Monday, February 18, 2008

Bigfoot Researchers in Georgia

As I have been writing a book on the legend of Bigfoot in Georgia, I have uncovered something quite startling, not the creature itself, simply because I am not looking for it. On the contrary, I am just writing its story in the state. But what I have found is that the many people in Georgia who are looking for the creature and feverishly trying to prove its existence, are individuals who are quite stable, and sound in mind. Yes, I realize that is not what one might expect when it comes to this type of phenomenon. Usually, when one hears the words Bigfoot hunter, the images conjured up are of those on the fringe of society who have very little to do other than tromping through the woods armed with rifles, chewing tobacco, and a six pack of whatever brand of suds makes them happy. This is not at all what I have found, even though the many elements of Hollywood often give us that image as fact. The many men and women in Georgia that seem to be involved in the chase are oftentimes well-educated, professional, worldly folks. Although I cannot use his name, one of the sources for my book is a longtime Bigfoot hunter who spent many years in our armed forces and is right now carrying on important medical research that is international in scope. In fact, he recently traveled to Asia to carry on research that is designed not to bring him riches and fame, but to help the countless, faceless numbers of men, women, and children, who are victims of, let's say, a mishap with nature, find the medicine that they so deserve. Does this sound like a kook to you? I have spent many hours on the telephone with this gentleman and I can tell you that he has more wits about him than most of the academics I have met in the course of my career. In addition, I have already mentioned Wayne Ford of the Athens-Banner Herald by name. Not only is he well-educated, but he is also a gifted writer who has traveled, studied, researched, and familiarized himself with many facets of life outside the realm of journalism. In fact, how often is it that mainstream journalists take their personal and professional time to seek the truth of matters such as this when most in their pathway of life would shun not only this topic, but anyone who gives it more than a passing glance?
There is also Steve Hyde, who is behind the website, who is not only a graduate of Georgia Tech, but it also active in his community, and has made friends with many in the law enforcement and education establishments. This doesn't sound like a person off his rocker to me; does he to you? There are also the many research organizations that are located elsewhere but maintain a field of researchers and contacts in Georgia, in addition to a database easily accessible online. One is the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Reasearch Organizaton, whose head, Bobby Hamilton, had an encounter with the creature as a child. A simple Google search on Hamilton will produce enough information to lead one to the conclusion that he is quite the normal guy, one that just believes science has yet to discover every animal out there in the world.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Strange murders in Bibb County: A Family is slaughtered in the night!!

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to hear Professor Diane Wilcox, a professor of English and Humanities Coordinator at the Georgia Military College's Warner Robins Campus, give a presentation and tour of the historic Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia. The cemetery is famous as the burial ground of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley of the famous Allman Brothers Band. However, there are other notable graves in the cemetery, including the plot with the nine graves all belonging to murder victims. Who are these nine murder victims, and how were they killed? They are the Woolfolk family, and they were all murdered while they slept on the morning of August 6, 1887. The murders supposedly took place some time between 2 and 4 a.m. inside the plantation home at Woolfolk plantation, some 12 miles west of Macon in Bibb County. The home is gone now, having given way to a subdivision near what is present-day Lake Tobesofkee. The man arrested and later tried and convicted for the crime, was a Woolfolk himself, Tom Woolfolk. Allegedly that night, he took the blunt end of a short-handled axe and blugended to death his father Richard, stepmother Mattie H., his brothers Richard F. and Charlie, his sisters Pearl, Annie, Rosebud, and Mattie, and his step-aunt Temperence West, a sister of his stepmother. The victims were found mainly in their beds, while two of the children were found on the floor of their parent's bedrooms, and one of the sisters was found kneeling at a window, apparently having tried to escape without success. Tom was said to have escaped the murderers by jumping out of a window to seek help from a neighbor. However, when he returned home, he went in to all the bedrooms, checked the bodies to see if they were dead, changed clothes, threw the bloodstained clothes he was wearing down the well, and washed himself. The coroner conducted an inquest on the scene finding blood on Tom's inner thigh, spots of blood on his ears, and his footprints in blood on the floor of the house. In addition, those that were there reported that Tom seemed to act strangely. He seemed apprhensive instead of sad and distraught over the brutal slaying of his entire family. The sheriff carted him away to protect him from an angry mob that was gathering at the Woolfolk home. In addition, he was later charged with the murder and tried. He was found guilty but appealed. He won his appeal based on perceived bias and errors during the trial. A new date was set for the trial, and this time it was held in Houston County at the courthouse in Perry. He was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, which he got on October 29, 1890 in the city of Perry. UGA law professor, Donald Wilkes, visited the site in 1990 and wrote three articles, one published in 1990, a second one in 1994, and an updated one in 1997. A Google search should reveal the links to those very easily. Also, UGA history professor E. Merton Coulter visited the site in 1964 and later wrote a 41-page article in the Georgia Historical Quarterly. Other publications about the murder include Carolyn Deloach's The Woolfolk Tragedy: The Murders, the Trials, the Hanging & Now Finally, the Truth and the follow up called Shadow Chasers. It was once reported that Deloach toured the nation talking about her book and showing what she thought to be the axe used in the murders.
The case seemed cut and dried, and all evidence seemed to point to Tom as the killer; however, on the day of his hanging, a day when almost 10,000 people attended to witness the spectacle, some eating possum sandwiches, Tom was expected to give a last minute confession. Nevertheless, he spoke one last time, vehemently defending his innocence and continuing to tell those who were in earshot that he was not the killer. Now, my point is, if he were the killer, why did he not set his soul free and give those who still felt a little compassion for him a small ray of hope by finally coming clean? Realizing that Tom was a Christian, or at least from a Christian family, why did he not uphold his Christian training and rid his soul of that blemish before he met his maker? Perhaps Tom was not guilty, or perhaps he did it and was so mentally unstable that he had convinced himself in his mind that he had witnessed the murders instead of committed them. Perhaps the best way to ponder the evidence is to read Ms. Deloach's book. The day of Dianne's tour, I went to and had it express shipped to my home. Although it hasn't made it here yet, I am reading all that I can find on the murders to get me prepared for the conclusion that Ms. Deloach has prepared for her readers. I would also suggest a visit to Rose Hill Cemetery, the final resting place for the Woolfolks, to visit the site of their graves. It was very touching for me to be there afer hearing Dianne talk of their story. Perhaps the wrong man was hung, or perhaps there was more to Tom Woolfolk than the folks who hung him knew about.......It is just another great Georgia mystery now.

Friday, February 8, 2008

So why is North Georgia such a hotspot of Bigfoot activity?

For the past year, I have been researching Bigfoot sightings in Georgia. While there are reports of sightings in Middle and South Georgia, a good many of the reports come from North Georgia, especially in the Ridge and Valley Region and the Northeast Georgia Mountains and foothills. Taking a look at the most popular Bigfoot sightings databases, as well as local newspaper reports, one can see that many sightings come from Paulding, Coweta, Fayette, Oglethorpe, Oconee, Clarke, White, Rabun, Floyd, and Walker Counties. There are certainly reports from other areas, but these counties are in the geographical areas I mentioned above. It makes one wonder what these areas have that might attract these creatures and then produce a lot of sightings. If one looks at the map of these areas, two things jump out immediately: they are or were heavily forested at one time and human activity is on the increase there. In the case of the North Georgia Mountains, there is a lot of dense, thick forested areas, for example, the Chattahoochee National Forest. While humans live in the vacinity and there is certainly a number of tourists and vacationers in the area, the forest is so large and spread out that there is ample room for an animal to hide and live in such a place. Perhaps the sightings in these mountains stem from the increase in tourist activity there, as well as the number of homes being built on previously unsettled mountain property. Even with the vast unsettled region there, it is inevitable that humans would run in to these creatures as humans continue to move in and explore a region that is still largely forested.
In addition, the sightings that come from the Northwest Georgia area and the southwestern part of the Atlanta metro area stem from the same idea. A look at Paulding, Coweta and Fayette County of the last decade or two will reveal that the areas were, and in many places, full of forested rural areas; however, more and more development is springing up there and this may have an effect on the creatures that might reside in the woods of those areas. One need only to look at Paulding County to justify that theory. The databases online that collect sightings have more than their fair share of Paulding County stories, as well as incidents in nearby Coweta and Fayette Counties. These areas are hotbeds of human activity now, especially with the growth of communities like Fayetteville, Newnan, Peachtree City, Tyrone, and Dallas. Perhaps humans are interupting these animals' feeding and migratory habits in these areas with our building, traffic, and business activities. If the forests in these places are the homes of these creatures, perhaps we are causing such a disturbance with our development and other activities that they cannot help but to run up on humans and cross paths with the occassional travelers, hunters, and land developers. What are your thoughts? Do you live in one of these areas and have a perspective or even better, a sighting to report?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Georgia's Famous Bigfoot Print

Sometime around 1994, Pike County Sheriff's Deputy, James Akin, was called to the scene of a Bigfoot disturbance at a residence on Elkins Creek in Pike County, not far from Griffin, Georgia. The resident who reported the attack was a frequent caller to the Sheriff's department, having had several occurrences in the last few years. It seemed that the attacks generally happened at night. The man reported that whatever animal was doing this would slam its fist against the side of his mobile home, steal dog food from his dog pen, kill his dogs occassionally, leave prints in the dirt, and could even be heard breathing and grunting just outside the walls of the trailer, almost as if it were standing next to the trailer on the outside. Several times, the man would walk through his trailer to get a better look at what was going on, and he said that he could hear the creature walking on the outside of the trailer in a fashion that seemed to indicate he could hear the man walking inside and was following his path.
On the occassion where Deputy Akin was called to the scene, the man had reported that some time during the night, the animal came in to the yard, ripped the door off the corn shed and stole corn, dog food, and other things from the shed. At such time, the old man showed Deputy Akin the footprints of the animal causing the mischief. To do this, they had to walk a piece down to the banks of Elkins Creek, which was behind the man's residence. There were a few prints in the creek itself, while there was one print on the bank of the creek, one that was quite large and made Deputy Akin cringe. The print clearly did not belong to a bear, human, deer, cow, or dog. In fact, the print was much larger than anything he had ever seen. It measured over 17 inches in length. Akin made a plaster cast of the print.
Several years later, Steve Hyde, a friend of Akin, had been doing some research on Bigfoot and when told of this incident by Akin, he mentioned that it would be a good idea to send the cast to Dr. Grover Krantz, who was at that time a professor of anthropology at Washington State University. He was also one of the most famous Bigfoot researchers in the world. Before it was all said and done, the cast was examined by Krantz, Dr. Jeff Meldrum at Idaho State University, and fingerprint expert Jimmy Chilcutt of Texas. All three were astonished, theorizing that the print was real, and that it was obviously from a creature matching the description of Sasquatch. Indeed Dr. Meldrum reported to the author of this blog just a few months ago that it was one of only six or seven prints in the United States that could help definitively prove the creature is real and does live in North America. According to others, it is the largest authenticated print on record in North America, possibly indicating that the creatures that live in Georgia are as big or bigger than their counterparts in the Pacific Northwest. The print is back in the hands of James Akin, who is now part of the Southeastern Skunk Ape Research Center.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Walking Bet

Thanks to journalist Wayne Ford of the Athens Banner-Herald, I have an article from the Herald-Journal, which is the newspaper from Greene County. The article he sent me is dated October 5, 2001. In this article, the paper ran a section where it highlighted articles run by the paper a century before, having pulled this from their archives. The archived article included a blurb about an entity called "Walking Bet."
"Walking Bet" was called a "spook" by the writers a century ago. She was described as being "seven to eight feet tall." In addition, this entity was dressed in all black with a heavy veil. It was reported to come out between midnight and 1:00 a.m. The article went on to say that noone had the courage to approach and investigate the entity, whatever it was.
On a recent talkblogradio spot, Wayne Ford mentioned that it is highly unlikely that this was a woman, as most women do not stand "seven to eight feet tall." For that matter, most men do not as well. It was his assertion that this was a sasquatch. That would explain the "attired in a black dress" part, but what confuses me is the "black veil." Could this perhaps be a misidentification? Sasquatch are known to have black faces with black skin where there is no hair, and in the darkness, one could misidentify this as a veil. Maybe? Also, it appears that whatever this was came out only at night, which is similar to the nocturnal behavior said to be part of Sasquatch's routine. But what happened to this entity? Did it stop visiting Greensboro? Or did someone approach it finally and scare it off, or kill it?
If you have any knowlege of this story or know someone who lives in Greene County and has heard this legend, please post here. This is an interesting story, and could possibly be an old sighting of Sasquatch. At the very least, this is a story about a very tall, yet eccentric woman. Who knows?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Looking for Georgia Sasquatch sightings

Hi all,
I hope that you enjoy my blog. I am currently researching the history of sightings, research, and folklore of Bigfoot in Georgia. I have interviewed numerous field researchers, an big name academic in the field, a journalist, and people who have had encounters. I am now looking for those who have newspaper articles or reports of sightings of what might be Bigfoot in Georgia. Sometimes these alleged creatures are called "Booger," "Ape Men," "Wild Man," and "Spooks." If you all out there have any information dealing with this phenomenon in Georgia, please post to my blog page and include information on how I can contact you or find the article or report.