My family (for these intents and purposes) comes from the mountains of Appalachian southern Virginia.

The older folks told tales of three specific monsters as warning against wayward children misbehaving (like many legends begin, I assume).

The Welcome Stretcher

A hairy loping figure with a seemingly normal torso, but its limbs are grotesquely doubled in length, each ending in a grasping, clawed, "hand". If you're found out in the night while it prowls the mountains, it will grab a hold of you by the wrists and ankles. The remainder of your existence is brief and excruciating as your legs and arms are ripped from your center.

Maul Tail

A giant muskrat creature (like deer-sized) with a spike-ball tail. It is unsure whether it harbors any ill will or is just a creature in the night. If you find yourself on the tail-end of this thing, however, you won't get a chance to contemplate one way or the other.

Bloody Bones

A horrifying visage that lurks for those who misbehave. No matter which direction you view this creature from, you see fresh bone protruding from peeled back, gory, flesh. The skull is always watching, waiting for you to come closer. If it catches a wayward soul out in the dark, then it would rip the bones from your body. Some say that he wears them until he finds another victim.

2 Answers 2


Awesome question! (We don't see enough Appalachian folklore:)

The Welcome Stretcher might well be a descendent of Procrustes.

Sixth, [Theseus] slew Damastes, whom some call Polypemon. He had his dwelling beside the road, and made up two beds, one small and the other big; and offering hospitality to the passers-by, he laid the short men on the big bed and stretched them, to make them fit the bed; but the tall men he laid on the little bed and sawed off the portions of the body that projected beyond it.
Apollodorus, Epitome; I.4

Offhand I can't think of a canonical creature that whomps things with it's tail, but Greek mythology certainly has a famous giant beast: the Erymanthian Boar, so Maul Tail is definitely a spiritual descendent.

The Bloody Bones is crazy specific, and you don't generally get that level of detail in the old texts. The bloodiness reminded me more of an Aztec god, Mictlāntēcutli: "depicted as a blood-spattered skeleton or a person wearing a toothy skull. Although his head was typically a skull, his eye sockets did contain eyeballs. His headdress was shown decorated with owl feathers and paper banners and he wore a necklace of human eyeballs, while his earspools were made from human bones." (Note that it's someone else's skull he is wearing;)

  • What an exciting answer! My mother swears that they are creatures of HER grandmother's imagination "to scare little kids", but I feel that these things are often steeped in some other history.
    – goodguy5
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 16:23
  • Absolutely. I agree with both your mother and yourself (it's rarely either/or, but most often a combination of imagination and prior history :)
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 19:39

After sitting down with my grandmother and searching online, we at least found bloody bones:


I'm not sure this stacks procedure for summarizing long articles, but basically bloody bones data back to 1500s England and is an amalgam of two other creatures. One is a skull stripped of skin and liable to bite called “Raw head” and the other its equally terrifying companion, a kind of dancing headless skeleton called “Bloody Bones.”

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