The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Bigfoot in History

I'm not a big Sasquatch believer--show me one and I'll be convinced. But if Bigfoot isn't real, what were those people seeing in the western woods a hundred and more years ago?

    BIG FOOT.--On a late Indian hunt in the vicinity of Weiser, Idaho, Lieut. Barker discovered the print of a foot (not human, we scarcely think savage), the smallest measurement of which that could be obtained showed a length of seventeen and a half inches, with widest breadth of about seven inches.
Oregon City Enterprise, October 26, 1867, page 1

    The San Joaquin Republican has the following wild story: We learn from good authority that a wild man has been seen at Crow Cañon, near Mount Diablo. Several attempts have been made to capture him, but as yet have proved unsuccessful. His tracks measure thirteen inches.
"Pacific Coast Items," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 23, 1870, page 1

    It is reported that a gorilla was seen in the Cedar Mountain Range about twenty miles south of Livermore, a few nights since.
"Pacific Coast Items," Sacramento Daily Union, January 25, 1871, page 2

    A correspondent of the Antioch Ledger, writing from Grayson under date of October 16th, says:
    I saw in your paper some time since an item concerning the "gorilla" which is said to have been seen in Crow Canyon, and shortly afterwards in the mountains of Orestimba Creek. You sneer at the idea of there being any such "critter" in these hills, and were I not better informed, I would sneer too, or else conclude that one of your recent prospecting party had got lost in the wilderness and didn't have sense enough to find his way back to Terry's. I positively assure you that this gorilla, or wild man, or whatever you choose to call it, is no myth. I know that it exists, and there are at least two of them, having seen them both at once, not a year ago. Their existence has been reported at times for the past twenty years, and I have heard it said that in early days an orangutan escaped from a ship on the southern coast, but the creature I have seen is not that animal, and if it is, where did he get his mate? Import her as the Webfoot did their wives? Last fall I was hunting in the mountains about 20 miles south of here and camped five or six days in one place, as I have done every season for the past fifteen years. Several times I returned to my camp, after a hunt, and saw that the ashes and charred sticks from the fireplace had been scattered about. An old hunter notices such things, and very soon gets curious to know the cause. Although my bedding and traps and little stores were not disturbed as I could see, I was anxious to learn who or what it was that so regularly visited my camp, for clearly the half-burnt sticks and cinders could not scatter themselves about. I saw no tracks near the camp, as the hard ground, covered with leaves, would show none. So I started in a circle around the place, and three hundred yards off, in damp sand, I struck the track of a man's feet, as I supposed--bare and of immense size. Now I was curious, sure, and I resolved to lay for the barefooted visitor. I accordingly took a position on a hillside about sixty or seventy feet from the fire, and securely hid in the brush, I waited and watched. Two hours or more I sat there and wondered if the owner of the feet would come again, whether he imagined what an interest he had created in my inquiring mind, and finally, what possessed him to be prowling about there with no shoes on. The fireplace was on my right, and on the spot where I saw the track was on my left, hid by the bushes. It was in this direction my attention was mostly directed, thinking the visitor would appear there, and besides, it was easier to sit and face that way. Suddenly I was startled by a shrill whistle, such as boys produce with two fingers under their tongue, and, turning quickly, I ejaculated "Good God!" as I saw the object of my solicitude standing by my fire, erect, and looking suspiciously around. It was in the image of a man, but it could not have been human. I was never so benumbed with astonishment before. The creature, whatever it was, stood full five feet high, and disproportionately broad and square at the shoulders, with arms of great length. The legs were very short, and the body long. The head was small, compared with the rest of the creature, and appeared to be set upon his shoulders without a neck. The whole was covered with dark brown and cinnamon-colored hair, quite long on some parts, that on the head standing in a shock and growing close down to the eyes, like a Digger Indian's. As I looked, he threw his head back and whistled again, and then stooped and grasped a stick from the fire. This he swung round and round, until the fire on the end had gone out, when he repeated the maneuver. I was dumb, almost, and could only look. Fifteen minutes I sat and watched him, as he whistled and scattered my fire about. I could have easily put a bullet through his head, but should I kill him? Having amused himself, apparently, as he desired, with my fire, he started to go, and having gone a short distance, he returned, and was joined by another--a female, unmistakably--when they both turned and walked past me, within twenty yards of where I sat, and disappeared in the brush. I could not have had a better opportunity for observing them, as they were unconscious of my presence. Their only object in visiting my camp seemed to be to amuse themselves with swinging lighted sticks around. I have heard [sic] this story many times since then, and it has often raised an incredulous smile, but I have met one person who has seen the mysterious creatures, and a dozen who have come across their tracks at various places between here and Pacheco Pass.
The Daily Appeal, Marysville, California, October 29, 1870, page 1. Reprinted in a shortened version in the Democratic Times, Jacksonville, Oregon, November 25, 1871, page 1  Compare with the 1879 account from the same area, below.

A Wild Man.
(Stockton Independent, Aug. 25th.)

    On Saturday we met a gentleman who lives on the west side of the San Joaquin, about seven miles west of Hill's Ferry, who made the following statement: While in the Coast Range, about ten days ago, hunting, he and his companions encamped on the side of a ravine near the summit of the range. In the morning they discovered smoke lower down the ravine, and, upon going out upon the side of the hill to ascertain the origin of it, they discovered an object which puzzled them to name, and as their curiosity became excited they crept carefully toward it, in order to satisfy themselves what kind of an animal they had discovered. By creeping upon the ground they were able to approach within one hundred yards, when, to their astonishment, they found that the object which they had approached with the intention of shooting was a man, perfectly nude, but covered from head to foot with a most remarkable growth of hair. The hair upon his head and his beard were very long, reaching to his waist; while his body, arms and limbs were protected by the same natural covering. Hoping to approach and capture this strange being, they attempted to creep nearer, but he took alarm and rapidly ran away, jumping over the bushes in his path like a deer. The two gentlemen decided to remain and camp in the same locality the second night, and they were again rewarded by the sight of the strange being. They were awakened in the night by a sound resembling that caused by striking flint upon steel and upon advancing in the direction of the sound they saw the same object, who appeared to be striking two flint rocks together. On their approach he again took alarm and ran away. We have heard reports of a wild man in that vicinity for several years past, but the gentleman who makes this statement is the only one that we have ever seen who vouches for the truth of the report. The gentleman is well known to us, and he asserted that he and his companion were willing to make oath to the truth of the statement.
Daily Los Angeles Herald, August 28, 1879, page 3

    The Sacramento Bee says: P. Burns, who resides near Brighton, was in the city yesterday, and says that a few days since a man in his employ named Brooks was at work in the willows, near the American River, when he was suddenly confronted by an animal of strange appearance, which was about four and a half feet in height, walked erect, and was covered with long, black hair. Mr. Brooks was, of course, considerably started at the appearance of the strange being, which retreated into the dense thickets skirting the American. Mr. Brooks says the animal appeared to be a large ape or gorilla. He believes it to be an escapee from a menagerie, or, possibly, some human deformity. Mr. Burns says that he proposes to inaugurate a hunting party in a few days to find out, if possible, what the mysterious creature is.
"Coast Notes," San Francisco Chronicle, March 6, 1888, page 5

    J. W. Terry discovered in a deep canyon near Pendleton a very peculiar skull. There are orifices for the eyes and nose, and the skull bears a very slight resemblance to that of a man, beside which it was compared. The skull is very thick, being an inch or more in some places, and from every appearance belonged to some very powerful and formidable-looking animal. It will be sent to the Smithsonian Institute.
Ashland Tidings, September 26, 1890, page 3

A Creature of the Wood.
    WOODLAND, April 10.--It is reported today that a strange creature, much resembling a gorilla, has been seen in the hills adjacent to Capay Valley. The story is vouched for by more than one responsible man. The creature is said to be at least six feet tall when standing erect, travels on all fours, climbs trees and has wonderful strength in its hands. It has a shaggy covering. Much interest is excited over the find of this "what is it," and an effort will be made to learn more concerning it.
San Francisco Call, April 11, 1891, page 8

Last revised June 1, 2017