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April 20, 2008 Report

The RFP Research Project (RFPRP) – Report of Encounter

Date Report Submitted to the RFPRP: April 20, 2008
Background Information: On April 19, 2008 the witness contacted the Moderator of the Alabama Bigfoot Forum by e-mail to briefly share some of her family’s experiences with a creature they called the “Hairy Man” while they lived for several years in a somewhat isolated hollow in Winston County, Alabama.  The Moderator (who is also a valued Investigator/Researcher for the RFP Research Project) forwarded the e-mail to the writer and asked that I contact the witness for more information about those experiences. The witness was contacted the first time by telephone the next day.
Profile of the Witness & Her Family: The witness’s family lived in the secluded hollow for about twenty years before she was born and she lived there with them for about ten years . She was the youngest of six children, all girls. Her oldest sister was seventeen when the reporting witness was born. Her father died before she was old enough to remember him.  After her father’s death, the girls and their mother continued to live on the same property until the house burned in 1970. The reporting witness was about 10 years old at that time. The girls and their mother cultivated a large vegetable garden each year and canned the produce to provide food during the winter. They also raised hogs and chickens, but had no cow for milk. About once or twice a week they traded eggs to a neighbor who had a cow for milk. The witness stated that during the spring and summer they worked in the garden nearly every day where her mother paid special attention to the quantity and stage of maturity of all the different vegetables so that they would have everything ready when the particular crop was ready to be canned. The mother also “took in ironing” and cleaned houses for others for income when she had the spare time.
The family had no motorized vehicle, telephone or electricity for the home. Their nearest neighbor lived about two miles away.
Writer’s Note: Due to the number of incidents that occurred during the period covered by this report, the format has been modified to present the events in chronological order for clarity and continuity .
Location Information: All of the incidents occurred on or very near the same small farm located in a hollow formed by a branch of Clear Creek a few miles northeast of Double Springs in Winston County, Alabama. The property is located near the end of a dirt road off of County Road #24, and U.S. Highway 278 is a few miles south of the property.
General Land Use Description: At the time covered by this report the land in the general area was primarily for timber production. In the immediate area the land along the creek was used for gardening and farming.
General Terrain Description: Small rolling hills with some bluffs, cliffs and caves along the eroded creek hollows.
Nearest Lakes or Streams: Clear Creek , Rock Creek and the Sipsey River. All of these streams flow into Smith Lake a few miles south of the home site.
Dates of Encounters: The witness’s first visual encounter occurred when she was five years old (1965).
Details of Encounters / Incidents: The witness first saw one of the enigmatic creatures early one fall evening as she was using the small outdoor toilet. While seated inside she noticed through a diamond shaped opening in the door a large, hair covered man-like creature standing upright on top of a bluff beside the creek. The creature was about 200 feet away and it was intently staring at the outhouse while slowly swaying side-to-side. She stated she “hurriedly did her business”, arranged her clothes and ran screaming to the house. She burst into the house repeatedly telling her mother that “a booger man was outside and had been watching me”. She stated she vividly remembers that her mother calmly told her that what she had seen was “probably a bear or wolf”.  The witness knew that what she had seen was neither a bear nor a wolf but could not seem to be able to convince her mother of that fact. (It was some time later before she discovered that her mother knew exactly what the girl had seen, but did not wish to alarm her further by telling her the truth.)
During the next few months or so the witness became aware of woman-like screaming sounds sometimes coming form the surrounding woods at night. He mother told her the sounds were made by “panthers” and told her not to worry about them. Both the witness and her sisters did not think the sounds were being made by panthers or any other feline because the sounds were entirely human-like with no cat-like qualities. The family often heard hooting sounds and whistling from the woods, sometimes both day and night, and the sound of rocks or sticks being struck against trees. The children were told the sounds were made by typical native animals or birds.
Late one afternoon when she was about seven years old, she and her next oldest sister (who was about eleven at the time) were out in the yard when her sister saw one of the creatures on the bluff beside the creek. Her sister immediately ran back into the house and got a shotgun and ran back outside. The girl’s mother saw that the girl had the gun and followed her outside. Her mother shouted to tell the girl not to shoot at the creature, but the girl raised the gun and shot toward the animal anyway. The creature quickly ran off into the woods. (The witness stated the creature was too far from the girls for the shotgun pellets to have actually injured it.) The girl’s mother immediately told her, “Now you’ve done it, we are going to have problems now!”
The witness stated that a couple of days later, they found that the latch on the chicken house, (which was designed so that no known animals could open it), had been opened and they found that two of the chickens had been killed (but not eaten) by their necks having been broken. The carcasses had been thrown on the ground inside the chicken house.
By this time all of the girls knew they were dealing with animals that were not typical. The mother was afraid that other damages would be done, so she began cooking extra pans of “corn pone” (corn bread) and leaving them outside for the animals as a sign of appeasement. The corn bread was taken by some kind of animal, and no other damages occurred on the property.
It was typical that when the garden produce was ripening some of it was taken during the night. The more noticeable losses were ripe tomatoes, squash, sweet corn and watermelons. The losses were not massive, nor were the plants damaged. On several occasions the family found large bare humanoid foot prints in the garden soil, but the girls’ mother lightly passed them off as being bear tracks.
During the summer the mother and the older daughters would gather apples, peel and slice them to be dried in the sun for use in pies during the winter. For drying the apples, two saw-horses were covered by a sheet of plywood, and the plywood covered with white cloth flour sacks that had been sewn together. The apple slices were spread out on the cloth during the day, and the apples were brought into the house during the night to prevent dew from causing them to mold. Although the witness did not see the incident, she remembers that her older sisters saw two (or three) small “monkeys” stealing the apple slices off the drying table during the day, and told her mother about it. The witness does not remember what steps, if any, her mother took in response to the thefts.
During hot summer nights the family often slept on the front porch on “pallets” (quilts or blankets used as mattresses) because the home had no electricity for fans or air conditioning. During many of the nights on the porch, the family heard the typical night sounds, plus other sounds that were puzzling to them. The witness stated sometimes late at night they could plainly hear the sounds of people talking in dialects they had never heard. In later years, after hearing Native Americans speaking in the movies and on television in their old native language, the witness stated those were similar to the sounds they heard on those summer nights.
The witness’s next oldest sister (the one who fired a shotgun at one of the animals) had the family’s only transportation, and it was a bicycle.  It was her responsibility, once or twice a week, to carry eggs to a neighbor’s house about two miles away to trade them for milk. On one occasion, shortly after that girl had fired the shotgun at one of the animals, the girl left home with eggs and the a milk can and pedaled to the neighbor’s house.  After she had left the eggs, picked up the can of milk and got about halfway home, the girl suddenly saw one of the creatures standing alongside the road a short distance in front of her. She immediately swerved and lost control of the bicycle and fell, losing the milk can in the process. (The lid on the can kept the milk from spilling.) She quickly recovered the bicycle and, leaving the can of milk beside the road, pedaled home as fast as she could. When she arrived, her mother asked her where was the milk. The girl excitedly told her what had occurred, but the mother told her to go back and get the can of milk as she needed it to prepare supper. The girl tried frantically to convince her mother that she was too scared of the “hairy man” to go back down the road that day. But her mother insisted, saying the creature would not harm her. The girl finally made the return trip, picked up the can of milk, and returned home without seeing or hearing the animal again.
The witness stated that their home was built off the ground five or six feet because the creek sometimes flooded the hollow in which the home was located after heavy rains. She stated that one of her older sisters would sometimes see a man-like face staring through the center part of the window in her room at night.  She said that for some reason the “person” seemed to appear more often when it was raining.
The witness also stated that when one of the older girls began her “monthly period”, it was usual that at least one of the other girls began her “period” as well. During these times the family was very aware that the sounds of one or more “women screaming” were heard more often, and seemingly the sounds originated closer to the home.
One day in April or May when the witness was eight years old she filled her recently received Easter basket with food and went to creek bank to play and have a picnic alone. When she got there she placed the basket of food on the bank and went back to the house for fresh water that she had forgotten. When she returned she found that the basket had been taken away without any spillage of the food that had been piled in it. She and her sisters searched “all over the place” for hours but never found the basket or any sign of its contents. Much later she concluded that she knew of no typical animal that could have, or would have, removed the basket from the area without spilling or eating the contents and leaving the debris from the basket’s contents.
During the summer months of this period of time the girls often went to the creek below the home to bath and play in the water. As the creek level lowered during hot weather, they noticed that large “wallowed out” holes appeared in the sandy bottoms of the larger holes of water in the creek. They never saw what made the holes in the creek bed, but suspected the enigmatic creatures did the work to have deeper water to cool off in during hot weather.
When she was nine years old her oldest sister married and moved to a home on the slope of another hollow that was only about a mile or so from their home if measured “as the crow flies”. By road, the witness knew that the distance was much more than that. After the girl married and moved to her new home, the witness’s mother plotted a trail across the creek, over a large ridge and across a small branch to the newly married girl’s home. Because of the depth and steepness of the ravine in which the smaller branch flowed, the trail included a “foot-log” over that branch. The mother and the other daughters often visited the elder daughter/sister by walking that trail to her home during daylight hours. During their trips along the trail they would hear a loud “whoop” call nearby as they entered the woods near their home. That whoop call would be answered by another such sound, usually further up the main ridge. While walking along the trail they could all usually hear the sounds of heavy bipedal footsteps on the trail behind them.  At time the footfalls were so close that the family could feel the vibrations of the footsteps in the ground. From the very beginning of those incidents, the children’s mother would repeatedly tell them, “Just keep walking and don’t look back, it won’t hurt you.” When the group would arrive at the foot-log across the small branch they would hear the animal following them whoop again, and the call would be repeated from somewhere away from them. And when the group approached the daughter/sister’s house, another whoop call would be heard behind them, with a response from somewhere in the vicinity. When the mother and daughters left the oldest girl’s home, one of the animals would be waiting unseen in the nearby woods, and the same vocalizations would be heard at the same locations on the trail on their way back home.
About this time the witness’s mother told the daughters that she, and her own mother, (who was a full-blood Choctaw Indian) knew about the creatures and had always referred to them as “The Old People”.  The witness’s grandmother was from Mississippi, but moved to the same area of Winston County Alabama after she married. The grandmother had explained to the witness’s mother that the creatures were in all respects human-like and were protective of the people who lived among them as long as the people respected them and their families.
The witness and her sisters believed that the escorts they had through the woods from their home to their sister’s home was for their protection. The witness believes the escort was always in vocal contact with the others members of the creature’s family to let them know the location of the mother and her children so that no unexpected encounter occurred between the human family and the creature’s own family. At no time did the family experience any direct aggressive behavior from the creatures.
While the family lived in the hollow, a man who lived a couple of miles away owned and cultivated some bottom land across the creek from their home. The man was known and respected by the family. He had for some time planted sugar cane in the field in the bottoms but told the children’s mother that he quit trying to grow it because something kept stealing and it and eating it as it neared maturity. He planted corn and watermelons in the field, and told the witness’s mother that he was continually losing more corn and melons than could be attributed to raccoons, squirrels, deer or other typical animals.
When the neighbor was working across the creek in warm weather the girl’s mother would fill a container with cold water from a spring above their home and carry it across the creek to him. On one such occasion, at the start of the cultivation season, the man was in the fields “turning under” a crop of turnips and other green that been planted the previous fall for use during the winter. The witness’s mother filled a container of cold water from the spring and began walking toward the creek on the woods road across her property that the neighbor used to access his fields. Suddenly she heard the tractor engine and the tractor itself running at high speed as it came across the creek and through the woods toward her. When the tractor came into view, the neighbor began shouting to her to, “Get back in the house, — get back in the house!!” Not knowing what had happened, the woman hurried back to her house, and the neighbor continued to drive the tractor at high speed to his own home.
Days later, the neighbor came back to finish plowing his fields. The witness’s mother made a point of asking him what had happened during his last trip to the fields. He told her that as he was plowing under the winter turnips and greens, three or four “somethings” came charging through the woods from different directions toward him and his tractor, and the “somethings” were aggressively screaming so loudly that he heard them plainly over the sound of the tractor engine. He told her he did not know what kind of animals were making the sounds, but said that this would be his last year to cultivate the fields. According to the witness, the fields were never cultivated again after that season.
The witness remembers that she and members of her extended family would go to a creek off of Highway 33 which led into the Bankhead National Forest. The primary purpose of the trips was to gather “silver dollar-sized, black mussels” from the creek which her mother would “steam like you would prepare clams”. For the girls, the creek was one of their favorite swimming holes. After a year or so, they found that the creek had been cleaned of mussels, and they only found “mussel shells that had been cracked opened and piled on the creek bank”. The witness stated that neither she nor the other family members knew what had taken the mussels, but they saw no evidence of otters in the area. (When asked by the writer, the witness stated the piled shells would probably fill a two and one-half gallon bucket.) The witness and relatives returned to this area years later and found that the road to this particular area of the creek had been closed. When they asked local residents (who had built homes in the area relatively recently), the residents stated that authorities had closed the road, “because of bears in the area”.
She said that sometimes she and her immediate family would get together with her aunt and uncle and their boys and go on overnight fishing trips in the backwaters of Smith Lake in the Robinson Bottoms area.  She said they would take an old tire or two and gather wood along the lake to make a fire that would burn all night while the adults and older children fished off the bank. She said that she and the other younger “kids” had quilt pallets in the bed of their uncle’s truck where they tried to sleep. She said that it was usually hard to sleep because a group of unseen animals would be howling, yelling and screaming angrily at the group after dark. She said she thought the animals “were throwing a fit” because her family was encroaching on their nighttime foraging area. She said that other residents of the community that went into the Robinson Bottoms area to fish at night had the same kind of experiences.
When the witness was between nine and ten years old a man who lived in the general area set up a whiskey still in the hollow just above the family’s property. The man installed the still at that location so that during the dry season he could use the water from the cold spring which was on their property. Her mother became aware of the still, and resented the man taking water from her spring for its operation, but said nothing to the man about it. He later approached her to complain that the whiskey still was being heavily damaged when he was not at the site, and basically accused her of having her girls damage the still. She rightly denied the accusations.
During February a few months later their mother awakened the children about 4:00 am  to get them out of the house because it was on fire along the back side nearest the woods.  By the time they gathered a few clothes and got out of the house it was too late to control the fire . As the family stood outside, a man who lived in the area saw the blaze as he was driving to work down the nearby county road. The man could do nothing but try to console the family. The witness’s mother told the man to call her cousin when he got to a telephone and have him come pick them up.
The man soon left and the family sat down in the yard, close enough to the fire to keep warm, and could do nothing but watch the home burn. While they sat, they noticed a very large, massively-built animal walk out of the woods and into the yard.  She said the greyish colored animal was “between eight and nine feet tall and very healthy looking”. She said it was walking on two feet and stopped about 100 feet from the group. The witness said that for a little while the animal stood erect, swaying slowly side-to-side. As they watched it, the animal slowly turned its head from looking directly at them and then turning to watch the burning building. The children’s mother quietly told the girls, “Don’t move, and don’t say nothing”. The animal then slowly squatted and remained in that position, alternately looking at them and the burning house. The witness said that as it began to break day, the animal stood up, turned and walked off into the woods. According to the witness the animal was completely silent when he was in their presence.
The family thought the fire had originated because of a flaw in their wood heater or its flue piping. The family was forced to move from the home site because they did not have the funds to rebuild. Several years later, after the whiskey maker died, his wife made a trip to visit the witness’s mother. The man’s widow apologized to the family for the loss of their home and admitted that her husband had “burned them out” because of continued, heavy damage to his whiskey still that he always thought the family was causing.
Description of the Animals: The first time the witness clearly saw one of the animals she described it as being “really tall and hairy, standing upright on two feet in a slightly hunched position with its arms so long that its hands were below it knees”. She said that animal’s hair appeared to be dark brown.
On the second occasion that she saw one (when her older sister fired at the creature with a shotgun) it appeared identical to the first one except that in the sunshine its hair appeared reddish brown.
The last animal that she saw was the large greyish colored animal which is described above.
Photos or Drawings Made?: No.
Description of Related Sounds: Sounds of a woman screaming in pain or grief, whooping and hooting sounds, loud whistling sounds, primitive-sounding speech in an unknown language and, while on Lake Smith, angry yelling and screaming sounds -some nearly like a human crying in pain or sorrow.
Description of Related Scents / Odors: The witness stated that at no time did they smell the animals.
Historical Anecdotes: In the late 60’s, one of the witness’s older sisters had a male school mate who went with a few friends to what the local residents call Saltpeter Cave in the Sipsey Wilderness Area of the Bankhead National Forest in Winston County. The boy reportedly went into the cave first with a flashlight and met a large black animal charging toward him on four feet. The story was that the boy ran screaming back past the others to his truck and locked himself in the cab. The others reportedly heard the animal inside the cave and tried to get into the truck cab, but had to settle for the truck bed until their frantic beating on the top of the cab finally resulted in the first boy unlocking the truck and speeding off when everyone was inside.
In the late 70’s or early 80’s the witness stated there was a story which was quickly spread by word of mouth across the area which she remembered and which she thought at the time might be related to the enigmatic animals her family was familiar with. According to her, the story was that a young National Forest Ranger and his wife moved into a “ranger’s house” that was then located in or near the Sipsey Wilderness Area. Shortly afterwards, the Ranger’s wife reportedly had a baby which was soon brought home to the ranger’s house. Sometimes later, the house was reportedly attacked by a group of screaming animals at night, and both the ranger and his wife stayed up all night with firearms to prevent the animals from breaking into the house. The house was said to have been heavily damaged by the attack, and the next morning the Ranger reportedly removed his family. Sometime shortly thereafter the Ranger’s House was torn down and never replaced.
In the early 80’s the witness stated that one of her male cousins bought 10 acres of land in Winston County in the vicinity of Addison. Her cousin told her that when he began  constructing a building on the property himself he noticed when he would use a hammer to fasten lumber, he would often hear the same number of hammering sounds coming from the woods nearby. He reportedly began experimenting and varying the number of hammer strikes used to drive the nails. He was surprised to hear a repeat of the sounds. He continued to return to the site and work on the building at various times. He said that sometime later be began to hear loud grunting sounds, reportedly similar to those made by a large boar hog. Shortly afterwards he saw a very large, hair covered man-like creature walk to the edge of the wood line on two feet. The creature squatted at the edge of the woods and grunted occasionally as it watched him work. The man realized the creature was not aggressive and after a while he became accustomed to seeing it at times he was working on the building. At one time he told the witness “I would have given it a hammer and put it to work if it would have come on out of the woods”.

Note: Photographs of the area may be posted later.

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Report received and recorded by:
Tal H. Branco, Field Researcher/Investigator, The RFP Research Project