Paul Willard Bunyan: 1803-??
“A beloved figure in both Muggle folklore and the history of the AWC, Paul Willard Bunyan was the adopted son of Gavin and Jane Bunyan of Cumbria. Though there are few written records to tell us of the Bunyan’s life in England, it is believed that Paul was actually the son of Gavin’s sister, Mariame, who died the same year Paul was born and subsequently adopted. As the story goes, Paul was the product of an assault against Mariame at the hands of the giant known as Tumblebones, who was tracked down and killed by English Aurors several years later after rampaging through Northern England. Mariame apparently refused to abandon the resultant pregnancy despite healers from across the islands telling her that her chances of survival were slim.
Paul and his family faced persecution nearly from the day he was born. Not being overly close with the Muggle community, and facing ostracisation from the magical community that viewed Paul as some sort of abomination, the final straw came when Headmistress Acalle Nott took over at Hogwarts. Taking the post from her predecessor (who retired to better treat wounds sustained from a cockatrice nearly a decade later) Acalle was a strict disciplinarian and a powerful voice amongst Purists. She declared, upon taking over, that while the school would remain a bastion of magical education for human children, it would only be for human children.
Hoping to make a new life for himself and his family, Gavin moved them across the ocean to the still youthful American Wizarding Confederation in 1811. The family settled outside of Bangor, Maine in 1812, where they found a small but extremely accepting magical community who embraced them readily. As Paul grew (and he grew quickly) he showed only the weakest of magical talents, but his strength was incredible even for his massive size. By the time Paul had turned 8 he already stood close to six feet tall and was stronger than a bull.
At the age of 11 Paul attended the Salem Institute, but dropped out before finishing his fifth year due to the constant bullying and cruelty of his fellow students who insisted on believing that Paul’s immense size heralded a small intellect. Unable to face the shame of returning to Bangor and his expectant family, Paul went west, finding work easily amongst loggers and other frontiersmen. He didn’t go alone of course. During his school years Paul formed an immensely close relationship with the Salem Institute’s Graphorn, a massive beast brought over from Germany to help with student instruction on magical beasts. The night he left, Paul broke the beast’s chains and took her west with him.
Taking such a beast amongst muggle logging camps should have been an impermissible breach of the statute, but given the distance Paul traveled from the central authorities of the AWC and the seeming willingness of most Muggles to ignore magic even when it is right in front of their faces, Babe passed with little comment, being treated as some sort of massive Blue Ox rather than a magical beast. Affectionately named “Babe” by the wizard-turned logger, the graphorn proved to be remarkably biddable for one of its kind, and it worked alongside its master pulling logs and clearing trees.
Paul and Babe lived amongst the Muggles for many decades. Though Paul grew to a monstrous 11 feet tall according to our latest records, he was well beloved the mundane woodsman he worked with, and became a guardian for them in the dark, wild places of the Americas. Of course the tales Muggles tell greatly exacerbate his legend, giving him another forty feet in height and the ability to form lakes and mountains with the most casual of actions, but even those few stories spread amongst wizards paint a portrait of a remarkable man, who once fought a full grown Gowrow to save a fellow logger, and tricked a band of Goblins into making him a mighty ax, capable of shearing through redwoods as easily as twigs.
But perhaps the most remarkable thing of all is what the story really tells us about ourselves, and the way we deal with our Muggle brethren. Confronted with the clearly magical, the men and women of those frontier camps did not light torches or form mobs…they accepted Paul and Babe as one of their own…a creature of the frontier, and a legend in the making.”
-Willard Stockhausen, Jumping the Broom: Wizards and Witches who Breached the Barrier of the Magical and Mundane. 1998.