There was a creek on John Quincy’s place that the slaves all said was haunted — cursed by the Devil ‘imself!' Everyone called it Devil’s Creek. "We ain’t goin’ in there!" The slaves would say. They told stories among themselves, on dark nights, of unfortunate souls that had lost their way and wandered into the woods on John Quincy’s place never to be seen again. "When the full moon shines down on Devil’s Creek, you can ‘ear all dem lost souls a-howlin’ tryin’ ta find their way home," one popular tale ended. One story, in particular, caused all the slaves in the area to lock their doors up tight when the full moon would rise in the night sky: Ol’ Henry and the Wolves of Devil’s Creek!
There were several different versions of Ol’ Henry depending on who ya asked, but the general story goes like this:
A few years back John Quincy got himself a new slave named Henry from up by Richmond somewhere. Now Henry was an old man, and goin’ deaf, and he didn’t talk much neither, and he never had many friends.
Now everybody knows how mean Master Quincy was, out there with ‘is boys and them dogs beaten on anybody that misbehaved. Well poor ol’ Henry couldn’t hear nothin’, so Master Quincy was ‘specially mean to him! He’d take him off to the side if he saw ‘im standin’ around, hold up ‘is rifle, and say, "Look here! This is what’ll happen to you niggers if you don’t want ta work!" Then he’d hit Henry with the butt of that gun and punch ‘im and hit ‘im. And ol’ Henry was too old to defend ‘imself, so he just stood there and took what came to him. The other slaves wouldn’t help ‘im neither; they just stood and watched! Quincy would beat Henry
‘til he was bleedin’, then he’d walk off and leave him. He was beat like that ‘bout twice a week, and he never did fight back. Then one night things changed.
Henry was sleepin’ in ‘is house when a knock came on his door. Tap! Tap! Tap! He got to ‘is feet and opened the door. A large Negro man dressed in a big black hat and coveralls was standin’ outside. He looked down at ol’ Henry and said in a deep voice, "Evenin’ Mr. Henry. I been watchin’ what that John Quincy does to you, and I’m here to help." Now for some reason —he didn’t know why — Henry could hear this man and invited ’im inside. "What’s your name and where you from?" Henry asked him. The strange Negro only stood there in the doorway and said, "I’m from the woods. My name ain’t important." Then the man’s eyes glowed a bright red under ‘is hat, and he put ‘is hand on Henry’s shoulder. "I can offer you revenge, Mr. Henry. Just walk into the woods and go to Devil’s Creek; I’ll take care of everything . . ."
Henry knew the stories ’bout Master Quincy’s woods. Them was s’posed to be ruled by the Devil! There was wolves in those woods, too! But they weren’t no common wolves — they was the Devil’s own stock, the lost souls of slaves that wandered in and didn’t come back out. Every time a slave would disappear, a new wolf would be seen in the woods.
"Them woods be haunted, Mister. People say the Devil rules there! There’s them wolves too!" Henry said to the man.
The stranger’s eyes glowed an even brighter red as he looked at Henry, and said, "Do you really want to keep bein’ beat by that John Quincy, or you want to be free? That’s all I’m offerin’ you Mr. Henry, is freedom and the power to get even with Master Quincy for all the wrongs he’s done you." And with that the large Negro turned and walked out of Henry’s house. As he neared the woods, the wolves came out to greet ‘im, then they all vanished into thin air. But before they disappeared, Henry heard the stranger’s voice in his head: Consider my offer, Mr. Henry. I’ll be waiting . . .
Henry stared out toward the woods and closed ‘is door.
* * *
The next mornin’, Master Quincy was out there with ‘is boys and ‘is dogs, and he found Henry in the field and beat ‘im bloody. "Stupid deaf Nigger! Git up, fight!" But Henry couldn’t fight. He was too old, so he just stayed there on the ground and let the white man beat on ‘im. Things went on like that the rest of the month. Then one night, while lookin’ at the full moon, Henry decided he could take no more of John Quincy’s beatin’s, and he got his straw hat and walked into the woods ta find ‘is way to Devil’s Creek.
As he had said, the strange Negro man was waiting for ‘im when he got to the Creek. The Negro man was standing on the other side of the creek with the wolves, smilin’ as Henry came out of the trees — his eyes still glowin’ that bright red color. "Ah, Mr. Henry. You decided to take me up on my offer. Good. Good." Henry made his way to the side of the creek and fell to ‘is knees. "You know who I am don’t ya, Mr. Henry?" Henry looked up at the Negro with the red eyes and nodded. "Yessir. You be the Devil. But you cain’t be worse than John Quincy, no sir!"
The Devil nodded in approval then flew over the creek ta Henry’s side. He got down on ‘is knees and stuck out one, bony finger and dipped it in the water. "Drink. You must be thirsty after your walk?" And that’s just what Henry did. He drank long from Devil’s Creek, and with that the Devil took his soul. When he was done drinkin’ he felt sick. His innards felt like they was movin’ round inside ‘im. And they was! He was becoming a wolf! And the wolves threw back their heads and howled as he changed . . .
* * *
The next day, no one could find ol’ Henry. You could hear John Quincy yellin’, "Where is that damn Nigger?" One slave finally told ‘im she saw Henry last night headin’ into the woods. "Dammit! Then he’s dead. Nobody ever comes outta those woods alive."
That night the wolves came from the woods and went up to John Quincy’s house. They howled all night long. And when he went outside the next mornin,’ he found his prize dog dead by the door. There was bite marks on that dog the whole way across the body like a giant wolf had tried to eat that dog, and it’s throat was gone. "My God!" Said John Quincy, "What in the hell happened?" He could see the wolf tracks heading into da woods. "God*** wolves! I’ll be waitin’ for you tonight!"
Sure enough, that night the wolves returned. John Quincy was up in ‘is bedroom when he heard the cows and sheep and his dog makin’ a hell of a noise. "I got you now you god*** wolves." But, when he got outside, the wolves were gone and his dog and prize steer were dead. Again he found the giant bite marks on the dog and the steer. The steer was torn to pieces and was partially eaten. The dog was the same as the other one. And again Master Quincy saw the wolf tracks headin’ toward the wood. But tonight he saw giant tracks along with the normal ones.
The next morning he followed those giant tracks almost to the woods, but somethin’ surprised him ‘bout those tracks: as they got closer to da wood they got smaller and smaller ‘til they was human feet. "It’s a trick! A play of the light that’s all," and he went back to ‘is house. "I’ll get you this time, whatever the hell you are. I’ll be waitin’ tonight for sure!"
That night John Quincy did as he said he would. He took his rifle, and he went out to the sheep and cow pen and found a dark corner to hide in. Sure enough, the wolves came back to the sheep pen, and the giant one was with ’em! He’d never seen nothin’ like it before. It was tall as two men —in fact he could swear it was a man! He got to his feet and yelled out, "Hey you! I don’t know what in the hell you are, but you gonna die tonight!" He raised ‘is rifle to shoot, but the giant wolf ran to 'im
‘fore he could pull the trigger.
The wolf knocked the rifle outta Quincy’s hands and grabbed ‘im by the neck. The monster raised ‘im up ‘til he was even with its mouth. Quincy didn’t know what to do, this wolf was too strong, and he couldn’t breathe. Then he heard a voice in his head: C’mon ya stupid nigger, fight! The wolf still held him by the neck, its grip gettin’ tighter. Then the voice sounded again: C’mon ya stupid white-man, fight! Quincy knew who this wolf was now! "Henry? My God!" Said Quincy to the wolf. A smile appeared across the wolf’s face and his grip tightened as he blew his hot breath into Quincy’s face. Then the voice sounded one final time: The Devil offered me a real good deal, Master Quincy. Said I could have my revenge on you if he could have my soul. Nothin’s as bad as John Quincy, so I took his offer. Now look at me! What’s the matter, John Quincy? Ain’t ya gonna beg for your life? Henry’s grip tightened and John Quincy let out a final "Please Henry. Don’t . . ." Then he was dead. The reign of Master John Quincy was over — forever!
Now ya may be wonderin’ what ever happened ta ol’ Henry and his wolves? To this day, they still wait to claim the soul of any poor person that gets too close ta Devil’s Creek. So if one day, ya happen ‘pon a lonely wood outside a deserted farm and stop for a drink at a certain creek, beware ol’ Henry and the devil’s wolves . . .