Historic Wild Man Sighting in Dover NJPosted by NJBFRC on Monday January 20th, 2014
The story is widely available online at many other Bigfoot websites, and it reads roughly the same on each one. A group of people -- Bertha Heatig, Lizzie Guscott, Katie Griffing, Milke Dean, et al. -- spotted a bearded, 6 feet tall "wild man," with a club, near a wooded area of Dover.
After some research I found the real story, which is rather difficult to locate, but readily available for those willing to take some time to investigate. A short piece published in the New York Times on January 6, 1894 reads:
Newark, N.J., Jan. 6. — The residents of the vicinity of Dover are excited over the sudden appearance of a wild man near the town.
He has taken up his abode in the vacant Mellon homestead, and first made his appearance to a number of women who were passing near the place. He uttered threatening sounds and started toward them, causing the women to run away.
A searching party was sent out, but the man could not be found. A few days later he was seen running wild through the woods, wearing no clothing. Another party was sent out, and dogs were used.
When the man was surrounded, he grabbed one of the dogs and killed it with a club, and then made his escape. He is still at large.
I have been unable to locate any follow up to the original article, but that is not important. What is important is that the story has been connected, however loosely, to historic Bigfoot activity in New Jersey, and it clearly is not.
Folklore is rife with tales of wild men, and hairy ones too. But folklore is folklore, and has no doubt suffered the same fate that modern story telling of Bigfoot does: the tendency of subsequent story tellers to change or omit facts, intentionally or not, that might reveal the true origin of the tale.
Wild men do exist, and it is safe to assume that they are humans who, probably for psychological reasons, are reclusive and act a bit strange, maybe even downright violently. Consider the possibility of crazy men in the woods in medieval europe, dressed in animal skins to protect them from harsh weather, living out their reclusive lives in the woods. I'm certain the woodblock prints of yore depict these pour souls, and not some mysterious creature like Bigfoot.
Tags: bigfoot, wild man, folklore
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