Goatman of Herrin, Illinois

Having now written two books about Fortean subjects, I’ve discovered the most rewarding experience is when your work can inspire people to come forward with their unexplained, and often completely unsettling, personal experiences. Following the publication of my regional book Washington County Paranormal a legion of people in my Southeastern Wisconsin community have shared their own ghostly encounters.

Now that Goatman:Flesh or Folklore? is published, I’ve had the fortune of being contacted by several individuals who’ve had experiences with creatures matching the description of these bizarre satyr-like creatures that are occasionally encountered across the United States.

Last week I received an email from an Illinois man named Brian Harring, who shared the following traumatizing experience in the hopes of understanding precisely what happened to him.

“I was hearing you on [the podcast] today, and realized that you were talking about something that chased me through the woods a long while ago. I live in Southern Illinois outside of a town called Herrin, IL. There’s a small unrecognized community called Paineville just outside of Herrin. Leaving this neighborhood there are train tracks a small distance away from a trestle that has collapsed and the location of the Herrin Massacre; aka Bloody Williamson. Recently the remains of an ancient indian burial ground was also unearthed nearby.

“It was here that I saw this thing. It was night and I had walked up the road from my neighborhood. There’s a long dark stretch of road leading from this neighborhood without any street lighting. It gets so dark you can barely see the ground. It leads up a hill exiting the neighborhood. Crossing the main highway from here are the tracks. This is where I spotted it. I’m nearsighted, so I got just close enough so that I could see what it looked like. It was standing near the tracks facing towards a body of water. It looked like it had grayish skin, but I could hardly tell the true color under the moonlight. What I did see is that it was very tall, and had a hairless muscular upper body, stood upright and it had hooven hairy legs. It also had very large horns. That’s all I needed to see before I felt very vulnerable and scared and began running for the hill. I turned to my left and watch it jump the small pond and head into the woods that spanned the road back into my neighborhood. I could hear stomping and heavy breathing as if a bull or large buck were running. It followed me a very long way, until it ran into an area cluttered with abandoned cars and other miscellaneous junk. I ran faster than I ever have in my life. It felt like I was about to lift off of the ground and lose my footing. I was tired at the hill, but terror kept me going. When I finally made it home, I couldn’t catch my breathe and almost threw up. I’ve never seen it again, but it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen.”

To my eyes, a couple of tidbits from Brian’s experience stand out. The first is that this sighting took place near a former Native American burial. Several strange creatures have been seen at sacred Native American locations here in Washington County, Wisconsin, such as Holy Hill where a creature similar to a goat-man was seen this past September. Also, numerous Native American effigy mounds resembling goat-men once dotted portions of the Midwest.

Another is the overwhelming panic that Brian experienced. This seems to be the most common reaction reported by goat-men witnesses. Rarely, if ever, does a goat-man witness express a sense of mystery or wonder, as does the like of UFO or Bigfoot witnesses. This could also be telling. According to mythology, encountering the Greek god of the Wild, Pan (himself satyr-like in appearance) in lonely, wild places,  would cause a maddening fear to take hold of the witness. The word panic, is of course, derived from Pan’s name.

If anyone else has encountered anything along these lines, please contact me. Perhaps, together, we can figure out exactly what these strange goat-men are.

An artist’s depiction of Pan
An artist’s depiction of Pan.