South Texas Haunted Folklore: The Tale of the Donkey Lady

Written by Michael Mayes; Adapted by David Elder

The story of the Donkey Lady is known throughout San Antonio and South Texas.

There are many variations of how the donkey lady came to be, but the paranormal incidents reported at the bridge off Elm Creek are all similar.

Here is a version of the Donkey Lady story by author Michael Mayes:

Years ago, most agree sometime in the mid-1800s, a settler woman lived near the banks of Elm Creek with her husband and two children. 

The couple was barely scratching out a living from farming the stingy South Texas soil and raising a few head of livestock. 

One day, the son of a wealthy San Antonio merchant came riding onto or near their property. Somehow, the young man came into contact with a horse or mule belonging to the pioneer family. The young man, the story goes, teased the animal and hit it with a stick. 

The poor animal retaliated in the only way it knew how and bit the merchant’s son. Enraged, the young man began to beat the animal even more severely than before. The poor creature’s cries reached the ears of the pioneer couple and they quickly rushed to the scene.

It became obvious to the couple that their animal, no doubt vital to their livelihood, was about to be beaten to death. The couple began throwing rocks at their animal’s assailant and pelted him several times. They did not realize this young man was the son of an important man in town. 

The young man hurled a string of expletives at the couple as he retreated but swore he would get even with them.

That night, a party of men, led by the wealthy merchant and his son, stealthily approached the young family’s cabin and set fire to it with torches. 

The heavily armed men refused to allow anyone inside the cabin to leave. Desperate, the man of the house attempted to make a break for it in the hopes that his wife and children could escape while he distracted their attackers. 

Alas, he was gunned down almost immediately upon setting foot outside the cabin. The screams of the woman and her children as they burned alive were heard up and down the creek for over a mile. 

Just as the mob was sure that their unholy task was complete, a figure, engulfed in flames, smashed through what was left of one of the cabin windows and staggered toward the stunned and now terrified men. 

The woman’s hands seemed to have been burned down to mere nubs and her face appeared to have melted or sagged to the point that it was unnaturally long and deformed. The poor creature’s clothes were gone, burned away, revealing skin charred completely black yet, somehow, still on fire. 

The wretched creature that had once been a happy, sod-busting wife and mother let out a bone-chilling wail and then staggered past the men and hurled herself off the bank and into the waters of Elm Creek. 

The criminal mob followed to the point from which she had launched herself into the black water but saw no trace of her. Her body, it is said, was never found.

Photos exist of damage allegedly done to vehicles by the “Donkey Lady.” It is said that if you park on the bridge, shut off your headlights and wait, you will almost certainly encounter something truly terrifying.

This rendition of the Donkey Lady was written by author Michael Mayes of Texas Cryptid Hunter.

About the Author

David Elder is the host and executive producer of the food and travel show Texas Eats on ABC KSAT 12

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