Thursday, October 21, 2010

Unusual Creek Name Recalls Texas Legends

Woman Hollering Creek
by Owen D. Sveter

Woman Hollering Creek, at its best known location, crosses southward under Interstate Highway 10 just east of San Antonio, Texas in Bexar County near Randolph Air Force Base. Some researchers have stated that the term "Woman Hollering" is a very loose translation from Spanish. The is a legend told to children in Mexico and the Southwestern U.S known as “La Llorona”; loosely translated as "the weeping woman" or "she who weeps". However there would have to be some mix up to confuse the Spanish interpretation of "the weeping woman” with “yelling/hollering woman” (la gritar).

Maps dating from the 1830s give the name 'Arroyo de la Llorona' to the stream now known as Woman Hollering Creek. This would seem to give further credibility to the weeping woman origin. John Troesser (2006) gives a very good discussion of the history of the creek with several alternative origins of the name from his web site contributors. The old folks in the area of the area of the creek have told 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.

Others have told that Woman Hollering Creek dates back to the period of the Republic of Texas (early 1800's) where a woman from a local settlement-was kidnapped by Indians, possibly Comanche's. 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. Be that as it may, on old Republic-period maps the creek now known as "Woman Hollering Creek" was called "Arroyo de la Llorona.

Another story tells that one day, a woman came to get water at the creek, 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.

According to the Wikippedia On-Line Encyclopedia, a woman who was pregnant drowns her newborn in the river because the father of the child either does not want it, or leaves with a different woman. The woman then screams in anguish from drowning her child. After her death, her spirit would then haunt the location of the drowning and wail in misery.

No matter the exact origin, the emotional screams of the woman can still be heard on occasion as is occasional sightings of the restless woman's spirit.

More recently (2001-2002) the Texas Bigfoot Research Center (TBRC) has suggested screaming sounds in the vicinity of the creek may be due to a Bigfoot type animal that could be related to the Legend of the Converse Werewolf that occurred in the mid 1800,s in Bexar County. The town of Converse is located in the vicinity of the creek near Randolph Air Force Base. Of course this is another legend, which I don’t need to go into as a part of this report. But if you’re interested in nine foot wolf/gorilla type creatures devouring a hunter, be my guest. The TBRC admits that more research is needed.

Others have suggested another, but awkward English translation of "la llorona" as (the moaning woman). A true translation of the moaning woman would be “a mujer de gimiendo”. This interpretation may be the closest to reality and the term “moaning” could fit with any other the stories of the origin from weeping to hollering/yelling. Therefore, I would propose changing the English translation to the “Woman Moaning Creek”.

To read more about Woman Hollering Creek and many other unusually-named features in Texas, visit   As a side note on the Spanish translations above, I would have to disagree. La Llorona doesn't refer to moaning or wailing, but to crying (llorar) or weeping. The noun for "the moaning woman" would be La gemida.  Or I could say: La vi. Ella gemía / I saw her. She was moaning. I would use gemir to express a true moan or wail. These stories either indicate a weeping woman (llorar) or a woman shouting (gritar) for help or in pain. I would agree, however, that the translation from La Llorona  to the Weeping Woman is flawed. But there's probably a story there too. And how 'Texas' is that, right? Hollerin(g). It somehow seems more colorful and fitting in the end anyway.

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