A startling, certain story jumped out of the pages of the June 24, 1980 edition of the Ohio Daily News, published in Dayton. The reason why it jumped out is very simple. The article was titled “Bigfoot Sightings Scare Socks Off Pair.” Well, not quite literally, of course. But, it was certainly a weird story all but guaranteed to ensure that it would get much attention. And it certainly did. The feedback from readers made that abundantly clear. So, what exactly was it that got the locals in a collective state of amazement and fear? Let’s take a close look.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that Ohio has a long history of encounters with large, tall, hairy creatures that fall under the Bigfoot banner. In fact, reports date back to the 1800s, when such monstrous things were known as “Wild Men.”As a brief aside, I’ll share with you one early example of many from Ohio.
On January 23, 1869 the Minnesota Weekly Record ran an article titled “A Gorilla in Ohio.” Readers were told: “Gallipolis is excited over a wild man, who is reported to haunt the woods near that city. He goes naked, is covered with hair, is gigantic in height, and ‘his eyes start from their sockets.’ A carriage, containing a man and daughter, was attacked by him a few days ago. He is said to have bounded at the father, catching him in a grip like that of a vice, hurling him to the earth, falling on him and endeavoring to bite and scratch like a wild animal.”
The story went on: “The struggle was long and fearful, rolling and wallowing in the deep mud, suffocated, sometimes beneath his adversary, whose burning and maniac eyes glared into his own with murderous and savage intensity. Just as he was about to become exhausted from his exertions, his daughter, taking courage at the imminent danger of her parent, snatched up a rock and hurling it at the head of her father’s would be murderer, was fortunate enough to put an end to the struggle by striking him somewhere about the ear.”
Now, let’s get back to the story of what happened in 1980. The Ohio Daily News‘ feature started with a question: “Does Logan County have a ‘Big Foot’ [sic] stalking its wooded hills between West Mansfield and the Union County Line?” It seems that the answer to that question was an all but certain: “Yes!”
According to the story, several nights earlier, a lumbering, tall, hairy thing practically ran into an off-duty police officer, who worked in the Russell Point area. The creature had been lurking around the officer’s barn when the close encounter of the traumatic kind went down. But, so convinced was the officer by what he had seen, he decided to speak on the record about the startling incident. His name was Ray Quay. The sheriff’s deputies were soon onto the story. When the facts reached the local media, Officer Quay admitted that he was “dumbfounded” by the whole thing. No doubt! After all, it’s not often you find a Bigfoot taking an interest in your barn. To his credit, though, Quay stood by the story. He told the Ohio Daily News:
“I was unloading eight pigs I had bought about 11 p.m. I shut off the light in the barn and went around the corner to see what my two dogs were raising Cain about. They never bark when I’m around. I stepped around the corner of the barn and saw this hairy animal. I thought it was a man so I hollered at him. It took off and I’ve got some weeds out back I haven’t mowed and they are waist high or higher and the creature went through them with no problem.”
A group of deputies scoured the area for several days and nights, but with no luck. The beast constantly eluded them. But, as fate would have it, a second witness to the beast of the barn did surface. His name was Patrick Poling, a man who lived east of West Mansfield. Poling described what he saw as looking like a huge, ape-like animal. His encounter occurred around forty-eight hours later – which made it, again, after darkness had set in.
More controversially, strange, large tracks were found. But they weren’t like the “average” Bigfoot tracks. Typically Bigfoot prints show five toes. Sometimes four. And occasionally three. But there was something very different in this case. The prints – which were around sixteen inches long – were clawed. The number of reports of clawed Bigfoot is very small. Nevertheless, that’s what the tracks showed: claw marks.
As is the case in so many cases, the Bigfoot skillfully avoided everyone and headed off to…well…no-one seemed to know where.