, sitting on a sand bar, a young woman suckling two wolf cubs. Suddenly she saw them, quickly grabbed the pups and dashed into the breaks at such a rate that it was impossible for the horsemen to follow.
The girl would have been seventeen years-old that year. After that she disappeared into the wilderness forever. It is impossible now to know what became of Mollie Dent’s daughter, presuming that’s who the wolf girl was. There were subsequent reports of ‘human-faced’ wolves in the area right up until the 1930s, and author L.D. Bertillion (see sources below), wrote in 1937, ‘during the past forty years I have in the western country met more than one wolf face strongly marked with human characteristics’.
The Ghost of Devil’s River
The story of the Wolf Girl of Devil’s River reads more like a Texas folktale than a real feral child case, and the large amount of evidence for what happened is all anecdotal. She does, however, seem to live on in a more subtle form; her ‘ghost’ has apparently been seen in the old San Felipe Springs area beside the banks of Devil’s River. In 1974 a hunter in this area claimed to have seen her again, in the form of a white apparition which vanished before his eyes.
Back in the autumn of 1835, when John and Mollie Dent had newly arrived in Texas, Mollie wrote her mother an odd letter. It said merely –
The Devil has a river in Texas that is all his own
and it is made only for those who are grown.
Yours with love
Sources & Further Reading
Of Wolves and Men – Holstun Lopez, Barry. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. 1978.
‘The Lobo Girl of Devil’s River’ – Bertillion, L.D. in Straight Texas – Publications of the Texas Folklore Society. Number XIII, Dallas, Southern Methodist University Press. 1966 (1937), pp79-85.
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