THE WOLF-BOY OF HUMBUG TOWN

submitted by Abigail de la Badie

POWESHIEK: Humbug Town became home to Essad Zogu and his family, all immigrants from Albania, in 1858. There is strong evidence that the eldest son, handsome and rugged Locyta, was a man-eating werewolf. The shocking tale comes from old copies of the Poweshiek Press-Scimitar,  a now defunct newspaper published up to the end of the Civil War. The yellowed and crumbling dailies were discovered in the attic of Lars Andrews, a descendant of the Zogu family on his maternal grandmother's side.

Andrews, last of his line, was killed in a freak farm accident involving a combine and a fence post in October. Owing a significant sum to the bank, state officials were searching his home for property which might be auctioned to offset the outstanding balance of his debt and found the old newspapers. Realizing they had little monetary value but might be of interest to historians, the papers were sent to the Poweshiek chapter of the State Historical Society, who rejected them as fraudulent without examination. The desk clerk who received them sent them back, stating that no such newspaper had ever been published in the state.

Henry Kramer, Head of Acquisitions at the B. Lavatsky Museum, heard of the find through operatives. He purchased the newspapers from Poweshiek County for 25 cents. The materials were turned over to Jacob Springer, Head of Authentifications at B. Lavatsky Museum. Springer spent the next few months analyzing paper quality and ink samples, while staff interns poured over records in the State Capital. Finally, Springer's team verified the paper fibers to be an age appropriate to the newpaper's printed dates, and that such a newspaper was published in Poweshiek County though business records may have been destroyed in an attack on the county seat by Quantrill's raiders during the last days of the Civil War. Although the Press-Scimitars  were now authenticated, proving the veracity of stories might have been more difficult, were it not for the family scrapbooks and diaries contained in a fireproof safe purchased by Kramer at the auction of the Andrews Farm for $3.50!

From these materials a terrifying story unfolds. In the latter part of 1859 the newspaper reported missing livestock, women, and children from the tiny community of Humbug Town. In 1860, Locyta being arrested for the savage murder of a child, and cannibalizing its corpse. Horrifying enough, but when we add the eyewitness accounts of the boy "...assuming the shape and characteristics of a wolf to carry out his grisly deed" we have a tale almost too terrifying to consider!


Within the pages of Locyta's diary, currently on display at the Lavatsky Museum, he tells the tragic details

"I wis xplorin the wood, and encountered a misterius Canadian. He tel me he wis trackin wulfs, and shewed me the tracks he found in the mud of the ground....He tel me good money come from thir hydes and placed on my back a wulf fur cape. It wis warm and soft but sticky and wet inside. Thin he tel me that he humt 'em by way of magik, and thit wulfs use magik to hunt too....thet ifn you drink water from the print of what prey you be huntin thin you cin sees through the eyes of whit ye hunt. He done it and I done it and it were true enuf. The sun wint downe and day become night and whin I looked agin the Canadian were gonne and mi fine fur cape was jis a wool blanket. I wis scarered and run to home to mi mother."
The date of this entry, September 29th 1859, is exactly two days prior to the disappearances reported in the Press-Scimitar. A check of the Farmer's Almanac further revealed that this day was the first day of the full of the moon. The newspaper attributed the disappearances to a pack of wolves sighted by local trappers. Locyta was also aware of the wolf trouble, and did not forget his encounter with the strange Canadian woodsman
October 13, 1859

"I tlked to Mama, bout some strange feelins I bin have. I see in mi hed visions of running barefoot in the wood and had a dream last nite of cracking open a man's skull in mi teeth and eat his brain like pudding from a cup. I feel a raw thirst fer blood and hunger for human flesh, ispeshlly young gilrs....Mama switched me fer sayin so and sez I kin not talk to girls no more an kin not leave the house without her. I gis I sneak out sometims cause I wake up in bed covered in mud and there is blood under my nails and hair n my teeth and I have to wash my bedclothes afor its discovered I am turning into a wulf. I know I bin magiked by thit damned Canadian."


On June 14, 1860, Ione Zogu, Locyta's mother was in her home taking care of a neighbor's infant. Her son, who had taken to having fits and howling at strangers from the confines of the house, was huddled in a dark corner clutching his knees, mumbling gibberish, and shuddering against occasional spasms of desire. He watched his mother coddle and feed the babe, occasionally letting out guttural growls through clenched teeth, and sometimes sobbing. When his mother placed the child in the crib to nap, Locyta could control his passions no longer and jumped to his feet, snatched up the child, and dashed into the woods. There, according to The Press-Scimitar,  he

"...tore at the tiny carcass with orgiastic delight. This infernal scene was witnessed by his mother, several aghast townsmen, and the Sheriff who could scarce believe his eyes as the young Albanian's teeth lengthened measurably with each bite. The wolf-boy's eyes glowed red with evil and a shaggy coat of gray fur sprouted from his naked back. The scent of fresh blood drew other wolves from hiding but, timely gunshots by the Sheriff and others caused the gathering pack to flee. Locyta, sated by his gruesome repast, resumed human shape and lay down amid his victim's bloodied bones to sleep."
Locyta Zogu, ca.1855

Locyta Zogu, ca.1855

Impassioned pleas by his mother saved the boy from being executed on the spot, and he was tried in the county court for murder of the infant. Though Locyta confessed to the other murders and disappearances, he was never charged with those crimes. A medical doctor from a large "University in the East" (not specified by the newspaper) testified that the boy suffered from a condition of the mind, or psychosis, called "Lycanthropy". According to the doctor, this mental illness causes a perceived need to eat human flesh and can often manifest a delusional state in which the victim believe's they have literally become a wolf in order to justify their morbid desires to themselves. The doctor further conjectured that the townspeople who witnessed the boy's transformation had experienced a mass hysteria having been mesmorized by the horror of the crime played out before them.

With this testimony, Locyta was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in a monastery in the northeastern part of the state, along the banks of the Mississippi (Name of the Abby withheld by request).

After a year there, reportedly still behaving like an animal-running around on all fours, and eating any raw meat he could find-Locyta escaped, broke into a butcher shop in the nearby town, and set about gorging himself on sides of beef. Hearing the clatter, and fearing that a burglar had broken in, the butcher crept downstairs. The Novemeber 27, 1861 Press-Scimitar,  recounts that the man was immediately attacked there by a "ferociously strong furry beast with great teeth. I escaped certain death by stabbing the monster in the head three times." When he was able to light the room, he saw that his cuts of meat had been strewn about, partially devoured. In the midst of the chaos "lay the lifeless body of a young boy, blood streaming from three puncture wounds in his forehead."

Whatever the truth of his malady, strange Canadian or mental illness, the young Albanian immigrant had finally found peace.


Sources

Poweshiek Press-Scimitar, Sept. 30, 1859 through November 27th, 1861
Locyta Zogu's diary, courtesy B. Lavatsky Museum




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