Geographical Index > United States > Illinois > Jackson County > Article # 670
Media Article # 670
Article submitted by Stan Courtney
Article prepared and posted by Stan Courtney
Thursday, December 11, 1969
Abominable snowmen in Southern Illinois?
By Norris Jones
Carbondale Daily Egyptian
The abominable snowman, the legendary giant of the Himalaya Mountains, is the subject of an absorbing study by an SIU student majoring in anthropology who finds evidence that brings the man-like beast closer to home.
The possibility that an unidentified human-old creature could exist in Southern Illinois been raised by Loren E Coleman.
Coleman has been gathering information for the past eight years on the fascinating subject. He describes the “unknown anthropoids” in this region as averaging three to four feet in length, with long black or dark gray hair covering the entire body except for the face and hands.
Coleman pointed to the book, “Abominable Snowmen,” written by Ivan T. Sanderson, and quoted a description of the species that supposedly reside in the Midwest.
The book said the creatures ranged in size from just a little smaller than the average human being to tiny, clothed in thick black or red fur but with differentiated head-hair that usually forms a mane. It said they have a primitive form of language, are good tree climbers and swimmers, with their toes subequal and heels small or pointed. The snowmen are “omnivorous, insect, fish and small animal eaters,” Sanderson wrote.
In another section of the book, Sanderson divided North American snowmen into two groups: those of giants who live across the top of the U.S. and down the western mountains that are known as “Sasquatch” or “Bigfoot”; second, the much smaller “little red men of the bottomlands” from the Mississippi River drainage region.
The SIU student has amassed scores of letters, newspaper articles and individual interviews to help back his theory that “an undiscovered species of anthropoids who are high in numbers exist throughout the backwoods and uncharted swamps of middle America.”
“I am very serious about this matter,” Coleman, a member of the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained, said.
“There is, indeed, something-most likely an unknown primate-in this area and through the swampy and wooded waterweb that covers 40 per cent of the United States.”
He said films of similar beasts in the Pacific Northwest may back up the theory of a creature of an unknown variety and that he hopes to get pictures and plaster casts of footprints of the beasts in this section of the country.
The earliest sighting Coleman has documented was reported in the Memphis Enquirer in 1851. The article, entitled “Wild Man of the Woods,” described something “bearing an unmistakable likeness of humanity.”
The story said the man was “of gigantic stature, the body being covered with hair, and the head with long locks that fairly enveloped the neck and shoulders.”
When the “wildman” saw a pair of hunters, it turned and ran away, leaping “from twelve to fourteen feet at a time.” The creature’s footprints measured 13 inches.
Mt. Vernon ‘beast’
In 1942, the Carbondale Free Press reported that a squirrel hunter near Mt. Vernon was approached by a half-man beast. The creature had jumped over his head knocking off his hat and dislodging the pipe from his mouth. When it came towards him, the hunter (an ordained minister) fired his gun and frightened it away.
Mt. Vernon authorities organized a massive hunt to track down the beast, whose tracks “were similar to a raccoon’s but four times as large.” The paper reported that “sometimes two tracks have been found, sometimes four.” Its screaming was compared to that of a wildcat. “The beast must have got news of the big hunt, for reports started coming in of its appearance in other creek bottoms, some as much as 40 or 50 miles from the original site,” the journal “Hoosier Folklore,” reports.
A man driving near the Big Muddy River, in Jackson County, one night saw the beast bound across the road. Some hunters saw evidence of its presence in Okaw, “Its rapid changing from place to place must have been aided considerably by its ability to jump, for, by this time, reports had it jumping along at from 20 to 40 feet per leap,”the journal added. The hunt failed with the hunters bagging “a large hoot owl and several crows.”
Author Jared Sparks of East Lansing, Mich., said under the heading “Missouri Monster Tale”, that in that state’s south-eastern swamps, and animal was loose which could kill and rip up full-size cows and horses. No one was able to identify the monster even after it was shot and killed. “It was something like a gorilla,” he said.
Coleman interviewed Bob Earle from Decatur in November, 1962, and learned that two men had seen a large, gray animal standing upright in the middle of a creek east of Decatur, off East William Street Road, “They felt it was definitely not a bear,” Coleman said.
Under the headline “Half-man ‘thing’ baffles St.Louis, ” the Chicago Daily News reported in May of 1963 that witnesses and a patrolman saw “something near a housing project.” Centreville police received over 50 phone calls reporting a monster. James McKinney said “It was in front of my house and was half-man, half horse.”
The Decatur Review published a story Sept. 22, 1965, dealing with four young persons who claimed a black, man-like monster approached their car. Headlined “youths report ‘monster’ near edge of city.” the article said the young men took their companions back to Decatur and returned armed with shotguns, to see if “it” returned. “It” did. They left, hurriedly.”
During August, 1968, Robert R. Lynn of KXOK News, St. Louis, told of a 22-year-old woman who claimed that an animal had grabbed her four-year-old nephew in the backyard of her house in Kinlock, Mo. “She saw it and screamed. The dog went after “It”. “It” dropped the boy and fled into the woods,” Lynn told Coleman in an interview. When police searched the woods, they found nothing. The news announcer said the woman described the thing as looking like a bear. Upon seeing a model of a gorilla the next day, the boy said “it” looked like the gorilla, Lynn added.
Chittyville ‘What’s it’
Tagged “10-foot-tall ‘what’s it’ reported seen,” a Southern Illinoisan article in 1965 told of a “thing” roaming the woods near Chittyville. A guy and his date met the creature Aug. 11 while they were driving northeast of Chittyville, an unincorporated area north of Herrin.
Upon seeing the thing, the woman started screaming. She described it as “huge, about ten-feet-tall, with a head as large as a steering wheel.” Although the driver said he did not see it, he returned to the area the next day and found a depression in the grass, “indicating a large animal had rested or slept there.”
Appearing in the April issue of Argosy, 1969, the article, “Wisconsin’ ‘Abominable Snowman’” told of 12 deer hunters who all saw “something black…they didn’t shoot, it was manlike.”
The article describes the creature as “a large and powerfully built man covered with short, very brown or black hair and with a lighter and hairless face and hairless palms. The head appeared smallish, also with short hair, but the neck appeared to be enormous and so short as to be almost nonexistent. The shoulders were very wide and large and the torso barrel-shaped.”
Although some of the reports contradicted Coleman’s assumption that the midwestern species were small, he explained that these animals were interlopers, migrating through the region.
‘No cause for alarm’
He emphasizes that he sees no cause for alarm concerning the reports. “No harm has come to any human being in all the reports gathered,” he says. ” What I find is a pattern of intelligent primate behavior, a mixture of curiosity and communication.
“These are not reports of one escaped orang or a wandering hermit, but a cross-section of an undiscovered species of anthropoids that are high in numbers.”
Coleman hopes that through this article, area residents will know “there is someone who will listen to their claims of ‘hairy monsters’ and so forth, and not ask them if they had been drinking.” His address is 202 East College, Carbondale.
Researching the existence of abominable snowmen is embarrassing to many of his colleagues, Coleman said, “Since it is still in the area of myth, it is disgraceful and not ‘nice’ to talk about,” he explained.
Science, today, is really not in pursuit of the unknown, he proposes, “It’s simply re-researching old material.”
The SIU senior said science is slowly realizing it must listen to common folks. “Unfortunately, reporters and sheriffs often just laugh them off. They are disregarded because they are not educated in the field,” he said.
Coleman also files accounts of bear or large cat sightings. He feels that many people, upon seeing strange beasts, interpret them into known animals. He pulled out an article from the Cairo Evening Citizen reporting a black panther being spotted in Alexander County in April of 1966, as evidence of his claim.
Joseph Moad, who lives about four and one half miles west of Elco, “shot at a mysterious beast shortly after 8 p.m.,” the story reported.
“I turned on a flood light and could see his eyes shining.” Moad said, “He screamed and it was the keen scream of a panther, not the coarse scream of a bobcat or cougar,” he added.
Moad said he has heard screams of both bobcats and panthers and was certain this was the yell of a panther. The cry of a panther has been likened to the shrill scream of a woman, the article said.
Sightings of large bears and big cats, as well as man-like creatures are all recorded by Loren Coleman to pinpoint the creature’s most likely hideout. He has kept files on the other animals to insure that the abominable snowmen (ABSM) are not incorrectly identified.