The Unexplained: The Creature in the Woods

A frame of the legendary Patterson-Gimlin film of the creature known as Big Foot.

Was the creature a survivor of the 1811 earthquake and thrown helpless into the wilderness where he became wild and savage?

Stories have appeared in newspapers published before the Civil War about an unusual sighting in Arkansas.  The stories were about a huge roaming creature and even though the articles were written long ago, you can tell that the creature they are describing is similar to a Bigfoot or Sasquatch.

This specific creature had come to be known as The Arkansas Wild Man or Wild Man of the Woods.  He may have faded from the collective memory, but he was very well-known for a time before the Civil War.

The Memphis Enquirer had widely-read articles about him.  The articles stated that the Wild Man was sighted as early as 1834 in Eastern Arkansas.

Crowly’s Ridge, west of Memphis, was the hot spot where sightings occurred frequently.

A more-detailed article was published in 1846, and the 1846 article was picked up by newspapers in the rest of the country.  He had been sighted, and they had footprints.  The track he made was twenty-two inches long, with toes as long as a grown man’s fingers.  Some sightings claimed the Wild Man to be twice the size of a regular man.

Sara Marie Hogg

The Baltimore Sun and the New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette had articles about the creature that added that he was giant-sized and covered with hair.

These sightings happened long before the reported Bigfoot sightings in the Pacific Northwest, especially in Washington and Oregon.

In 1851, the Fremont Weekly Freeman, Sandusky County, Ohio offered a theory about the origin of the Wild Man:  He was a survivor of the 1811 earthquake and was thrown helpless into the wilderness where he became wild and savage, and now only has an outward resemblance to humanity.

So many authenticated accounts came in that scouting parties were organized to search for him.  Memphis Col. David D. Cross and Dr. Sullivan were heading the expeditions in search of the Wild Man.

Another 1851 report appeared in The Planters Banner, Franklin, Louisiana.  It stated that in Greene County, Arkansas, some people out hunting saw a drove of cattle in an alarmed state, being pursued by something fearsome.

The hunters paused to watch the commotion and saw the cattle were being chased by an animal that had an unmistakable likeness to humanity.  He was covered with hair and his head hair came down in long locks around his shoulders.

The wild man stared at the hunters for a short time, then ran away at great speed by leaping twelve to fourteen feet at a time.

The Louisiana article went on to say that the wild creature had been well-known in St. Francis, Greene, and Poinsett Counties of Arkansas.  Sportsmen and hunters had seen him around for seventeen years.

More reports came in 1856 and these reports contained a vivid description of an attack by the Wild Man.  He got a reputation as a “biter and a gouger.”  The Wild Man seemed to travel and began appearing further west, in the Ouachita Mountains.

In 1856, The Athens Tennessee Post stated that the Arkansas Wild Man is a known biter and gouger that had been seen in recent days at Sunflower Prairie.  He was chased by locals aided by dogs.

One of those was pursuing the Wild Man on a horse, and when the rider emerged from the woods, the Wild Man jumped out and pulled him from the horse, gouged his eyes, and bit a chunk out of his shoulder.

The Wild Man then tore the saddle and bridle off of the horse and rode off on the animal.  That article said that the wild man was 6’4’ and of an athletic build.

Recently, an Ozarks mysteries site reported that in 2018 unexplained huge footprints were found near Diamond Crater State Park in Arkansas.  Also, around this same time, there were reported sightings of a Bigfoot creature roaming the area.


Please click HERE to find Sara Marie Hogg’s historical novel, It Rises from the Pee Dee, on Amazon.

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