Sunday, August 3, 2008

Old Fon

Germany Valley view from Rt. 33 North Mountain. My family were the original settlers of Germany Valley.

You will probably recollect me talking about the North Mountain Rocks in a recent post. This got me to thinkin’ of another story concerning the Rocks, and it involves a creature known as the goat man My Grandmaw Mary told us tales of the goat man who was said to live up on rock cliffs, she said the goat man would lure children up to the rocks by humming a song of enchantment. When the children got up to the steepest cliffs, the goat man would shove them off. Grandmaw said he had the lower body of a goat but walked upright like a man and he had curly horns on his head. He was certainly a creature not to be trifled with. His name was Old Fon.

A view of North Moutain Rocks, looks like prime Fon habitat.

Grandmaw Mary said when she was a girl that she had heard the music made by the goat man, she said it sounded real pretty. She immediately recognized from tales she had heard what it was and from whom it was coming from so she said she put her hands over her ears and ran home. Grandmaw Mary said her mother called all the kids into the house and wouldn’t let them outside for the rest of the day. Grandmaw said that the family dog, which wasn’t afraid of anything, laid outside the front door and whined, so whatever was out there, the old dog was afraid of.

Another view of North Mountain Rocks, home of Old Fon!

Grandmaw Mary said that once you were under the spell of the goat man, the only way to get away from him was to call him by his name and tell him to his face, “Leave me alone, Old Fon.” Upon hearing that, the goat man would run screaming into a cave in the cliffs and leave you alone.

I now know that many of the tales and legends of my childhood are of German origin and were brought this country by my ancestors. My brother, who is a buff for supernatural beings and spirits, told me that the Old Fon that Grandmaw told us about as kids is actually a fairly well known mythological creature that is known as “Faun” or "Pan".

Old Fon lives here.

Such tales made for lively times growing up on the mountain, nothing is more fun for a child than to know that a little danger & magic exists in your world.


Tipper said...

Very neat post. I've never heard of the Goat Man-but it is very interesting. Love the pictures.

Granny Sue said...

I've read about this legend, Matthew. The version I heard was based in Maryland, probably in Garrett County. Definitely an old-world story.

Matthew Burns said...

Granny Sue,
That would stand to reason, Garrett County, MD had a large population of German settlers in its early days as did Pendleton County, WV.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these stories and keeping them alive. I am currently uncovering my family history. I find myself in West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. I enjoy reading your blog.

Pg Humphrey said...

Great story. My grandfather's name was Teter, and he had always claimed German heritage. I don't know if he was of the same Teter's connected with German Valley or not. Most of the info I have found about his ancestors seems to be TN and NC. He had a 100 acre farm in Morgan County, TN, and I have great memories from that place as a child. I can remember him taking me and my cousin walking down the old gravel roads on his property at night. He called it coon hunting, but we never took a gun. He just wanted to get out and go walking. We were 8 or 9 years old. He would tell us about a creature called a woods devil, sounded similar to Ole Faun but his creature was half man and half horse (had horns, so it must have had some goat too). I can't help but wonder if this too was from the same German heritage (his own interpretation of Faun). He would stop in the road and say, "listen boys." We would hear a deer or something in the dark woods. "I think that is one of those woods devils now." He would take off running -me and my cousin making tracks right behind him. He wouldn't go far, till he stopped and waited on us...laughing so hard. Great memories. Whatever the origin, stories are indeed a great part of our heritage.
Blessings, Paul Humphrey