Jinx Johnston is one of those country people who had a true encounter of a famous legend. The legend of the Wampus Cat. Jinx was a robust man. He stood about 6 feet high and weighed around 200 pounds. He was the type of man that could not scare very easily. The camp fire would cast eerie shadows on the faces of his audience as he began to tell his story of the Wampus Cat. Below is Jinx Johnston's tale of the Wampus Cat.
There was an old woman who lived by herself in the hills of West Virginia. Townfolk swore she was a witch. People would complain their cattle would be hexed and other farm animals would come up missing. They all blamed the old woman because she lived like a hermit. Supposedly, she would turn herself into a cat and hide until someone would open the door. She would dart into the house and wait for her victims to fall asleep. She would cast a deeper sleeping spell on the farmer and then she would slip out of the window to steal a farm animal. The witch was so good at what she was doing, she was never caught.
One day, the townfolks decided they had grown tired of their livestock coming up missing or dead. They devised a plan to catch the witch in her own act. She snuck into an unsuspecting house and placed the whole family under her spell. She jumped out the window as she had always done and went straight for a cow or sheep. Uncle Jinx always changed the animal this woman was after. The old woman, still in her cat form, went to the barn. She began chanting spells to change herself back into human form. Before it was completed, several people jumped out and surprised her. The poor old woman never had the chance to complete the transformation. It left her half woman and half cat. A ghastly creature to the eye sight. The creature howled with fright and broke down the door. She ran off into the night, never to be seen again. Jinx Johnston said time is important for a witch if she was changing back from an animal to a human again. The spell she had cast upon herself could never be reversed or fixed. The witch was doomed to be the Wampus Cat for the rest of her life.
On nights when the moon is high, and the wind is blowing hard, you can see this creature. It walks upright like a human but has the body of a large cat. It howls and supposedly still stalks the hills of West Virginia. This creature is said to stalk farm animals but prefers young children the best.
Jinx would always finish his story by telling his audience how he used to go raccoon hunting. He and his 'coon dogs would be out looking for raccoons to tree. The moon would always be bright in the sky and the howls of the Wampus cat would ring in his ears. One night, the dogs were way ahead of him. He kept hollering for them to return but they never did. The robust man went on to tell how he tripped over something and his rifle went flying out of his hands. He smelled an awful smell. He said it smelled like a skunk and a wet dog. He looked up and saw this hideous creature. Saliva dripping from its fangs, and yellow eyes that glowed in the dark, and a howl that nearly brought him out of his skin. Jinx looked for his rifle but it was lost in the dark. He got up and slowly backed away from the creature. He turned around and ran as fast as he could towards home. Jinx told how he could feel and smell its breath on his neck. He bolted inside his house and slammed the door. He reached for his bible and began reading out loud. The Wampus Cat howled at his words. Finally, just as the sun peeked over the hill, the Wampus Cat left. He said this was the reason he stopped treeing raccoons at night. Jinx's fear of the Wampus Cat was greater than chasing a raccoon up a tree. Some mountain folktales never seem to die in the hills of the northern territory of the United States.
The second version of the Legend of the Wampus Cat begins this way. According to an old Indian legend, the Wampus Cat was created. It was said a young Indian woman did not trust her husband. It was custom for the men of the Indian tribe to hunt while the women did things around the encampments. The women were forbidden to hunt. One night, she placed the hide of a mountain cat on her body. She snuck out to spy on her husband to see what he did on his hunting trips. As the hunters gathered around their camp fires, the woman watched them. She became fascinated with the stories and the magic that was presented to the men of the Indian tribe. The poor woman was caught and for her crime, she was transformed into what is known as the Wampus Cat. The woman was doomed to be forever half woman and half mountain cat. The ghost of the Wampus Cat is still said to walk the hills of Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. On full moons, you can see the Wampus Cat howling. Is she howling because of her grave mistake and wishes to be transformed back to her humanly body?
But just remember this, when you are camping in the woods, and you hear her wail, she is near and may come to visit you.