Recently, I finished reading a book I enjoyed very much that was full of cryptozoological information mostly new to me. I want to share these reports with you, as much as one can in a blog post, and recommend the book, White Things – West Virginia’s Weird White Monsters by Kurt McCoy. He has a pleasing, easy-to-read style, and he’s thoughtful and informative but not in a stuffy way. There is humor in this book, and if you read it, you’ll understand why.
He begins with an explanation of how local folklore has played into many of these reports, some of which are just stories and hearsay. In fact, the folklore of this state encompasses not only the cryptozoological creatures, but a lot of paranormal and ghostly folklore as well. But the bottom line seems to be, the monsters he discusses in his book don’t fall into the typical creature descriptions detailed in the area folklore. They’re sort of “others”, and because of that, we’re left to wonder if there may not be some truth in their existence.
Another important aspect to note is that the sightings of these white creatures seem to cluster around the 1920s through 1940s, and then again in the 1980s through 1990s. It’s odd how the sightings came in these cycles. Perhaps they migrate around the country? Or their life cycles lend themselves to infrequent but intense appearances? I’m not sure we’ll ever know, but it certainly is strange. I have to wonder if the next batch of sightings will begin in the 2020s, following the time difference from previous periods.
Anyway, let’s look at some stories.
Bigfoot Style Story
The stories that involve Bigfoot are interesting because it’s a Bigfoot that doesn’t quite exhibit the behavior we’ve come to expect from their brethren in the Pacific Northwest. They look a bit different , seem a bit smaller, and do some crazy things that other Bigfoot families don’t do. Nonetheless in my mind, they still do exhibit enough Bigfoot type behavior that I feel sure, IF these sightings are true, they could very well be a family of Bigfoots indigenous to West Virginia.
The Morgan’s Ridge Monster begins with the tale told by the O’Dell family. At the time they lived out in the boondocks, farming and raising sheep to make their living. A series of sheep deaths and mutilations began to occur and the men in the family began to investigate at night when the damage was being done to their herd.
In one blinding rainstorm, they caught sight of a big lumbering creature that began to terrify the herd of sheep. They fired some shots, but weren’t sure if they hit their mark due to the ferocious storm raging around them.
So they decided to hatch a better plot. Soon after they geared up and went down into the dark fields where the sheep were penned. Silently they waited, letting the hours pass by, waiting and watching for signs of this creature’s return. Before too long it appeared, the sheep began bleating in fear, and the men went into action. All four experienced hunters aimed and shot at the creature who let out an almighty howl. They all felt sure they had hit it. When they reached the spot where the creature had been, they only found one dead sheep, trampled ground, but no creature. It never did return, so the family felt they had accomplished their goal of protecting their herd and their families.
Normally we hear about Bigfoot hunting deer, but I think from a practical standpoint, if you have a herd of sheep standing there all night, they’d be a perfect target for an apex predator.
Another report Kurt shares comes from a woman named Melissa. She and her husband were driving down a lonely, unpopulated road. Her husband said something and she turned to answer him when they spotted an animal in the road up ahead. She said, “About 50 yards ahead of us was something in the road. It was on all fours and was snow white. It was bigger than a dog, way bigger. As we got closer it turned and looked our way. Its mouth opened and it stood up on two legs and began running across the road and up through the woods. I never said a thing. All I could do was sit there, stunned. A few minutes later Joe asked if I had seen what he had seen. Unable to answer him, I began to cry.”
They drove home a different way not wanting to retrace their steps that led to that encounter. That sounds like a Bigfoot to me, and as we’ve heard from Bigfoot researchers, some of them do tend to go gray/white with age.
On Yet Another Ridge
Up on another ridge in West Virginia, the Baker’s Ridge, appeared a monster behaving suspiciously like a juvenile Bigfoot. A college coed agreed to house-sit a home out in the boondocks while the owners went on vacation. Her first night there she spent reading a Stephen King novel, perhaps not the best choice when one is out in the woods by themselves, but anyway, a lot of commotion soon followed.
Just after midnight she heard someone on the back porch rummaging through the boxes that were there and messing with the porch furniture. She peeked out a window to see what could be out there and saw two red eyes glaring at her. She tried to hide by shutting off the lights and cowering behind a chair, but the creature started howling and slapping the window with its palms. The howling stopped so she peeked around the chair and the animal was still staring into the window, its breath fogging the pane of glass. She estimated it was about 5 feet tall with hair sticking out all over its head, messy and un-groomed. Its body was covered in long white hair.
Finally it turned away and went back to searching the boxes on the porch. After that she heard a banging at the door and the rattling of the lock. She heard it jump off the porch and after a minute or two heard it rummaging in the trash containers further out back.
After that she ran upstairs and hid in a bedroom while holding a baseball bat. Nothing else happened that night and after sunrise she finally came down to inspect the damage out on the back porch. It was a mess and she clearly saw muddy footprints all over the wood. The window pane was covered with hand prints and mud, and the trash bins and stand for the bins was nearly destroyed. The coed had seen enough. She gathered her things and hitchhiked back to town. At the end of that semester she transferred to another school and left Morgantown and its “monster” well behind her.
Much has been made of the term Sheep-Squatch recently and as far as I can tell, it seems to have originated here, in West Virginia. The name seems to have come from the fact that these Bigfoots prey on sheep, rather than the usual deer, if in fact it is a Bigfoot. Here is the witness’ description from Kurt’s book:
“We had just rounded a bend in the road. I looked to my left, and about a foot from the window I saw what appeared to be a strange creature, half man, half animal. It had a face very similar to a sheep’s, horns like a ram, and it was standing upright like a human. I was stunned and immediately thought I had lost my mind. My friends started screaming “What in the hell was that?” So I backed up the car, and it looked at me, turned and ran into the woods. I got a pretty good look at it. It basically had is nose right in my face! It was white, furry, and had paws, no hooves, paws like a dog, a sheep-like face, and stood upright like a human. It ran away on human legs.”
The young lady reporting this sighting goes on to say she never believed in paranormal stuff prior to this, nor UFOs, etc. So she was truly mystified by what she and her friends saw. A couple things jump out at me from this report.
- It had paws, not huge hands like a Bigfoot would normally have.
- Horns on its head? I don’t know how else you could account for something that obvious. Maybe a branch fell on the head of a Bigfoot? Impossible to say.
There may be another possible explanation as to what this creature might have been which I’ll talk about later. For now, I’d rather think this was some kind of bizarre Bigfoot sighting, but, that’s really pushing it.
Other people claim to have seen Sheep-Squatch but the animal they describe sounds much more like a sheep/bear/dog than a Bigfoot.
For example, an anonymous witness described the beast he saw like this, “What I saw emerge from the brush was a large, brownish-white creature. Its fur looked dirty and matted as if the animal did very little in the line of self-grooming. I can’t be sure if I was looking at a dirty white animal or a brownish animal with a white undercoat. It was late in the fall so it makes sense that it might be putting on a winter coat. The creature moved on all fours as it breached the brush line and knelt to drink from the creek. Its front limbs, the only limbs I saw clearly, ended in what were markedly paw-like “hands”. Its head was long and pointed, like a canine’s, and it had largish horns, not antlers but single point horns. … It drank for a few minutes, then crossed the creek and continued on across toward Sandhill Road. When I was sure it was gone, I turned and ran as fast as I could back toward the pond where I’d parked.” He goes on to say the creature smelled strongly of sulfur. My first thought was maybe it was demonic, but the odor may just indicate it lived in an area of town where old munitions were stored and leaked into the surrounding vegetation and water. Those smells would include a sulfurous odor too.
There were other stories along these lines relating to a “Sheep-Squatch” so much so that a local woman, Mary Hyre, collected these stories (unpublished) and she referred to that creature as the “Jericho Road Man-Bears”.
An Ice-Age Lion
Yes, if you can possibly believe, in the midst of this plethora of other weird and puzzling tales, there arises stories about people sighting African lions and black panthers. No less a luminary than noted cryptozoologist Loren Coleman discussed at length a theory purported by Mark A. Hall that, “an ancient Ice Age inhabitant of North America may still be very much alive, in the flesh, among us. Panthera Atrox was a lion-like predator of substantial size that prowled the land we walk on many ages past. Panthera Atrox is suggested as a possible candidate for the numerous “African Lion” and “black panther” sightings all across North America. … The survival of Panthera Atrox could account for a number of our stories, along with many, many otherwise unexplained sightings of lion-like creatures. While no one has suggested that these animals are white furred, some examples could be throw-backs to the Ice Age that spawned them, when white fur would have been more useful as camouflage.”
Panthera Leo Atrox measured between 5 feet and 8 feet long from head to end of body. At the shoulder, it would have averaged 4 feet tall. Scientists estimate the average weight for this animal would range between 560 – 770 pounds. Quite a formidable animal!
Few thoughts here:
- There are many truly remote and wild areas in the West Virginia mountains where creatures like this could live and survive. There are plenty of deer in that state to sustain a large predator.
- Black panthers: these animals are well known in Florida, and are often found dead along the side of the road so science is well aware of the existence of this black “panther” which is actually a subspecies of puma, not panther: Puma concolor coryi. They are never actually black, but tan and tawny colored. The males average 7 feet in length and can weigh up to 120 pounds – much smaller than Panthera Leo Atrox.
- If someone does actually see a black cat, they are probably seeing a black jaguar which some believe have been migrating up from their natural habitats in Mexico into the southern US. They are most often seen along the Florida panhandle.
But back to West Virginia – who knows what people are seeing?! It’s beginning to give me a headache! LOL!!
In his book, Kurt McCoy briefly mentions that the area of the backwoods and mountains of West Virginia have been used as places to practice the occult, hidden, unseen, and secluded. That immediately raises a red flag for me. What are they conjuring? Demons they can’t control?
We’ve seen it quite a few times on the Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures shows. People practice the occult, bring demonic spirits into the world and then can’t control them. It’s a recipe for disaster.
So when I was reading a few of these white beast tales (including the Sheep-Squatch stories with their “horns”) I thought they sounded more like demonic creatures than anything earth-bound. Here’s a good example:
Immigrant Frank Kozul had married and settled down by the year 1929, in Fairmount WV. He worked for the Consolidated Coal Company’s 93 Mine which sat on the Morgan’s Ridge, famed for its Morgan Ridge “Monster” stories. One evening he decided to take a short-cut home, through the thick woods. Suddenly a creature stood before him.
Kurt writes, “It stood two feet at the shoulder, about the size of a large dog, and had an extremely large, powerfully jawed head. It was covered with stark white hair and also had a bushy tail. The creature snarled silently at him, then jumped at him, snapping and biting. Frank swung at it with his lunchbox but failed to hit anything solid. He punched and kicked at it, but hit only air. The strange white creature continued to leap at him, attacking ferociously but silently as he ran down the path. He could feel its weight slam against him over and over, smell the foulness of its breath, but he could not lay hands on it or strike it in any way.
Finally, Frank stumbled near a graveyard where the thing simply vanished into thin air. When he got up and brushed himself off, he found that he was unharmed by the apparently vicious attack. There wasn’t as much as a scratch on him. Shaken and badly frightened, he made his way on home. … he never took that shortcut again despite having to walk twice as far by the other route.”
Earth-bound creatures are solid be they Bigfoot, mad dogs, wolverines, whatever. What can attack you while remaining in spirit form?
Another story involves a first-hand account by a hunter who had gone into the woods with family and a family friend. As they were moving along a ridge, they heard a horrible scream, then a creature jumped out at them. Kurt writes, “A hairy white animal, about the size of a large dog, with a bushy tail leaped out of the underbrush from uphill and pounced on one of the hunters. The man screamed as he was knocked off the game path and tumbled downhill, bouncing through some nasty briers.”
After a moment’s shock, the other men followed their friend down that hill and found him lying on his back, crying and wailing that the creature had “…taken my guts!” They checked him over and there wasn’t so much as a drop of blood on him. His clothes were a bit torn from the fall through the briers, but his belly and entrails were still intact. Needless to say this hunter was badly shaken, and when he recovered enough to get up, he asked his friends to take him home. He never went hunting again, and Kurt reports that this man still has nightmares about this episode even to this day.
So in this case, the hunter felt like his entrails were ripped out of his belly, but in reality, nothing happened. Real, earth-bound animals don’t do that. They bite, tear, and cause pain. So what was this thing? Multiple witnesses saw it, and the man’s behavior changed after his attack, and he never went hunting again. That sounds suspiciously like a demonic attack to me.
What to Make of All This
The information I’ve shared with you here is just the tip of the iceberg. Kurt’s book is full of more stories, some stranger than you can possibly imagine. Others, somewhat familiar based on our previous experiences with Bigfoots.
How much is folklore? How much is real? How valid are the witnesses? Very hard to say, although Kurt does a great job trying to sort that all out. In some cases he actually knows the witnesses giving their accounts, but he’s honest about the sources for these tales/reports, most of which are a little obscure to say the least.
I guess we’ll never know but it’s fun and fascinating to contemplate. If you enjoyed these excerpts from the book, you will really enjoy the whole thing.
In the course of my reading I was thinking I’d love to get up there (to WV) and do some exploring. Kurt actually had some things to say on that account. These many years later, most of the fields and hollers and old farms have been built into developments so the location of where many stories took place is actually now in somebody’s back yard.
Then he shared some cautionary words about wandering off down old roads that seem to go nowhere … and what might happen to people who do. One quote from the book goes, “…Another friend of mine remembers how Baker’s Ridge Road was described to her. It was said that the Morgantown police would warn people, particularly young coeds, to avoid that road, especially after dark. ‘If your car breaks down out there, at night, you’re better off locking your doors and sleeping in your car. Do NOT try going up to any of the houses looking for help!’”
He makes a few other references in the book more or less along the same lines. You take your life in your hands when you venture into these backwoods because it seems like the people there may get up to some strange and troubling things.
Maybe they’re the real monsters after all.
Til the next time!