ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Arkansas Wild Man
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Arkansas Wild Man
|Swamps of Eastern Arkansas
The Wild Man of the Woods is a the focal point of a
bizarre series of Bigfoot encounters that took place
in Arkansas long before the Civil War.
Bigfoot vs. Frontiersmen?
One of the most bizarre
Bigfoot stories in American
history took place in Arkansas
more than 165 years ago.
Pristine Woods of Arkansas
As settlers moved west, they
encountered a strange
creature lurking in the woods
and hills of Arkansas.
A Monster's Haunt?
An 1856 account holds that
the Wild Man was chased by
a search party into the ridges
of the Ouachita Mountains.
The Wild Man of the Woods - A 19th Century Bigfoot in Arkansas
Arkansas Settlers Spot Monster
|Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Update: July 18, 2012
Exactly what was the Arkansas Wild Man, a
real creature or an elaborate hoax? The truth
may never be known.
Many believe that stories of Bigfoot, a gigantic
hairy man-like creature with huge feet,
originated in the Pacific Northwest. This is
not precisely correct. Early settlers of the
South reported encounters with strange
Sasquatch-like monsters long before the first
recorded sightings in Washington and
As they pushed their settlements deep into
the woods and their hunts even deeper, the
early frontier people of the South often ran up
against mysteries that defied explanation.
One of the most bizarre involved a series of
events surrounding a creature called the
"Wild Man" by newspapers of the 1840s.
The earliest known recorded sightings took
place in February and March of 1846 in the
Crowley's Ridge area of eastern Arkansas.
Stories about the creatures appearance were
carried in newspapers across the nation,
with the Baltimore Sun reporting on March
13, 1846, that "his track measures 22 inches,
his toes are as long as a common man's
fingers, and in height and make, he is double
the usual size."
Other reports followed, with a second surge
of news coverage taking place in 1851. The
New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette
reported on May 29th of that year that an
expedition was about to leave Memphis to
hunt for "the wild man." The monster was
said to be "of gigantic size and covered with
The same newspaper followed with a page
one account on June 5th, quoting the
Memphis Enquirer as its source for a report
that the Wild Man had been seen chasing a
herd of cattle:
...He was of gigantic stature, the body being
covered with hair, and the head with long
locks that fairly enveloped his neck and
shoulders. - The "wild man" after looking at
them deliberately for a short time, turned and
ran away with great speed, leaping from 12 to
14 feet at a time.
The Enquirer account noted that the monster
had been seen in St. Francis, Greene and
Poinsett Counties for 17 years, a statement
that indicates that now lost reports may have
been made as early as 1834.
Col. David C. Cross and Dr. Sullivan of
Memphis were said to be organizing an
expedition to search for the creature. This
may well have been the first Bigfoot hunt in
American history. No written details of the
results of their search have yet been found,
but certainly could exist.
Another round of accounts appeared in the
nation's newspapers in 1856. On January
3rd of that year the Pittsfield Sun reported:
A wild man, seven feet high, is stated to be
roaming through the great Mississippi bottom
in Arkansas. Numerous travelers and hunters
have asserted that they have seen him, but
none have been able to get near enough to
give particulars concerning the strange being.
Not all accounts, however, were from the
swamps of eastern Arkansas. A fairly bizarre
report appeared in May of 1856 reporting a
sighting in April on the upper Red River and
noting that the creature had also been seen
in Northern Louisiana.
According to this version, which appeared in
the Wisconsin Patriot on May 10, 1856, the
Wild Man was spotted breaking the ice of a
frozen lake. He was "covered with hair of a
brownish cast" and was described as being
A party of men from Louisiana had gone into
the wilderness on horseback to find the
creature and decided to try to capture it. One
man from this group had gone ahead of his
comrades and decided to try to take the
monster on his own. This was a bad idea:
..So soon...as the wild man saw the horse and
rider, he rushed frantically toward them, and
in an instant dragged the hunter to the
ground and tore him in a most dreadful
manner, scratching out one of his eyes and
injuring the other so much that his comrades
despair of the recovery of his sight, and biting
large pieces out of his shoulder and various
parts of his body.
In perhaps the most bizarre part of the story,
the Wild Man supposedly made off with the
injured man's horse. The hunter's friends set
off in pursuit, joined by a party of Choctaw
Indians that happened to be in the area. The
chase led up into the Ouachita Mountains,
then covered in snow from a particularly
brutal winter, where the pursuers failed to
capture their elusive prey.
Stories of a gigantic, hair-covered, man-like
creature are told in Arkansas to this day,
notably in the Ouachita and Ozark mountains
and in the swamps of the Mississippi and
Red Rivers. The famed Boggy Creek Monster
is just one modern manifestation
Early Bigfoot Accounts
The creature appears to have
first been reported in
Arkansas in around 1834.
The earliest sightings were in
swamps and lowlands, but
eventually progressed into the
Ghosts & Monsters of the South