“A Strange and Frightful Being” – Appalachia’s Folklore Creatures Part 3

Welcome, readers. We have now come to the end of our journey. I hope everyone has avoided our creatures thus far. Hopefully, this series has better prepared readers for any future encounters. Let’s explore and investigate the following creatures together.

XVI. Tennessee Wildman

Tennessee Wildman – Cryptid Wiki

 

  • First Encounter: 1800s in McNairy County, Tennessee
  • Other Encounter:  In Elizabethton, Tennessee, sometime around 2000, paranormal investigator, Robb Phillips, creator of Paranormal Technology Investigations, and his cousin, Randy Sparks, were hiking on a rainy evening at the Watauga Cliffs. Along the quiet journey, they heard the “sound of a snapping twig,” then a “horrible inhuman scream.” Both men bolted in different directions and Phillips wound up hiding behind a tree. After a few minutes, Phillips “spotted the Wildman clinging to a nearby tree about 15 feet away.” He heard his cousin flee and he followed behind. Phillips told his tale on the television show Destination America: Monsters and Mysteries in America
  • Areas Located:
  1. McNairy County, Tennessee
  2. Elizabethton, Tennessee
  • Appearance: The Wildman is similar to Sasquatch but “more human.” The creature is seven to nine feet tall with a solid, muscular build, with long arms and clawed hands. It has somewhat light grey or ginger hair and small red eyes and emits a rank odor similar to the Skunk Monkey.
  • Behavior and Characteristics:  This creature has a loud “war cry.” It is very violent, exceedingly strong, alert, and fast. The Tennessee Wildman and Sasquatch fight one another for territory. The Wildman has a “strange targeting obsession with dogs and women,” and frequently attempts to kidnap women but fails each time.
  • Habitat: Woods, forest
  • Origin: The Tennessee Wildman is believed to have been captured by a circus, then exploited until it escaped.
  • Other Information:

The Hagerstown Mail newspaper warned McNairy County women about the Tennessee Wildman in the March 5, 1871 edition. The excerpt is as follows:

We learn that between Sobby and Crainsville on what is called Piney, in McNairy County, TN a strange and frightful being has been observed for several weeks.

He is said to be seven feet high and possessed of great muscular power. His eyes are unusually large and fiery red; his hair hangs in a tangle and matted mass below his waist, and his beard reaches below his middle. His entire body is covered with hair and his whole aspect is most frightful. He shuns the sight of them but approaches with wild and horrid screams of delight every woman who is unaccompanied by a man.

He sometimes with great caution, approaches houses and should he see a man he runs away with astonishing swiftness, leaping the tallest fences with the ease of a deer, defying alike the pursuit of men and dogs. He has frightened several women by attempting to carry them off, as well as by his horrid aspect and the whole country around Sobby is in consternation. The citizens are now scouring the woods and are determined either to capture or drive off the monster.” (emphasis not added)

Bigfoot Encounters article, “The Tennessee Wild Man . . . 1871”
by Scott McClean

  • Danger Level: Medium to High – the creature is known to be violent, especially toward women.
  • Information sources:
  1. Cryptid Wiki (Fandom site)
  2. Elizabethton Star – “Local man recounts encounter with Tennessee Wildman for TV show” by Ashley Radar
  3. Bigfoot Encounters

 

XVII. Tommyknockers

Tommyknockers – theghosthuntuk.com
  • First Encounter: The date of the first encounter is unknown, but Cornish miners in England spoke long ago about the Tommyknockers.
  • Other Encounter: In 2016, paranormal investigator Xavier Hunter and his friend, Kaytie, went into a mine outside Las Vegas. As soon as they entered the mine, they smelled putrid rot. The further they delved in, they heard “grunts and growls.” Then, Hunter “saw a dark shape lurking in the shadows.” He claims the aura emanating from the entity made him physically sick.
Tommyknocker encounter – Mysterious Universe
  • Areas Located:  The Tommyknockers are found in Appalachia and worldwide in underground mines (coal or other).
  • Appearance: Miners believe they are “small men who wear mining outfits.” They are allegedly “Impish” and gnome-like and stand around two feet tall. Their heads are large and their faces are wrinkly with white whiskers. They appear to a miner as a light, then a fog or mist forms into the specter of a “fallen miner and then, but very rarely, show their true form.”
  • Behavior and Characteristics: Tommyknockers knock on the walls of an underground mine to warn miners of an impending disaster. According to Cornish lore, knocks were specific messages. Certain knocks meant “dig here,” others “don’t dig here,” etc. They can be mischievous at times, eating miners’ lunch, hiding tools, pinching them, etc. They save lives, but they also take lives (and have been known to do so), specifically for those who disbelieve in or laugh at them. The Tommyknockers help miners who do believe in them. They’ll save them from danger, and lead them to the best spots to extricate ores in the mines.
  • Habitat: far back in the mines, behind the walls; some live underground
  • Origin: “They are believed to be the spirits of deceased miners who are there to help their fellow miners.” Some believe, however, that these creatures can’t be the spirits of dead miners
    “Silhouette of Tommyknocker formed by natural deposits in the Geevor mine, Cornwall” – hypnogoria.blogspot.com

    because human spirits don’t normally turn into creatures. Therefore, they were never human from the beginning.

  • Investigations: Ghost Adventures; various paranormal investigators like Xavier Hunter
  • Other Information:
  1. Some people think Tommyknockers are actually evil (even demonic) creatures that lure people into mineshafts. These critics believe the Tommyknockers aren’t knocking as a warning but “chipping away at the support beams” to collapse the mine.
  2. The mini-series of Stephen King’s book, The Tommyknockers, was not about the traditional folklore of mining creatures. Instead, it was a science fiction work about extraterrestrials.
  3. The television show, Ghost Adventures searched for these creatures in a Colorado gold mine.
  4. Miners dubbed them “tommyknockers” because they heard them knocking in the mines.
  5. Miners take it very seriously when a Tommyknocker communicates with them and often leave gifts or food for the Tommyknockers “to gain their favor.”
  6. Whistling inside mines is “offensive to the tommyknockers,” so miners don’t whistle down there.
  • Danger Level: Mild to Medium – They have been known not to warn miners who laugh at them, ultimately dooming the men. And some people feel like these creatures are evil. But maybe, just maybe, Tommyknockers aren’t the only creatures down deep in this earth. Anything evil might stem from entities other than Tommyknockers.
  • Information sources:
  1. Top Tenz – “10 Interesting Facts About the Tommyknocker Legend” by Jocelyne LeBlanc
  2. The Ghosthunt UK – “The Tommyknocker Legend, The Fear of All Miners”
  3. ABCtales.com – “BEWARE OF THE TOMMYKNOCKERS (An ancient legend)” by Annette Bromley
  4. Mysterious Universe – “Mysterious Encounters With Evil Gnomes, Imps, and the Tommyknockers” by Brent Swancer

 

XVIII. Veggieman

Veggieman – ObscUrban Legend Wikia
  • First Encounter:

1968, Fairmont, West Virginia – Jennings Frederick was hunting when he heard what sounded like a high-speed record player. He went to investigate and found himself eye to eye with the creature. He said it looked weak and “sickly.” The creature kept speaking in a fast, confusing way, but, at some point Frederick could understand what it was saying:

“You need not fear me. I wish to communicate. I come as a friend. We know of you all. I come in peace. I wish medical assistance. I need your help.”

The creature then leapt toward Frederick, “wrapped [him] up in its surprisingly strong arms,” held him tight, and “pierced his skin with the thorns on its fingers” to drain his blood. Frederick was so  mesmerized by the creature’s rapid eye color change, he felt no pain. All of a sudden, it released him and fled. He heard a humming sound in the direction the creature went and “surmised that it might have been the sound of the creature’s ship taking off.”

  • Other Encounter: No other encounters reported. The first encounter has been the only encounter recorded.
  • Areas Located: West Virginia
  • Appearance: The Veggieman is tall, has a “semi-human shape,” big ears, eyes that rapidly change colors, thin arms that look like river reeds, and long suction cup fingers with thorns. It is thought to be an extraterrestrial.
  • Behavior and characteristics: It purportedly needs human blood and will aggressively take it, albeit painlessly, when encountering a human; knows about humans and earth.
  • Habitat: unknown, perhaps outer space
  • Origin: unknown
  • Danger Level: Low to medium – Though the creature caught, held, and drained the blood from Jennings Frederick, it wasn’t violent and only took what it needed for the moment before it went away.
  • Information sources:
  1. Cryptid Wiki (Fandom site)
  2. ObscUrban Legend Wikia (Fandom site)
  3. It’s Something Wiki (Fandom site)

 

XIX. Virginia Devil Monkey

Baboon – pxhere
  • First Encounter: As far back as the 1920s
  • Other Encounter(s):

1934, South Pittsburgh, Tennessee – Several people reported seeing “baboon-like creatures leaping, bounding, and dashing across fields and roads with great speed.”

1959, Saltville, Virginia – The Boyds and their daughter, Pauline, were out for a nightly drive. A creature that looked like an ape appeared from the trees, then chased and attacked their vehicle, greatly damaging the car. Thankfully, the Boyds were all safe. Pauline describes the creature this way:

It had light, taffy colored hair, with a white blaze down its neck and underbelly . . . it stood on two, large well-muscled legs and had shorter front legs or arms.

A few days later, also in Saltville, two nurses sat in a car and the creature attacked them. Witnesses said it “viciously clawed and tore at their convertible, actually managing to rip the top clear off the vehicle.” The women’s screams scared the creature away.

Sightings also occurred in the 1970s. In Albany, Kentucky, a “large, bushy tailed ape,” with a dog’s face killed cattle.

1994, Roanoke, Virginia – A woman was confronted on the road by “a cross between an ape and a wolf.”

In Danville, New Hampshire, homeowners kept hearing shrieks and howls in the middle of the night and the fire chief, along with several other people, claims he actually saw the creature. The Devil Monkey has even been seen in Chicago, Illinois in 2006.

  • Areas Located:
  1. South Pittsburth, Tennessee
  2. Saltville, Virginia
  3. Albany, Kentucky
  4. Georgia
  5. Roanoke, Virginia
  6. Dunkinsville, Ohio
  7. Danville, New Hampshire
  8. Chicago, Illinois
  • Appearance: The Virginia Devil Monkey is different from Bigfoot and believed to be a true primate. The creature is lanky with clawed hands, stands three to six feet tall, has wild reddish-brown or black hair, and may or may not have a bushy tail. It mostly walks on all-fours and has strong legs “reminiscent of a kangaroo.” Given this, it can jump higher than twenty feet. It has a face like a dog or baboon with a large mouth and huge canine teeth.
  • Behavior and characteristics: This creature is loud and vocal, as well as aggressive and territorial. It kills livestock and domestic pets, and apparently has some kind of issue with vehicles because he frequently attacks them.
  • Habitat: unknown
  • Origin: unknown
  • Danger Level: Medium to High – Though this creature has been known to attack, it seems to only focus its ire on vehicles. It does kill livestock and domestic animals.
  • Information sources:
  1. Mysterious Universe – “The Mysterious Devil Monkeys of North America,” by Brent Swancer
  2. Denver Michaels: An enthusiast for cryptozoology, the paranormal, lost civilizations, and all things unexplained
  3. weebly.com – The Devil Monkey
  4. DBpedia – About: Devil Monkey

 

XX. Wampus Cat, aka Cattawampus, or (per my father) Cattywampus

Those Eyes – Cougar-Puma-Mountain Lion by Art G. – Wikimedia Commons via Flickr
  • First Encounter: Sometime in the early 1800s (or before)
  • Other Encounter(s): In Mooresville, North Carolina, people blame the Wampus Cat for killing cattle. Some Alabamians believe the Wampus Cat is an escaped product of a U.S. government experiment gone wrong.
  • Areas Located:
  1. North Carolina
  2. Tennessee
  3. Southeastern Appalachia
  4. Missouri
  5. Arkansas
  • Appearance: This creature is cat-like and some say it is part cat/dog with some human characteristics.
  • Behavior and Characteristics: Some people believe the Wampus Cat steals animals and breaks or ruins farming tools. The Wampus can walk on hind legs and, though partly human, has a cat-like nose and mouth. People who see the creature are so terrified, they scream and run away.
  • Habitat: Appalachian Mountains
  • Origin:

Mountain people say the Wampus Cat used to be a beautiful Cherokee woman. The tale began in the 20th century. According to the story, before each hunting trip, the village men used to gather and perform a ritual, petitioning animals they killed for forgiveness and seeking “supernatural help in their task.” The beautiful Cherokee woman was quite curious about this ritual but, alas, women were banned from these rites. She pleaded persistently with her husband to reveal the ritual and observances but he refused. She decided she’d see this ceremony no matter what. So, she “wrapped herself in a cougar skin and quietly crept through the woods.” She found the gathering spot, hid, and watched. She “crept closer and closer,” until she was noticed and dragged away. A shaman punished her “for breaking the taboo,” by casting a spell where she became a human-cougar hybrid, “cursed to live forever alone in the woods, never again enjoying human company.”

Wampus Cat – Appalachian History Stories, quotes and anecdotes

Another source says the tale is a little different. The Cherokee woman isn’t just curious about the ceremony. Instead, she doesn’t trust her husband and watches the gathering to make sure he isn’t cheating on her. The Fandom website Deep southern legends Wikia has the following disclaimer:  “It’s clear that this is a story told about the Cherokee rather than a Cherokee story.”

The Ew’ah Cherokee Folklore has a very different account:

“An evil demon called Ew’ah, the Spirit of Madness, had been terrorizing the village of Etowah (or Chota, depending on the version you hear) in what is today North Carolina. The village shamans and warchiefs called for a meeting. The wise shamans told the warchiefs that sending the braves to hunt and kill the Ew’ah was surely going to be the end of the tribe, for the Ew’ah had the terrible power to drive men mad with a glance. The warchiefs argued that the Ew’ah could no longer feast on the dreams of the Cherokee children, and that something must be done. Together they agreed that their strongest brave would go alone, and bring great honor to his family and tribe by killing the mad demon.

Standing Bear (or Great Fellow, depending on the story version) was the strongest, fastest, sneakiest, smartest, and most respected brave in all the Cherokee nation, and he was chosen to do battle with the demon. As he walked from his village, the shamans blessed him, and the warchiefs gave him many fine weapons with which to slay the beast, and on the edge of town, his wife, Running Deer, bid him a final farewell. She would never see him the same way again.

Weeks went by, and there was no word from Standing Bear. Suddenly, late one night, the stricken brave came running back into camp, screaming, and clawing at his eyes. One look, and Running Deer knew. Her husband was no more. With time, he would be able to pick berries and work in the fields with the young girls and the unmarried widows, but he would never be any good as a husband again, and by Cherokee law, that meant he was dead. Standing Bear’s name was never again mentioned, but Running Deer had loved her husband, and she wanted revenge.

Running Deer went to the shamans, and they gave her a booger mask, a bobcat’s face, and they told her that the spirit of the mountain cat could stand against the Ew’ah, but she must be the one to surprise the demon. The warchiefs gave her a special black paste, which when rubbed on her body, would hide her scent as well as her body. She kissed her former husband on the forehead, his blank eyes staring, and headed off to seek her revenge.

Running Deer knew the woods as well as she knew the village, and she ate sweet berries to keep up her strength over the many days, but still she came across no sign of the Ew’ah. Then, late one night, she heard a creature stalking down by the stream. As she crept slowly towards the creek, she heard a twig snap behind her. She spun, and just as suddenly realized how quickly it could have been the end of her. Behind her a wily fox darted across the pathway. “If that had been Ew’ah, I would be mad now…” the widowed Cherokee woman thought to herself, as she continued towards the creek.

At the edge of the creek, she saw footprints which did not belong there, and her former husband’s breastplate lay at the edge of the water. As she followed the prints upstream, she saw the demon. Its hulking form lurched hideously over the water, drinking from the pristine mountain spring. The Ew’ah hadn’t seen her! Running Deer crept ever closer, and just as she felt she could bring herself no closer, she sprang!

The Ew’ah spun, and saw the Cat-Spirit-Mask, and began to tear at itself as the spirit of the mountain cat turned its powerful magic back on itself. The Ew’ah tumbled backwards into the pool, and Running Deer immediately turned on her heel and ran as fast as she could back to the village, never once looking back.

When she arrived home, she sang a song to herself—a quiet song, of grief for her husband, but also of joy for the demon’s banishment. The shamans and warchiefs declared Running Deer the Spirit-Talker and Home-Protector.

Some say that the spirit of Running Deer inhabits the Wampas cat, and that she continues her eternal mission of watching her tribe’s lands to protect them and their peoples from the demons that hide in the dark and lost places of Tanasi.”

Appalachian History:  Stories, quotes and anecdotes,
“The story of the Wampus Cat,” by Dave Tabler

  • Other Information:
  1. The words “Wampus Cat” was first used in the early 1800s as catawampus, and was meant to describe any “unknown animal lurking in the woods.” Other meanings of the word catawampus are:
    1. Something placed in a corner
    2. Some plan or event gone bad
    3. Could derive from the word catamount, a “regional name” for a mountain lion, “mountain cat.”
  2. The creature is called Gallywampus in Missouri, Whistling Wampus in Arkansas, and, sometimes in Appalachia, it’s called “just plain old” Wampus.
  • Danger Level: Mild – The Wampus Cat doesn’t appear to be malicious.
  • Information sources:
  1. Deep southern legends Wikia – “The Wampus Cat” (Fandom site)
  2. Grunge – “The Legend of the Wampus Cat Explained” by Emilia David
  3. Astonishing Legends – “Wampus Cat”
  4. Appalachian History: Stories, quotes and anecdotes, “The story of the Wampus Cat,” by Dave Tabler

 

XXI. Woodbooger

Woodbooger – TimesNews
  • First Encounter: unknown
  • Other Encounter(s): Saltville, Virginia
  • Areas Located: Saltville, Virginia/ Norton, Virginia
  • Appearance: The Woodbooger is a “Hairy Humanoid” like Bigfoot.
  • Behavior and Characteristics: This creature is named after the boogeyman because it’s been rumored to “carry off” young children.
  • Habitat: woods and forest
  • Origin: unknown
  • Other Information:
  1. Subspecies of Bigfoot
  2. Children are cautioned not to go into the woods at night for fear this creature will take them away.
  3. Norton, Virginia hosts an annual Woodbooger Festival called Woodboogerfest. The festival’s site defines Woodbooger as

A bigfoot-like creature that allegedly roams the woods of Southwest Virginia. He’s a very tech savvy creature and he keeps in touch via Facebook and Twitter.

His Facebook is here.

  1. Virginia’s Flag Rock Recreation Area has a huge statue of the creature and the area has been “designated . . . a ‘Woodbooger Sanctuary’ following a visit by Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot TV show.”
  2. The restaurant, Woodbooger Grill is located in Norton, Virginia. Don’t worry – Woodbooger meat isn’t on the menu.
  • Danger Level: Medium to high – The Woodbooger kidnaps children.
  • Information sources:
  1. Cryptid Wiki (Fandom site)
  2. The Bigfoot Wiki (Fandom site)
  3. Woodboogerfest
  4. Get Outside in Norton – “The Woodbooger”
  5. Norton Virginia – “Woodbooger Sanctuary”

 

XXII. Yahoo, aka Yayho, Yowie

Yahoo – Gulliver’s Travels (1980), Illustrated by J. J. Grandville
  • First Encounter: Unknown – perhaps the early 1700s
  • Other Encounter: On the website, Appalachian History:  Stories, quotes and anecdotes, Dave Tabler quotes John MacFaragher’s 1992 biography where Daniel Boone told stories about “killing a ten-foot hairy giant he called a Yahoo.”
  • Areas Located:
  1. West Virginia
  2. Kentucky
  3. Other places in the world
  • Appearance: The Yahoo is around eight feet tall and is hairy with dark fur.
  • Behavior and characteristics: This creature makes the loud squall-like sound of “Yahoo!” It eats from gardens and steals livestock. It seems to be quite intelligent but extremely hostile.
  • Habitat:  woods, forests, other
  • Origin: unknown – as far back as the early 1700s (per Jonathan Swift’s novel – see #2 in Other Information)
  • Other Information:
  1. Possibly more than one Yahoo in Appalachia
  2. Jonathan Swift wrote about Yahoos in Gulliver’s Travels (1726).
  1. One of the questions Tabler poses is, if Kentuckians call the creature “Yahoo,” and they learned that term from Daniel Boone, and Boone learned it from Jonathan Swift, where did Swift learn
    Yahoo/ Yaroma – Aborigines of New South Wales – Wikimedia Commons

    it? Tabler supposes, via linguist Richard Stoney, that the word came from Australia through the Aborigines’ word, Yowie. The question then becomes, did the Aborigines learn the term from Swift or did Swift learn from them? Some theorize that Swift, who loved languages, took the term from Aborigines.

  • Danger Level: Mild
  • Information sources:
  1. Cryptid Wiki (Fandom site)
  2. Appalachian History: Stories, quotes and anecdotes – “Yeahoh, Yahoo or Bigfoot?” by Dave Tabler

 

 

NOTABLE MENTIONS:

The Loveland Frog, aka Frogman

Loveland Frog – Wikipedia

– located in Loveland, Ohio (listed as being in three counties, one of which is in Appalachia, according to ARC:  Clermont (Appalachia), Hamilton, Warren).

Police officer, Ray Shockley, saw the creature on the side of the road in Loveland on March 3, 1972 at 1:00 in the morning. He “had the creature fully illuminated in his headlights,” and said it looked like a frog that could stand up on its back feet. It met his eyes for a few seconds, then turned and went into the Little Miami River. It’s said to have amphibious skin, is around three to four feet tall, and weighs between fifty to seventy-five pounds.

 

Raystown Ray

Raytown – phantomsandmonsters.com

– located in Raystown Lake, Huntington County, Pennsylvania.

Boaters note a sometimes strange, “sudden water turbulence” and say they’ve seen a “large water creature.” This creature was investigated by the Syfy channel’s Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files. The investigators felt the witnesses they interviewed and their own findings were credible. The creature has a long neck and humped back and its diet is thought to be mostly aquatic plants. Critics say it’s a “large carp.”

 

Teedy Monster

No Teedy picture available – Vidar Kristiansen, Unsplash

– located in the waters of Lake Teedyuskung (link somewhat broken), Pike County, Pennsylvania.

 

**Featured Image Source:  by Kellepics on Pixabay

2 Comments

  1. I suspect moonshine might be sloshing around the roots of some of these legends…

    1. Author

      Yes! I found quite a few first sightings were in the 1920s, 1930s range. And, speaking as the descendant of many moonshiners (along with others who consume(d) it), I think I can safely say a number of these sightings must’ve been “Moonshine Tales.”

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