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Geographical Index > United States > Wisconsin > Article # 572

Media Article # 572

Tuesday, September 17, 1839

The Wild Man of the Woods

Wisconsin Democrat

We copy the following article credited to the Boston Times, from an exchange paper. The statement that a monster had been caught near St. Peters, we had not before heard of. It may, however, be very true, yet we believe that the whole description is something of the nature of the moon story, about which so much was said a few years since. The “wild man of the woods,” might have been believed, but we cant swallow the cubs: [Galena Democrat.

From the Boston Times.


Robert Lincoln, Esq. agent of the New York Western Lumber Company, has just returned from the St. Peters river near the head of steamboat navigation, on the upper Mississippi, bring with him a Living Wild Man of the Woods, with two small cubs supposed to be about three months old.

Mr. Lincoln went out to the north-west as Agent of the New York Lumber Company, in July last, with a view to establish extensive sawmills, on the pine lands near the Falls of St. Anthony, and he has given us a detail of the operation of the Company, and the circumstances which led to the capture of the extraordinary creature mentioned above.

The company sent out their expedition in July last. The workmen and laborers with the principal part of the machinery, went by the way of New Orleans, and at that city they chartered a steamboat and proceeded up the Mississippi. The whole business was under the direction of Mr. Lincoln. They had on board all the necessary tools and saws, together with the apparatus for a grist-mill; cows, a good stack of provisions, (illegible), ammunition, &c. &c. They passed quietly up the river, and finally reached the St. Peters in safety.

During the winter, Mr. Lincoln and several of his workmen made frequent excursions in pursuit of game, which was very abundant, and their camp was one continued scene of festivity. The Indians brought in large quantities of furs, which Mr. Lincoln purchased for a mere trifle, and lined his cabins with them throughout, which rendered his rude hut very warm and comfortable.

About the 14th of January, two of the carpenters who had been out in pursuit of a gang of wolves, that had proved very troublesome, came into the camp and reported that they had seen a huge monster in the forest, on a branch of the Mississippi, having the form of a man, but much taller and stouter, covered with long hair, and of a frightful aspect. They stated that when seen, he was on a log, looking directly at them, and the moment they raised their muskets he darted into the thicket and disappeared. They saw him again in about half an hour, apparently watching them, and when they turned towards him he again disappeared. Mr. Lincoln was at first disposed to think lightly of this matter, believing that the men might have been mistaken about the size and height of the object, or supposing it might have been a trick of the Indians to frighten them. He was informed however, by some natives, that such a being had often been seen on the St. Peters, and near the Falls of the Mississippi, and the proposed to guide a party of workmen to a bluff where it was thought it might be seen. The men were all ready for an adventure, and arming themselves with rifles and hunting knives, they started for the fluff under the direction of Mr. Lincoln and the Indian guide. On the way they were joined by several of the natives, and the whole party numbered twenty-three.

They arrived at the bluff late in the afternoon of the 21st of January, and encamped in a cave or grotto, at the foot of the hill. Early next morning, two of the Indians were sent out to reconnoiter, and in about an hour returned, and said they had seen the wild man on the other side of the hill. The whole party immediately prepared for the pursuit. Mr. L. gave positive orders to the men not to fire upon him unless it should be necessary in self-defense, as he wished if possible to take him alive. The Indians started that although a powerful creature, he was believed to be perfectly harmless, as he always fled at the approach of men. While Mr. L. was giving his men their instructions, the wild man appeared in sight. He ordered them to remain perfectly quiet, and taking out his pocket glass surveyed him minutely. He appeared to be about eight or nine feet high, very athletic, and more like a beast standing erect, than a man. The Indians had provided themselves with ropes, prepared to catch wild horses, with which they hoped to ensnare and bind the creature, without maiming him.

The instant the company moved towards him he sprang forward with a horrid and frightful yell which made the forest ring; the Indians followed close upon him and Mr. Lincoln and men brought up the rear. The pursuit was continued for nearly an hour – now gaining upon the object of their chase, and now almost losing sight of him. He finally darted into a thicket, and they were unable to find him.

They then began to retrace their steps towards the place of encampment, when within about a mile of the cavern, the wild man made his appearance. They immediately gave chase again and accidentally drove the creature from the forest to an open prairie. At length he suddenly stopped and turned upon his pursuers. Mr. Lincoln was then in advance. Fearing that he might attack them, or return to the woods and escape, he fired upon him, and lodged a charge of buckshot in the calf of his leg. He fell immediately, and the Indians sprang forward and threw their ropes over his head, arms, and legs, and with much effort succeeded in binding him fast. He struggled, however, most desperately, gnashed his teeth, and howled in a frightful manner. They then formed a sort of litter of branches of limbs of trees, and placing him upon it, carried him to the encampment. A watch was then placed over him, and every effort made that could be devised to keep him quiet, but he continued to howl piteously all night. Towards morning, two small cubs, about three feet high, and very similar to the large monster, came into the camp and were taken without resistance. As soon as the monster saw them he became very furious – gnashed his teeth, and howled, and thrashed about, until he burst several of the cords, and came very near effecting his escape. But he was bound anew, and after that was kept most carefully watched and guarded. The next day he was placed on the litter and carried down to the mills on St. Peters.

For two or three days, Mr. Lincoln says he refused to eat or drink or to take any kind of food, but continued to howl at intervals for an hour at a time; at length, however, he began to eat, but from that time his howl ceased, and he remained stupid and sullen ever since. The cubs took food very readily and became quiet, active, and playful.

Mr. Lincoln is a native of Boston, and some of the workmen engaged at his mill are from this city. He arrived here on Saturday afternoon, in the brig St. Charles, Stewart, master, from New Orleans, with the wild man and two cubs, and they were all removed from the vessel that evening. By invitation of Mr. Lincoln, who is an old acquaintance, we went down to his rooms to examine this monster. He is a horrid looking creature, and reminds us very strongly of the fabled satyrs, as we have pictured them to our own mind. He is about eight feet three inches high, when standing erect, and his frame is of giant proportions in every part. His legs are not straight, but like those of any other four-footed animal, and his whole body is covered with a hide very much like that of a cow. His arms are very large and long and ill proportioned. It does not appear from his manner that he ever walked on ‘all fours.’ The fingers and toes are mere branches, armed with stout claws. His head is covered with thick, coarse, black hair, like the mane of a horse. The appearance of his countenance, if such it may be called, is very disgusting – nay, almost horrible. It is covered with a thinner and lighter coat of hair than the rest of how body – there is no appearance of eye-brows or nose, the mouth is very large and wide, and similar to that of the baboon. His eyes are quite dull and heavy, and there is no indication of cunning about them. Mr. Lincoln says he is beyond dispute carnivorous, as he universally rejects bread and vegetables, and eats flesh with great avidity. He thinks he is of the ourang outing species; but from what we have seen, we are inclined to consider him a wild animal somewhat resembling a man. He is, to say the least, one of the most extraordinary creatures, ever brought before the public, from any part of the eath, or the waters under the earth; and we believe will prove a difficult puzzle to the scientific. He lies down like a brute, and does not appear to possess more instinct than common domestic animals. He is now quite tame and quiet; and is only confined by a stout chain attached to his legs.

It is Mr. Lincoln’s intention to submit these animals to the inspection of the scientific fir a few days, in order to ascertain what they are, and after that to dispose of them to some person for exhibition. Mr. Lincoln himself will return to St. Peters in the course of two or three weeks.

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