The Driftless Region has me back at work, digging through dusty old books, yellowed newsletters, and obscure websites in search of information on the stranger Fortean topics, so I figured, in an attempt to be more outgoing with my work-in-progress, I’d share one with you. The following is an excerpt from the December 18th, 1868 Petersburgh [Virginia] Daily Index. To my knowledge this bizarre story was first unearthed by Jerome Clark, who, in my opinion, sets the golden standard for Fortean writing. He transcribed the story in his book Unnatural Phenomena: A Guide to the Bizarre Wonders of North America (2005). This may or may not end up being referenced in one of my many unfinished manuscripts.
“For the past few weeks visions of an alarming character have been seen in the neighboring forest, but more peculiarly in the copse adjacent to Mr. Brown’s barn and stable. At numbers of times has an immense figure been seen passing to and fro near the barn, with large horns and terrible claws, which it contracts to a sort of hoof, and has assaulted Mr. Brown, when he attempted after dark to feed his horses and stock, in such a manner and with such violence that he has been compelled to flee to his house for safety. The figure, to the best of Mr. Brown’s recollection, seemed about three times as large as a man in the front, and having a back converging from it’s neck, and shoulders horizontally to the distance of some six to eight feet, and supplied on each side with huge and tremendous arms. It is of a pale blueish [sic] color when first seen, but upon being irritated by the near approach of any person becomes a deadly white, and issues from its surface a small volume of smoke, accompanied by a sickening smell.
“The ghoul or unnatural and horrible animal or demon, has been seen as often as four times near Mr. Brown’s stable, and when seen it has lingered till its deadly effluvia has completely impregnated the atmosphere.”
The article continues, describing other witnesses reaction to this possibly fictitious, but thoroughly fascinating creature. This is part of one of many completely baffling incidents Clark collects from 49 out of 50 states. It’s highly recommended reading, if you can manage getting a copy of this out-of-print treasure.