Mrs. Denbow and the Wolves

Another time my mother sent me for wood and I ran right into an old mother wolf, with her feet upon the fence ready to leap over, but our dogs ran her off. Still another time, Mrs. Denbow, one of our neighbor women, went out with her baby in her arms to hunt their sheep and got lost in the woods. She found their sheep and tried to drive them the way she thought her home was, but they would not go that way, till at last she gave them up and they ran home and she went the other way, thinking she was going home. She finally knew she was lost, but she kept going, crossing the river on a log, carrying the baby till night, when she lay down to rest. She soon heard a wolf near give its signal call and she hastened to a cherry tree near by, taking her baby by its clothes in her teeth and climbed the tree. The baby's dress tore once and she dropped it and it rolled down a little hill. She recovered it as quickly as possible, and climbed back up as fast as she could. She had no more than climbed out of their reach than the tree was surrounded with wolves sniffling at the ground where the baby had rolled and her bare and bloody feet had walked, for they were badly torn with the briars. She was so tired and worn that she was afraid she might go to sleep and drop her baby, so she tied her long hair to a limb of the tree to keep her awake. When her husband came home and did not find her, he was afraid the Indians had stolen her, so he hastened to my uncle's, and they started out to hunt for her on their side of the river. They hunted till midnight when my Uncle Jim crossed over to our side and called to my father. It frightened the dogs and set them barking, and Mrs. Denbow, being not far away, called to him and he answered her and went at once to her aid, shouting so that with the dogs help the wolves were frightened back until she was assisted down and taken to the nearest house where they had a bright fire and warm clothes ready for her...She went to bed and was not able to get up again for three weeks.

From: Martha McMurty Piatt, "Martha McMurty Piatt's Early Life," 1830.


© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96