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  • American Wild Men August 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    wild man

    The first in the series was for Britain and Ireland. Here is, instead, the US. Note that this would need to be read side by side with Chad Arment’s work on historical Big Foot. There is some overlapping.

    1851: Greene County (Arkansas), a supernatural sounding man covered in hair runs away from farmers jumping 13 or 14 feet at a time and with footprints that measure 13 inches. The sighting reveals that there have been several in the area over the years. Prest Chronicle 28 Jun

    1853: Florence (Alabama), a man named Goings had been captured who had lived in a cave in the woods, almost naked, and who was hunted down by the locals. He begged to be left alone claiming that he was doing no harm. Tipp Free Press 16 Apr 1853.

    1857: St Louis, a man discovered in a lair in the wood. He seems to have survived on cats. Claimed to be from New York and to have lived in the woods for 36 years. He was about 40 years old. He leapt over the policemen in the court and escaped. Lon Stan, 16 Apr 1857.

    1862: Jackson County (Indiana), a ‘thinly clad’ man was found in the woods. For 14 years he had lived there on ‘roots, herbs and berries’. Dying in captivity. Prest Chron 9 Jul 1862

    1865: Clearwater County (Pen), reports of a man covered with ‘copper-colored down’ found in the woods. Note that this may have been a joke at the expense of the local governor…

    1870: Utah, some backwoodsmen met a naked 40 year old with a vast club. On following his trail, after one of their horses were killed, they came to a cave with a set of soldier’s buttons that led the writer to think ‘that he is a man lost from Fremont’s command in 1846’. North Whig 18 Aug 1870.

    1874: Nashua, Ogle County (Illinois) a very strange ‘wild man’ this. He comes out at sunset with a pasteboard mask and a yellow and white uniform. He has long grey hair and sometimes walks on all fours ‘like a bear’. He can make ‘extraordinary leaps’. He stole a roll of carpet from the station master.

    1878: Tennessee, a wild man, a bankrupt shoemaker had been caught and was being prepared for show business. Of course… He was amphibious in habits and frequently shed scales. Also, his toes were growing together. Ed Eve News 16 Nov 1878

    1879: Wayne County (PA), some hunters had a strange encounter with ‘nearly naked’ man with remains of a corduroy suit in the middle of the wilderness. This (French?) man had previously haunted another area: in the Damascus Township. Bel New Let 13 Dec 1879.

    1879: Hill’s Ferry (Cali?), some hunters saw a completely naked man twice in the woods. On the second occasion he was banging stones together. Hud Chron 19 Sept 1879 [banging stones together is often associated with Big Foot]

    1886: Flint Hills (Kansas), a wildman with handcuffs (presumably an escaped convict) had hidden in the wood and killed various locals. Sounds more like a bad horror film than credible news. He was hunted down after being injured by a revolver shot and killed. In his lair were the skeletons of his victims. Ab Jour 30 Sept 1886

    1887: Oaklands (Illinois) a wildman had been captured after a dozen men had wrested him down. He had no language and had five foot long hair. Dun Eve Tel 20 Sept 1887

    29 Aug 2015: Bruce T writes ‘in your latest Wildman post, one article mentioned the banging of rocks, which as you noted are often reported in Bigfoot ‘encounters’. Banging rocks together or stout sticks against trees, loud whistles, or if you have one, firing a gun, is rudimentary sound signaling in the woods of North America and has been for centuries.Three spaced bangs/whistles/shots means you need help, two spaced bangs means you’ve been heard. There are a number of others that my aging brain can’t recall, but every country boy knows the rule of two’s and three’s. It makes me wonder if Bigfoot researchers haven’t been running away in terror from lost hunters for decades? On the idea of the wild man of the woods being brought  from the Old World to the New. Perhaps, but not recently, more likely it came with the first people to enter the continent. The Sasquatch-Boss of the Woods stories are known to exist on the northwest coast of North America from before European contact. It shows up as a motif on totem poles, in textiles and in woven and bent wood baskets found in pre-contact archaeological sites in that region. My guess is it that the idea came from east Central and northeast Asia some tens of thousands of years ago, making its way into the Americas with the first peoples down the coast. As for wildmen, odd recluses living in the wilderness are nothing new, either in the New or Old World. St. Simeon Stylites and his imitators being prime examples.’

    29 August 2015: Luke the Drifter writes ‘I enjoyed your post about American Wild Men very much. The area where I grew up and still live is home to a similar story of somewhat earlier date: The Wild Man of the Navidad. There are a lot of surprising things online about this Wild Man, and an elaborately bizarre movie was made on the subject some time ago. Be that as it may, all we ever actually heard when we were growing up was a sad but matter-of-fact description of a feral runaway slave, or slaves. Although the Navidad Wild Man was the most famous, we were given to understand that it wasn’t a unique situation. No Bigfoot. Nothing supernatural. No African royalty. It was taken as a fact of history and common knowledge. The Wild Man of the Navidad wasn’t even particularly frightening, although there was some doubt about the other, less well-defined wild people (some of whom might still be out there, after all!) One story that stuck with me had the Wild Man returning a borrowed chain with each link carefully polished, presumably with sand. Here are a couple of articles, if you care to look farther: (1) and (2).