Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Historical Black Panther Sighting, a Lesson Learned, and a Photo

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I will be making an effort to get caught up on several black panther sightings that were sent in to me over the last year or so. I was neck deep in trying to finish my book, Valley of the Apes: The Search for Sasquatch in Area X, and struggled to find the time to update all of you on these sightings. I am making the effort to correct that now. Following are a few sighting reports and one photo that I found interesting.


Reported November 20, 2022

My name is Greg XXXXXX and I live in Lexington Tx. Around 1987 I was leaving the Alcoa aluminum plant through the contractor construction gate approximately 5:00 pm. Can’t remember the exact date. I started driving north on Hwy 1786 towards Hwy 79 beside the Alcoa hot lake as it was called where the water from the power plant was released into. Right in front of me approximately 100 feet was a large black panther crossing the road. I got a real good look at him. He was as big as a full-grown mountain lion but appeared to a little thinner in build. I have seen a large mountain lion from my tree stand before while hunting near Milano so I can make the comparison accurately. I would have to guess the panther weighed between 130 and 150 lbs.


TCH Comment: This is a very believable and matter-of-fact report. The witness saw the cat clearly at close range and is familiar with what a mountain lion looks like. There are no signs of hyperbole in the report and I have ruled out mistaken identity. I believe this witness saw what he claims to have seen. 


The location of the sighting is rural and there are sufficient resources for a big cat to survive in the area. If one takes the time to zoom in on the sighting location, it becomes obvious water resources are plentiful. This is something that would be absolutely critical for any predator trying to survive in Central Texas. I find the report credible and will be adding it to my Black Panther Sightings Distribution Map.


Reported 6/22/22

"I saw a dead black panther on the right shoulder of the westbound lanes of I44E approximately 5 miles east of the Stroud sign on the Turner turnpike about 6:50pm Sunday, 6/5/2022. 


A cat is so obvious it cannot be mistaken. I saw the large paws, long legs, square head. It was in a dead pose, legs toward the street and back towards the grass, head facing west. I considered pulling off the road, essentially to gawk, but decided the safety considerations weren't worth the reasons. Had I known then that people don't believe big cat sightings, I would have pulled over. My 10-year-old son saw it too. My step daughter was in the car and she didn't see it, she was looking at her phone. 


With so many pick-up trucks in Oklahoma, I wonder if someone took it home, or if wildlife management can document it. I wonder if the toll pass cameras record what is in people's truck beds? 


I haven't followed up with wildlife management, but I am curious if there are others to corroborate.” 


Kathleen XXXXXX

Edmond, Oklahoma



TCH Comment: I will not be placing this sighting on my distribution map, but it isn’t because I do not believe the witness; rather, it is because she was traveling along the highway at a substantial rate of speed (likely 70-80 mph based on my experience on the Turnpike in question). While her description matches up well with historical reports of black panthers, the chance of misidentification while moving at such a clip is simply too great for me to feel totally confident.


The lesson here is to pull that vehicle over and pick that carcass up. If you aren’t comfortable with that, take lots of photos.


Reported: 6/2/22

Hi, my name is Caleb I live in south east Missouri. I just listened to an Expanded Perspectives episode about the black cats in Texas, or something like that, and I just wanted to share my story with you because I’ve had a very close encounter with a panther, a buddy of mine - his dad actually - killed a panther due to it messing with livestock. He actually had the head and pelt for a while. I’ve had other encounters with them while hunting and such but that was the closest that I’ve ever been to one. During the podcast you stated some people say that they have leopard-like spots on them. I can say that I do remember the spots on the pelt of this particular pelt. Let me know if you have any questions. I will try to answer them the best I can. 


Thanks for reading." 


TCH Comments: This is another account that I will not be mapping. I have heard multiple accounts of people killing a panther and keeping the pelt. Yet, there are absolutely no photos. Without a picture, this is just hearsay and I don’t feel good about placing the incident on my map. The witness claims other encounters but does not share any details regarding them. This doesn’t mean the witness is being untruthful, just that I don’t have enough details to feel good about adding it to my map.


I will wrap up this post with a photo sent to me from Mr. Brandon Darr. Brandon felt that the photo illustrated the different shading/coloration individual cougars can exhibit nicely and I agree with him. The only information on the photo itself is that it was allegedly “taken in Northern Mexico.” Since I’m posting it here only to show how different cougars can vary in the shade of their coats, it isn’t really relevant where it was taken.

The cats on the left and in the middle are clearly much darker in coloration that the cat on the right. I would guess the cat on the right is displaying the normal tawny-colored coat we are all used to seeing. The two on the left are much darker, especially on their dorsal surfaces. They are not, however, chocolate-colored or black. We can be sure of this by looking at the contrast in darkness between their backs/the ends of their tails and the rest of their bodies. If they were all black or dark brown, their bodies would be much more uniform in color, like the lighter-colored cougar on the right. Seeing darker-colored cougars in low light conditions could very well explain some black panther sightings.

If you would like to dig deeper into the black panther phenomenon, you might consider picking up a copy of my book, Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America. In it, you get a thorough overview of the phenomenon, my thoughts on what these animals might be, interviews with big cat experts, and more. You can pick up a copy at the link above or, if you would like a signed copy, you can contact me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. 

Monday, July 10, 2023

Was the Tshul'gul' of Cherokee Legend a Sasquatch?

Long time readers of this blog know that I am an avid amateur folklorist. I can, and often do, spend hours perusing the myths and folklore sections of various libraries near my home in the hopes of finding an undiscovered gem that might somehow connect ancient lore to my cryptozoology interests. Logic dictates that if cryptid creatures like the sasquatch or black panthers really do exist, then the people of long ago should have encountered them. If so, then there should be some sort of record of these encounters. One issue with this line of thinking, however, is that very few of the Native American tribes that inhabited North America in pre-Columbian times had a written language. That doesn’t mean there is no historical record, though, as the stories, myths, legends, and experiences of each tribe were passed from generation to generation via the spoken word. Among the folktales told by these first Americans are stories of encounters with large, hair-covered giants. The fact that these tales have survived by way of oral tradition should in no way lessen their significance as part of the historical record regarding this topic. Today, we will explore a tale from Cherokee folklore.

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is the largest of three Cherokee branches/tribes recognized by the U.S. government. The members of the Oklahoma-based tribe are descendants of the Old Cherokee Nation who “voluntarily” relocated or who were forced to march west to Indian Territory on the Trail of Tears, due to increased pressure from American settlers in the East. The Oklahoma Cherokees now reside on a vast reservation that spans all (or parts of) fourteen counties. The tribe’s territory includes much of the mountainous eastern border of Oklahoma, a region rich in historical bigfoot sightings and lore. If the sasquatch is, or was, a real animal, then the Cherokee Tribe of Oklahoma should have known about it. The following excerpts from a Cherokee folktale support the idea that these Native Americans were, indeed, familiar with these creatures in the distant past.


Tsunihl’gul’ or Tshul’gul’ was the subject of many Cherokee tales. Cherokee elders described Tshul’gul’ in various ways and related many stories of encounters with this being to folklorists Jack and Anna Kilpatrick. A tribesman named Asudi shared, “He was very wicked…People didn’t want to live near where he was. The older people used to say he would lean on something and that he was very tall. He used to fall over upon people and mash them. Tshul’gul’ did a great many things and was always to be feared.” Asudi went on to share a story told to him by his father, who had learned it from his mother. In the interest of brevity, I will not reprint the entire story here. Instead, I will share excerpts that describe behaviors/characteristics of Tshul’gul’ that alleged sasquatch witnesses in modern times have reported as well. My thoughts on the behaviors/characteristics described will appear in red.

“It was in the Old Cherokee country where these Tshul’gul’ lived. They were very tall men.”


TCH Comment: Nearly all alleged sasquatch witnesses in modern times have described the creature as man-like in appearance and very tall.


“There was a couple there who had daughters of marriageable age. These daughters had heard many times about these tall, huge Tshul’gul’. These daughters were very desirous of seeing for themselves because they had heard fantastic tales of these tall, huge men. They had heard that these men could pull up large trees with their bare hands alone. That’s what they had heard, and that’s what these young women desired to see.”


TCH Comment: Again, the great size of these beings is stressed. Too, their great strength is mentioned. Many alleged sasquatch witnesses report seeing a creature perform a feat of strength that no normal man would be capable of. For example, people have testified to seeing wood apes breaking trees, twisting off thick branches from trees, killing feral hogs with their bare hands, and hurling large boulders.


“At sunset they would hear a whooping in the west. In the Old Cherokee country there is a great mountain that begins in the east and does not end until it gets to the west. When he (Tshul’gul’) whooped in the west, he whooped four times in traversing that mountain. His whooping ceased when he reached the end of the mountain in the east. At sunset the next evening he began whooping at the east end of the mountain. He whooped as he traversed the mountain and ceased as he reached the west end.”


TCH Comment: “Whoops” and “whooping” have become synonymous with the sasquatch. I, myself, have heard whoops at close range multiple times in a mountainous area in eastern Oklahoma. On a few of these occasions, the original whoop was answered by another “whooper” secreted in a different location. Countless others have reported hearing these vocalizations as well. Some of these whooping vocalizations have been recorded. Several such recordings made by the NAWAC are available to the public here. To my knowledge, no other animal native to Oklahoma or Arkansas is capable of making this distinctive “whoop” sound.


“When they got to the top of the mountain, everything was quiet. Then they heard him whoop right behind them, just out of sight, and they heard another noise, sounding ‘Daaast’!’ The noise was as if he was breaking sticks. Then they saw the limbs of trees shaking.”


TCH Comment: Many sasquatch researchers and alleged witnesses have reported incidents where they walked in very close proximity to one of these animals without knowing it. The people involved often say something along the lines of, “I’d have never known it was there if it hadn’t…” Behaviors described at that point include growling, grunting, huffing, whooping, the breaking of limbs or sticks, the throwing of a rock or a tree branch, or the violent shaking of trees and other vegetation. It should be noted here that all of these behaviors are textbook examples of intimidation tactics employed by the known great apes.

“Then they saw the tall man – swaying. While he was swaying, he was knocking over the smaller trees, and that’s what they were hearing. There was a large area where Tshul’gul’ had flattened the trees…The man that they saw there was whooping.”


TCH Comment: Again, classic intimidation tactics that continue to be reported today are described in this passage. Something else of interest is the observation of the creature swaying. Many alleged witnesses have reported this behavior. Descriptions of an upright animal that shifted its weight from one foot to the other in an agitated or nervous manner, or that peeked from behind one side of a tree and then the other, are easily found in today’s literature. Finally, the report of “flattened” areas could correlate to a nesting area or possible territorial marking. While such features have been located in modern times, the purpose behind them remains the subject of speculation.


“Then the young women came up and took a look at his face. They saw that he had slanting eyes, and they fled and said, ‘He has slanting eyes!”


TCH Comment: While many today might not be comfortable with the term “slanted eyes,” I think it is a key detail that should not be ignored because of perceived political incorrectness. On multiple occasions, historical and modern witnesses have used similar terms to describe the facial features of the sasquatch. I have heard or read accounts where witnesses said the face looked “Asian,” “like a person with Down’s Syndrome,” or “like a mongoloid” due to the appearance of the creature’s eyes. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water because we are not comfortable with these descriptions. The fact is, similar characteristics continue to be described today, albeit in gentler and more politically correct terms.


“In those days, Tshun’gul’ were fond of women and would visit them. But when he went to a neighbor’s house, if it were still light, he always turned his back away from the people who lived there. The young women would circle him and try to see his face but he would always turn in another direction…Early in the evening the Tshun’gul’ arrived. When they gave him a chair by the fire, he sat down and turned away from the fire.”


TCH Comment: Accounts of the “glowing” or highly reflective nature of the eyes of the sasquatch are well known. In my opinion, that could be the grain of truth hidden in the middle of the account above. Many researchers have documented the eyeshine that these creatures exhibit. Too, many are of the belief that the wood apes themselves are aware that their eyes shine and can give their location away. NAWAC investigators have reported catching the eyeshine of an ape in a flashlight only to have the animal duck its head or turn away from the light source. This could, of course, simply be due to the fact that having a bright light shone in one’s eyes is annoying, but when paired when the observations of others who have claimed to have seen these animals actually cover up their eyes with their own hands when spotlighted, it is an intriguing bit of anecdotal evidence that the wood ape is aware that its eyes strongly reflect light. Perhaps the Cherokee were attempting to explain the behavior of a sasquatch turning away from a light – in this case a fire – in this passage.

“…God permitted them all to live among people like us (of normal size); but they were always taking all the women and wives away from ordinary-sized men until smaller men were without women…So God declared that this was not the place for Tshun’gul’. God decided to send them all to the west, to the end of the world, and that’s where they live now. Someday they may return, and we will see them, they say.”


TCH Comment: Tales of sasquatches kidnapping women and children can be found in the folklore of Native American tribes across North America. Some tribes felt the behavior stemmed from the desire of a lonely sasquatch to acquire a mate and companion (wife). Others felt the abductions were more sinister in nature and felt the kidnappings were the work of cannibals. Whichever explanation you prefer, the belief that these creatures occasionally abduct women and children goes back centuries. I find the part of the story where the Tshun’gul’ were banished to “the west, to the end of the world” by God interesting. While it is true that bigfoot sightings continue to take place in and near Cherokee country – and other places across the continent – the unrivaled “Holy Land” of the sasquatch is the Pacific Northwest. Could the Pacific Northwest be “the end of the world” referred to in the folktale? It is interesting to ponder.


You can read the entire Cherokee folktale that I have cited above in the book, Friends of Thunder: Folktales of the Oklahoma Cherokees, if you would like to fill in some of the gaps in the story. Remember, I focused only on the passages that seemed to directly correlate to behaviors and characteristics of the sasquatch that are still being reported today. Having done that, I believe the correlation between the actions and characteristics of the Tshun’gul’ and those of today’s bigfoot are undeniable. I have no doubt in my mind that the Cherokees of days long past were describing the same animal so many seek today: the sasquatch.


More soon.



Kilpatrick, J. F., & Kilpatrick, A. G. (Eds.). (1964). Tales of Monsters. In Friends of Thunder: Folktales of the Oklahoma Cherokees (pp. 64–69). essay, Southern Methodist University Press.


Bureau, U. C. (2023, July 3). Census.gov. https://www.census.gov/ 


ArcGIS web application. (n.d.). https://vmgis4.cherokee.org/portal/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=d890e55c04c04c31a658301f9d020521 


Staff, N. (2023, February 22). Cherokee Nation announces 450,000th citizen registration. www.fox23.com. https://www.fox23.com/news/cherokee-nation-announces-450-000th-citizen-registration/article_f18e96da-b258-11ed-9733-972cafa8db3b.html 


Cleary, C. P. (2023, May 15). The rediscovery of Indian country in eastern Oklahoma. Oklahoma Bar Association. https://www.okbar.org/barjournal/may-2023/the-rediscovery-of-indian-country-in-eastern-oklahoma/#_ednref47 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Catching Up: Black Panther Reports

For the last few years, I have been deeply involved in several writing projects. Hopefully, you are familiar with the result of at least one of those projects (Valley of the Apes: The Search for Sasquatch in Area X). The process of writing that book was a true labor of love and seeing it published and well received was immensely gratifying. It did, along with other lower profile projects, take a LOT of time. When combined with my regular job of teaching middle school history, my responsibilities as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the North American Wood Ape Conservancy (NAWAC), and the general stress that comes from life itself, there simply wasn’t much time left over to keep up with the blog (or much of anything else).


I have taken steps to simplify my life and create more time to do the things I really enjoy, like writing this blog. The results have been tangible as I have published three posts this month alone (this will be the fourth). I won’t have quite as much time once school starts in the fall but hope to average two posts per month going forward. I still have a lot to say and there are still an awful lot of strange stories to tell. In that vein, let’s move on to the real topic of this post: black panthers.


Disclaimer: according to mainstream science, there is no such animal as a “black panther.” The panthers of the movies and television are either melanistic leopards or jaguars. Wildlife authorities do not believe either of these species currently inhabit Texas, the American South, or any other region of the United States or Canada (the exceptions being the states of Arizona and New Mexico, in which a few transient male jaguars have been documented). Still, the reports of large, black, long-tailed cats have continued. Documenting and charting the location of the most credible reports is part of my ongoing effort to answer one simple question: what are the black panthers of North America?


The following is a report that I have had in my files for a while. Now that I have some time, I am going to attempt to catch all of you up on the backlog of reports that have come in to me. This account is a long one, so it will be the only report featured in this post. I have edited the report a bit for length in order to make it a better fit for this blog.  Wherever you see an elipse (…) some extra material was omitted for the sake of brevity. I do not believe my having done so changes the critical details of the report. The words you do see are those of the gentleman who forwarded the account to me.


Reported January 27, 2022


“Hello, Mr. Mayes.


“I recently visited the North American Bigfoot Center/Museum in Boring, Oregon. While there, I had the opportunity to purchase a number of books, one of which was your Shadow Cats. I specifically bought this book due to its topic on black panthers in North America…


“…I felt compelled to tell you an accurate and true sighting of a black panther in Idaho. The sighting was at a very close range. The witnesses were my mom and dad. I’ve heard the story a number of times and the facts never change, nor would I expect them to as both of my parents are of the highest ethical standards…


“…The sighting took place in west central Idaho around 2012. The closest town would be Cascade, located of highway 55. My dad retired as a captain with the Payette, Idaho Fire Department and my mom was a long-time real estate agent and later worked in the nursing field… When my parents retired, they spent a great deal of time in a side-by-side ATV taking trips deep into the Idaho back country…One trip…they accessed a road off of highway 55 and headed east on a dirt road…Mom and Dad were in no rush, just sightseeing, having a nice lunch, and enjoying the day…They were traveling west back toward highway 55 when Dad’s attention was drawn to the right side of the road where a black cat was lying…This cat then stood and walked across the road in front of their ATV and slunk into the heavy timber…both of them were essentially speechless…My dad recalled saying that was a black panther and that someone’s pet had to have escaped its enclosure…My dad was well-versed in mountain lions and, in fact, we’ve both had the good fortune to see them in the wild. Both of my parents were positive and adamant that this was not a color phase or a hybrid of a mountain lion but a real black panther. 

“After several minutes…they were able to re-start down the road. A short distance later, they came upon a couple of…ranch hands. My dad explained to them what they had seen and asked the men if they had any knowledge of panther activity on or around their spread. Dad said the older man’s body language changed and he seemed concerned, leading my mom and dad to think this guy had seen the panther himself or had experienced some livestock loss…prior to my parents leaving, one of the men radioed to the homestead to make sure the women were aware of the sighting and to make sure all of the children were accounted for…


“…I can testify under any oath…that this story is true and correct, a class-A legitimate sighting….my parents did not know there was a following on the topic or that there were even any books written about it. If you are ever inclined to go into this area or even chat up my mom, please feel free to reach out…


L.A. Dove”


TCH Comment: While the report lacks much in the way of detail regarding the appearance of the cat itself (approximate weight, length, etc.) the circumstances would seem to rule out a case of misidentification. Both witnesses were adamant that they saw a black panther and not a dark mountain lion. The fact that the male witness had seen cougars in the wild before, lends credibility to his claim that this was no mountain lion. I must say, the behavior attributed to the ranch hands is interesting. If true - and I have no reason to believe it isn’t – one stiffened up and clammed up while the other quickly radioed home to give the family there a heads up regarding the sighting. It is speculation of course, but these seem to be the behaviors of two men who are familiar with the animal that was described. I guess we’ll never know for sure.


As I mentioned above, due to the length of this submission, I am going to feature it alone on this post. Others will soon follow.


One other thing, I am going to start adding compelling sighting reports from other states on my Black Panther Distribution Map. I think I have accomplished my original goal of trying to pinpoint the most likely places to encounter these cryptid cats in the Lone Star State. Now, I am hoping to identify other patterns on a larger scale by including all of North America. I will be going back through my records and adding some reports that reached me from outside of Texas.


If you are interested and would like to know more about the black panther mystery, check out my book, Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America. Click the book link in the right margin or here for more information.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

The Pebble Thrower of Peach Creek

In the mid to late 1800s, settlers streamed west across North America in great numbers. There were various reasons for this exodus from the east: gold was discovered in California, land on the frontier was cheap - if not completely free - and the belief in Manifest Destiny had taken root deep in the American psyche. Texas was considered a prime location for refugees from the east. The climate was good and the soil fertile. Stephen F. Austin, Green DeWitt, Martin De Leon, and other empresarios secured land grants - first from Spain, later from Mexico - parceled the property, and sold it off in large tracts to eager settlers. Once Texas won independence from Mexico, immigration increased dramatically. One area that attracted both Anglo and Native American settlers was in East Texas in an area that today makes up Tyler and Polk Counties. The reasons these pioneers chose this area west of the Sabine River were obvious to anyone who visited. The region was rich in timber and water resources, the land was good for farming, and the forest was teeming with all types of game. It was a virtual paradise.

In the summer of 1846, something altogether new was introduced to the area’s settlers: fear. This fear motivated the pioneers to eschew the dog-run-style cabins preferred in other parts of Texas and instead construct homes of the thickest logs that resembled miniature forts. Students of Texas history might assume the source of this fear was tension between the settlers and the Native American tribes in the area. Such was not the case as the dominant tribe of the area, the Alabamas, were presided over by a Chief named Colita who generally preferred a peaceful, even friendly, relationship with the white settlers.

Despite the friendly relationship between the area’s pioneers and the Alabamas, the settlers never felt completely comfortable with their Native American neighbors and rumors of marauding Indians from the outer edges of Colita’s Kingdom spread like wildfire from time-to-time. (Colita presided over the Alabamas, but also acted as Chief over a loose affiliation of tribes that included the Coushattas, Creeks, and Kickapoos) When such rumors surfaced, settlers would appoint a family member to serve as a watchman so that they would not be caught flat-footed by renegade Indians during the dark East Texas nights. It was during one of these times, when bands of marauding tribesman were said to be in the area, that the legend of the pebble thrower of Peach Creek was born.


The George Caudill family lived on Peach Creek, about a half mile from a settlement called Peachtree Village. Having heard the rumors of roaming hostile Indians, George charged his eighteen-year-old son with taking the watch one hot night in August of 1846. The nervous youth began to hear movement sounds in the forest surrounding the family’s cabin during the wee hours of the morning. The young Caudill could not see anything unusual in the dark woods but continued to hear someone, or something, moving about. Suddenly, an object of some kind struck the roof of the cabin. The teenager heard the object slowly roll down the eaves of the house and land on the sandy ground outside. 


Fearing this was some sort of Indian attempt to probe the cabin’s defenses, the young man rushed to wake his father. Within minutes the entire family was up and expecting the worst. A bit later, another small object struck the roof, rolled slowly down the sloped structure, and landed with a thump outside the cabin. This action was repeated multiple times throughout the night and was heard by the entire family. Mercifully, as the first rays of dawn began to break through the towering trees of the East Texas forest, the activity ceased.

Once it was fully daylight, the Caudill’s carefully stepped out of their cabin and inspected the area around the structure. The trees had long been cleared from the area immediately surrounding the home, making it impossible for anything to drop from them onto the roof. The front “yard” – as was the custom in those days – was kept grass and weed free, and provided a sandy record of the tracks of any person or animal that visited the cabin. On this morning, there were no tracks of any kind. A search for the objects that had struck the roof turned up nothing. The family was completely baffled.


Around midday, George paid a visit to his nearest neighbors, a family by the name of Burchman. Caudill shared the story of the creepy goings on of the previous night with his friend. Mr.  Burchman replied, “That’s funny, we had the same experience and at about the same time. We couldn’t find any tracks but felt sure it was Indians.” The two men proceeded to the home of another neighbor, the Keys family. They, too, reported having endured a barrage of pebbles during the previous night. Upon further inquiry, families up and down Peach Creek reported having experienced the shenanigans of the “pebble thrower” at some point in the recent past.


Over time, the stone-throwing continued. Annoyance replaced fear among the pioneers as it became clear that whomever the pebble thrower was, he was more prankster than marauder. All assumed that some mischievous Indian was the culprit and it was decided a visit to Chief Colita was in order in the hopes that he could put a stop to the disturbing incidents. Upon hearing the testimony of the settlers, Colita seemed strangely unsurprised and more than a little amused at the plight of the homesteaders. He stated that it was highly unlikely the pebble thrower was an Indian. He acknowledged there were probably a few unsavory characters among his tribal coalition, then added, “But, the Indian does not poke fun at the white man. If he likes you, he will not do that. If he does not like you, he has a better way of letting you know than throwing pebbles on the roofs of your homes.” Colita convinced the settlers that there was nothing he could do to stop the stone thrower but that there was likely nothing of which to be afraid. While the pioneers believed Colita’s assertion that Indians were not responsible, several left with the feeling that the Chief knew more about what might actually be happening than he let on. Whatever the case, the rock throwing continued. Week after week, month after month, and year after year, the assault continued on the cabins of settlers up and down Peach Creek. The pebble thrower never left tracks and the projectiles themselves were only rarely found.

The pebble thrower of Peach Creek might have been a mischievous youth of Indian or Anglo origin. That would be the simplest and least disturbing explanation. It is worth mentioning, however, that the heavily forested regions of East Texas, West Lousiana, Southwest Arkansas, and Southeast Oklahoma have long traditions of wildman/sasquatch encounters. Too, bigfoot lore is rife with incidents where these North American wood apes have reportedly hurled projectiles at or near people. The most famous example is, no doubt, the Ape Canyon incident that allegedly took place in the remote forest of Washington in 1924; however, literally hundreds of other projectile throwing events have been documented over the years. Incidents that are eerily similar to those experienced by the homesteaders along Peach Creek so long ago continue to be reported to this very day. Could the pebble thrower of Peach Creek have been a sasquatch? Many would find such a hypothesis laughable, but as someone who has been holed up inside a cabin in a remote and heavily wooded location during such a barrage of rocks, I do not. If there is anything to the bigfoot phenomenon, the possibility should be considered.


Should you ever find yourself awakened in the middle of the night by a loud impact on the roof of the cabin in which you are living or vacationing, you likely have nothing to fear other than the loss of a good night’s sleep; however, I would recommend inspecting the roof of the structure the next morning. Should you find rocks resting there, you might reconsider your plans before staying a second night. After all, rocks cannot fly onto roofs and they do not fall from trees.

Those rocks were thrown up there.


*SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT* - If you are intrigued by the idea of wood apes hurling stones at remote cabins, you would likely enjoy my book, Valley of the Apes: The Search for Sasquatch in Area X. In it, many such incidents – along with a wide variety of other ape-related weirdness – are documented. You can purchase here or, if you would like a signed copy, contact me directly at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com.



Combs, J. F. (1965). Chapter 5. In Legends of the Pineys (pp. 55–61). essay, Naylor Co. 

Friday, June 9, 2023

The Phantom Bull of the Huana

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about looking into mysteries of the natural world is how difficult and rare it is to come to a satisfactory explanation for unusual phenomena. Is the Sasquatch real? Do black panthers roam the bottomlands of the American South? A true resolution to these mysteries, and many others, sometimes seems tantalizingly close but remains elusive and just out of reach. Every now and then, however, the truth behind a legend, myth, supernatural or cryptozoological mystery does present itself. This is the story of one of those times.

Deep in East Texas, not too far from the small town of Center, a small, unassuming stream runs through Shelby County. Huana creek, or the Huana, as the Native Americans once called it, trickles through a part of Texas rich in traditions of ghosts, phantoms, panthers, wildmen, and other spectral creatures. Due to the unusual sounds, screams, and unearthly noises that often emanated from the area, many early settlers in the region felt the shallow valley of the Huana was haunted and not a place to venture alone. The most feared of these apparitions held the communities of MacCauley and Beck and the Bush settlement in the grip of fear for a five-year period during the early 1880s. The creature of which I speak always traveled a worn trail that ran from an area referred to as the “Sand Hills” south of Huana Creek to the communities previously mentioned to the north and west before bending back to the south and petering out where it began. It was said that on dark nights, when the moon was absent or but a sliver, a large creature walked the loop that was dubbed the Huana Trail. It announced its presence with a series of four loud screams. These screams - there were always four - were repeated every one-quarter to one-half mile as the beast, whatever it was, traveled the trail. On these nights, the Huana belonged to it and it alone.


The monster was heard by many but never seen. This was likely due to the fact that it only seemed to travel the trail on the darkest of nights, making visibility difficult. Too, these conditions made for a dearth of people willing to venture out for a trek on these evenings, making potential witnesses scarce. That changed one night around 1883 or 1884. It seems on the night in question two settlers were visiting a friend in one of the communities near the Huana. Suddenly, the screams of the monster rattled the surrounding forest. The pair hopped on their horses and made for the trail with haste, determined to spy the maker of the terrifying screams. Taking a position on the trail, the men heard the creature scream out again – a sound they later described as being similar to that of a bull bellowing – followed by an odd, rhythmic clicking and thumping as the feet of the beast pounded the sandy trail.


Finally, the pair caught sight of the apparition. They described two white objects, spreading across the trail at almost head height. Too, they spied two or three other white objects near the ground. Nothing else was seen, and after reconsidering the wisdom of their plan, the two men spurred their frightened mounts in the opposite direction and back to town.


Another report, eerily similar in detail, came out of the bottoms not too much later. Two young men who were camping in the woods near the Huana Trail after hunting the area during the day, heard the terrible bellowing scream previously described by so many. As the beast passed along the trail near the spot where the young men were hidden, they heard the distinct clicking and thumping noises previously described by the two cowboys. The animal was close – they could tell by the sounds – and yet they saw only two ghostly white objects floating at head height and several smaller glowing objects at ground level. After the apparition had passed, the two boys beat a hasty retreat.


Similar run-ins with the mystery creature continued for years afterward. Details were always the same: bellowing screams (always in fours), glowing objects stretching across the trail at a height of five-and-a-half to six feet, and smaller ghostly objects flitting about close to the ground. Several times riders met the beast on the trail and their horses, without exception, turned tail and fled despite the protestations and best efforts of the horsemen. Despite the fear the monster generated, it never pursued anyone fleeing from it or even left the sandy loam of the Huana Trail. This led to speculation by the locals that, whatever it was, it was cursed to walk that trail for eternity. Even though the beast had never hurt anyone, business meetings that would require attendees to travel the Huana were always scheduled on nights when the moon was near or totally full in an effort to avoid encounters with this seemingly cursed phantom.


Eventually, locals began to focus on tracks left by the creature. By all accounts, they appeared to be the tracks of a huge bull. The footprints revealed splayed hooves (the two parts of the bull’s hooves spread apart when the animal placed its weight on the foot). The telltale “clicking” that was always heard when the mystery bovine walked by was now thought to be the sound of the two parts of the hoof coming back together when the bull lifted its foot off the ground. This explained part of the mystery, but many questions remained. Why was the bull never seen? Why did he travel only on the darkest nights? Why did he never venture off the Huana Trail? Why did he walk this circuitous route at all?


Finally, a group of locals decided they wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery once and for all. They set out to try to find the Phantom Bull during daylight hours in the Sand Hills. Once there, signs of grazing were found in several locations after the men left the trail. Noting this was the first time there had been any reason to believe the great beast had ever strayed from the trail, the search party pressed on. Here, the forest was different; it was made up almost entirely of ancient pines with little to no underbrush and long sight lines. Could that have something to do with the beast’s willingness to leave the trail here in the Sand Hills? Soon, searchers came upon what was described as a “beautiful grassy depression in the virgin forest.” In the middle of this serene scene was a huge bull. The men described the bull as follows:


“He was a shining black and his tail was longer than most native bulls…The brush (the end of the tail) was large and snow white. The hooves were long, and like that of polished ivory.


“The magnificent horns swept outward on either side of the bull’s head, then turned to the front and curved upward about six inches. They had a spread of eight feet and their size was uniformly the same from the head of the bull to the point where they turned to the front.


“The horns were like polished pearl and glittered in the sunlight, with an opalescent reflection toward their tips. They were slim, graceful, and like no other horns ever seen on bulls in this region. They were definitely those of a true Texas Longhorn.”

The once mighty, but now clearly aged bull trembled with fear but had not the strength to stand. The men rigged up a hoist, put a harness around the animal, and lifted him to a standing position in the hopes he would graze a bit. The men decided to retreat and return the next morning. Any hopes that the bull might recover from whatever ailed it were dashed when the locals returned. The body of the bull was still suspended, but the animal’s head was lowered to the point that the tips of the horns nearly touched the ground. The beast’s tail moved not at the will of its owner but at the whims of the east Texas breeze. The Phantom Bull of the Huana was dead.


Once the sheer size of the bull and the width of its horns were witnessed, it was easy to see why the great beast never left the trail and ventured into the dense woods of the Huana Valley. The spread would have allowed the bull to travel only on a wide trail or open woods. Too, after spying the slick black coat of the longhorn, it was clear to see why he traveled only on the darkest of nights. On these nights, only the soft glow of his white hooves and/or horns could be seen; otherwise, the huge creature was all but invisible.


The bellowing screams of the Phantom Bull that once inspired so much fear were now interpreted in a different way. In hindsight, it seemed that these had been the calls of a lonely animal crying out in the hopes of finding others of its kind. Sadly, there were no other longhorn cattle in the timbered region of Texas at this time, so the cries of the solitary bull went unanswered.


Where the longhorn bull came from remains a mystery to this day. He bore no earmarks or brands, and no one stepped forward after his death claiming ownership. Wherever he came from, and whether he was truly lonely or reveled in his solitude, are secrets which were carried away on the East Texas breeze upon his death. 


I have no way of knowing, but I like to think that when the mighty Phantom Bull of the Huana lowered his head for the last time in that Sand Hill glade, he finally found his herd and with them the peace that comes from being with family. If so, his nights of walking a singular, dark path are over, and he is alone no more. 




Combs, J. F. (1965). Chapter III - The Phantom Bull of the Human. In Legends of the Pineys (pp. 37–44). essay, Naylor Co. 




Thursday, June 8, 2023

Special Announcement

 Let’s get right to it…


I have resigned from the NAWAC Board of Directors and will no longer serve as the Chairman for the organization. I really wasn’t planning on making an announcement about my decision but - even though I stepped down only yesterday - I have received multiple queries from people outside of the NAWAC regarding my resignation. That being the case, I felt it was better to go ahead and address the topic and put to rest any rumors as to what my motivations for stepping down might be.


First, this was my decision and my decision only. I wasn’t booted out or asked to resign. I remain on good terms with the other Board members. I should point out that I have NOT left the NAWAC and will remain a member of the organization. I have only stepped down from the Board of Directors. The NAWAC is a wonderful organization. In my opinion, it is the finest group out there attempting to get to the bottom of the sasquatch conundrum. If the ultimate answer regarding the reality of these creatures is going to come from a research group, my money is on the NAWAC being that group. All is well there.


Second, I am not suffering some sort of health crisis. Other than being very tired, I am fine. I suppose exhaustion could be considered a physical ailment, but there is nothing bigger than that going on with me. I just needed to step back and recharge a bit. In order to do so, I felt it only right to step aside from my leadership position. To that end, I will be taking the summer off with the hopes of picking up my research activities in the fall.


For those of you who don’t know, I am a long time History teacher and, until the last few years, coach. As a coach, I know that after a while players can tune you out. Over time, your stories, metaphors, and motivational speeches have all been heard. Such things are less impactful the second or third time they are offered up. It is the same here. I thought it best to step aside before my message became stale and redundant. I think a new voice is needed, someone with fresh perspectives to offer. I care too much about the NAWAC and its mission to become an impediment.


I suppose that about covers it. Again, all is well; it is just time to step aside and pursue other dreams.


I am hopeful that I will now have more time and energy to dedicate to writing, blogging, and some other projects I have in mind. I already feel a lightness that I have not felt for a very long time. I have completed another non-fiction book and will be shopping it this summer. This one is not related to my cryptozoological endeavors; rather, it is compilation of the funniest and most touching moments of my teaching/coaching career. I think there might be an audience for it; after all, there are a LOT of teachers out there. I also have a new short story nearly completed and the first four chapters of a novel done. More on those things as they develop.


The Texas Cryptid Hunter blog is the foundation from which all of my writing endeavors have sprung. I have not been diligent in keeping it up over the last few years but am determined to get it going again. I love writing the blog and feel there is more to be said about an abundance of topics and more tales of weird encounters that took place in the Lone Star State (and beyond) to be told. A new post is in the works and I plan on getting back to it as soon as I wrap this one up.


So, there you have it. My resignation from the NAWAC Board of Directors really boils down to one thing and one thing only…


…it was time.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

The Kindly Phantom of Wilson Creek

As most of you know, I am a native Texan. To be more specific, I am from East Texas. The reason I make this distinction is due to the difference in terrain and geography from east to west.  The East is home to the Piney Woods and the legendary - and jungle-like - Big Thicket. Copious amounts of rain falls on this part of the state, birthing numerous rivers and countless creeks.  The dark woods and deep thickets offer cover and food for many animal species. This is also the region of the state from whence most of the sightings of large, hairy, ape-like creatures originate. The tale that follows concerns at least one such creature and is one I was not familiar with until recently. Some of the details reported will be familiar to followers and researchers of the sasquatch phenomenon; however, other accounts are unlike anything I have ever come across. Do the various stories over the years describe different beings/creatures or are all the accounts related? I suppose that is for you to decide, dear reader. Now, on with the story.


“It looked like a monster,” a 1934 article from the May 20th Sunday edition of the Beaumont Enterprise begins. “It’s (sic) body…seemed to be covered with long black hair. Some described the Thing as bearing every earmark of a great ape.” The creature in question was squatty and powerfully built. He (we make an assumption on gender here) wore no clothing and never uttered a word. More often than not, the phantom – as he came to be known – appeared to locals at the height of raging storms and/or when said folks were in some sort of trouble and in dire need of help.

This particular “haint” wandered the woods and along the banks of creeks in Tyler County, Texas in the 1840s and 1850s. While the settlers of this region had many encounters with the benevolent beast – for that is how he was thought of by the locals – it is the stories of brothers John and Robert Rotan which I will focus on here. The following tales were related to reporter Dean Tevis by Young John Rotan for the previously referenced 1934 article. The stories were told to him by both his uncle, Old John, and father, Robert Rotan.


 Old John left the community of Peach Tree one night to visit the nearby Burch settlement, which sat about a mile from the spot where the town of Chester exists today. The exact nature of the trip is not stated, but it was most likely a business trip (Old John dealt in cattle). Whether John Rotan closed his deal is not disclosed; what is known is that a terrible storm set in on the area as he was making his way home. The night was pitch black and rain was falling in buckets. Old John had to depend on the vision of his horse to keep to the trail, as he could see little to nothing in the deluge. It was not long before he rode up on a creek called Wilson Branch. The usually benign stream was running fast and deep due to the heavy rains. His horse – an unusually trustworthy animal, according to John – hesitated and balked at crossing the torrent. Old John tried everything to get his mount to proceed. He coaxed, prodded, and spurred the beast but to no avail. The horse would not budge. Suddenly, an event occurred that caused Old John to question whether it had really been the raging waters that his horse had shied away from. “Seemingly from the creek itself, then well out of its banks, grew an unnatural figure.” His horse reared in fright, pawing at the air in the direction of the advancing shadow, forcing John to hold on for dear life. “It wasn’t very tall,” he is quoted as saying. “But it was thick set, ape-like, and seemed hairy. It seemed to wear no clothes. In a way, you may have said it was rather shapeless.”


John was chilled to the bone by the sight of the apparition but made no move to retrieve the loaded pistols he carried in his saddlebags. Whether John froze in fear, or, as he later claimed, concluded that it would not have been to his advantage to fire a bullet into the Thing, can only be speculated upon now. What is known is that while Old John pondered on what action to take, the phantom walked up to a position even with his saddle horn. Miraculously, the frightened horse quieted and stood stock still as the creature reached out and touched the animal’s neck. Wide-eyed, Old John Rotan watched as “The wild figure put its hand on the horse for an instant, and then, without adoo (sic) took hold of the bridle” and began leading the steed down the slope and across the angry creek branch safely. “It was all over in a few seconds,” John said, “then the figure disappeared into the darkness it came from…”. Old John never saw the phantom again but often speculated on what his fate might have been had the creature never appeared. The tale of the kindly phantom of Wilson Creek might have faded into oblivion soon after, had not dozens of other settlers seen and had experiences with what most feel was the same being. One such notable account was given by Old John Rotan’s own brother, Robert.


Robert Rotan’s story took place in the springtime as he awaited the arrival of his first-born, a season that brings violent thunderstorms to much of the Lone Star State. As many can attest, babies care little for what atmospheric conditions are present at the time of their arrival on this mortal plane, nor do they seem concerned whether or not medical help is available. Such were the circumstances the night of little Sally Rotan’s birth.  Mother and father had hoped and prayed that the child’s arrival would come after the raging storm outside had broken, but it soon became obvious that would not be the case. Help was needed and it was needed fast. Robert saddled up and tore off through the storm towards the homestead of a local woman known to locals as “Grandma Pullen.” Ms. Pullen was often called upon by the residents of Tyler County to assist in the birthing process. Robert needed to fetch her fast, as his wife was in distress. The problem was that Ms. Pullen lived 8-10 miles away in an area that was in the thick woods and nearly impenetrable under the best of circumstances. Robert was attempting to find the Pullen cabin on a moonless and stormy night.

Situated between Robert Rotan’s home and that of Grandma Pullen was Caney Creek. According to theEnterprise article, “Caney is famed for its tangled wilderness. Its banks, and the country on both sides of them for a good distance, are thick in palmettos, tear blankets, and saw vines, bearing mean sharp briars which cling tenaciously to the clothing, and rip the hide of a horse sent through them. By daylight a horseman could ride round the worst of the patches which overgrew the narrow roadways, but at night he was almost helpless against them. It was often said that a man could hide all his life in this country and never be found…”. This is what Robert Rotan was up against as he fought the elements in an effort to locate the Pullen cabin.


Robert successfully, though painfully, negotiated the tear-blanket vines and made it to the bank of Caney Creek. Once there, he found the creek dangerously high and fast-moving, due to the raging storm. While searching for a safe spot to cross the creek, Robert and his mount became hopelessly lost. Being nighttime – a dark, stormy, and moonless night at that – there were no landmarks visible to guide him, and after riding in circles for what seemed like an eternity, Robert stopped his horse and hunkered down, hoping that the weather would soon break and he would be able to find his way out of the thicket. 


Exactly how long Robert and his horse had been motionless in the deep thicket is not known. All that is known is that Robert, after having been still for a while, saw a figure rise up mere yards in front of his mount, “seemingly from the ground.” The apparition did not hesitate, but stepped forward and took the reins of the horse and proceeded to lead him through the bottoms, across the creek, and up into the hills, where Robert was able to again locate the trail. Robert, who had had ample time to observe the creature, described a being “covered with black hair,” and having a “somewhat short, stubby body, and looked like…an ape.” The phantom said nothing, nor did it ever even look at Robert, and melted back into the gloom of the forest once its mission had been accomplished. 


Robert Rotan did make it to Grandma Pullen’s cabin that night and she was, indeed, able to help deliver baby Sally. Years later, Robert’s son, Young John, would say, “As you can believe, my father was desperate that night. Perhaps it was a dream he had. Perhaps it was something else. As far as I’m concerned, I’m of the opinion that what he saw was the same figure my Uncle John saw that night he crossed Wilson Branch.”


There are other stories from the Peach Tree Village area that are more typical (if that term can ever be used) descriptions of sasquatch encounters. Settlers during this same time period were hounded by a mischievous “pebble thrower.” One homestead in particular, dubbed the Hallmark Home, was the favorite target of the hurler and was showered with rocks, pebbles, gravel, and other forest debris on a regular basis for 75 years. Often, the pebble thrower was accompanied by what the pioneers called the “wild woman of Caney Creek.” The wild woman was never seen, but her “wild, untamed screams were heard in the tangled bottoms of the creek on many occasions over a period of half a century.” Were the pebble thrower, the wild woman of Caney Creek, and the kindly phantom of Wilson Creek all different entities, or was the same being responsible for all of the strange occurrences in Tyler County during the late 19th century? Young John Rotan, son of Robert and nephew of Old John, pondered the same question. “I often wonder if the kindly phantom was kin to the wild woman, if she was a ghost, too, and whether they both were related to the strange pebble thrower of the Hallmark House. Sometimes I think they’re different, and then sometimes I think, well, maybe they’re one and the same thing – just acting different at different times and for different purposes.”


I admit that the actions of the kindly phantom described in these old stories are unlike anything I have ever heard regarding sasquatch behavior. Whether the events took place exactly as described, I obviously cannot say. What I do know is that in a world where wood apes are often seen as creatures to fear and are subtly blamed for the disappearances of what seems like every missing hiker or hunter across the nation, it was nice to come across a story where the sasquatch-like figure was seen in a positive light and not feared by the locals (though the pioneers of Tyler County did fear the pebble thrower and wild woman of Caney Creek). 


I will wrap this post up with the words of Young John Rotan who said, “You know there are some things in this world, now as well as back there, that neither you nor I, or anyone else, can explain. And just because we can’t explain them, why, that’s no reason to say they didn’t happen. I don’t look at things like that, do you?”


Well, do you? 


P.S. – I would like to send a special “thank you” to Susan Shine Kilcrease and her crack research staff at the Ice House Museum in Silsbee, Texas for finding and forwarding the Beaumont Enterprise article sourced for this post. 



Tevis, Dean. “The Kindly Phantom of Wilson Creek.” Beaumont Enterprise, 25 May 1934, pp. 10–10.