Demonstrating that beasts such as Sasquatch are not the creations of 20th and 21st century movie-makers, and hoaxers, are the surprisingly large number of newspaper accounts on the subject that date from the 1800s. A classic, and perfect, example, is a fascinating feature that appeared in the pages of the Sacramento, California-based Daily Union newspaper on November 1, 1879. It was titled, very appropriately, A STRANGE CREATURE: Two Hunters Chased by a Wild Man in the Antelope Mountains, and begins as follows:
“William Shegan, who came in from Antelope Valley last evening with a load of produce, tells a Leader reporter a very strange and startling story of the experience of two men who were hunting in Antelope Valley last week. He says that Peter Simons and John Gore had been out all day hunting ducks and such other game as they came in their way, and as evening came on they took a short cut across the mountains on their way back to the ranch. The mountain over which the trail led them was a very rugged one – in fact, the wildest place in the Antelope range of mountains – and a few years ago used to be infested with the larger species of wild animals.”
The story continued that as the pair made their careful way around what was described as a “large chasm,” they heard a strange, animal-like noise coming from the vicinity of a nearby cliff-face. As they looked to see the source of the chatter, both men were shocked by the sight of a large, hairy, manlike animal that sprung from behind the cliff-face, and headed towards the mountains with “the speed of the wind.”
Realizing that the beast was something distinctly out of the ordinary, and being hunters, Simons and Gore did what hunters to best of all: they opened fire on the animal. Gore managed to clip the creature on one of its arms, which was more than evident when the beast came to a sudden, screaming halt and grabbed its arm, clearly in severe pain. The wild-eyed creature wasn’t just in agony, however; it was also enraged to the max: in seconds it charged both men in violent fashion.
Hardly surprising, Simons and Gore didn’t try and get a better shot; instead, they dropped their rifles and fled for their lives. It was only due to their ability to outrun the animal that they didn’t finish up as the hunted, rather than as the hunters. The Daily Union noted, of this almost-fatal affair, that it did not stand alone. There were additional reports of the creature, and perhaps of others of its savage kind, roaming around: “Mr. Shegan’s story revives a long forgotten but now distinctly-recalled yarn, to the effect that many years ago a lunatic, then a young man, escaped from his keepers in California and gained the fastness of the Sierra Nevada, where he evaded pursuit, and, it is thought, subsisted on the flesh of small animals killed through some means best known to himself.”
Shegan had more to say, too, about additional encounters with the hairy wild things of the woods, as the newspaper noted: “Several months ago, says Shegan, a strange creature answering the description of the being recently seen, with the exception of the grizzle beard, was discovered by a party of men who were hunting on the mountain some fifteen miles from Antelope, and it is thought that this may be the same. The hunters say they are positive it was no optical illusion, but a genuine wild man, and a very fierce one at that.”
It seems to have been much different to a person who had simply descended into a wild lifestyle in the forests, however. That much is evident from the physical description presented in the newspaper: “The creature’s arms, they say, were long and hairy, and it looked very much like a full-grown gorilla. They aver that it ran with remarkable swiftness, all the time uttering loud cries, as though in pain and enraged.”
Despite assertions that “there is talk of organizing an armed force in Antelope Valley to go in search of this creature,” the wild man that came close to taking the live of a pair of petrified hunters back in 1879 was never identified or caught.