Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 1st, 2012
Times were rough and ready in Midwestern America, as recently as 65 years ago.
A gorilla-like creature was being seen in the unfortunately called “Nigger Wool Swamp” in southeast Missouri. It was killing cows and horses. Someone then shot the beast. This supposedly happened in the late 1940s. I collected this story from the Indiana University folklore archives, and shared the information with John A. Keel, which he used in his book Strange Creatures From Time and Space.
A similar report that may be an overlapping retelling of the above incidents occurred at Piney Ridge, Missouri. Glen Payne of Sedalia heard from his cousin Martin Burford that several coon hunters reported what we would today call a “Bigfoot.” They said it was killing sheep and goats. In October 1947, Payne hunted it. He was able to see in lights a giant hairy man-shaped thing running ahead of his dogs. But it killed his hog dogs, and then overturned his jeep. John Green mentioned this case in Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, which he found through a Tim Olson news item.
You could say these 1940s cases are early versions of Momo, the Missouri Monster.
I could never make headway on getting more details on the Missouri stories from the 1940s. But I tried hard. How hard? Little did I realize that evidence of this still exists. It is rather funny what you can find online.
In the 1960s, if I couldn’t travel to locations I was investigating, I would send out letters. And I would send hundreds out, all over the country. Over the weekend, I ran across an old copy of one of my letters that was saved by someone who worked at a state park in Arkansas and published online.
Here it is, as a small window into how I use to do it back then. BTW, in November 1969, I would have been 22 years old. I was living in Carbondale, Illinois, because I was in the anthropology department at Southern Illinois University. (Don’t write me at that Carbondale address, of course. I haven’t lived there for decades. It is easy to contact me online or come visit me at the museum, nowadays.)
November 18, 1969
Crowley’s Ridge State Park
Would you please send me data on your park? Also, I would like some specific information if you have it. Although I realize the Park was only established in 1934, perhaps you have had cases similar to the following, regarding which you could supply me with further details.
It appears that in the years between 1834 and 1851 reports of a “Wild Man” being sighted in St. Francis, Greene and Poinsett Counties were reported in the press. A Memphis Enquirer article on the “Wild Man” was reprinted in the Galveston Weekly Journal (May 26, 1851) and the New Orleans Times Picayune (May 6, 1851). As you know these Counties are bound on the East by Crowley’s Ridge. I have a case from the Folklore Archives of Indiana University in which a similar “Gorilla” report is told of in the Great Swampy Area that existed in the “Boot-Heel” section of the of Southeast Missouri over fifty years ago. This swamp was bound on the West by Crowley’s Ridge. Therefore, I feel Crowley’s Ridge may be the seat of a great deal of lore (if not truth!) on this subject.
I would appreciate any and all data you could send me on any reports, strange animal sightings, etc. from your area. If you would like more information from me, I will be glad to supply you with the 1851 newspaper article, or any other pieces I have on these “hairy beasts.”
Thank you for your time and help with my research on this subject.