Fiddling for the Wolves

Fife Folklore Archives

Fiddlin' for the Wolves
Hilton, Mary H.
Utah, Ogden
August 26, 1946
(see also Tom Carter Collection Reel 172)

Listen to audio: Fiddling for the Wolves.mp3


"Fiddling to the Wolves" told by Mary H. Hilton. Presumed recorded on disc by Austin and Alta Fife at Ogden, Utah, August 26, 1946. [Informant information derived from tape inventory of Tom Carter Collection (Reel 172) at Brown University, but transcript was made (July 22, 2005) from open reel tape in Fife Collection at Utah State University, dubbed by SG to Apple Powerbook July 19, 2005 during a visit to the Fife Collection.]


"I'm going to tell you a story that was told to me by my Grandmother Bingham.

When she was a young girl they held dances in Plains City and everyone from miles around in Weaver County would go to the dance which was held in a large barn.The main music which they had for this dance was played by a fiddler whom everybody affectionately called Uncle Tom.

Twas in the middle of the winter when they decided to have a big dance in the barn, so they sent for Uncle Tom.

Twas late he got his chores done. He began walking toward Plains City and found that he couldn't go along the usual road because of the drifts. So he cut back over across the Weaver River and started down through the river bottom by Wilson Lane.

As he was walking along, he heard in the distance a "whoop whoop whoop whooooo." He'd heard that there were timber wolves around but he didn't pay much attention until suddenly over on the other side came an echo--  "ooooooh."

Pretty soon he could hear something behind him. Then on the other side "whoop whoop whoop whoooo." Then suddenly he realized it was a wolf pack gathering.

He hurried through the snow as fast as he could go, and finally he came to the cabin where the McFarland boys had boiled their molasses, called the old molasses house. He went inside and hastily shut the door, all the time hearing the wolves getting closer and closer.

He was very frightened but-- when he turned around and saw that someone had removed the window. Because it wasn't very far from the ground, and if the wolves were really hungry, they would jump in.

He hardly knew what to do. He looked around and saw the huge stone fireplace and decided "well I could climb up into there and they couldn't catch me." So he went up the fireplace.

And suddenly remembering his violin, he scrambled down again and took it with him. He sat on the-- sat up in the top of the fireplace with the wolves around him howling and jumping.

Suddenly, they began to build a ladder, just as you've seen pictures of them do. One wolf braced his feet against the side of the cabin and another wolf jumped on his back. And another one jumped on his back.

In the meantime, the people at the dance began to be worried because Tom hadn't come. So several of the boys went out and hitched up a team to a sled and started out hunting for him. And went down just the very trail they thought he was taking.

As they were driving through Wilson they heard the howling of the wolves and turned over toward the old molasses house. And then as they drew nearer, they could hear Uncle Tom.

He suddenly remembered that animals were charmed by music. And there he sat on the top of the chimney fiddling away as hard as he could the "Turkey in the Straw."

The boys shot the wolf--  the wolves, and killed one of them. The rest of them were frightened and ran away, and they rescued poor old Tom, but he nearly died of pneumonia.

And when they counted the wolf tracks round the cabin, they found as near as they could tell that there were more than seventeen wolves in the ... pack."