JACK AND MOSSYFOOT

Reprinted in AppLit with permission, from the James Taylor Adams Collection
U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College

Collected by James Taylor Adams
Big Laurel, Va.

NOTE: This text was recopied directly from a typewritten copy in the archives of the Blue Ridge Institute. James Taylor Adams (1892-1954) kept typewritten copies of the folktales he and others collected during the last thirty years of his life, while he lived in Wise County, VA.  Any typographical errors or dialect spellings in Adams' typescripts have not been changed. This tale and others from the Adams collection have been published by Charles L. Perdue, Jr., in Outwitting the Devil: Jack Tales from Wise County Virginia (Santa Fe, NM: Ancient City, 1987). For details on variants of this tale, see Jack and Mossyfoot in AppLit's Annotated Index of Appalachian Folktales.


Told by Glady Bolling, 17, daughter of Henderson Bolling. She heard Shelby Bolling tell it and he learned it from Boyd Bolling. Told Feb. 5, 1942 at the Flat Gap High School.

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One time there was a woman who was a widow and she had one boy named Jack. Jack disobeyed his mother one day and she whipped him. He decided he was going to run away. He went down the road and lay down under a tree and after while he got up and went down the road and by night he was away off in the woods. He was sort of afraid out there by hisself and built him a fire to keep him company. After awhile he heard something coming, "Whoomity, whop, whoomity whop." He looked and there came the awfulest thing he had ever seen in his life. Oh it had eyes as big as saucers and like balls of fire and its legs were ten feet long, its tail fifteen feet long and its feet were long and covered with moss. So Jack knowed right off it was a mossyfoot. He was scared. He grabbed up a chunk and throwed it at the mossyfoot and it went off. But soon he heard it coming again, "Whoompity, whop, whoomity whop." And its eyes like big balls of fire. He throwed another firey chunk at it and it ran off again. But soon hit was back again, "Whoomity whop, whoomity whop," and its eyes shining like balls of fire. He throwed his last chunk at it. It ran off, but soon he saw hit's big eyes shining and heard hit coming. "Whoomity whop, whoomity who[p."] He ran this time and clomb a tall hickory. But right on it come, "Whoomity whop, whoomity whop," and its eyes shining like balls of fire. Hit began to gnaw at the roots of the tree, just "gnawity gnaw, gnawity gnaw." And hit wasn't long till the tree began to fall. Jack thought he was a goner as the tree came up and down, but just before hit struck the ground he woke up.

Record Copy Made by Blue Ridge Institute to Replace Unstable Original, April, 1991

[JTA-72] 400 words


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