4. The Werewolf of
Who forgot it? Surely nobody! Usually my stories start with these words. But not this time. Because in this case nobody remembers. Except the files, deep, deep, in the shelves. To be exact: the chronicles of several towns and villages, which can be found in the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives in the capital Frankfort. Because just they report about incidents in the year of 1778, which admitted only one conclusion then: A Werewolf haunted the region of Elizabethtown.
Basically, it was pure coincidence, that history student Milly Bookworm from Tulsa, Oklahoma, enrolled at the University of Kihei, found the story in 2015. For a seminar paper, she was researching at the Department for Libraries and Archives in Frankfort, when she got into a conversation with an employee of the department.
When the region of Elizabethtown was mentioned during this chat, the guy asked if she knew the story of the Werewolf there. She was surprises and answered No. And so, it happened, that chronicles and court protocols became accessible, which document a unique case. Milly conducted a research, that was really worth the effort.
Sary encounter in a full moon night: The photo montage shows,
what allegedly happened, when the terrible Werewolf attacked
the sailor Christian Berthold in the night to
February 21st, 1778 near Elizabethtown
The first mentioning of the story was in the Elizabethtown Chronicles 1778.
Here is reported about gruesome murder, to have taken place in the forests in the West of Elizabethtown on January 22nd. Victim then was Isobel Bellybaird, farm girl of a family in the region. In the late evening she still had attended a dancing party in a town nearby in the saloon “The Golden Crow”, before starting to go back home by foot. On the next morning her corpse was found near a footpath, “right terriblyest torne by full moons nighte,” as the chronicler noted.
The doctor of Elizabethtown examined the mortal remains of the unfortunate farm girl and came to the result: “One could guess, she mighte have been attacke bye an large beaste, may be a dogg or a wolwe. Just in regarde to the size of the wound one may be full of doubte, if there may be such great dogg or wolwe. One could also regarde, that an insane man completely out of his minde mighte be the cause of these terribel casee.”
Fear spread in the region west of Elizabethtown. Nearly nobody dared to go out of the house during the night. But nothing happened. For the moment nothing happened. Not before four weeks later, when again the full moon lighted up the banks of the Ohio, and sailor Christian Berthold on February 21st, 1778 after long travels was on his way back home from the river to his home Elizabethtown. A friend had given him a ride in his carriage until Rineyville, from here Berthold started around 7 pm by foot through the forests.
Due to his absence he didn’t know about the terrible incidents one month before. He was just surprised to see no people at all on the usually good frequented streets. He decided to take the shortest way, which is today known as the Rineyville Road, and was just passing a spot where we now find Leasor Lane junction, when he heard steps, obviously following him. He turned around, but although the moon lit the forest pretty well, nothing was to see – and nothing to hear any more too.
So Christian Berthold went forward – and the steps could be heard again, just closer to him this time. A quick view over his shoulder, and again the sound vanished and also nothing was to see. As this repeated time and again, Christian accelerated his speed. Finally, he was running along the way to Elizabethtown to get home soon. But then the creature behind him jumped.
Claws were digging in Christian Berthold’s thigh, ripping a big wound. He felt the warm blood running down his leg, but prevented to stumble and fall. Then the next attack came. Paws grabbed the shoulders of the poor guy trying to escape, and he could feel hot, evil smelling breath beside his head. But fortunately, well trained by man brawls in harbor pubs, he made it again to get rid of the monster. This fell into a dark bush beside the street, and Christian Berthold used the chance to flee out of the forest.
Arriving in Elizabethtown, he immediately reported to the local Sheriff, who took notes of the incident, which are today in the State’s Archives in Frankfort.
But even in these days the report had consequences. Christian Berthold just rarely had seen the attacker, but on one thing he was sure: „It was whether man nor animal.” For a dog or a wolf, it was much too big and humanlike. But it wasn’t a human being too, according to Berthold’s description. Very soon in these superstitious times a rumor made its way through the region: A Werewolf is roaming the forests of Elizabethtown.
From now on in full moon nights the doors were bolted and nobody left the houses after sunset. But the following full moon nights passed – eventually due to the cloudy weather – without incidents. In the meantime, the people started to look, who the Werewolf might be.
Then June 19th, 1778 came: After a starlit full moon night, farmers near Walnut Creek close to a meadow found the bodies of three travelling carpenters. The monster must have been “regarde thee terribliest woundes undoubtedly the gruesome murderer,” as the chronicler of Elizabethtown noted. From this moment on the search for the potential monster intensified.
And soon the people’s wrath had a suspicion: Caspar Temmler, the mentally retarded son of a farm worker near Walnut Creek, must be the monster. Because on the one hand the village idiot was scary due to his longs strolls through the forests during the nights. On the other hand a willow whistle, formerly owned by him, was found near the most recent crime scene.
This seemed to be evidence enough. Temmler’s protestation, to have lost the whistle on a stroll some days ago, didn’t find belief, as the police protocols in the State’s Archive proof. On July 17th, Caspar Temmler was arrested and brought to the city jail of Elizabethtown. When in the following night, the full moon of July, Temmler started to howl like a wolf, the case was clear for the authorities. Temmler must have been the murdering Werewolf!
On August 16th, according to the court files of Elizabethtown, the son of a Walnut Creek farm worker, Casper Temmler, was sentenced to death and died one day later on the executioner’s block outside the courthouse. His corpse was handed over to his parents, who buried him „at an unknowen place” – so the Elizabethtown Chronicle in the State’s Archive in Frankfort – in his beloved forests. Until today nobody is sure, if Temmler really was the murderer.
What happened to Christian Berthold, the surviving victim of the creature, is not known. He went on great journeys as a sailor again. And by this eventually brought the disaster of Elizabethtown into the wide world.
© Mig Phönix 2007