The Legend of La Llorona

Hey, everyone. Today is Halloween, so I thought it would be a good day for another Legends and Lore post. I originally wrote this as one of my first Mystery Monday posts back in 2019.

A few weeks ago, Jan Sikes and I were discussing the following story about my grandfather’s brother, and she thought I should write a blog post about it.

Sometimes the most intriguing mysteries are ones passed down within your family. As a child, I was fascinated by stories my mother told me of things that happened to her or her relatives. Such is the case with a story about an ancestor who encountered a woman in white.

My grandfather’s brother, Hez, was on his way home one night after visiting his fiancée. He traveled by horseback, and the route required him to pass by a country cemetery. As he approached, he saw a woman standing beside a gate. When he spoke, she did not return his greeting. Feeling a bit unnerved, he started the horse in a trot.

The woman could keep stride, and Hez coaxed the horse to go faster. But even when in full gallop, the woman remained beside him. When he reached a second gate, she turned and went back into the cemetery. Hez died unexpectedly three weeks later.

Imagine my surprise when I first heard of the legend of La Llorona, the crying woman dressed in white. Supposedly, the legend dates back to the Aztecs when a white-adorned goddess left a cradle with the Aztec women. The cradle was empty except for an arrow shaped like a sacrificial knife. Supposedly, the tribe could hear her crying at night. Then she would vanish into a river or lake.

In the sixteenth century, there was a story of a peasant woman named Luisa who bore three sons to an upper-class man named Don Muño Montes Claros. When he abandoned Luisa to marry a woman of his stature, she killed the children, then ran through the streets wailing and screaming. Upon hearing the news of his children’s death, Don Muño committed suicide.

Over the centuries, the legend evolved along the Texas-Mexico border into The Legend of La Llorona. As the story goes, she was once a loving mother who went crazy and drowned her seven children. Unable to rest, she wanders at night in search of her babies.

The Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, Texas, not far from the Mexico border. Fort Stockton is about 100 miles from here.

As expected, there are many variations to the story, each adapted to fit a specific geographic locale. La Llorona supposedly is seen in cemeteries, one of which is St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery in Fort Stockton, Texas.

There are also accounts of a similar sighting in Henderson County which is deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas.

But the tale that intrigued me most was one I read in Patrick Dearen’s Portraits of the Pecos Frontier. According to local residents, the woman in white was seen as late as the 1960s. She would wait beside Highway 1053 between the towns of Imperial and Fort Stockton.[i]

A man who resided in Imperial often made the drive. On his return trip from Fort Stockton, the woman would “attach” herself to the man’s car and ride for about ten miles. His attempts to distract her, including driving at speeds up to 100 MPH, were futile. He never saw her on the trip to Fort Stockton, only when he returned to Imperial. Residents say the man died in a plane crash in the late 1960s. Apparently, this man was the only one with whom the woman would “hitch a ride.”

That account is the closest I’ve heard to the one involving my ancestor. He lived in rural Alabama, having never visited Texas. Methods of communication were scarce in the early 1900s, so it’s doubtful he knew of the Legend of La Llorona.

I found it interesting that both men died unexpectedly after having seen the woman.

Coincidence? Imagination? Something else? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The incident with my grandfather’s brother inspired me to write The Dare. It is one of thirteen stories included in my short story collection, scheduled for release in January 2023.

28 thoughts on “The Legend of La Llorona

  1. I wonder if the horse showed signs of being scared, if we believe animals are more sensitive to these things. Perhaps the woman wanted to accompany him on his final journey? I don’t know what to make of it, but it must have been hard for your grandfather to live with what happened to his poor brother.


    1. As I recall, the horse was scared. My grandfather had two brothers, this one and an older brother. Both died within a few years of one another. My great-grandparents outlived five of their eight children. The remaining three, including my grandfather, lived long lives.


  2. I’ve heard the story of La Llorona! Regardless of the version, it always makes me sad. I’ve recently watched the horror movie with the same title. I don’t think some people realize the truth that’s behind the tale, though. Thank you for sharing, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve heard of that movie but have never watched it. I prefer tales like these. You’re right, it is sad. I often think about what might have been had my grandfather’s brother lived.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Such intriguing legends! I’m glad you blogged about your grandfather’s brother. That is perfect for the theme of this post. I do think restless souls can attach themselves to a living being. I don’t know what to think about the quickly following deaths. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Happy Halloween, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What an amazing story, Joan. It certainly adds to the Halloween ghostly scares. I look forward to reading your collection! 🦇🎃🦇

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember you shared the family story before. This is a great tale, and I’ve tried to come up with a plot using something similar with no success. There’s even a country song about a ghostly hitchhiker I could use.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve seen a few movies based on this legend, and it always fascinates me. Even more so now you’ve shared your ancestor’s story. I look forward to your short story collection in January, Joan. Have a wonderful week 💕🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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