“She runs with great velocity, leaping on all fours”

by Dale Cox

The sudden appearance of a wild woman in the “Mossy Hills” of Marengo County created a sensation in Alabama 169 years ago this winter.

The story began with an article in the Linden Jeffersonian newspaper. Other papers picked it up and the story spread from there:

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The editor of the Cahaba Gazette, which published the original story a few days later, suggested that the huntsmen “should have given chase and captured the fair creature.” [II]

The hunters of Marengo County agreed and hunters spread out into the Mossy Hills north of Linden. Their excitement grew as new reports revealed more about her: 

Marengo County, Alabama, is all on a stir on account of a wild woman that recently appeared in the woods and hills of that neighborhood to a party of huntsmen. She is a medium sized woman, fair, and quite naked, with the exception of mockasins. She runs with great velocity, leaping on all fours over every impediment like an antelope. [II]

Marengo County, where the “wild woman” was discovered in 1857,
is southwest of Birmingham, Alabama.

The story grew even more bizarre when news surfaced that the wild woman was accompanied by a white goat:

An editor who was one of the hunting party, who also saw her, says she was accompanied by a large ram, of remarkable whiteness, by whose wool she held on when running up the hills and springing over rocks. The ram appeared very much attached to this wild and singular creature, and protects her. [III]

Many residents of Marengo County believed the wild woman was a girl who disappeared in around 1842:

It appears, that some fifteen years ago, a little girl, daughter of a French woman residing on the banks of the Tombigbee River, was lost, as well as a pet lamb of hers. They were never after heard of, so that many supposed the little girl and her lamb had been drowned. The question now is, can this wild woman of Marengo county be the same? It is highly probably; but how has she existed fifteen years in the woods, away from all intercourse in the world is a mistery. [IV]

The hunters pursued the woman through the hills until they finally came up with her trail in April 1857:

…[T]his “wild woman” was apprehended by a party of huntsmen a few days since, among the “Mossy Hills,” six miles north of Linden, after an exciting chase of two days. This has created a great excitement among the b’hoys, the right of the property being protested. [V]

The story of the wild woman ends there, pending further research. Her eventual fate is a mystery but her story must be fascinating. Hopefully more detail can be found.

Marengo County is a great place to visit. Please click here to learn more.

[I] Cahaba Gazette, February 20, 1857.

[II] Troy American, April 15, 1857.

[III] Ibid.

[IV] Ibid.

[V] Ibid.