Much has been made in recent months about reported “Bigfoot” sightings in our neck of the woods, and many of you in the reading audience will remember reading about the “Jackson County Giant” several weeks ago in The Courant. As things go, these types of events are nothing new and were not unheard of in our part of the world even more than a century ago.
For those of you who missed it, the “Jackson County Giant” was first reported in a North Alabama newspaper in the 1890s. According to that story, a giant was spotted near Scottsboro and a group of over 300 men teamed up to capture the giant, which was said to be 21 feet tall. This giant eventually broke out of its bonds and escaped, but not before getting a write-up in the local newspaper.
As it turns out, strange encounters with unusual things in the woods also happened around here more than a century ago. Vince Lauria, a Bigfoot investigator who attended the organizational meeting of the Southwest Alabama Bigfoot Hunters on Dec. 15 in Evergreen, sent me an interesting story last week about a “wild man” who was capture in the woods not far from Evergreen.
The story that Vince sent me was a copy of a short news item from the 1870s that was reprinted in a book about Escambia County history. What follows is the portion of the story about the reported “wild man” in the 1870s:
“Most towns have a tradition of some very unusual happening, and Brewton is no exception. In the late 1870s, it was rumored that an ape or wild man had been sighted in Hell Hundred, an impenetrable jungle swamp located on the east side of the railroad at the northeast end of town. Numerous sightings were reported, causing uneasiness to grip the town.
“Some suggested that perhaps it was an ape that had escaped from a show. Search parties were sent out, but the creature had a keen instinct that helped him to elude the posse; however, he was finally surrounded and captured. He had a ‘pitiable and grotesque human image,’ could utter no intelligible sound and acted like a wild beast, with seizures so violent that he had to be secured with chains.
“The black man or wild man was hopelessly insane. Legal records and searching inquiring resulted in no identification, and it was decided that he must have been a runaway slave. There was no explanation as to how he had survived the intervening years.
“Seldon Burke published the incident in ‘The Scrap Book.’ There was a similar incident of a ‘Wild Dutchman’ who was killed near Atmore, but he was classed as a desperado, rather than a wild man.”
Some who have read this story think that perhaps this “wild man” wasn’t a man at all, but possibly a “Bigfoot.” One thing about the story that jumps out at Bigfoot enthusiasts is the part about how “the creature had a keen instinct that helped him to elude the posse,” which sounds like a characteristic often attributed to Bigfoot. Also, the part about how it “could utter no intelligible sound and acted like a wild beast” sounds just like something you’d perhaps read about Bigfoot.
In the end, I’d be interested to hear from anyone out there in the reading audience with more information about the incident described above. Also, if anyone out there knows of other similar incidents, please let me know. You can reach me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.