“Something Beyond Reason, Not Ordinary” – Appalachia’s Folklore Creatures, Part 1

In your long hikes and woodland quests, have you ever heard some noise you can’t quite place? A growl, perhaps, or even a howl? Have you shuddered when leaves rustled or a twig snapped? Walking on your way home in dark hollers, did you have a creepy feeling that you were being watched? Have you ever been fishing and seen an unusual something slither and glide across the lake? Or, when you’re treading water in your favorite swimming hole, did you feel something larger, something “unfish-like” brush across you?

Some of us have heard tales – strange and uncanny tales – about mountain creatures. Storytellers are good at relaying certain aspects of the whatevers lurking in the woods. My father was a master storyteller so, my brother and I learned all about the “Snoffingommits” and “Catty Wampuses” in the woods. Consequently, he and I were vigilant children on our hikes, armed with walking sticks, rocks, quick feet, and screams to beat the band. We were sharp, brave, and alert. And we never – not even once – allowed a “Skunk Monkey” or “Mud Monster” or the “Tennessee Wild Man” to cross our holler paths, though at times we could’ve sworn we felt them near.

Since these tales and stories are so prevalent in Appalachian culture, one might ask: Are they really fictional, or are they genuine encounters and experiences that perhaps, through the years, have been embellished? Appalachia Bare will feature a three-part series where we will investigate a list (by no means exhaustive) of these Appalachian folklore creatures. Among other things, we will take a peek at eyewitness encounters, surmise the possible origins, and address each physicality. Several websites dedicated to cryptozoology, or, the study of legendary creatures and their validity, are linked and listed as sources. Other sites are just like us – plain curious.

So, join me and set your mind toward the following tidbits of information about some of these creatures. Perhaps, you’ll find yourselves better prepared. After all, what you hear in these woods just might be one of them.

 

I. Appalachian Chupacabra

Image Source: Mysterious Universe

 

  • First encounter: the 1900s
  • Area(s) located:
    1. Putnam County, West Virginia
    2. Lake Norman, North Carolina
    3. Santee, South Carolina (at a golf club)
  • Appearance:
    1. The creature has fangs and a nose like a pig.
    2. Its body is long and shoulders are wide (four feet across).
    3. The spine is spiked and the foot has three toes with large talons similar to birds of prey.
  • Behavior:  Some persons believe this creature travels in a group, or pack.
  • Origin: It’s believed this creature originated in Puerto Rico and traveled to the Appalachian Mountains in the 1800s.
  • Investigations: The television show Mountain Monsters investigated this creature in the “Bigfoot” season.
  • Danger: Mild to Medium – listed as a “savage vampire,” but reportedly only has a taste for animal blood (goats, cows, pigs, etc.)
  • Information sources:
  1. Cryptid Wiki (located on Fandom, which also has these creatures listed in “games” sections)
  2. It’s Something Wiki (also located on Fandom)
  3. Mysterious Universe

 

 

II. Batboy

Image Source: 13th floor via Weekly World News

 

  • First encountered: 1992 at “Hell Hole Cave” in West Virginia. Batboy, according to Weekly World News, fled from local police and the FBI. Somewhere along the way, he seized a vehicle and led law enforcement on a three-state chase.
  • Area(s) located:
    1. Pendleton County, West Virginia
    2. other places across the United States
  • Appearance: large mouth and eyes, pointy ears, fangs, hairless, two feet tall, has wings
  • Behavior:
    1. Batboy is mischievous and an attention hog, always on the go, doing good or bad deeds.
    2. He’s quite social. According to some sources, he’s met Elvis, Santa Claus, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jennifer Lopez.
    3. He joined the army, worked with the U.S. government defusing bombs, joined a music band, and was, at one time, quite the American politician:
Image Source: 13th floor via Weekly World News

 

  • Origin: He’s a human-bat hybrid with a human mother and a “bat-like” father. Weekly World News reported that Batboy’s genealogy dates back to the 17th century, suggesting proof that a bat-like species existed and eventually mated with human women. In reality, Batboy is a fictitious creature, invented by “Weekly World News editor and writer Bob Lind,” as well as Dick Kulpa (CRACKED writer). Even “Hell Hole Cave” is fictional, though I suspect by now someone has given a West Virginia cave that name.
  • Investigations: Weekly World News
  • Danger Level: Depends on the day, circumstance, and Batboy’s mood. He is a vampire bat, thirsty for human blood. He harms but also helps people.
  • Information sources:
  1. Weekly World News
  2. 13th FLOOR (Witney Seibold article)
  3. Survival Update: The world is yours

 

 

III. Cherokee Little People, or, Nûñnë’hï, or Yûñwï Tsunsdi’

(translated respectively as “people who live anywhere,” and “Little People”)

Billy Washington, Choctaw ‘doctor’ poses for photograph with a ‘little people helper’ (unseen by photographer) standing on the table beside him.  Image Source: This and That Newsletter from Oklahomahistory.net

 

  • First encounter: Unknown
  • Other encounters (from Mysterious Universe website, Brent Swancer article)

1.James Mooney, Myths of the Cherokee (1898) writes about the Nûñnë’hï:

Close to the old trading path from South Carolina up to the Cherokee Nation, somewhere near the head of Tugaloo, there was formerly a noted circular depression about the size of a townhouse, and waist deep. Inside it was always clean as though swept by unknown hands. Passing traders would throw logs and rocks into it, but would always, on their return, find them thrown far out from the hole. The Indians said it was a Nûñnë’hï townhouse, and never liked to go near the place or even to talk about it, until at last some logs thrown in by the traders were allowed to remain there, and then they concluded that the Nûñnë’hï, annoyed by the persecution of the white men, had abandoned their townhouse forever.

2. Mary Joyce, Cherokee Little People Were Real writes:

[Walter Middleton] and a few other men actually worked on the first buildings that were constructed at Western Carolina University, and when they were cutting into the virgin land, they found these little tunnels. They also found a little skull. And, there was a science teacher at the university who kept it on his desk, and he always said it was a child’s skulls. One day, another teacher came by and picked it up and looked at it real close and noticed it had its wisdom teeth. Typically, you don’t get your wisdom teeth until you’re about 18, 19, 20 or 21 so that indicated it was an adult skull, not a child’s skull.

  • Area(s) located:
  1. North Carolina
  2. Tennessee
  3. Georgia
  • Appearance: The Little People are small, typically less than knee high. They are human-like but are better described as more like spirits. They are attractive, with very long hair, and different shades of skin color – black, white, golden.
  • Behavior:
    1. They cast spells on people who have disturbed them.
    2. If someone finds anything uncommon like a knife, jewelry, a trinket, etc., in the woods that might belong to the Little People and doesn’t ask permission to take it, they get angry and throw rocks at the person.
    3. They are protectors of the forest, “watching humans from afar,” and assisting the lost.
    4. They especially appear to the Cherokee people during hardships. For example, the Little People followed the Cherokee along the harrowing Trail of Tears and “served as protectors and comforters.”
    5. The Little People are happy and love to dance, sing, and play drums.
  • Habitat: forests, caves, and underground in “elaborate townhouses”
  • Other Characteristics and information:
    1. Powers of invisibility, teleportation, immortality
    2. They can speak Cherokee but they also speak their own language.
    3. Their goal is to teach all humanity about treating nature and people with friendship, good will, and kindness.
    4. There are three tribes of Little People:
        • Laurel People – mischievous
        • Rock People – somewhat unpleasant
        • Dogwood People – good and caretakers
        • Bonus:  In Oklahoma, the Little People are known as Kawnakuasha.
  • Danger Level: Mild
  • Information sources:
  1. Mysterious Universe website (Brent Swancer article)
  2. Ya-Native: Preserving & Sharing our Cultures website
  3. Edmond Life & Leisure website (David Farris article)

 

 

IV. Flatwoods Monster, aka the Braxton County Monster

 

  • First encounter: early September, 1952, Frametown, WV – a mother and daughter saw the creature. The daughter was so traumatized, “she was confined to a hospital for three weeks.”
  • Other encounters:
    1. September 12, 1952 at 7:15 p.m., Frametown, WV – Three boys, Ed May (13), his brother, Freddie May (12), and Tommy Hyer (10) saw a large red streak move across the sky. They thought something had crashed so
      Image Source: UFOs in the Daily Press

      they ran back home for help. The May boys’ mother, Kathleen May, organized a group of people to investigate. One person in the group was Gene Lemon, a seventeen-year-old National Guardsman. Once they came to the hilltop, they saw a huge quivering fireball, and a mist permeated the air that burned their eyes and noses. A farmer shined a flashlight forward, exposing the creature. It hissed and floated toward the group, but turned back. The group ran back home to phone the police. Law enforcement and a local reporter arrived at the site that evening. The reporter noted a sickening smell – a “burnt, metallic odor” – still lingered. Interviews by the Civilian Saucer Investigation were also conducted.

    2. September 12, 1952, Frametown, WV – a woman relayed to the Civilian Saucer Investigation that her house shook badly and her radio went off at the same time the thing landed.
    3. In Flatwoods, a young couple encountered the monster when they were taking a drive one night. Their car suddenly stopped and wouldn’t start again. They smelled a “putrid sulfuric odor,” and, when they exited the car to investigate, they came face to face with it .
  • Area(s) located: Frametown and Flatwoods, West Virginia
  • Appearance:
    1. Ten feet tall and four feet wide with a metallic body;
    2. Seen wearing a large, pointed “cowl resembling the ace of spades”
    3. large, glowing green-orange eyes;
    4. Some who’ve encountered the creature say it has no arms. Others say it had arms but they were useless.
    5. Some witnesses said it was metallic from the waist down but lizard-like from the waist up.
  • Behavior: seems curious in that it floated toward the Frametown group, then turned back. No other behaviors noted.
  • Origin: Skeptics believe this story was an attempt to cash in on what Point Pleasant, WV had successfully done with Mothman. Another theory points to the heightened atomic bomb anxiety at the time. Even LIFE magazine reported a story about flying saucers, entitled, “Have We Visitors from Space?
  • Other information:
    1. The U.S. Air Force might have investigated the incident as “part of a project called ‘Project Blue Book.’” Some sources say the Air Force reported the boys saw nothing but bright “common meteors” in the sky and that the monster was likely an owl.
    2. Frank C. Feschino, Jr. published a book on the incident , The Braxton County Monster: The Cover-Up of the ‘Flatwoods Monster’ Revealed Expanded (Lulu.com, 2013) that details his theories of government involvement. Feschino also has a video about his findings, as well as an extensive website of information on the incident and UFOs in general. He proposes the government covered up the incident because they didn’t want to reveal they’d lost several U. S. Air Force personnel as “huge collateral damage” when they ordered pilots to shoot down alien aircraft. One of the questions Feschino poses is:

What did General Benjamin Chidlaw, Head of Air Defense Command mean when he said, “. . . We have stacks of reports about flying saucers. We take them seriously when you consider we have lost many men and planes trying to intercept them.”

  • Danger level: Mild – no reported violent incidents have occurred with this monster.
  • Information sources:
  1. Cryptid Wiki (a Fandom website)
  2. The History Channel
  3. flatwoodsmonster.com
  4. Unexplained! 347 strange sightings, incredible occurrences, and puzzling physical phenomena (Invisible Ink, 1993); p. 135-136.

 

 

V. Grassman, aka Ohio Grassman, Kenmore Grassman, Orange Eyes

 

  • First Encounter:  1800s by the Ohio River as it “tried to throw a man out of his carriage, but retreated when his daughter . . . threw several stones at it.”
  • Other encounter(s): August, 1978 in Minerva, Ohio by Evelyn and Howe Clayton’s grandchildren who spotted the creature outside. As the Claytons came to investigate, they saw a roughly 300-pound creature “sitting in the pit and fiddling with discarded trash.” This sighting was the first of many for the Claytons, who even claim to have seen two at one time. Other witnesses say they’ve seen them in groups of five.
  • Areas located:
  1. Ohio
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Kentucky
  4. West Virginia
  • Appearance: Normally, the Grassman is around six to seven feet tall and has wide shoulders. The creature is a bipedal, large-footed “hominid” and weighs anywhere from 300 to 1000 pounds. The hair is matted black, grey, or brown and covers the entire body, except the hands and feet.
  • Behavior: Grassman is more aggressive than the “typical” Bigfoot. He is uncharacteristically strong, growls or barks, and breathes heavy. Some firsthand accounts say it sounds like a baby’ cry or a woman’s scream. Grassman kills dogs, deer, etc. (especially likes the liver and legs) and is believed to be more social since it travels in groups
  • Habitat: They are called “Grassman” due to the “small, hut-like structures . . . it builds out of tall grass.” They live in the woods, sometimes in caves, and near farms, possibly for a “source of food.”
  • Other characteristics and information:
    1. The legend says the creature has been around Ohio almost 150 years.
    2. In the 1700s, Native Americans in Ohio “spoke of a race of bipedal ape-men, referred to as ‘Wild Ones of the Woods.’” They left food for the creature to ensure peace. Further, Native Americans say these creatures are peaceful – when it benefits them.
    3. Mothers have been seen with babies.
    4. Smells atrocious
  • Danger level: Medium – It’s been reported to be more aggressive and has attacked humans.
  • Information Sources:
  1. Cryptid Wiki (Fandom site)
  2. Bigfoot Encounters (Christopher L. Murphy site)
  3. Astonishing Legends website
  4. Exemplore website (Eric Dockett article)

 

 

VI. Hillbilly Beast

Hillbilly Beast – Image Source:  Monsterquest 2007, IMDB

 

  • First encounter: Unknown date
  • Other encounters:
  1. The Cherokee Native Americans were the first to give an account of the Beast, saying it “had supernatural powers.”
  2. In Kentucky, this monster was seen as far back as Daniel Boone’s lifetime (1734-1820). Boone said he encountered the Beast as it “chased him through the hills of Kentucky.”
  • Areas located: Kentucky
  • Appearance: The Beast is around eight to ten feet tall and weighs almost 800 pounds. The creature’s eyes are black in daylight but glow at night. The Hillbilly Beast is much like Bigfoot.
  • Behavior: The creature communicates verbally, through howls and “a broad range of vocalizations,” and likes to cause noise by pounding trees. The Beast has been known to throw rocks at anyone who comes near its boundary; and, if that doesn’t work, it becomes violent. The beast will sometimes steal and eat livestock.
  • Origin: unknown
  • Habitat: woods, hills and valleys
  • Danger level: Medium – The creature “chased” Daniel Boone and becomes violent if one nears its territory.
  • Information sources:
  1. Kelly’s Paranormal Page
  2. Only in Your State website (Jenn Shockley article)
  3. Caleb and Linda Pirtle: Here Comes A Mystery website (Sara Marie Hogg article)

 

VII. Kentucky Goblins

Image Source: podcast website Bedtime Stories, poddtoppen

For me, this creature is the creepiest of the seven.

  • First encounter: August, 1955 – The Kelly Hopkinsville Encounter

Twelve people (five adults, seven children) appeared at the Hopkinsville, Kentucky Police Department one night in a panic, telling the police they’d had encounters with small, eerie human-like creatures at a nearby farm. They were terrified because these “little men” surrounded the house, looked in their windows, and tried to break in. Two of the witnesses, John Sutton and Billy Ray Taylor, said they shot at the creatures.

The witnesses said the evening progressed as follows:  Mrs. Glennie Lankford rented a house near the aforementioned farm. On that particular night, Mrs. Lankford, her three adult sons and their wives, Billy Ray Taylor, and several children had gathered together to visit and eat supper. Billy Ray Taylor took a bucket to retrieve water from the well. He saw a bright light flash across the sky and, afterward, he believed he saw a flying saucer land “behind some trees.” The family then heard noises and dogs barking outside. Sutton and Taylor investigated and said they saw a creature come from behind the trees. They quickly retrieved their guns and shot it but the bullets had no effect. Each time a bullet hit one of them, “it sounded like shooting a tin can.” When the two men ran out of ammunition, they all fled toward the police station. All in all, the witnesses “estimated that some twelve to fifteen creatures were involved.”

Once Hopkinsville police heard that shots were fired, it piqued their interest. They, along with “five state troopers, and three deputy sheriffs from various jurisdictions, plus four military police from nearby US Army Fort Campbell” came to investigate but the “extraterrestrials” were gone. They did, however, notice the evidence of the gunshots the two men had fired. Law enforcement also found “some luminous green glow” on the ground that disappeared the next day. It was widely believed to have been foxfire. One officer “reported seeing a meteor shower” that night. In fact, a meteor shower did occur – the Kappa Cygnids, which is “part of the broader Perseids meteor shower.” Fort Campbell also affirmed the shower.

Yet, by all law enforcement accounts, the witnesses’ fears seemed to be legitimate. Police Chief Greenwell “said it was evident something ‘beyond reason, not ordinary,’” had terrified them.

Source:  SkepticMonster Talk
  • Other encounters:

From time to time, Greg Newkirk checked his now defunct “Ghost Hunters, Inc.” email. In June, 2012, he came across an email dated April 2012 from a man named David (last name has been redacted) regarding his encounter with creatures “the size and stature of a small child, devoid of any facial features save for large, oily eyes and lipless mouths.” The two men formed a line of communication which can be found at the website, Week in Weird. Greg Newkirk and his crew also produced a documentary series where they work to find the truth behind these creatures. The series is slow-going and finds nothing substantial.

  • Areas located:
  1. Hopkinsville, Kentucky
  2. On the border of West Virginia and Pike County, Kentucky
  • Appearance: The Kentucky Goblins are small, short, pale creatures with no hair and hardly any facial features, except huge, inky eyes and “lipless mouths.” Their arms were said to be long with either human-like hands or “webbed hands with talons,” and their legs were spindly with three-toed feet. They are believed to be extraterrestrials.
  • Behavior: watchers – look into house windows; try (persistently so) to gain entry into homes; take or destroy outdoor belongings and property; scare children; communicate with a chirping sound through their throat; travel in groups
  • Habitat: believed to live in old mine shafts
  • Other characteristics and information:
    1. The Hopkinsville Incident in 1955 is where the term “little green men” originated. It became “a generic term used for aliens although the color green was not mentioned in the group’s original interviews.”
    2. Hopkinsville has a yearly event called the Little Green Man Festival.
    3. Skeptics have pointed out Billy Ray Taylor’s recounting of the incident changed from seeing a shooting star to “watching a spaceship come down and land.”
    4. Skeptics have also said no evidence exists that connects the bright light in the sky to an alien aircraft.
    5. Those who believe this is all a bunch of chicanery suggest the adults were drunk and, as a result, panicked after seeing the meteor shower. They think the group saw a pair of Great Horned Owls instead of extraterrestrials.
    6. The U.S. Air Force was possibly involved in the subsequent investigation, though no proof exists except from locals who claim they came, and listed the “encounter as ‘unidentified.’”
  • Danger Level: Medium to High – They invade, steal, stalk, terrorize, and intrude. They have been known to pull hair, jump on the rooftop, etc.
  • Information Sources:
  1. Unexplained! 347 strange sightings, incredible occurrences, and puzzling physical phenomena (Invisible Ink, 1993); p. 310-11.
  2. Skeptoid with Brian Dunning, website
  3. Courier & Press
  4. Week in Weird website
  5. Have the Kentucky Goblins Returned?
  6. Return of the Kentucky Goblins

 

**Featured Image Source: by Stefan Keller – Kellepics at Pixabay

2 Comments

  1. I enjoyed this post! Maybe you could update the reported appearances of the Kentucky Goblins – Tall Tales, 2006 S2e15, and Clap Your Hands If You Believe, 2010 S6e9 (they’re really fairies!).

    1. Author

      True! I think we’d make great “Ghostfacers.”

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