Jan 30, 2015 I Paul Seaburn

Woman Sees Mothman-Like Creature She Calls a Swift Peter

A recent story in Cryptozoology News caught my eye because it referred to a creature I had never heard of before. A woman in Mississippi claimed that in 2013 she saw a large creature with wings that scared her dogs and reminded her of the stories her grandparents told of a Mothman-like creature they called a Swift Peter.

Marie (no last name) says she saw the creature near Arkabutla Lake in Tate County at around 11 pm on a night when a storm knocked out the electricity. Hearing dogs barking everywhere, she investigated and saw a shadow of something that was “large and could fly.” She and her mother found a set of 7-toed footprints the next morning.

track swift peter 570x427
Footprint of the creature

The event brought back memories of her grandfather’s experience with the Swift Peter.

My grandparents used to talk about it. Supposedly, the Swift Peter was some type of unseen creature that would attack or kill all of the dogs in the vicinity at night in a rapid fashion. My grandfather had coon hounds. He would often tell me stories about when he would go hunting at night and something unseen would go past him and attack the dogs … When my grandfather said it scared him, I took notice because he was a man that was not afraid of anything and did not joke around.

Who or what is a Swift Peter? I found two references to it. One story calls it a Mississippi Delta legend and gave this account from a tenant:

Descriptions were sketchy due to the blazing speed of the creature. The tenant reported I couldn't do nothin' but glimpse him 'fore he run into the cotton. There were many more ear witnesses than eye witnesses. The animal or animals attacked the house dogs and cats, killed or carried off chickens and small puppies. Dogs that fought them were often badly wounded. The attacks occurred at night and raised a tremendous racket. When the tenant ran out with his gun and lantern, he was always too late to get a shot. According to one victim, When he run off, it w'ant a minute till I heard a racket at the next house.

A book titled “I’ll Give You Something to Cry About” by Corey Mesler tells the story of Swift Peter, The Beast of Cooper-Young.

Swift Peter was half codfish, half weasel and he could fly over fences. He was six-feet long and two-feet high. The number of dogs he had killed was said by some to be seventeen and by others to number in the triple digits … Sally Yarborough lost a child to the beast, though few today believe her story.

That's all I could find. Sounds like a great legendary creature from the deep South. Has anyone else heard of the Swift Peter?

Paul Seaburn
Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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