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Geographical Index > United States > Illinois > Brown County > Article # 424

Media Article # 424
Article prepared and posted by Stan Courtney

Thursday, February 2, 1922

Wildman Lives Alone In Cave

New Oxford Item (Pennsylvania)

Makes Night Raids On Neighboring Farms and Carries Away Animals.


Won Hand-to-Hand Encounter With Man Who Battled Him in His Cave in Effort to Win Reward

Mt. Sterling, Ill. - A wild man, living in a cave near here, is thwarting all efforts of police and armed citizens to capture him and is keeping the countryside in terror with his raids on outlying farms. A price has been set on his head, but desperate attempts to capture him in his lair have proved vain.

The wild man recently made a series of bold robberies near. Mt. Pleasant, carrying off calves and sheep to a deserted mine where he stays hidden in the daytime. Ambrose Smith, a dead shot and tireless hunter, was seriously wounded in a terrific hand-to-hand encounter with the mysterious man-monster.

Is Hugh Creature With Bony Hands.

“The wild man has long, wiry hair that bristles about his savage-looking face.” Smith said in his home, where he is recovering from the adventure. “In the uncertain light of the cavern I made him out to be a great towering creature. His hands are thin and the flesh is stretched over the bones like leather.”

People feared black damp in the long empty galleries of the mine so much that even a reward of $500 for the wild man, dead or alive, failed to result in his apprehension. At last Smith, accompanied by J. M. Blair and others from Mt. Pleasant, all quick with a gun, went to the cave. It was late in the afternoon. Smith had the others stand back 200 yards from the mouth of the cave and entered alone, armed only with his large hunting knife. His dog followed him.

Fought for Hour in Damp Cave.

Night fell and the watchers waited in vain for Smith’s return. Then there was a great noise and the dog ran out whimpering. The men went into the cavern in search of Smith. They groped along through the twisting passageways in the darkness, but were unable to find any trace of him. At midnight Smith crawled from the cave on his hands and knees and fell faint and exhausted at the feet of his friends.

“I did not get more than 50 feet into the cave boys.” he said, as they carried him to the doctors, “when I saw the wild man glaring at me a few feet away. Then he sprang at me and held me in his steel-like grip. I tried to knife him but he held my wrist. For more than an hour we fought together on the wet floor of the cave."

“I weakened and he slipped from my grip. I felt his hot breath on my face and then a heavy blow on my head knocked me unconscious. I don’t know what happened after that. When I get well I’ll make another attempt, and next time I’ll get him.”

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