Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Grey Ghost of Kinchafoonee Creek: Bigfoot, Farmer, or Hog-Bear?

 Although the most noted bigfoot story in Georgia tends to be the one that comes from the depths of the Okefenokee Swamp in 1829, there are many more, including the Elkins Creek incident that are as notable and hair-raising if I do say so myself. One that has grown in popularity is the Kinchafoonee Creek Attack in 1955. I am sure the name of the creek rings a bell given the recent fame of the musical group-The Kinchafoonee Cowboys. The group hails from Terrell County, Georgia with several of the members having grown up near the banks of Kinchafoonee Creek. That is, interestingly, from where our story hails, albeit about 36 years prior to the first time the Kinchafoonee Cowboys strung together a few chords and recorded their first song. In fact, it predates the Elkins Creek incident by about forty years. 

For this incident, I got back to my book Bigfoot in Georgia as well as to a few sites that chronicle the strange and unusual-such sites as cryptopia.us. The sighting can also be read in Janet and Colin Bord's Bigfoot Casebook Updated. It seems to be a quite interesting AND popular case in the world of Bigfoot sightings and reports. 

According to the report, on August 1, 1955, a 20 year-old man named Joseph Whaley (Wells, 2010; Morphy, 2018) was cleaning brush with a scythe in Terrell County, Georgia on the Bronwood-Smithville Highway. The area was near Kinchafoonee Creek (Bord & Bord, 2006), which was known to be infested with alligators (Morphy, 2018). The day was hot and muggy, and the only reason Whaley was out in such weather doing such a job was he was working for the Georgia Forestry Commission. As he moved along with his work, he stopped because he heard a strange noise coming from the thicket near the banks of the creek (Morphy, 2018). The noise must have been similar to that made by wild pigs because in the report, Whaley mentioned that he assumed that is what the culprit indeed was. He moved in closer to see, and that was when he claimed a huge ape-like creature busted through the canopy in the thicket trying to attack him. Whaley described the animal as about six feet tall, about 400 pounds, and covered with hair that was both grey and shaggy in appearance (Wells, 2010; Morphy, 2018; Bord & Bord, 2006). According to Whaley, the animal also had tusks and pointed ears, as well as thick arms and small hands (Morphy, 2018). 

Having been frightened by the animal, Whaley swung his scythe at it. His swing made contact and struck the animal on its chest and one of its arms. Undeterred, the creature continued to move toward Whaley who decided that he had better get back to the jeep he had come to the site in and get away from the area as quickly as possible (Wells, 2010). It was then that the beast roared loudly. Whaley ran quickly to his jeep and decided to radio for help, a questionable decision at that point given that he was under attack. He was unable to make contact, so Whaley jumped in the jeep and tried to start it; however, right as he attempted to start the vehicle, the creature yanked him through the window which caused his shirt to tear and resulted in flesh wounds to his left should. Whaley reported that there were three scratches on his left shoulder as a result of the contact (Morphy, 2018). He managed to get himself free from the creature and crawl quickly out the passenger's side of the jeep and hurriedly ran into the thick woods with the beast in pursuit (Morphy, 2018). Reaching the woods, his face and body were pelted with limbs and branches from the thicket of trees and shrubs in the thicket near the creek. He would often glance back to keep tabs on how close this fiend of an animal was to him, and he soon realized he had indeed put distance between himself and whatever this was. Circling back through another area, he soon reach the jeep, leaped in, found his keys, started the jeep and screeched away. His next stop was at the nearest ranger station where he was treated for the scratches on his shoulder. He was also able to report the incident to the ranger, Jim Bowen, who was able to recall the story and repeat it under oath when asked (Morphy, 2018). The incident also attracted the attention of the media, and a United press representative contacted Bowen who reported to the journalist that he indeed followed up on the report and went to the scene of the attack and found evidence of a struggle. Others who explored the scene also reported the appearance of tracks that were small and the size of a human hand (Morphy, 2018). There was indeed something that attacked Whaley according to the evidence. Bowen saw the scratches; he saw the evidence of a struggle at the site, and others reported tracks found that were similar to the small hands Whaley mentioned the creature had. However, not everyone believed Whaley (Morphy, 2018).

Terrell County Sheriff Zeke Matthews reported finding no trace of the creature, and even stated that had he believe Whaley, he would have carried on a full-scale search. The investigation he did conduct lasted one day. By the time the sun set on Terrell County on August 1, 1955, the sheriff's search had ended. As GBI agents investigated the attack, they reached the conclusion that the attack had been carried out by an angry farmer who dressed up in a costume to scare off trespassers and folks who were fishing in his private lake without his permission. The costume was nothing more than a Halloween mask, according to the GBI. However, there was some confusion, as the director of the GBI, Major Delmar Jones, went on to state that the attack was probably not the farmer, but was the result of a "hog-bear" attack. He described "hog-bears" as little black bears that were not nearly as large as grizzly bears (Morphy, 2018). 

So there are a few questions here. First, if it were a "hog-bear," as Agent Jones proposed, why did Whaley not recognize that he was being attacked by a bear? Second, was there a rash of "hog-bear" attacks in the area, or at least reports of sightings of these animals? Third, did anyone think to ask the farmer if it were him? Fourth, why would Whaley make up such a story and jeopardize his job and place in the community? Fifth, why did the sheriff not further investigate and ask those questions? Sixth, what was the animal/creature that attacked Whaley? Was it a bear? A grey bigfoot? This case is now 65 years old. It is doubtful that we will ever know what the "Grey Ghost of Kinchafoonee Creek" really was.

Bord, J. & Bord, C. (2006). Bigfoot casebook updated: Sightings and encounters from 1818 to 2004. Eunemclaw, Washington: Pine Winds Press.

Morphy, R. (2018). "Grey ghost of Kinchafoonee: Georgia, USA," Retrieved from: https://www.cryptopia.us/site/2018/06/grey-ghost-of-kinchafoonee-georgia-usa/.

Wells, J. (2010). Bigfoot in Georgia. Eunemclaw, Washington, Pine Winds Press.