Curiosity next 20 miles
TE Photo, April 2001
We received a letter from a young reader asking about Woman Hollering
Creek. Her alert and informed teacher suggested she contact us. This
letter came not long after we read a piece by (Houston columnist and
author) Leon Hale. In his column Hale complained that he's
been asked about this particular creek scores of times, if not hundreds.
His complaint was (and probably still is) that people expect columnists
to know these things - when it's nowhere in the columnist's job description.
He said something to the effect that he wished the Texas Highway Department
wouldn't post such curiosity-piquing signs.
The reader mentioned that she was unable to find an answer anywhere
- including the Handbook of Texas - Online or otherwise. So, in hopes
that it will prevent letters, email and questions to columnists around
the state - here is what we've heard.
Firstly, The term
"Woman Hollering" is probably a very loose translation from the Spanish.
The widely-known legend of La
Llorona, "the weeping woman" or "she who weeps" is told to children
all over Mexico and the Southwestern U.S.
Letters (see forum below)
offers another (more plausable) source for the name.
The creek does actually flow when there is sufficient rainfall although
it may be reduced to a mere trickle. It flows toward New
Berlin and St.
TE photo, May 2001
Llorona is a fixture in the Mexican pantheon of restless spirits.
The tale dates back to the Aztecs and like "urban legends" - it possibly
arose from more than one source. Like proverbs - but more wordy -
it's a morality story. Variations are included:
A girl, young woman / married woman finds herself "with child." The
father of the child is:
A. not interested in fatherhood
B. runs off with another woman or
C. He's a new man that comes into her life who doesn't want children.
After giving birth, she then drowns the baby (your choice of gender)
A. out of despair and her inability to face parenthood alone.
B. For revenge, or
C. to gain the new man's attention by being unencumbered by child.The
A. still runs off with the other woman
B. wins the lottery and runs off with the other woman or
C. graduates from medical school and runs off with the other woman.
The only consistent facts in all the variations we've heard are: the
child is drowned - it's the girl who is pregnant, never the man and
she almost immediately regrets her act. She's always haunting the
scene of her horrible deed; weeping, sobbing, wailing, bellowing,
In some cases she has been said to appear headless - the wailing coming
from her detached head.
TE photo, May 2001
The sad, truth is that this does happen in real life
- even today. A woman in Houston was seen throwing her 5 children
off the Shepherd Drive Bridge into Buffalo Bayou not
too many years ago (one died, 3 were rescued from the water and one
was prevented from being thrown).
And of course, we all remember the Susan Smith case from not that
long ago. Nearly every woman who spends her girlhood in Texas has
heard the story.
of Seguin - author, raconteur, folklorist and Grandfather of the Decade,
related that he knew of a sighting on the banks of Walnut Creek
where the witnesses were totally and convincingly shaken by their
encounter. Seguin's Walnut Creek isn't far from Woman Hollering Creek.
The late Ed Sayers included the tale in his excellent Ghost
Stories of Texas. He mentions sightings on the Rio Grande
in El Paso
and on the Brazos at Waco.
Docia Schultz Williams, the ghost authority of San
Antonio, has at least one mention of La
Llorona in each of her numerous ghost story collections.
So that's all we know - hope it helps. Now, when you see the sign
- you'll know the story for your children or your traveling companion.
Use whatever variation you like, but please, don't bother Leon
Hale. (See Editor's Note)
We apologize if our version(s) differ from your grandmother's. - Editor
Creek as it flows southeast from its source ponds toward FM 1518 and
further down where it crosses under I-10. Woman Hollering Creek empties
into Martinez Creek just northeast of St Hedwig. - Ruben R. Hernandez,
Woman Hollering Creek
I am doing research on the short story "Woman Hollering Creek" and
I found your page really interesting, especially the number of Anglo
Texans very offended by the idea that the name comes from Mexican
folklore, and the insistence that it must be based on a white woman
who was captured by Indians....as if such a story wouldn't have
been invented way back when by the very ancestors they say it came
from "so must be true" ...very interesting how one story would replace
another, and much too convenient that it would be one that reinforces
our concepts of "Anglo Civilization" and the barbarous "Indians"...very
interesting, Dr. Anne McGee, July 20, 2017
Woman Hollering Creek: San Antonio
The Myth Is: A Women drowned her childern and she was crying because
she killed them. I've heard that you can hear her calling their
names and weeping, I guess you'd say.
The Indian Myth Is Not True. - Crystal Martin, July 08, 2008
Creek: Another Version of the Colorful Name
I have contributed stories and photos for Mackay
in the past. I came across your coverage about Woman Hollering Creek
and since I live about three miles from the source of this creek,
I'd like to add some additional information, and the attached photo.
(See photo above)
I have lived in Universal City, just outside the front gate to Randolph
Air Force Base, for over 45 years. I take my grandchildren fishing
on the small ponds / lakes just south of the base golf course. These
ponds are the source of Woman Hollering Creek. A map found on page
137 of Rand McNally's San Antonio and Vicinity shows its source,
although the small ponds are not shown. The ponds shown on the map
are within the golf course; although the creek's source ponds are
outside the golf course boundaries. The attached picture shows Woman
Hollering Creek as it flows southeast from its source ponds toward
FM 1518 and further down where it crosses under I-10. Woman Hollering
Creek empties into Martinez Creek just northeast of St Hedwig.
As I understand it, Webster's Handy College Dictionary defines "holler"
as the verb/noun "yell". I would not confuse "hollering" with "weeping"
as the legend of La Llorona implies. The legend of Woman Hollering
Creek is totally different. 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. - Sincerely, Ruben
R. Hernandez, Universal City, June 28, 2007
Woman Hollering Creek
At one time, back in the early '80s, the Highway Department sign
at Woman Hollering Creek actually did read Woman Hollow Creek. It
stayed that for about a year until somebody got through to the folks
who put up the signs & told them what the name of the creek actually
was. This was when there was an effort to identify the names of
all the rivers, creeks, & draws in the state & put road signs with
the names on them. There are a lot of 'Five Mile Creek,' 'Fifteen
Mile Creek,' & similar signs, because some of the creeks didn't
have actual names. They were called "that creek you cross five miles
out of town on the County Seat road."
Along State 16 below San Antonio there's Macho Creek. This has nothing
to do with the modern usage of the word 'macho.' 'Macho' is the
Spanish word for a gelded mule.
There's a creek in Seguin, tributary to the Guadalupe, that apparently
has never had a name. At any rate, when the state tried to find
out the name of the creek so a sign could be put up, no one--not
even the oldest folks in town--could remember the creek ever having
a name. - C. F. Eckhardt, September 06, 2006
Woman Hollering Creek
The local story I was told about Woman Hollering Creek dates back
to the period of the Republic. Supposedly a woman from a local settlement--which
settlement wasn't named in the story I heard--was kidnapped by Indians,
possibly Comanches. 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. Be that as it may, on old Republic-period maps the
creek now known as "Woman Hollering Creek" was called "Arroyo de
la Llorona." - C. F. Eckhardt, Seguin, September 02, 2006
from the 1830s give the name 'Arroyo de la Llorona' to the stream
now known as Woman Hollering Creek. - C. F. Eckhardt, Seguin, April
Creek is a real and sentimental story to those of us that are true
to our South Texas roots. Get your stories correct, for the sake
of Texas History. I just came across your website. After reading
the info on WHC, I did not care to read more of your site. Sorry!!
My loss. .....HA!! - Belinda Bell, July 05, 2005
I enjoy reading
your website. In regards to Woman Hollering Creek, here is some
information for you.
The creek itself starts at Randolph Air Force Base, in the
back part of the base near the golf course. Randolph is 2 miles
west of Schertz on FM78.
Once years ago, when we first moved here in 1971, I saw it on a
map, but swear at that time it was called Woman Hollow Creek, though
I could be wrong. The Texas Highway Dept. has county highway maps
dating from the 1930s, so it would be easy to check the creek's
In any case, the creek was used by both settlers and Indians for
water. Probably one day, a woman came to get water, and saw some
approaching Indians, and began yelling a warning, hence the name
Woman Hollering Creek. Or perhaps, one of her children fell into
the creek, again hollering for help. This is probably as good as
any. ... .- Holly Hilpert, July 10, 2002