Maps dating as far back as the 1830s shows a small creek in an area east of San Antonio that dumps into Martinez Creek just northeast of St. Hedwig. The name of the creek, according to those early maps, was “Arroyo de la Llorona.” This translates to “Woman Moaning Creek” or “Wailing Woman.” Anyone driving on Interstate 10 towards Seguin from San Antonio will cross over what is officially known as “Woman Hollering Creek.”
The legend of Woman Hollering Creek has joined the ranks of The Donkey Lady, Gunter Hotel Ghost of Room 636, The Headless Statue Near the San Antonio Zoo, The Unholy Matrimony Murder, and The Butcher of Elmendorf as some of the most chilling Texas stories and myths.
In 1981, I considered purchasing land a block north of the highway and along the creek, but couldn’t get over the name of the still water. Curious, I asked locals why it was called “Woman Hollow Creek” (later it was changed to Hollering) and received various versions. All of them were creepy and I decided against buying the acreage.
The most reasonable versions are best established with verifiable history.
It didn’t take long for over 30,000 Anglo and Hispanic settlers to colonize in Texas after Stephen F. Austin was provided a Spanish land grant in the 1820s. When Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1921, they stepped up the recruiting of Americans to settle in their northern provinces. It would help them conquer the different Indian tribes who fought to defend their grounds.
The first large settlement west of the Colorado River was Gonzales, established by Empresario Green DeWitt in 1925 as the capital for his colony. Within two years the town had to resettle to another location nearby because of repeated Indian raids.
Deaf Smith brought his family to the Cibolo River, near present day La Vernia after he received a Mexican land grant in 1825. The year of 1836 was historical as the new colonial outpost of Fort Parker was completed about the time the Alamo fell in San Antonio. More Europeans started coming in and after the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto, veterans of the wars of Independence from Mexico began to join them.
Thousands of women and children continued to be kidnapped or killed…to be used as slaves, for bartering, held for ransom, or groomed to be wives…
But the colonists came at great human cost. Thousands of women and children continued to be kidnapped or killed by Native Indians to be used as slaves, for bartering, held for ransom, or groomed to be wives and family members. During the battle of Fort Parker, many of the defending militia was killed as Comanche took two women and three children as captives. The name “Comanche” became synonymous with the term “terrorism” from Oklahoma to Mexico City. By the time Sam Houston was elected a second time as President of Texas, there were literally thousands of hostages still remaining in captivity.
Within 30 years, there were less than 8,000 Indians and 600,000 Anglo colonists in Texas. But because of the Civil War, the US Army relocated so many soldiers away from southwest Texas that many of the Anglo and Hispanic settlements were forced back over 100 miles east and north.
Even by the 1870s attacks were frequent. One story from Texas Hill Country history notes that Sarah Kincheloe, a daughter of William Ware, was pierced by 12 arrows during an Indian raid at her frontier home. She handed a gun to a neighbor, a Mrs. Bowlin, to continue the defense just before she collapsed from her wounds. The Indians overcame the defense, burst into the house and shot Bowlin through the heart.
“John, I think I can live.”
When the Indians left, thinking both the women were dead, the children came out of their hiding places and found their mothers dying. The eight-year-old son of Kincheloe ran two and a half miles to his Uncle John Ware’s house. When Ware hurried to the scene he found Bowlin dead. He looked at Sarah, who simply said, “John, I think I can live.”
John Connelly, a resident who lives about two miles from Woman Hollering Creek, grew up in the location. He says “the story is early settlers to the area came under attack by natives and murdered. Scalped, (the mother) walks the creek looking for her family. Screaming Woman Creek, the natives would not go back to the site.”
Another version says the mother drowned her own child (or children) in the creek. Today she is often heard weeping–wailing at night for the children she lost. Some say many drowning have taken place in the area because the ghost of the mother pulls people into the water. Yet another story suggests a distraught mother drowned her children after her husband was brutally killed by Indians. Fearing her children might suffer a similar fate, she drowned them instead. Some believe that her spirit wanders along the creek, sobbing and crying for her lost children.
Her husband and other men from the settlement pursued the Indians, but were outnumbered and couldn’t rescue the woman.
Ruben Hernandez lived in Universal City, just outside the front gate to Randolph Air Force Base, for over 50 years. He took his grandchildren fishing on the small ponds that are the source of Woman Hollering Creek. Hernandez said he “would not confuse ‘hollering’ with ‘weeping’ as the legend of La Llorona implies.”
“The legend of Woman Hollering Creek is totally different, Hernandez said. “The old folks in the Universal City area have told me that the woman ‘hollering’ was actually a pioneer woman who went to the creek to either get water or to wash clothes and was attacked by Indians, thus she ‘hollered’ or yelled for help. A friend whose family owned a ranch for many years on Lower Seguin Rd, about 1/2 mile from the creek’s source, vouched for the story several years ago. I passed the legend on to my grandchildren as we netted minnows at the source of the creek.”
C. F. Eckhardt, from nearby Seguin tells of the local story that “dates back to the period of the Republic. Supposedly a woman from a local settlement was kidnapped by Indians, possibly Comanche. Her husband and other men from the settlement pursued the Indians, but were outnumbered and couldn’t rescue the woman. She was raped, tortured, and then murdered on the banks of the creek. The husband and his party could hear her screaming but were unable to help her. Supposedly her screams can still be heard on occasion.”