Folklore Profile: The Wauwatosa Night Visitors
According to Merriam-Webster, it is estimated that the current vocabulary of English contains roughly around 1 million words. Although many linguists will argue about this estimate until the cows come home, they will generally agree that the most widely used dictionaries, Merriam-Webster and The Oxford English Dictionary, each include around 470,000+ verified entries. These range from the widely known and overused, to those special words that rarely ever get uttered out loud. Simply put, there are a lot of unique words out there.
But to us personally, some of the best words available are the ones often used to describe strange phenomena. These are the simple words that immediately cause one's imagination to conjure up what it personally associates most with that specific word. An example of this would be the world bizarre. What did you instantly think about when you read the word bizarre? Was it something monstrous or perhaps alien? Maybe the image of something reminiscent of classic science fiction popped into your head? Did Bigfoot by chance appear riding a Sea Serpent? What did you see?
Regardless of what you personally saw, we can without a doubt say that we did not see the same thing, and that's what makes these descriptive terms for strange and bizarre phenomena so much fun. Classic words like peculiar, outlandish, anomalous, mysterious, mystifying, and eerie can be used by anyone at any time to describe something they personally witnessed, experienced, or encountered, and nobody can tell them they are wrong for using that specific word. The choice is solely that of the one who had the experience, and as we said above, there are over 470,000 different ways to format that description.
Out of all the specific words available to describe something odd and perplexing, we will admit we have a clear favorite. It’s not some super obscure word that was once common a hundred years ago, and it is definitely not one of those new words that have only been a part of dictionaries for the past few years. No, this word is a time-honored classic that has taken the top spot as the standard go-to for millions of people who need to immediately describe something strange and unusual. It is the reigning champion of words used to describe cryptozoological, paranormal, and supernatural phenomena. That word my dear readers, is the one, the only, the classic, weird.
Yes, that’s right, weird; a simple word that can cover so many different things. We’ve all heard or read a story that instantly comes across as weird, and we can all typically agree with others on that fact that it truly is weird. There isn’t really any gray area when it comes to saying something is weird, there are no preset standards that something must hit before it becomes official, all someone has to do is say it and others will typically agree. If someone comes up to you and says; “Hey (insert your name here), want to hear about a super weird thing that just happened to me?” Of course, you are going to say yes because if the witness right away says the occurrence was weird, you can safely assume that the story is going to be interesting.
Another example of this would be if you were out walking with a group of people and someone was to shout loudly, “Quick! Look at that weird thing in the woods over there!”. Chances are that after this proclamation, you are more than likely going to whip your head in the direction of said weird thing while your mind starts to dream up images of what could possibly be weird enough to have someone shout about it. The word weird sets the tone for the strange things to come, and when we hear the word, we want to know more. It’s a simple trigger word that gets our brains focused and flips the imagination switch to on.
Well, my friends, I am about to flip that switch and set the stage for quite possibly one of the strangest things you will read today. This story is anything but normal, and it is safe to proclaim that this tale is, without a doubt, super weird.
The main event of the story takes place over the course of only a few minutes on November 10, 1975, in the city of Wauwatosa, WI (for those of you who are not from the Badger State, you can pronounce this as Wa-Wa-Toe-Suh). Located within Milwaukee County, Wauwatosa is essentially a suburb of Milwaukee due to the fact that it is only 6 miles West of the large city. Also, because of the closeness to the metropolitan area, Wauwatosa has a pretty decent sized population with numbers being close to 60,000 in the 1970s when this took place. The reason I am telling you this is to point out the fact that this is not some small, out of the way, blink while driving through and you’ll miss it Midwestern town. No, this is a city with people everywhere, and that is a fact that adds to the weirdness of the tale. Also, just a fun bit of trivia, Wauwatosa gets its name from Potawatomi Chief Wauwataesie, and the word translates to Firefly. Now you know.
Alright, we are almost ready to tell the story but we just have a few more pieces of needed information to get through before we proceed. This is the stuff that is necessary to share so if anyone doesn’t believe this event took place as we are telling it, they are free to use the information provided and research more for themselves. So, to put it all out there, this event was originally researched and investigated in 1975 by Richard W. Heiden, a Wisconsinite from Milwaukee who is one of the most active and knowledgeable researchers in the fields of the paranormal, UFOlogical, and cryptozoological. After Heiden’s original investigation, the story was covered and expanded on by Carol Wahlen, a reporter for the Milwaukee Post, on March 8, 1976. Finally, the original report was cited in the January 1978 edition of Fate Magazine by Ted Bloecher. These are our main sources that were used in the following retelling.
Now with all that taken care of, we can begin. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get weird.
On the cool and crisp Monday night of November 10, 1975, Anne Eilbes (aged 59) and her husband Peter (64) began the standard processes every homeowner goes through prior to turning in for the night. They were closing curtains, locking doors, and just generally relaxing. As the clock ticked by, inching ever closer to eight pm, the couple chatted about their day and discussed the upcoming plans for the week. In all sense, it was just a typical Monday evening, one that would fade from memory as quickly as it had arrived. That is until the clock struck 7:50 pm.
As if linked together in some unknown way, the second the clock hand reached 10mins to 8, the doorbell began to ring. The loud sound of the bell was startling to the couple inside the home and caused Anne to instinctually jump to her feet. Confused, she turned to her husband and gave a look that read, “Who could be here at this hour?”. Peter looked at the door and shrugged his shoulders. Anne cautiously walked forward.
Once at the front door, Anne slowly pulled back the curtain covering the small window within to get a look at the source of the pushed doorbell button. She wasn’t about to just open the door without first making sure she knew who was on the other side. Opening without first looking is the number one way to let those with ill-intent into your dwelling. While some would view this as overly cautious, Anne was steadfast in her ways. The only problem with this practice though was that she was checking to verify the identity of the person on the other side of the entrance to her home. It never crossed her mind that one day she may have to check for creatures instead.
As Anne peered through the small opening she made in the curtain, she took notice of what appeared to be an unknown, odd-looking person wearing a hat on the other side of the screen door. Anne let the curtain fall back into place and turned back to look at Peter. With a concerned voice, he asked who it was, Anne replied that she wasn’t sure. Peter stood silent for a moment and then nodded for his wife to open the door. With lock now undone, Anne grabbed the door handle and pulled it open, completely unaware of what was waiting on the other side.
With the heavy wood door now opened fully, Anne saw the entirety of the figure on her porch. What she originally assumed was a stranger turned out to be that and so much more. There, standing less than four feet away from her, was a living thing that resembled a man in shape, but something else entirely in appearance. The stranger appeared to be wearing long dark clothing, possibly a coat of some sort, and a hat that was reminiscent of an old straw hat. Random patches of what came across as unkempt hair poked out from under the thin brim, and a dark brown face covered with deep grooves which had the overall appearance of smoked meat was centered below.
Anne gasped and instinctually locked the screen door that stood between her and this unknown thing. The stranger, not saying a word, stood motionless outside the home while holding what appeared to be a large, white staff. The frightened woman backed up and asked the stranger who they were, but she heard nothing but silence. She continued backing up into the home while asking yet again who the visitor was and what they wanted, but still, the stranger said nothing. It simply stood in the darkness and watched. Finally, Anne called for her husband to deal with the night visitor.
As Peter neared the door, Anne turned towards him and locked eyes. She leaned in close and simply said, “he doesn’t talk”, before retreating further into the home in order to put a greater distance between her and the stranger. Now at the doorway, Peter unlocked the screen and stepped outside, this was his home and he was going to make the stranger talk or he would force him to leave. The Night Visitor stood motionless with staff in hand, just watching as the large man sure-footedly made his way towards him.
It was only a few short steps before Peter stood directly in front of the unknown thing. Irritated by the fact that the stranger still remained silent, the annoyed homeowner loudly said, “What the hell is this, something left over from trick or treat?” Finally, as if triggered by the words, the night visitor moved slightly. In doing so, Peter was able to catch a glimpse of the stranger's mouth which he later described as looking puckered and roughly the size of a dime. It sat only a few inches above a noticeably pointed chin. The sight was enough to cause Peter to take a few steps back because, at that moment, he knew he wasn’t looking at a costume. This thing was real.
With the realization that he was no longer dealing with what he thought was a person, Peter attempted to forcefully remove the strange being from his property. But as he started to move in closer to grab at the stranger, the Night Visitor raised its staff, hit it back down on the ground to create a clicking sound, and began to move backward. Only it didn’t move backward on foot like one would expect, no, this being rose up, floated a few inches above the ground, and proceeded to smoothly glide backward out of Peter’s reach. The entire time while doing this, it never once turned and never broke eye contact.
As the creature held the staff and floated towards the street, Peter was able to catch more of the creature's features. Its hands, he thought, appeared to be disfigured and the fingers looked almost claw-like, while the legs appeared to bend slightly backward and bowed out at the same time. Peter stood on his front path in complete shock as the Night Visitor continued to float backward. Still watching from within the house, Anne suddenly ran outside to pull her husband back into their home. But as she raced out the door, she caught sight of something that would only add to the ever-growing weirdness of the night. There, waiting in the direction in which the being was floating towards, stood four more visitors. Dressed exactly the same as the one that had come to their door, and all holding the same mysterious white staff.
The husband and wife now both stood side by side in front of their home watching the five strangers gather in the road. After what seemed like forever, the being who had originally rung their doorbell, raised its claw-like hand into the air as if to acknowledge them, and the whole group began to float away. Peter would later go on to report that out of the five beings, one of them appeared to be able to float much higher than the others. Instead of just a few inches above the ground, this being was able to float 2-3 feet above the street. Another one of them looked as if it bounced while it moved forward, and its this specific movement which caused both Anne and Peter to compare the movements of these strangers to those of astronauts walking on the moon.
With the group of beings now almost completely shadowed by darkness, Anne grabbed onto Peter and pulled him back into the house. Once inside, the large man fell backward into a chair and went into what was described as a mild state of shock. Finally safe back behind the door, Anne peered out the curtains once again, but the Night Visitors seemed to finally be gone. Still shaking, Anne walked over towards her husband and sat down in the chair next to him. The house was silent, the doors were locked, and the curtains were once again pulled closed. It was as if it was just another ordinary, run of the mill Monday night. The kind that fades from memory as quickly as it arrives.
After some time, both Peter and Anne were able to calm down and regain their composure. They sat in the living room next to each other and talked about what they had just experienced, but for some strange reason, they were both having trouble recalling all of the details. It was as if select sections of their memory had completely faded away within just a short amount of time. They could remember the basic details of the night and an overall rough description of what the strangers looked like, but they were unable to remember any of the more intricate details one would expect to take notice of, especially after being so close to the creature. They were also both a bit weirded out by the fact that the only thing they could really agree on in which to compare the Night Visitors to, as strange as it sounds, were oversized gnomes.
Because of the foggy memories and strange feelings they were left with after the encounter, the couple strongly believed that they could have gone through a much weirder and longer experience than either of them remembered. And while they were a bit irritated with being placed in a situation where they somewhat doubted their own memories, it goes without saying that they were also somewhat comfortable with not knowing any more than what they could. They were left floating in a weird place between did it happen and was it all a dream.
Still though, the couple had an experience of some kind and they felt it was necessary to contact the police. Not just for their sanity, but also for the possible safety of other residents living on the quiet street known as Beverly Place. So, after trying to figure out what he would say in order to get their point across, but also not sound crazy at the same time, Peter called the Wauwatosa Police Department to have them send someone out to investigate. And the lucky officer who would be assigned to answer the call was a man by the name of Daniel Anderson.
When Officer Anderson originally go the call, he was simply told that he was to look for “strange looking individuals” who were responsible for harassing homeowners in the area of the Menomonee River Parkway. So that’s exactly what he did, he looked for odd-looking people who could have possibly fit the bill for those responsible for the harassment. Only the problem was that he, just like Anne looking out the front door window, was expecting to find people and did not even have it in his mind that he should be looking for creatures of some sort. Because of this, Officer Anderson radioed back the police station and reported that he found no suspicious individuals in the area. He was then told by dispatch he was able to return to his regular patrol as the situation seemed to be resolved.
The next morning though, Peter was curious if the police were able to track down the group of Night Visitors who made their way into the darkness and contacted the police once again. After hearing that they did not find any people that were responsible for the incident, Peter requested to talk with the officer who took the call, and the next day, Officer Anderson arrived at their door. From here it goes without saying that the man of the law who was expecting to talk about a simple night time disturbance was completely unprepared for what he was about to hear. And that is completely understandable as nobody can ever truly expect to be called to a home to talk about cloaked and floating silent creatures with magic staffs.
When Peter and Anne finished retelling the events of the incident, Officer Anderson realized the call he was assigned was anything but normal. In fact, he thought it was nothing but a complete fabrication and didn’t even bother to file an official report on the matter. He simply stood and listened to the couple's story, acknowledged that he believed that they believed something happened that night, and then essentially wiped his hands clean of the situation and drove off back into the normal routine of his day to day life.
As they stood watching Officer Anderson drive away, both Peter and Anne realized that nobody was ever going to take them seriously. And honestly, who could blame them for thinking that way. Their story is extremely out there in terms of the strange and this sort of stuff just doesn’t happen to people every day. They truly believed it would be next to impossible to find anyone who would take them for their word and listen to them without judgmental looks and skeptical undertones. That is until Richard Heiden heard of the incident and started an investigation into the couples experience.
After a thorough look into the couple's claims, Heiden came to the conclusion that both Peter and Anne did truly experience something unknown that night, but what exactly it was, he was not able to say. After looking for answers within Cryptozoological, Paranormal, and Supernatural areas, Heiden settled on the fact that the experience was most likely one of a UFOlogical origin. The culmination of the odd appearance of the creatures, as well as their matching wardrobes and seemingly magical abilities helped place this event into a category most often held by beings that are believed to be alien in nature. And that official assessment and classification sits just fine with both Anne and Peter Eilbes, because after what they personally saw with their own eyes that Monday night in November of 1975, how could it be anything but aliens?
And there you have it, dear readers, the story of the Wauwatosa Night Visitors. A strange tale from America’s Dairyland involving possible visitors from a world light years away. Could this event really have happened, or was this possibly nothing more than a clever joke pulled off by highly creative pranksters who were still looking for that thrill typically reserved for Halloween night? While some may be quick to side with the latter, it must be noted that both Anne and Peter never set out to profit or become famous based on their experience. In fact, if it wasn’t for Richard Heiden investigating and cataloging this event, it more than likely would a gone under the radar and faded into obscurity. So for those of you who think this story is truly a hoax, just ask yourself this question; why would a couple go to such great lengths to pull off a con that seemed almost destined to be secret from the start? It just doesn't make sense.
But personally, we are glad it doesn’t make sense because that brings us full circle back to what we were talking about at the beginning of this article. All the check boxes have been filled and there is no definitive answer on what this is or isn’t, so by all accounts, this story is able to be crowned with our favorite descriptive term. Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to announce to you all, that this story is without a doubt, 100% weird.
-The Pine Barrens Institute