Monday, July 23, 2012

Update on the Wild Man of Ocheesee Pond

Swamps of Ocheesee Pond
I'll resume with my postings about Reconstruction in Jackson County soon, but I am taking a break today to tell you more about a story I first posted here on August 26, 2011 (See The Wild Man of Ocheesee Pond - A 19th Century Bigfoot Capture in Jackson County?)
To refresh your memory, in August of 1884 a party of men living around Ocheesee Pond in Jackson County took up arms and went into the swamp in search of a "wild man" that had been terrorizing the neighborhood. "Wild Man" was a common 19th century term used to refer to the creature we know of today as Bigfoot or Sasquatch.

Somewhere in the roughly nine square mile swamp, the search party came up with the Wild Man and managed to surround and capture him. Eyewitness accounts at the time described him as "entirely destitute of clothing, emaciated, and covered with a phenomenal growth of hair."

Open Water Section of Ocheesee Pond
Thinking that perhaps he was a mental patient who had escaped from the State Hospital in Chattahoochee, they took him there but found that no one was missing from that institution. Unsure of what else to do with their strange prisoners, the Jackson County men loaded him on a train and took him to Tallahassee.

When I wrote the original story last year, I was unable to learn anything more about the Wild Man and the story ended with many unanswered questions. I've continued to look for more references and finally, this weekend, found another.

Florida State Hospital
As it appeared in 1884.
The story was datelined Columbus, Georgia, on August 23, 1884, one week after the original report. The steamboat Amos Hayes, which brought the first news of the capture, had made its way back down the Chattahoochee River and returned to Columbus, bringing back fresh news on the Wild Man.

While the story still leaves many unanswered questions, it reveals that at least one week after his capture, authorities in Florida still had no idea of what to do with the Wild Man. All efforts to identify the prisoner had still proved unavailable and state authorities were operating under the assumption that he must have been an insane individual who had escaped from a mental facility in a different state.

The second report confirmed the first as to the man's or creature's appearance, he was "emaciated" and covered with hair.

I still have not been able to learn the fate of the Wild Man of Ocheesee Pond, but the search will go on! To learn more about the capture of the creature, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/ocheeseewildman.

7 comments:

Scott aka Florida Native Musings said...

Hey Dale, Long time. Good stuff I had heard this story when I was young and forgot about it. Hope all is well.

Scott

Anonymous said...

Great reading, and follows up stories I heard as a child. I have a grandson who still "believes" in Big Foot.

Anonymous said...

Maybe once the 'wild man' was brought to Tallahassee they just put him in an asylum there. It might be worth it to search for any asylum records there (if possible) from august 1884 to several months later for any clues.

Waymon Meadows said...

Dale, the work you are doing is great. Keep it up.
Waymon

Dale Cox said...

Thank you Waymon! There is so much of interest to write about it makes for pretty easy work.
Dale

Anonymous said...

Hi Dale
Found this story interesting and would love to read more. I've watched all the Big Foot sighting reality shows on TV but, this is by far a more accurate sighting. What about searching cemetery records?
Annmarie

Dale Cox said...

Thank you for the nice words! I am working on it. I am trying to identify "John Doe's" from the State Hospital in that era and then see what happened to them (i.e. did they return home, did they die at the hospital, etc.).
Dale