Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 17th, 2011
Painting by Earle Richardson: Employment of Negroes in Agriculture, 1934.
Today is Martin Luther King Day in the USA, from the Carolinas to Maine, from Virginia to California. The truth be told, the lessons of the racial history of America are even in evidence in cryptozoology. Below is a severe example of how events of the past were characterized in a period when few seemed aware of how even a news report’s bias could color a creature account.
All reports from the past must be viewed through the context of their times, and in this specific case, a racist one is in evidence when phrases like “dark town” are thrown into the retelling. Most sightings formerly were not detailed in terms of the ethnic or racial background of the observers, unless they were non-white (e.g. Chinese, AfricanAmerican), in the early 20th century. That aside, we have heard about the “Udilacus” before, of course. This story is a classic, even having the possible escapes from a “circus” mentioned here.
February 6, 1938
Distant Relative Of Mobile’s Monster Reported
Rockhill, S.C., Feb. 6 (UP) – “The Monster of Marmotte Street” which has terrified the negro population of Mobile, Ala., was reported tonight to have a distant relative operating among the dusky folks of Rockhill.
The mysterious beast here was called the “African Udilacus,” said to resemble a gorilla.
Two frightened negro men told police that a fierce, fur-covered animal accosted them on a lonely, dimly-lit street last night. Another negro reported that the beast had attacked him and ripped off his clothing before he managed to escape its “awful” clutch.
Police, who were without a theory as to the identity of the weird animal, also received a report that the African Udilacus had killed a large calf on the edge of this small South Carolina town and eaten away much of the carcass.
A check was made at a circus wintering near here, but they reported all their animals present and accounted for in their cages.
Police at Mobile, Ala., after spending a hectic week investigating fantastic reports in the colored district, decided the “Monster of Marmotte Street” had slunk back to the swamp bordering the colored residential district.
The Mobile monster was described in various ways – all horrible. Police never were able to secure more tangible evidence concerning the beasts other than wild rumors. The same situation existed in Rockhill.
The Udilacus was first reported in a cotton mill section on the outskirts of Rockhill.
John White, a “dark town” resident, furnished the details:
“It was standing in the water. It was black and tall as a man. I threw a rock at it but it snarled and started after me.
Bruce Neal, who was with White when the Udilacus appeared, said the animal ran on two legs as it chased them.
“After it chased us a little way, it dropped down on all fours,” Neal explained.
Neal also said the monster “smelled terrible.”
My thanks go out to Jerome Clark, who regularly shares archival stories like the above, via me, with you Cryptomundians. Clark coauthored three books with me, two of which are available today in print, in one volume, The Unidentified and Creatures of the Outer Edge: The Early Works of Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman, and the third book is our classic, Cryptozoology A to Z. My sincere appreciation to Jerry for his friendship and continued research to discover significant old reports.
Clark added the following comment, when he passed along the above report in 2007:
“Rockhill” is actually spelled Rock Hill. (I was there for about a week some 20 years ago.) One wonders if “African Udilacus”– a phrase nowhere used in any actual witness quote — was in truth the reporter’s invention, a racist, ridicule-laced attempt at the sort of “darky” humor that for so long vastly amused the white folks of the Deep South. ~ J. Clark.
There is another article about the “Udilacus” that I (Loren Coleman) located online. Michael Goodspeed shared the following in 2004, making the point that Bigfoot-like reports have been around a long time.
Shambling Beast Terrorizes Town
Hairy Animal Reported In South Carolina Village
Rock Hill, S.C., Feb. 7 — Reports of a huge, hairy beast called the “African udilacus” continued to spread terror among negro residents of this South Carolina town Sunday [February 6, 1938].
Constable Carl Hovis reported he saw the shambling beast in a dark back alley and shot at it twice but failed to bring it down.
Sam Watts, negro, said he was chased through a wooded area by the “varmint,” which made “grunting noises.”
Police reported the mysterious monster has a particular aversion to dogs. Two were found dead, apparently from strangulation, and a dozen were reported bitten, beaten and scratched in the Willow Brook section of town. The Daily Gleaner, Wednesday, February 9, 1938.
Employment of Negroes in Agriculture
Born: New York, New York 1912
Died: New York, New York 1935
oil on canvas
48 x 32 1/8 in. (121.8 x 81.6 cm.)
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor