Historical Cryptid Headlines of Wisconsin
Iowa State Press with Chippewa Falls Correspondence
July 18th, 1899
“Wild Man of Wisconsin!”
Strange Being Who Has Frightened Women For Years.
Chippewa Falls- Not since Black Bart, the highway man, terrorized the northern peninsula of Michigan and part of Wisconsin, has there been as much excitement in this region as there was this week owing to the capture of the wild man in the woods fifty miles from here. The strange creature is now in jail here and is utterly unable to give any account of himself. He is evidently insane and has the peculiar cunning to often show lunatics. He refuses to utter any intelligible sound, if indeed he is able to after his long life of solitude in the woods, and the authorities are in quandary as to what disposition to make of him.
For a long time reports have been coming to the office of Constable Burnett about a wild man having been seen here and there in the forests. The stories come from places far remote, but all tallied as to his general description, saying he was an aged man with beard and hair flowing over his face and shoulders and matted as though he had been in the woods away from civilization for a long time. He was described as very difficult of approach, as he made his way through the woods by a series of springs like those of a kangaroo, using both arms and legs in his strange methods of locomotion. Not much credence was placed in this feature of the stories, as it was supposed that those who saw the wild man were so scared or excited that to their imaginations he appeared to be springing through the air like an animal.
So many reports were heard of the wild man that farmers, hereabouts as well as other settlers, became decidedly timorous about leaving the women and children unprotected in their homes let he should come into the towns or settlements and attack somebody in his insane fury, and many requests were made of Constable Burnett that he should organize a possee and go forth to search for and capture the wild man. To all these he was obliged to say that the whereabouts of the wild man were so much a mystery that it would be foolish to begin a general search of the mighty forest extending for miles in every direction, although the constable was as anxious as any one that the fellow should be captured.
The Search Begins
Finally, however, word was received here that the wild man had been seen in the woods at a place about fifty miles away and that he could easily be captured, as he seemed to have no weapons or implements of defense, and Constable Burnett at once took a train to the nearest railroad station to where he was said to have been seen. There he soon organized a posse of fifty men and the search began. The party divided up into squads and began beating the woods in every direction, having arranged a signal to call all together if the wild man should be found, and when the search had gone on a few hours the signal was sounded by the squad headed by Constable Burnett. When the others gathered they saw the object of their search sitting in the fork of a tree a short distance from the ground and glaring wildly and angrily at the men who surrounded him. His only covering, aside from his long hair, was an old grungy sack twisted around his shoulders in the form of a robe and he was indescribably dirty and repulsive looking. The wild gleam in his eyes betrayed his insanity and it was decided to use caution in capturing him. On his head was a dirty old coon skin cap, which was not at first noticed, so matter and tangled was his hair.
The circle around the tree was gradually narrowed down, leaving the wild man no chance for escape unless he were able to break through the ring of determined men who advances upon him with ropes and clubs intent upon taking him alive. When the space separating the tree from the invaders was not more than ten feet the wild man suddenly sprang from the tree with a howl of rage and rushed directly upon his pursuers. Toward the point he evidently selected for escape all the men suddenly sprang and in a moment the wild creature turned again and with the peculiar spring which had been described to the sheriff attempted to flee. He threw his weight upon both hands and feet and with a strong movement of the legs like a kangaroo, threw himself forward to land again upon his hands and feet six feet away.
Captured At Last
His remarkable speed in this odd manner of locomotion completely surprised the pursuers and he nearly escaped, but several who were fleet of foot ran in a roundabout course among the trees and headed him off. Then ensued a terrific battle. The men sought to cast ropes around his limbs, but he struck and but at them viciously. Half a dozen hands seized him at once, but with marvelous strength for so old a man he wriggled himself free from the detaining grasps and sprang forward again. When he was captured a second time one of the foremost in the posse threw himself upon the wild man and the two rolled upon the ground in a fearful struggle, striking and scratching at each other. The farmer endeavored to grasp on the threat of the wild man, but the latter was too wary and tore off the hand half a dozen times. Meanwhile the rest of the posse were hovering around the two struggling men, seeking to lend aid to their companion, but fearing to injure him by interfering. At last the farmer who was wrestling with the crazed man proved the stronger of the two and succeeded in turning his adversary on his back. At once a dozen strong men seized the wild man and ropes were thrown around him and he was rendered incapable of doing any further damage.
A wagon was procured and the man was hauled to a railroad station and thence brought to this place. He appears to be about 60 years old, but cannot give any account of himself. He will not tell where he came from, although some of his mumblings have been construed to mean he hails from Canada. This, however, the officials do not believe. By some he is thought to be the man who was unaccounted for after the disastrous fire in Hinckley, Minn., in 1894.
Every one was accounted for either living or dead at the time except for one man and it is thought that this creature may be that man who, crazed by the fear of conflagration and the scenes he witness there, fled to the woods and has roamed there ever since, living on wild animals and birds and sleeping in hollow trees and caves.
“Historical Cryptid Headlines of Wisconsin” showcases actual articles involving cryptids that were published within Wisconsin newspapers back in the 1800’s-1900’s. These articles are posted here exactly as they appeared during their original publishing date.
-The Pine Barrens Institute