Monday, August 22, 2011

A Bigfoot Capture in 19th Century Florida??! - Story of the Ocheesee Pond "Wild Man"

Swamps of Ocheesee Pond
One of the most overlooked yet potentially most important Bigfoot related stories in American history took place in 1884 at Ocheesee Pond, a vast swamp in Jackson County, Florida.
The story of the Ocheesee Pond Wild Man, a strange hair-covered creature captured by a local search party in August of 1884 is one of the most bizarre in the long history of American sightings of the monster that most today call Bigfoot, Sasquatch of - in Florida - the Skunk Ape.

Ocheesee Pond is a vast wetland in the southeast corner of Jackson County. Measuring more than 3 miles long and nearly that distance wide, the shallow pond fills a huge basin just south of the towns of Grand Ridge and Sneads and about an hour west of Tallahassee. Although there is some open water near its southern end, for the most part Ocheesee is a vast cypress swamp. It is noted for its prime fishing and beautiful scenery, but also was once the home of what locals called a "Wild Man."

The following is excerpted from my new book, The History of Jackson County, Florida: Reconstruction & The Jackson County War, due out in September:

Sightings of the Wild Man were nothing new in the 19th century South. Indians told early settlers of a strange man-like creature that roamed remote swamps and woods. Covered with hair and much taller than normal humans, the monster was considered dangerous and most who encountered him would not approach him.

As the frontiers spread westward and the population of the Southern states grew, so too did the numbers of reports of encounters with the Wild Man. In Arkansas, settlers told of a Wild Man that chased cattle and left footprints more than 17-inches long. Similar stories were told in North Georgia, where a Wild Man was spotted at Snodgrass Hill on the Chickamauga Battlefield and chased along the ridges of Lookout Mountain. Another supposedly even killed a man in Fannin County, Georgia, during the years after the Civil War.

Ocheesee Pond in Jackson County
These and other similar stories long predated the first accounts of the Sasquatch of the Pacific Northwest and from their volume and detail indicate that Bigfoot was a fixture of life in the South many years before people began finding giant footprints or taking grainy film in the mountains of Washington and Oregon. It was therefore not considered huge news when people began spotting a Wild Man in the thick cypress swamps of Ocheesee Pond in 1883.

The following year a major effort was launched by local citizens to capture the Wild Man and, surprisingly, they succeeded. A human-like creature described as "emaciated" and "covered with a phenomenal growth of hair" was seized by search parties that penetrated the depths of the swamp.

The Wild Man, it was thought, had been living on berries and other natural edibles. He was sent to Tallahassee, but there disappears from the record. What was he and what happened to him? The answers to those questions could solve a historical mystery and add considerable new evidence in the effort to determine whether Bigfoot really exists.

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