Sam Hart of Woburn

Sam Hart of Woburn : In American folklore of New England, a horseman who once entered into a race with the devil. The devil appeared to Sam in the form of a country parson riding a black horse and challenged Sam to a race. Both set off at once, but Sam soon realized that the horse and its rider were none other than the devil. He headed for church land, which he knew the devil could not traverse. When he reached the sacred site, the devil’s black horse went down on it haunches and threw the devil. Realizing he had lost, the devil said:

“You’ve cheated one whose business is cheating, and I’m a decent enough fellow to own up when I’m beaten. Here’s your money. Catch it, for you know I can’t cross holy ground, you rascal. And here’s my horse. He’ll be tractable enough after I’ve gone home and as safe as your mare. Good luck to you.”

A whiff of sulfur smoke burst up from the road, and the devil disappeared. But Sam’s neighbors never trusted his black horse. One day, they said, it would carry its owner to hell to meet the devil.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow-Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante