Folkore Profile: The Man Faced Pigs of Brussels
*Note: While I don’t consider these creatures to be true flesh and blood cryptids, I do feel they are worthy enough of being shared on this site. I feel these are more or less the result of a curse rather than nature at work.
Founded on November 12th, 1858 (10yrs after Wisconsin was granted statehood), the town of Brussels, in Door County, is considered to be the third largest Belgian-American community in the United States. Originally settled by Walloons (French speaking Belgians), the soon to be residents of Brussels brought with them from their homeland their customs, folklore, and dedication to the catholic religion. It is because of this extreme religious dedication that the Man Faced Pigs also arrived in Brussels and left a mark on this area that continues to this day.
While the exact date of the incident has been lost to history, many locals believe that the Man Faced Pigs showed up sometime between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s (but no later than 1920). It is believed that the whole ordeal started due to the greed and anger of a local farmer who was mad at the realization that he had been removed from the will of a wealthy relative back in Belgium. Feeling betrayed, the farmer cursed the clergyman who read to him the will of his relative, as well as all the other clergymen in Brussels. Unknown to the farmer at the time though, the curse was not properly executed (or strong enough) and instead of the clergymen, it was placed upon himself.
Later that night, the home of the farmer began to experience odd noises and phantom music from an unseen fiddle. The furniture began to levitate and swirl around the room as if dancing to the sounds, and the livestock outside began to change in frightening ways. Of all the animals effected though, the pigs changed the most.
The once normal and dull facial features were distorted into horrifyingly angry and somewhat demonic human-like faces. The faces were not the only thing to change on the pigs though as the once active swine were now compelled to constantly follow and stare silently at the farmer. Every where he went the Man Faced Pigs would follow. It didn’t matter if he stayed within in his home or travelled around the town, everywhere he went, there would be a Man Faced Pig somewhere within his line of sight, just staring with an unbroken gaze.
As the days went on with no end in sight for the pigs, the farmer began to mentally unravel. Quickly approaching his breaking point, the farmer decided that he must confess his mistake to at least someone before he truly went insane. Choosing to confide in his elderly female neighbor, the man worked up enough courage and made the long walk from his farm to hers, all while the Man Faced Pigs watched as closely as ever.
The farmer told of how his anger and desire for riches caused him to try and curse the clergymen of their town and how the curse backfired onto him. He spoke of how the pigs changed into hideous monsters and how they watched him every minute of every day. He spoke of how he was about to go insane due to the eyes constantly upon him, and after this, he asked for help.
The elderly woman stated that while she could not help the man, he may be able to help himself by simply asking for help from the Lord. She suggested that he build a small shrine on his land in which to worship and to ask for forgiveness from within. Desperate to rid himself of the Man Faced Pigs, the farmer made quick work of building the prayer house. Upon completion of his shrine, the farmer fell to his knees and begged for forgiveness. Confident his prayer was enough, the farmer exited the prayer house and saw with much relief that the Man Faced Pigs were gone. His livestock had returned to normal and the demonic man-like faces were never seen on the pigs again.
Now, could there be any truth to the story above? Could pigs with man-like faces have “terrorized” an angry farmer due to a curse gone wrong? Personally, I think not. While this story is more than likely nothing more than European folklore and superstition blended with settlers out of their element in a foreign land, it is worth noting that legends of Pig Men have been reported all over the world. While those legends generally speak of humanoid beings with pig-like heads, as opposed to pig bodies and human heads, there could be a tiny grain of truth to this story. But, that all comes down to what you believe in and how well you believe locals documented their history. Oh, and one more thing, the prayer house can still be seen in Brussels, WI to this day.
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Public Domain Image