Monday, March 28, 2016

The Legend of the 'Blue Man'


Here's an interesting article published in the quarterly Ridge Runner Magazine during the Spring of 1895:

THE LEGEND OF THE BLUE MAN

By Aaron Sims - "If you've ever been walking out in the woods in Ozark Country and thought you saw a big hairy monster, you might have. Don't laugh many people have seen the "Blue Man."

Other parts of the world have their own real or maybe mythical monster. Scotland has "Nessie" the Loch Ness Monster, and the Yeti or Abominable Snowman from Tibet. The United States has a few creatures of its own.

From the Western states come Bigfoot legends, the Iceman from Minnesota, and the "Headless Horseman" as told of by Washington Irving. Ozarkers have never been ones to be out-done by others. Here in the Ozarks we have the "Blue Man of Spring Creek."

The story began over one hundred years ago in the winter of 1865 when a hunter from Douglas County, Sol Collins, was hunting on the Ridge between big North Fork and Spring Creek. With snow on the ground Collins was tracking game when he came upon a set of tracks that were something like a bear's. Sol had killed many bears, but these tracks were the largest and widest he had ever seen.

Quickly he followed the tracks, and kept on them. He had followed the footprints north, almost to Indian Creek, then in a wide half-circle to the west until he was close above the big North Fork River.

While climbing the north slope of Upper Twin Mountain, Collins looked up and barely escaped being hit by a boulder that tumbled by him. He again barely escaped two more huge boulders that crashed down the hill. Just as he stm1ed to get behind a big post oak he first saw the gigantic figure shaped like a huge man, which was naked except for what looked like the skin of an animal around its midsection and other wrappings around its feet.

The creature was completely covered with a coat of curly, short black hair. When the sun struck it, it took on a deep, dark blue hue. Collins never gave up his claim that this creature was not less than nine feet tall, and this is among the shortest estimates of many others in the years to come.

Sol stated that he only stared long enough to see the creature throw away a ten foot club he was carrying and pick up another boulder, which he threw against the post oak. Then the giant made an ear-splitting scream that some said was more terrifying than any that ever came from any beast that could be found in the hills.

Collins then headed back and gathered up some of his neighbors and for a few days they kept on the trail of the beast the best they could by following its tracks in snow. A few times they caught a glimpse of it at a distance, plundering through the woods at a rate that left the posse far behind. No man was ever able to get within distance to take a shot at the creature, but nevertheless the hunt continued for to or three weeks almost every day, but there were never any result".

Many people saw the wild man, and people in isolated cabins claimed to be awakened in the dead of night by the screams of the creature. Usually after the awful shrieks were heard, the person would find a lamb or pig had been carried away.

By now, the "Blue Man," as he was now called, had been considered a fake and it was almost nine years before he was heard from again. In Autumn of 1874, word was passed that he had emerged again, because sheep and hogs had started disappearing and the carcasses found in the woods. Organized hunts were carried out to capture the creature but after a week or two, the "Blue Man" disappeared once again.

Sixteen years went by and he only made two or three visits to the hills along the Big North Fork. Every visit he was seen and hunted by many. Every visit he also made a clean get-away from the hills men. However, the last time they got too close, for he remained out of sight from 1890 to 1911, and nothing was seen or heard of him. For this reason, many of the people who had moved into the area regarded the stories of the "Blue Man of Spring Creek" as a figment of someone's imagination.

About this time he was seen again and more joined in the search. Reportedly they discovered the creature's den in a cave in a remote valley. The floor of the cave was littered with the bones of animals he had eaten, and a bed of dry leaves was found in a corner. Again, just as before the creature disappeared.

The next time the Blue Man was seen, O.C. Collins was searching for two lambs that had disappeared. He spotted the creature on Spring Creek four miles from Old Horton. Two days later Cap Turner came across him catching fish with his hands in Indian Creek. The creature chased Turner up the steep hillside swinging a huge

Cal Alsup, a few days later, was one of a posse that chased the Blue Man into a cave. He stumbled through the darkness over objects he knew were the pelts of sheep or the dried hides that had once made a meal for the wild man. He was seen one more time after eluding his pursuers at the cave. That time was at Ava Crossing where he was catching crayfish from under rocks and eating the tails.

By November 15, 1924, terror was prevailing over northern Howell and Douglas Counties. From Tater Hill to Collins Ford and from Blue Buck to the Ava Crossing people were searching for the Blue Man. Cattle weren't allowed to graze, sheep were watched by herders with rifles, and livestock was locked up at night. nobody left their home, and churches and schools were closed. People armed with rifles and shotguns searched every nook and cranny of the area in search of the Blue Man of Spring Creek.

December of 1938 was when the next account of the Blue Man came. The Bunt Brothers, who were living in Johnson Hollow, said their coon dogs had bayed off from them quite a little distance. The men had been seeing range hogs in the area quite often so they didn't go to their cabin for their guns; they just went up the ridge to call off the dogs before they killed one of the hogs.

They got quite a surprise when they saw the dog, baying up the big tree in which there was a man hissing and snarling in anger. He had no weapons and no clothes, except for some type of fur garment around his middle and something wrapped around his feet. According to the brothers he was hairy and apparently blue from the cold.

The younger brother took the dogs a good way off while the older tried to talk to the man in the tree, Bunt promised him food, shoes, clothing and a place to sleep but the man in the tree just stared at him. After about half an hour Bunt gave up and joined his younger brother. They said they were hesitant to walk away and leave the man there, yet they had no reason to question him further. Later they were questioned as to why they didn't report this to the law and they said they had no complaint against the man and had no way to come the eight miles into town.

Only once was a "wild man" caught, but it happened before the Bunt Brothers had their confrontation with the Blue Man. The August 18, 1911 edition of "The Sentinel" published at Pomona ran a story entitled "Wild Man Captured".

The mysterious disappearance of livestock and farm truck that had had many farmers along Bryant Creek puzzled was solved. Two boys, Ott Collin and Tom Reyburn, were returning from a fishing trip. They noticed something apparently spring right out of the ground, near the base of the hollow, and begin chasing one of the frightened sheep that was grazing there. The frightened boys didn't stick around; they ran home just as quick as they could get there.

When they got back home and told their parents what they had seen, they quickly gathered a bunch of men. The boys acted as guides, and when arriving at the spot they found a log and an opening into the ground that looked as if it frequently used.

One of the men pulled together his courage, shoved in a lantern and followed into a cave room of considerable size. At the far side a man was crouched, and said to be the sorriest specimen of a man any of them had ever seen. He was bare of clothing except for a breechcloth of some kind of animal hide. His body was completely covered with short hair, and his head was covered with a mass of hair two feet long.

The wild man tried to get away but he was caught and turned over to the authorities. He either couldn't or wouldn't talk, and his cave was littered deep with wool, hair, bones, and feathers. There was no evidence of him ever having cooked his food.

The most recent account of an encounter with a wild man occurred in 1966 in Peter Bottom, a fertile meadow along the War Eagle River, near War Eagle community in Northwest Arkansas. It began when a doctor who was wanted for murder found refuge in the forests around Peter Bottom.

When the man was caught he was ruled insane, and sent to a state mental Institution. Just before he died in the early 1960s he made the statement that since he was near dying he wanted to tell the story of a monster that lived in Peter Bottom. He also made the statement to stay away from the area and the story appeared on the back pages of local newspapers. But because of his history of mental disorder it was treated as a figment of his imagination.

Little interest was stirred in the War Eagle area until 1966. On a Sunday afternoon, two men were horseback riding down the steep road that leads to Peter Bottom. Suddenly a tractor coming at full speed from the bottom almost ran them off the mad. The man on the tractor warned the two there was something horrible living down there. He had been starting his spring plowing when he spotted the monster.

The boys thanked him for his warning but decided they wouldn't believe it unless they saw it for themselves. They kept riding but the horses became restless, and soon refused to go any further. The boys then walked the rest of the way into the valley where they spotted what they thought was a large clump of white fur in the grass near a cedar tree. They thought it must be a dead horse or cow, but when they got within ten yards of the clump of fur it stood up.

The two young men described it as an animal that stood upright like a man, with its body covered completely with white hair about two or three inches long. They said its height was about eight or nine feet and his features looked more like a man's than an ape's. Its face and hands were pinkish color and these were the only areas not covered by the white fur. They also said there was a strong, offensive odor, which they described as smelling like old coffee grounds, coming from the creature.

The two stood there unable to believe what they were seeing, then the creature began slowly walking toward them making strange sounds and they turned and ran as quick as they could. When they got to their horses they put quick distance between them and Peter Bottom. The parents of one young man said by the time he reached his home in the Nob Hill community he was almost in a state of shock. He then spent several days in the hospital with a nervous disorder.

As the young men's tale spread, hunting parties were formed, but the strange creature was never seen again. Over the years, cattle have been found, torn apart, and one man's corpse was found with his limbs ripped from his body.

No one can prove that the two really saw the creature, but Peter Bottom hasn't been farmed since then. It can be said that the albino monster in Peter Bottom is clearly unique in its own right.

How then can the legend of the Blue Man of Spring Creek and the monster in Peter Bottom be explained? This has come to be the most widely accepted reasoning:

Jerry Hilterbrand, who settled in what is now Douglas County in 1820 and died there in 1885, told the following story handed down to him by the older residents of the area. Years before the American Revolution, while Missouri was still a part of the French Colony of Louisiana, a French fur trader came through the Ozarks with a beautiful Spanish woman. After a while he got tired or his companion and traded her to an Indian Chief for a large amount or furs, leaving her captive. The woman, left with the Indians in the wilderness, lost her reasoning and lived for years a demented creature of the hills.

From her came a race or people, hair-Spanish and half-Indian, who never mingled with anyone and hid away in remote and inaccessible places. There they increased in numbers, and were known to exist for a good many years. Between 1820 and 1840 when the pioneering settlers came into the Ozarks, the race probably disappeared and many thought it probably retreated to the more remote Boston Mountains in Western Arkansas."


That leads us to a later post in The Washington Times on July 9, 1915:

"BLUE MAN" RETURNS TO HIS OZARK HAUNTS

Searching Parties in Mississippi Unsuccessfully Trail Wild Creature

SPRINGFIELD. Mo. July 7.— News comes to this city that after an absence of four years the mysterious "Blue Man of Spring Creek" has again appeared in his old haunts and is causing great excitement in the wild and hilly country along the Big North Fork, Indian, and Spring creeks, in the eastern end of Douglas county.

It was in the beginning of 1865 that noted Ozark rifleman and trapper, “Blue Sol” Collins, came across strange tracks in the snow along Spring Creek. He had trailed many a bear, and these trucks resembled a bear's, but this bear must surely be the largest bear in all Missouri. The imprints in the snow were longer and broader than any bear tracks Collins had seen, and along the tracks were queer markings, seemingly made by great claws.

Collins was fearless and followed the footprints, determined to slap the greatest bear in the history of the region. Hour after hour he followed the trail. He was tolling up the slope of Twin mountain when he heard a noise on the hill above him. Looking up, he was just in time to leap to one side as a huge boulder swept past him down into the valley. Another and then another boulder swiftly followed. When Collins had time to look closely and see what was causing the avalanche of rocks he was terrified.

Saw Gigantic Figure

On the steep hillside above him stood a gigantic figure. An enormous man, stark naked except for a breech cloth and a shoulder piece of some animal's skin. The huge body was covered with long hair almost black in color, and as thick as that of any wild animal. On the man's feet were rude moccasins of deerskin tied with thongs of leather. The ends of these thongs had made the claw like marks in the snow.

The terrifying figure was armed with a club six or eight feet long. This he had laid aside in order that he might more readily tear the bowlders from the frozen soil. Collins was no coward, but he never denied that after one look at that fearsome figure on the hill he turned and fled.

The Ozarks were a thinly settled region fifty years ago, but several of the scattered families among the hills missed calves, sheep and hogs, and after long search found discarded hides and clean picked bones in remote crannies among the hills. Some of them, too, saw the fearsome figure slipping among the woods.

After 1865 the "wild man" disappeared and became no more than a tradition in the remote region. In 1874 he reappeared, was seen by probably a score of men, and was systematically tracked by men skilled in trailing wild animals. But all efforts to capture him were in vain.

During the next sixteen years the "Blue Man ' made several trips to his original haunts and on each trip the farmers lost some of their smaller animals. Every incursion was marked by energetic efforts to capture the strange creature now universally known as the "Blue Man of Spring Creek." Why "Blue" no one knows unless the name was given because it was "Blue Sol" Collins, who first saw him.

In 1890 It was rumored a party of searchers had the quarry so long sought, but this proved false. Evidently, however, they made it too hot for the "Wild Man," for again he disappeared. It was not until 1911 that he again appeared. This time his den was found, but he disappeared.

Not So Fat Nowadays

Six weeks ago and farmer noticed two of his lambs did not come home with the rest of the flock. He searched the hills and at last found their bloody pelts in a hollow in a remote part of the woods. The next day he saw the "Blue Man" running down a hog in the woods and since then several other farmers have seen the creature. The wild man is said to be less robust than formerly. His blue-black coat of hair now is iron gray and his limbs are not as well muscled as formerly. Nevertheless, it may be safely wagered that there is not a man among the sturdy Ozark mountaineers who would like to risk combat single-handed with the fearsome creature.

Before the Revolution, while this region was yet under the flag of France. It is said that a French Indian trader came into the Ozarks, bringing with him a beautiful Spanish woman, a native of Florida. In the region the trader abandoned the woman or sold her to the Indians. From this poor outcast descended a race of Indian-Spanish half breeds. One of these in the third or fourth generation may be the "Blue Man of Spring Creek." This was the theory of "Uncle Jerry" who settled in what is now Douglas county in 1820, and lived there until 1885.

In the course of nature the "Blue Man" cannot be expected to live much longer. Whether he ever will be caught or whether the secret of his long absences and mysterious returns will ever be solved is doubtful.


The Big Man of Barlow

Alec Kerley and the Terror of Bigfoot (The Monster Hunters)

The Bigfoot Book: The Encyclopedia of Sasquatch, Yeti and Cryptid Primates

Phantoms & Monsters: Mysterious Encounters


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