AppLit Home Appalachian Tales of Strong Women Tina L. Hanlon

"Molly Mulhollun," the Cabin Builder


"Molly Mulhollun, the Cabin Builder" features the only legendary woman figure in the Virginia tales collected by the WPA and published by Thomas Barden in 1991. Molly is a former indentured servant "possessed of the adventurous spirit," who astonishes everyone by dressing as a man and building thirty cabins in a contest to win her own land. In Barden, Thomas E., ed. Virginia Folk Legends. Charlottesville: UP of VA, 1991 (a selection of 150 legends from the previously unpublished materials collected by the Virginia Writers Project of the WPA from 1937 to 1942). Barden discusses Molly and this book in "Virginia Writers Project," which is chap. 22 in Hayes, Kevin J. A History of Virginia Literature. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2015.

"Molly Mulhollun, the Cabin Builder." In Battle, Kemp P. Great American Folklore: Legends, Tales, Ballads, and Superstitions from All Across America. Illus. John M. Battle. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1986.

"Molly Mulhollun, the Cabin Builder." In de Caro, Frank. An Anthology of American Folktales and Legends. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2009. pp. 274-75.

See also:

Mad Ann Bailey worked as a scout, messenger, and Indian fighter during the Revolutionary War.

 Mutsmag. In some versions of this tale, Mutsmag uses a knife her mother gives her and escapes on a horse, placing her in the context of deeds usually associated with male heroes. At the end of Tom Davenport's film Mutzmag, the heroic young orphan uses her reward to get her own house, achieving a comfortable balance of independence and neighborliness when she settles down near the "king and queen," a friendly rural couple who are grateful that she rid the neighborhood of the giant and witch.

Last update:  5/4/15


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