Teenage Girl Attacked by Sasquatch

In the Wednesday, August 18, 1965, issue of the Independent (Long Beach, CA), a Page 2 headline read: “Search for the ‘Monster.’” The article was accompanied by a picture of 17-year-old Christine Van Acker who was sporting a black eye. The article chronicled an incident that occurred in southeastern Michigan involving a large, hairy monster.

According to the report, the previous Friday night, Van Acker and her mother were attacked by a “black, 7-foot, 400-pound, grunting “thing” covered in hair” while sitting in their car. The creature reached through the car window and grabbed Christine Van Acker’s hair and punched her in the eye. Van Acker said: “he was all hairy and the hairs were like quills. They pricked whenever I touched them.”

At least 15 other people claimed to see the creature. Sightings had been occurring off and on for about two months prior to the attack.

The attacked spawned a rash of monster hunts by the locals. Many other locales experienced monster-induced hysteria in other parts of the country in the mid-1960s. I devoted a section to this phenomenon in my book Wild & Wonderful (and Paranormal) West Virginia.

A Haunted Civil War Prison Camp

About half an hour to the south of Wilmington, in Delaware City, lies arguably the best haunt in the area. Actually, the haunted property is not in Delaware City; it is in Delaware City that you catch a ferry that traverses the Delaware River taking you to Fort Delaware located on Pea Patch Island. The 288-acre Fort Delaware State Park is home to Fort Delaware—a fort with a dark and haunted history.

Photo by author.

In 1820, Pea Patch Island was acquired by the government of the United States to be used for military purposes. A large pentagonal fort was commissioned to be built on the island, and construction was complete in 1859. Features of the fort included: sections of walls that reached 32 feet in height; a moat that surrounded the fort, only passable by a single drawbridge; and the fort was outfitted with a dungeon—a dungeon that would see its share of activity in the years that followed its construction.

Pea Patch Island and Fort Delaware. Photo by author.

The fort is most famous for its use a Civil War prison; it was this very activity that has left it haunted by ghosts from the past. During its time as a prison, a cumulative total of nearly 33,000 POWs were incarcerated on the island; at one point, nearly 12,000 men were held at the same time, far outstripping the maximum capacity of the prison by 300%. Conditions were deplorable, and nearly 2,460 prisoners died along with 109 guards and 39 civilians. Despite the number of deaths that occurred, Fort Delaware was one of the more “survivable” Civil War prison camps with a mortality rate of “only” about 7.5%. Conditions were far worse in other prisons. Of the 28 prison camps operated by the Confederacy, the mortality rate among Union POWs was about 15.5%. Rebels imprisoned in the 24 Federal camps suffered mortality rates of about 12%.

The horrors of the Civil War prison have left behind restless spirits, residual hauntings, and all manner of paranormal activity on Pea Patch Island. Ghostly Confederate soldiers have been spotted trying to flee the site; this could be the residual effects of a failed escape attempt. In the dungeon, people report hearing moans and screams along with the sound of clanging chains. Cold spots are reported throughout the fort and apparitions are seen, and photographed, regularly. Orbs are also regularly photographed on the island. There have also been reports of ghostly pirates being spotted on the island. In one account, a state employee claimed to see the apparition of a pirate wearing a silk shirt and silk pants. It is said that before the island became home to a Civil War prison camp, pirates that were captured were held there.

Thoughts on Dogmen

Dogmen, human-canine hybrids—similar, to werewolf descriptions—have always had their place in paranormal and cryptozoological lore. However, they are being reported in North America more and more frequently. They are described thusly:

  • Hairy, bipedal, although sometimes seen on four legs​
  • 7 ½ feet tall when standing on two legs. On four legs, 4 feet in height​
  • Powerfully built chest and upper body​
  • Dog-like head, often described as a “German shepherd head”​
  • Menacing red eyes are often reported​
  • Seem to be malevolent in nature

A “Typical” Encounter

A notable account was first reported to Lon Strickler and appeared in his Phantom and Monsters blog. The sighting occurred in Point Pleasant, WV on January 2014. Around 11:00 pm, a woman was smoking a cigarette on her enclosed porch when she noticed the neighborhood dogs were barking much more than normal. She looked down the street and noticed a large figure that appeared to be wearing a hooded sweatshirt. After closer examination, it was not a sweatshirt, but rather, thick dark-colored fur. The figure was about 6 feet tall—it was an upright caninea dogman.

According to the witness, the creature had a head that closely resembled that of a German shepherd. Fortunately, the monster ran off as a car approached; it ran very fast.

As bizarre and disturbing as this account was, there is an aspect that makes the encounter even more terrifying—the creature’s eyes. The beast locked eyes with the woman and this had a strange effect upon her. She said that it felt as if the monster’s eyes were “drawing her in.”

Famous Dogmen

Without a doubt, the most famous dogman is the Beast of Bray Road. The Beast of Bray road was first reported in the 1930s in Wisconsin. The creature was brought to the attention of the general public by renenowned paranormal/cryptozoology author Linda Godfrey. Godfrey was a newspaper reporter covering a rash of sightings in the 1980s and 1990s; she went on to pen The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf.

Also famous, is the Michigan Dogman, first reported in 1887. The Michigan dogman supposedly appears in ten-year cycles and sightings that mostly occur in the Lower Peninsula. ​In 1987, the Michigan Dogman legend was revived by disc jockey Steve Cook.

What are they?

What are dogmen? An upright canine, 7-feet-tall—the physiology doesn’t work. Something else must be at play:

  • Many cryptozoologists, especially “Bigfooters,” believe dogmen are simply mistaken sasquatches.
  • Others believe something paranormal or supernatural is at work. Perhaps these beings are accessing our world through “portals.”
  • The uptick in sightings could also be the “recency effect”—the principle in which the most recently presented items or experiences will most likely be remembered best.
A tweet by Matt Moneymaker of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot. Obviously, Moneymaker thinks Dogmen are misidentified Bigfoots.

I personally believe all of the above are in play. I also think that when an actually flesh-and-blood animal is behind a dogman encounter, it can be explained by a small population of out-of-place kangaroos. As crazy as it sounds, out-of-place kangaroos fit the bill in many ways:

  • Standing on two legs, kangaroos can be as tall, or taller, than a human
  • Pointed ears, tails, and elongated snouts appear dog-like.
  • Kangaroos have frightening claws
  • Kangaroos have powerfully built chests and muscular arms—characteristics often attributed to dogmen
  • When artificial light hits a kangaroo’s eyes, they appear red

One of the best examples of an out-of-place kangaroo took place in 1974 in Chicago. After discovering a loose kangaroo in the city, police officers corralled it in an alley. However, the animal escaped after becoming aggressive. The following month, a kangaroo, presumably the same one, was spotted in Indiana. A kangaroo was seen by a man in Illinois in 1976. Perhaps it was the mischievous escapee from Chicago that got loose more than a year earlier. At any rate, the witness called the police to report the incident, but they failed to locate the fugitive.

Portals

In Linda Godfrey, in her latest book Monsters Among Us, suggests that strange creatures—paranormal in nature— such as dogmen, may be able to temporarily access our world through some sort of “portal.”

  • An example of this would be the infamous Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. Coincidentally, or maybe not, large bipedal wolf-like creature have been spotted at the ranch.
  • Nephilim Chronicles author Fritz Zimmerman has suggested that many Indian burial mounds, particularly those where the remains of giant skeletons have been recovered, may indeed be portals. In my latest book, I link much of the “high strangeness” in the Ohio Valley and Kanawha Valley to burial mounds.

Portals may be the best explanation for many of these creatures; perhaps portals are linked with burial mounds. Strange activity near burial mounds was described by Butch Witkowski, director and founder of the UFO Research Center of Pennsylvania, in an appearance on The Existence of Strange Things, an internet radio show, in December 2017. Witkowski spoke at length of 8–10-foot-tall, bipedal, wolf-like creatures that were being spotted in Pennsylvania in an area that has several burial mounds. The beings that Witkowski described, in my opinion, can only be paranormal, nothing flesh-and-blood fits the profile.

So, what say you? What are dogmen? What is behind the uptick in sightings?

Haunted Bellevue Hall

I recently visited several interesting places in Delaware. Among these, was Bellevue Hall.

Bellevue Hall and the surrounding land was originally owned by a wealthy merchant named Hanson Robinson. Robinson built a Gothic Revival-styled castle on the property complete with towers that provided a view of the Delaware River. William du Pont (1855–1928) acquired the property in 1893; his son William du Pont, Jr. (1896–1965) inherited the estate after his death. William du Pont, Jr. remodeled the Gothic Revival castle into a replica of James Madison’s Orange, Virginia plantation, Montpelier. Du Pont named his masterpiece Bellevue Hall.

Photo by author.

Today, Bellevue Hall is thought to be haunted by several entities. The second and third floors of the home, both of which are closed to the public, are especially haunted. Staff have reported hearing screams and laughter in the home; the lights in the mansion flicker randomly; chairs and objects move on their own.

A Campfire Tale from Columbia

I was contacted by a reader recently who had just finished my book Water Monsters South of the Border. He shared a story with me of El Mohan that reminded me a lot of those great campfire tales and ghost stories so often recounted among friends. I thought I would share it with you, but first, here is a little background on El Mohan:

Although his description does vary from place to place, he is usually a huge creature, covered in hair with long, claw-like nails. He sometimes has red eyes and gold teeth and is fond of mischief. Fisherman say the mohán  capsizes boats and steals bait and hooks. Washerwomen claim he bewitches girls with music and tricks. He is also said to guard ancient treasures in his underground palace and his appearance heralds the arrival of floods, earthquakes and plagues. Click Here for full article from Columbia.co


This is the story:

I moved to Colombia 3 years ago and married a lovely Colombian lady. We have a cattle farm close to Cerro del Pacandé. Many years ago, a fisherman was casting his net in the Magdalena River not far from here while his two young daughters played on the bank. Suddenly El Mohan rose from the water and tried to take the fisherman’s net. A struggle ensued and the fisherman told his daughters to run away. Eventually el muan gave up and returned to the river and it was then that the fisherman noticed he had lost a gold tooth in the fight. Many years later after the fisherman had passed away and his daughters were adults, they were by the river doing their washing when el muan appeared and tried to entice them into the river. When they refused el muan got very angry and threw something at them before returning to the depths of the river. When the sisters looked to see what he had thrown at them they were stunned to see it was their fathers gold tooth! This was told to me by one of the sisters and I believe her!

The Haunted Rockwood Mansion

I visited several interesting places in Delaware  recently, one of which was the Rockwood Mansion. The Rockwood Mansion in Wilmington is thought by many to be the most haunted house museum in all of Delaware. A wealthy merchant banker named Joseph Shipley (1795–1867) built the mansion in the 1850s. Shipley’s great nephew Edward Bringhurst Jr. acquired the estate in 1891. The property remained in the family until being gifted to New Castle County in 1973. The mansion underwent a major renovation project and was eventually opened to the public. Located within the 72-acre Rockwood Park, the Gothic Revival mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Rockwood Mansion. Photo by author.

Obviously, there is a long history behind Rockwood, and today it is said to be haunted by several entities—entities who lived in the home while they were alive. One of the spirits haunting the home is that of Mary Bringhurst who is very particular about her room; she does not like for visitors to enter, and it is considered to be the most haunted room in the home. According to psychics who have visited the mansion, there is a strong presence that can be felt in Mary’s bedroom. There are accounts in which people have fallen ill and even passed out upon entering the room. Mary’s presence can also be felt in a room on the main floor that she occupied after becoming too frail to navigate the stairs any longer.

Eddie, the son of Edward Bringhurst Jr., is thought to be another entity that haunts the home. Paranormal activity has been reported coming from Eddie’s bedroom. Laughter and giggling—from a child—has been reported around the stairs.

The ruins of Eddie’s playhouse are still standing on the property; Eddie’s presence has been observed there.

The ruins of Eddie’s playhouse. Photo by author.

There are other ghosts in Rockwood: a man in a red smoking jacket haunts the home; the man has a ghostly canine companion; a woman with a “halo” of cold air wanders around. Then there are the “typical” things that accompany hauntings: there are cold spots throughout the home; of course, there are strange sounds that cannot be explained; sudden smells from nowhere are reported—particularly the smell of lilac. This phenomenon—strange smells without a source—is something I observed firsthand at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado during a paranormal tour. The ballroom, located in a building adjacent to the hotel, inexplicably filled with the smell of perfume while I was there. Thought by many to be the scent of Mrs. Stanley’s perfume, the sudden, ghostly smell is a regular occurrence in the ballroom.

Other phenomena take place at Rockwood that go above and beyond what is often associated with typical hauntings. The most eerie of which is the “Vortex of Souls.” The vortex is a mist that has been spotted above the home. At times, faces are observed inside of the mist.

Tsul ‘Kalu—The Giant of Cherokee Lore

Today, in Jackson County, North Carolina, there is a massive soapstone boulder called the Judaculla Stone. It is covered in petroglyphs and it said to have a handprint—with seven fingers—from when the giant leapt from his mountain home onto the ground below and used the stone to steady himself.

The story of, or Tsul ‘Kalu (pronounced: sool kaloo) as recounted above was told to ethnographer James Mooney who recorded it in his book Myths of the Cherokee.

The Tale of the Giant

Long ago, a young woman—of age to marry—lived with her widowed mother. Her mother counselled her to be patient in settling with a mate; a good hunter, though hard to find, was essential to ensure that she and her daughter would be cared for and well-fed.

The young maiden slept in an asi outside the main home at night. One night, a stranger paid a visit in hopes of courting the girl. She made it clear that her mother would only allow her to keep the company of a great hunter. Declaring himself to be a great hunter, the girl allowed him inside and he spent the night. He left before daybreak; when the morning came, there was a freshly killed deer waiting for the girl and her mother.

He returned the following night and stayed with the girl. Again, he left before daylight. This time, there were two deer waiting for the girl and her mother. The mother was very pleased with her daughter’s new sweetheart. She said, though, that she wished he would bring them some wood. The next morning, there were several large trees in front of the house—entire trees, including the roots. This angered the mother and she told her daughter that she wanted smaller wood that could be used. The next morning, there was nothing waiting for the pair; instead, the land had been cleared of its trees.

Every night he stayed with the girl; every morning he left before daybreak. There was always a game animal waiting for the mother and her girl. The girl’s mother became frustrated; she desperately wanted to meet her new son-in-law. The girl told he husband of this, but he did not want her mother to see him. She began to cry and finally, he relented. However, he warned the girl that her mother must not say that he looked frightful.

When morning came, the girl brought her mother to the asi where her new husband lay. The mother peered and saw a giant with long, slanting eyes; he was so large that he barely fit in the small asi. The mother fled and cried out, “Usga’ se ti’ yu,” which means frightful. The giant was enraged and he left vowing to never let the mother see him again. He returned to his homeland.

Eventually, Tsul ‘Kalu returned for his bride and brought her back to his home. The girl had a brother who lived in another village and wished to see her and meet his new brother-in-law. When he arrived, they were gone and his mother explained what had happened. Feeling pity for his lonely mother, he went to find his sister in hopes of bringing her home.

It was easy to track his sister and Tsul ‘Kalu; the giant left enormous footprints on the ground that led him to the mountain where Tsul ‘Kalu lived. In the side of the mountain, there was a cave where he saw his sister and others dancing. It was too steep for him to reach; he called out for his sister and she came and met him. This happened a number of times but she never invited her brother inside. He also didn’t get to see his new brother-in-law.

Four years later, the girl came home for a visit while Tsul ‘Kalu was out hunting. She told her mother and brother that she and her husband would be leaving in the morning but if they wanted to see him before he left to come out early in the morning. If she and Tsul ‘Kalu left before they got there, the great hunter would leave meat for them. Morning came but the giant and his bridge were gone. As promised, freshly killed deer were hanging. In fact, there was enough meat to feed the entire village.

The people of the village also wanted to see the great Master of Game, Tsul ‘Kalu. Tsul ‘Kalu, a booming, unseen voice from the sky, spoke to his brother-in-law and told him that no one could see him until they were dressed in new clothes. He instructed the people to meet in the communal house and fast for seven days. At the end of seven days, he would provide new garments for everyone and allow himself to be seen. There was a caveat: no one was to leave the townhouse or raise the war cry.

As fate would have it, the giant’s orders were disobeyed. The people stayed in the communal house and fasted for an entire week. There was one person among them—from another village—who left each night to get something to eat. On the seventh day, this same man fled the townhouse in fear when a loud sound kept getting nearer—the sound of rocks crashing down a mountain. As the disobedient man fled, he sounded the war cry. With that, the sound disappeared; Tsul ‘Kalu did not show up to reveal himself to the people.

The giant’s brother-in-law returned to the mountain and asked why he did not come with the new clothes. Tsul ‘Kalu answered, “I came with them, but you did not obey my word, but broke the fast and raised the war cry.” The brother-in-law explained that it was a person from another village who transgressed and pleaded with Tsul ‘Kalu to reconsider. He would not be swayed, however, he said, “Now you can never see me.”

Sea Serpent Was No Myth

The following story was carried in the Cincinnati Enquirer on December 19, 1908:


AMERICAN’S REMARKABLE ENCOUNTER WITH MONSTER WHICH DEFIED BULLETS

I never saw a set of people so prone to sea serpent yarns as the New England England coast fishermen and sailors.

Those chaps have a sea serpent tale to spring with the advent of each season, and there are generally two or three of them who agree. In the one story, which arrangement sort of gives the tale standing before the public. Now, if all those sea serpents, real or imaginary, that have appeared from time to time along the New England coast were corralled and placed out there in this fine river of yours there wouldn’t be room for the shipping to get to the docks. But I’m not throwing stones at the New England sailors or attempting to cast reflection upon their veracity, for I have a sea serpent story myself to hand out. And if you care for the narrative I’ll let you have it.”

H. Hight, promoter, mining engineer, prospector and globe trotter, recently, up from the tropics on one of the United Fruit Company’s ships was talking to a group of friends in a quiet corner of the long lobby of the New Deneohaud on a quiet evening a week or so ago. And as Mr. Hight puffed contentedly at a fragrant South American cigar and prepared for the story the circle drew closer about him, ready to listen.

“This sea serpent that I’m going to tell you of,” Mr. Hight took up his narrative, “is no product of the New Englanders’ Imagination. I saw it with my own eyes, and you may believe me or not but say, why am I offering excuses for myself at this early stage of the proceedings? proceedings? I never did run in the Ananias class, anyhow.

“As you may know. I’ve spent 20 years of my life knocking about on this terrestrial sphere, and in that time I’ve been in all of the fiery zones, visited queer and unheard-of places and seen pretty nearly every form of animal, bird and reptile life that there is to be seen. I’ve been tiger hunting in India, trailed through the bush after lions In the upper Transvaal, shot crocodiles in the Nile basin, fished for shark in the Malayan archipelago, potted pythons in the Burmese forest, where the constrictors are whoppers, and even used a sea serpent for a target in the Mozambique channel. That’s a record. Isn’t It? And if I was of the Munchausen type I could make my fortune writing stories that would stir the Presidential ire.

“I could keep you here for hours telling you yarns of big game I’ve helped hunt, but as we are not holding an all-night session I’ll confine myself to the sea serpent incident and get right down to business before It’s going-to-bed time.

“It was in the fall of 1889, and I was In Madagascar looking over plantation property for an English firm, whose African agency was located at Cape Town. I’d worked up along the west coast, making occasional journeys into the Interior, until I struck an excuse for a town called Majanga, which stood on the northern end of Bambataska Bay. The bay opened out into the broad channel which divided the Island from the main Und. and the locality was one of the most godforsaken that it had ever been my bad fortune to visit.

“I remained at Majanga for several weeks waiting for a vessel to take me down the coast to Tsianfroumazande, from which point I was to ship over to the main land, and luckily there were a young English prospector named Cane, and a French under Official named Lasselle in the town, with whom I could make common lot and keep from dying of ennui.

“The people in that town of huts had lots of spare time on their hands they were a lazy, shiftless lot, anyhow and we three white men used to fill in our days hunting on the thick swamps and impenetrable forests and boating and fishing in the Bay of Bambataska.

“One morning the village was thrown into a stale of great excitement; several natives came to the Government house where Cane and I sat on the broad gallery with Lassalle and began to Jabber away at a terrible rate in their queer lingo. Lassalle understood the language as well as he did his native tongue or English, and we saw at once that he was very much interested.

“The native who acted as spokesman had a fund of very eloquent and expressive gestures. He repeatedly motioned toward the sea, and. with his arms extended, extended, worked his hands up and down, and then curved and twisted his body with the skill and ease of a contortionist. The whole village gathered around to hear the statement, whatever it was that was being made, and as the spokesman crossed his arms over his chest, violently shook his head, making a hideous face at the same time and emitting from between his clenched teeth a sort of bellow, several women In the front row of the crowd howled dismally, fell to the ground, rolled over and over, beat their breasts and tore out their hair.

“With an imperious sweep of his hand and a few guttural words Lassalle dismissed the villagers and then, turning to us said In French, ‘Serpent de Mer!’ He saw that we were still in the dark, having small knowledge of the Johnny Crapaud talk, and resorting to his excellent command of English gave us an astounding bit of Information.

” ‘The natives have seen a great serpent down in the bay.” He said, ‘and the monster overturned a boat and gobbled up one of the fishermen.” From the statement made by the villagers it seems that four of them were out in the bay fishing in one of their long bark canoes. They were a quarter of a mile or so from shore and were Just about to head in toward the. Beach when the water at the stern was violently agitated, and above the surface was thrust an awful serpentine bead about the “size of a hogahead. ” The head had rounded sides but was Inclined to flatness at the top. and there was a bony ridge, like a crest, extending from a point between the eyes to the neck. About five feet of the neck and body of the serpent protruded from the water, and the horror-stricken natives were close enough to see that the monster was of a dark greenish shade and was covered over with scales the size of a silver dollar. The eyes of the snake were set far apart and were glassed over like the eyes of a fish, and on a whole he was a most fearsome sight.

“The fishermen with one accord plunged their paddles into the water and sped their light craft toward the shore, but as they did so the serpent lowered Its head. plunged” beneath the sea and came up in an instant in hot pursuit of the boat. The waters of the bay were violently agitated as the huge coils of an undulating movement appeared and disappeared above the surface, and to the frightened eye of the natives, the snake looked to be a hundred or more feet in length and thicker through than a large barrel.

“When the boat was still some distance from the sloping beach the serpent overtook it and sensing its frail stern in its foamed ripping jaws, raised It clear of the water and sent its four screaming occupants floundering in the bay. The natives, as they struck the water, heard the crackling of the bark as the sides of their canoe was ground to pieces in those terrible jaws.

“The men were all good swimmers and raced through the bay as though water was their natural element, but the awful presence behind them steadily lessened the slight lead the fugitives had and in a moment a scream of agony was heard aa the serpent claimed a victim. The native who had told the story to our party was in the lead at the time, and his feet were just beginning to touch the sloping, sandy shelf. He instinctively turned and saw a sight that he will never forget the serpent’s head reared eight or ten feet above the water, on an arching neck, and struggling in his jaws was one of the unfortunate boatmen. The cruel teeth bad fastened in his flesh and blood in solid streams dripped from the snake’s jaws. Even as the first native looked, the victim seemed to double up. his head met the feet and his whole body disappeared in the cavernous mouth of the monster, drawn Inward by some powerful suction In the serpent’s throat.

“The monster, after its disgusting meal, shook Itself violently, remained motionless for a moment, as though Its appetite was satisfied, and then, concluding that It was still hungry, darted in after another victim. But the brief pause the monster made had given the three survivors the bare time to gain the shallows and run up the beach. The snake paused when it encountered the bottom, emitted a bull-like bellow from Its blood-dripping jaw, turned in a sweeping circle and sped out to sea. That was the substance of the story the native told, and the motions he went through were descriptive of the movements of the serpent and the struggles of the victim. The women who had made the display of grief were the wife, mother and sister of the dead man.

“Well, the whole village went down to the beach and followed the sandy stretch for a mile or more in the direction of the channel, vainly scanning the waters for a glimpse of the serpent. We three white men, each with an improved elephant bore rifle in the hollow of his arm, led the procession, and for a time we were greatly disappointed at getting no glimpse of the serpent.

“Finally, one of the natives railed our attention to the commotion in the water about a third of a mile from shore and snatching Lassalle’s strong glasses from his hand I trained them on the spot. The bay was very calm, but at the spot where my gaze rested the waters were tossing and tumbling about as though over a volcano. “There’s something there” I cried, and hardly had the words left my mouth when the something rose above the surface and the water eddied and boiled like a maelstrom. The something was the head of an enormous serpent, serpent, and as I passed the glasses back to Lassalle and raised my gun I said with a catch at my breath. The serpent was very plain, even to the naked eye, and all the natives set up weird cries, and running back and forth on the beach, waved their fists at the monster, cursing it in their strange jargon, and some few even hurled javelins at it in then impotent fury.

‘The snake must have heard the noise, for it started in our direction, and then to our unspeakable surprise, lowered its head and swam closer to shore, evidently Intending to attack us. It came to within several hundred yards of where we stood, coil after coil of its great length rising and falling on the water, looking for all the world like some fabled dragon of antiquity. Its course was stopped, however, at the shallows, and It contented itself with lashing about In the water, and bellowing furiously like a great bull.

“Gentlemen. I am drawing on my imagination one iota a I tell you that the head of that animal, fish or reptile, call It what you will, was as big as a hogshead, just as the natives bad described the thing to us. Once or twice It opened Its mouth and we saw four great prong-like teeth and a smaller row of grinders which convinced us that the thing masticated its food, although his mouth was large enough to easily swallow a man. I noticed only one thing that the native. In his fright, had overlooked. Attached to the monster, several feet from Its head, were thick bristles in two rows that might have served for fins.

“We were able to get a good Idea of the serpent’s size, as It tried to navigate in the shallows, and It could not have been less than 100 feet in length. I was shout -to -to fire at the thing, but seeing It coming in toward shore, waited for a closer range. The natives for the best part had fled like sheep before a leopard upon the snake’s approach, and only Lassalle. Cane and myself were close to the water’s edge.

“We could see that the serpent was endeavoring to feel Its way up the incline beneath the water, and as it curved and splashed about. It churned the bay into foam. It was then our time and raising our rifles simultaneously we fired. The huge bulk made a splendid target for our runs and our shots must have connected. connected. But to our astonishment, the serpent only splashed and struggled the more to get through the water to us. and It seemed altogether unhurt. Had we been aiming at a rhinoceros the big beast would have certainly toppled over, but that sea snake had a shot-proof hide, and nothing short of an eight-pound shell would have fixed Its clock.

“We stood there for an hour or more watching the serpent and wasting shot on it. And finally, the monster, as though despairing of ever reaching us, turned about and raced madly out to sea. We could see It diving and circling as it went, and we watched it until it was only a speck on the distant horizon.

“I left Majanga a few days later, and the next year I received a long letter from my friend. Lassalle. The serpent, he wrote, had been seen twice after my departure in the bay. and a week or so later It made Its appearance at the southern end of the Masombtaue Channel. Channel. Whether It was ever seen again. I cannot say. Tea, gentlemen. I am one of the few men who has used a sea serpent for a target, and if you doubt my word, just pen a line to Lassalle in far-off Majanga: he will corroborate every word I have said.

“Why should we doubt sea serpents. I’d like to know: the seas cover two thirds of the earth, and they are big enough and deep enough to hide any number of mysteries.”

A Giant Hand Bursting Through the Water

The following excerpt is from my book Water Monsters South of the Border:


Esteban Lucas Bridges (1874-1949), the son of an Anglican missionary, was the third white person born in Ushuaia, often called the “southernmost city in the world,” and capital of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province. Bridges chronicled his family’s experiences living in Tierra del Fuego in his book Uttermost Part of the Earth. In his book, he also wrote about the indigenous people of the region and their folklore. Among the native people peoples of the Southern Cone were the Yaghans.

The southernmost people of the Americas, the Yaghans, have legends of a strange creature called the Lakooma, who snatches unsuspecting victims that pass by. These creatures dwell in caves, lakes, and bays where they wait for prey. The Lakooma resembles a giant hand that bursts out of the water and grabs its victim, dragging them under where they are devoured.

Bridges recounted an experience that he had in an area known by the natives to harbor a Lakooma. However, he seemed to believe that the legends were rooted in natural phenomenon. On pages 164-165 of his book, he said the following:

 

Some six miles east of Harberton is a nest of bluffs about five hundred feet high. They are called the Guanaco Hills, and among them are numerous lakes, five of them of considerable size. During the winter these lakes freeze over, and for two or three months, if the ice is covered with snow, herds of cattle can pass over them without danger of breaking the ice.

In one of these lakes lurked a Lakooma. It was said by the Yahgans that any person venturing near the bank ran the risk of being seized by a gigantic hand, which would be thrust out of the water to grab the unlucky one and drag him into the lake to be devoured.

One winter, when everything was frozen hard, I was crossing that same lake alone, with a load of guanaco meat on my back. Suddenly I realized that I was walking on thin ice, when all should have been thick and solid. Right ahead of me was a large hole. I made a wide detour, and crossed the rest of the lake with the utmost caution. I had been on the brink of the Lakooma’s lair.

…there are strong springs, that coming from a great depth underground, that seem warm in winter and icy cold in summer. It is highly likely that the Lakooma lake contained a comparatively shallow area, below which was a powerful spring that, by forcing up water of a higher temperature, prevented ice from forming evenly on the surface.

Possibly the local legend arose through some native less fortunate than I being drowned there; or maybe the sight of a hole in that thick surrounding ice gave some fanciful Indian the notion that it was a breathing place for an under-water monster. There are many other places in Yahga-land where Lakooma are said to dwell. One I know of is where a rock and current have caused a whirlpool, which may, at some time, have been responsible for the loss of a canoe with all on board.

 

Present-day reports of the Lakooma are lacking if they exist at all. Perhaps this should not be surprising given that its lair resides in a remote location at the “end of the world.”

A giant hand that grabs victims, is most certainly a myth…It has to be, doesn’t it?

The Moon-eyed People

Most of present-day West Virginia was void of permanent Native American settlements when European colonists began their westward push. Why? The area is rich in game and other resources; why not live there?

In 1773, at the behest of Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore, Thomas Bullit travelled to present-day southwestern Ohio to seek permission from the Shawnee to establish settlements in the Can-tuc-kee lands (which included large portions of modern-day West Virginia). Shawnee chief Black Fish was unable to grant permission; he did not feel it was his to give, the land belonged to the ghosts of the Azgen, a tribe of “moon-eyed” people who were murdered by the ancestors of the Shawnee. Because of the ghosts, the Shawnee refused to settle on the land and only used it—respectfully—as hunting grounds.

Who were these moon-eyed people? According to many legends, they were a light-skinned, nocturnal people with large eyes. They had a sensitivity to light and could only see in the dark.

The Cherokee also have legends of moon-eyed people. According to Cherokee legends, the moon-eyes were nocturnal and lived in circular earthen houses. Long ago, as the Cherokee made their southward migration, they encountered the large-eyed white people and waged war against them. Like the Shawnee, the Cherokee also rid the land of these peculiar people.

There is another tradition in which the Creek tribe annihilated a group of moon-eyed people.  According to this legend, the strange people could not see during certain moon phases. The Creek used this to their advantage and attacked the moon-eyes when they were vulnerable.

Who were, or, what were, the moon-eyed people? Some say they were albinos; some claim they were Europeans—possibly descended from Madoc, the Welsh Prince; author Barbara Alice Mann, of Seneca descent, has written that the moon-eyed people were mound-building astronomers who merged with the Cherokee. What we do know, is that a group of people strange to the Native Americans were in present-day West Virginia long ago; they were eventually annihilated. The question then becomes, could the ghosts of the Azgen—the moon-eyed people—play a role in the paranormal in West Virginia?

Feature Image: By TranceMist (Flickr: The Legends of Fort Mountain) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Creature from San Miguel Lagoon

In 1971, an unusual creature was spotted in a lagoon outside of Havana, Cuba. The lagoon, a flooded quarry, is located in San Miguel del Padrón, a suburb of Havana. Rumors of a frightening creature quickly spread throughout Havana; crowds of curious onlookers flocked to the lagoon. As news of the monster spread, the masses grew—crowds that once were in the hundreds, quickly escalated to thousands in number. The creature created such a buzz within the community, that the government-ran radio station, Radio Progresso, took an interest and sent reporters to investigate. The correspondents descended upon the scene; they examined eyewitness reports and interviewed witnesses.

Descriptions of the creature vary; some described it as spindle-shaped, with large and threatening yellow eyes; others claimed to see a horned, hippopotamus-like animal with a featureless face. According to one witness who claimed to have seen the animal on multiple occasions: “It doesn’t look like anything but a black ball that, maybe, resembles a hippopotamus with horns, but it doesn’t really resemble any animal…and it’s got no eyes on it at all.”1

One of the reporters sent to investigate the phenomenon saw the creature for himself. He claimed to see something rise from the water amid “intense bubbling.” Whatever this animal was, it had a rough texture and a rounded shape. After it surfaced, it floated for a few seconds, and then sank back into the water.2

Psychic Abilities?

If some of the stories about the monster are true, then we have a very strange creature—one that may have psychic abilities. Rumors tell of an elderly man who lived in a ramshackle home by the lagoon that was driven crazy by the monster. According to the story, after the man encountered the creature, he fled in terror. The poor man had gone mad instantaneously and later hanged himself from a tree.3

Word spread of the monster’s mind-bending abilities. Many of the folks who ventured to the lagoon shielded their eyes, careful not to make eye contact with the creature—fearful of its dreaded gaze.

Read the rest of the story…

 

Notes:

1.) “Mystery Monster.” The Dispatch (Lexington, NC), August 23, 1971.

2.) Ibid.

3.) Mario Masvidal Saavedra. “The Creature from the San Miguel Lagoon.” OnCuba. May 24, 2012. Accessed February 15, 2016. http://oncubamagazine.com/magazine-articles/creature-san-miguel-lagoon/.