The following article comes from The Sun Journal of North Carolina. A couple of weeks ago reader Skip Riddle sent my pal and fellow reporter Charlie Hall an email (not a letter, because Mr. ZIP is a figment of our imagination now), noting that he had found an 1870s article about a Bigfoot sighting in Kit Swamp, north of Bridgeton in Craven County.
By Bill Hand from The Sun Journal
As Charlie tells it, he got that mail and figured it would take a nut to write a story about 19th century ape-men. Naturally he turned it over to me, and naturally I couldn’t wait to get started.
At first I wondered if Mr. Riddle was a little confused. I’ve actually looked into Bigfoot sightings before – there is a website, bfro.net, that meticulously documents Bigfoot sightings in every state. Hawaii has none because, I assume, the last Bigfoot became the main course in a luau around 1910. The state of Washington has the most (628) because they’ve legalized pot out there.
North Carolina is fairly impressive at 96 sightings, but almost all of them are in the west where there are mountains, huge forests, and home-distilled whiskey that makes it easier to see these things. The state’s breakdown shows that our best county for BF sight-seeings in Montgomery. Big Foots (Big Feet?) are apparently not fond of swampy coastal plains because such counties as Craven, Pamlico, Jones, Beaufort and even Dare have zero sightings.
But, regarding Mr. Riddle’s claim, I thought maybe he was referring to a 1977 sighting reported by a Marine in the Croatan (he saw it run across the road in front of him, but one never knows; it could have just been a lost grunt from Camp Lejeune).
But then I got to reading Mr. Riddle’s find. And it really was a Bigfoot sighting from 1875.
He quoted an article he had stumbled upon from the Oct. 7, 1875 edition of the Highland Weekly News of Hillsborough, Ohio. I went to the Kellenburger Room at the local library where Victor Jones and John Green, the men who know everything, haunt. Victor helped me dig up the locally-reported rendition which that Ohio paper ripped off.
There were actually two articles that ran in the Newbern Weekly Journal of Commerce (in the 1800s nobody could decide if New Bern was one word or two). Here is the first, appearing Aug. 21:
“Asa Grundy, a colored resident of Kits Swamp, relates a strange and startling incident that occurred in his immediate neighborhood on Thursday last (August 19), and which has occasioned considerable excitement and alarm among the inhabitants.”
A “strange looking animal,” it reported, had been seen “lurking on the outskirts of the forests between sundown and dark,” but no one had been close enough to see what it really is.
Asa got that chance.
His 5-year-old daughter was playing with another girl in a corn crib (for you non-agrarians, that’s where they place baby corn cobs in cradles and they lay there, giggling, while scarecrow mobiles spin over their heads). All at once he heard the girls screaming, the dogs barking and his wife calling for help. He decided that this meant something might be going on that he ought to check out.
Arriving at the corn crib, Asa was surprised to see a creature holding the terrified girls by their hands, heading for the woods.
“From the description given by Asa, we conclude (the creature) to be a nondescript which Barnum the great showman would be glad to possess even at the expense of thousands of dollars,” the Journal said. It had the face of a ‘wanderoo’ (basically, a macaque monkey), having a long snowy beard or mane, while its body closely resembles that of a Baboon, though from the knees down, its feet and limbs, in shape, are almost precisely human.” The creature, it guessed, was around 5 feet tall. This is noticeably smaller than modern Bigfoot sightings, but it’s possible they didn’t know about carbs in those days.
The creature was as surprised to see Asa as he was to see it. It stopped a moment, turned to change course, and Asa was able to give it a blow that knocked it down and freed the children. But the creature “sprang from the ground and with lightning rapidity gained the covering of the wood where all trace of its whereabouts remains as yet a mystery.”
The paper then called on “our young men fond of adventure” to go and catch this “intruder… if success crowned their efforts, (it would) be both pleasurable and profitable to them.”
One could randomly dismiss the sighting as a local fable printed up as truth on a slow news day, but a follow-up article supports that, what ever this thing was, it was real.
Source: The Sun Journal