Dec 02, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Bigfoot & the Skunk Ape are America's Most Famous Unknown Apes: But What if There are Even More Kinds?

If you're into the phenomenon of Cryptozoology, you'll know about the United States' most famous, mysterious apes: Bigfoot and the Skunk Ape. But, what if there are even more strange apes hiding in the United States? Is it possible? It's possible, as you'll see right now. “Dear Sir, My name is James Meacham, I read the article that you wrote for True Magazine,” began Meacham in a 1960 letter to Bigfoot investigator, Ivan T. Sanderson. “I have been planning on going to California in the same area that your article was about. I was a little surprised to read about such a creature as an abominable Snowman living so close to where I intended to visit. I have always liked to explore places that other people care little about.  I would like to know all you can tell me about this creature if you can tell anything more than you did in the article. I am sure a man of your standing must have more information about this subject than was in those few pages. I will gladly pay the postage on the information you can send. I cannot offer more because I am not working at the present. “I have met a few strange things in my life; as I am still young, there are many more I will probably see. I would like to know if you can tell me anything about a creature that looks like a small ape or a large monkey that has hair the color of fur a reddish orange color. I saw such a creature when I was 15. A friend was with me but did not see it. Whatever it was did not have a tail like a monkey but it did swing like one by its arms."

(Nick Redfern)

The story continues: "This may sound like something that I thought I saw but really didn’t which I would believe except for a few details. I had a .22 caliber semi-automatic with me. I watched this thing for about 5 minutes so I have to believe it. I put fourteen .22 long-rifle shells into whatever it was. From where I was standing I couldn’t have missed. We found 1 bullet in the tree trunk so 13 of them hit it. The part that sounds more impossible is that whatever it was, did not even move while 13 bullets went into it. If I had missed all 14 bullets would have gone into the tree trunk. I have told many people about this but nobody believes it. We found a few hairs where I had shot, but nothing else except the bullet. There was not a trace of blood.  My partner thinks it was a squirrel but no squirrel grows that big. If it had been one, 2 of those bullets would have stopped it dead. Whatever it was did not even move till I headed for the p. 94 tree. It traveled through those trees like an express train. I could hear the leaves rattle but could not see it. I searched for it for a long time after that but never saw it again. No one in that area knows anything about it or has ever seen it."

"It had a cry that was enough to drive a person crazy. That was almost 3 years ago and I still wake up in my sleep sometimes when that sound comes back to me. If you can give me any advice as to what it could have been I will greatly appreciate it. If I had not shot it myself I would not believe it, not being able to find any blood. I know you must receive a lot of letters about this sort of thing, but all I want to know is what animal in a marsh near Jackson, Tenn. could hold 13 long-rifle shells without even moving till you start to come after it? That is what started me looking for things most people think cannot possibly exist. Yours truly, James M. Meacham.” All we can say for sure is that these creatures were neither a Bigfoot or a Skunk Ape. A third unknown ape in the United States? Maybe. How about a fourth?!

We're still focusing on Sanderson. One strange story came from a woman who preferred anonymity and who Sanderson only referred to as “Mrs. V.K.” Her off the record account is, however, in no way tainted by the lack of a name. She wrote to Sanderson, in 1959: “I am a housewife but I majored in biology, attended our state university and have an M.A. in plain zoology. My husband is an experimental chemist and my eldest son is a technician in the Air Force. I come from Mississippi but we have resided here (in Kentucky) for ten years now. I wonder if you have ever heard of the Little Red Men of the Delta? Nobody thought anything much of them where I was raised except that one had better be careful of shooting one because it might be murder, or so the sheriff might think if anything came off it, but I was surprised to find that the folks hereabout know it too though they took some years to talk about it to me. My husband is a New Englander and these folks don’t talk much. They [the Little Red Men of the Delta] are said to be about the size of a ten year old kid and able to climb like monkeys and to live back from the bayous. They talk a lot but keep out of gunshot range and mostly go into the water. They are people and the muskrat trappers say they often wear scraps of discarded linens, old jeans and such. A reddish creature not unlike that reported to Ivan Sanderson by Mrs. V.K. was seen a couple of years later by a man named David Claerr. His encounter, however, occurred in the Detroit, Michigan suburb of Warren. It was early one summer’s morning when Claerr and his brother encountered something monstrous in a 'large, uncultivated field covered in thick overgrowth.'"

(Nick Redfern) Bigfoot or something else?

Claerr continued that he and his brother heard something smashing its way through the pigweed, while making guttural, muttering sounds. Suddenly, it manifested almost out of nowhere: “The bizarre creature that suddenly appeared before us had thrust his large head forward on his thickset, furry body, and we could clearly see the surprise and amazement on his face. He looked like a cross between a baboon and a gorilla, with grayish black skin on his face and reddish-tan fur on his whole body. He gazed at us incredulously with his huge, reddish-amber eyes. He seemed to be about four and a half to five feet tall and stood on two legs. He had long, burly arms, and the skin on his palms was the same grayish-black.” Claerr added: “After about fifteen to twenty seconds of staring at us, the creature quickly turned around and bolted back into thicket. It scrambled away very quickly. This was the type of situation that was difficult to make any sense of. The emotional shock left me feeling numb, and I found myself wanting to just put the whole episode out of my mind. I suspect that my brother felt the same way, because neither of us mentioned it again for quite some time.”

In his 2010 book, The Cryptoterrestrials, Mac Tonnies said: "I have a reliable first-hand report of 'little people' at large in the American Northwest. My source encountered a small congregation of these beings in a wooded area. Human-like in all essential respects, the beings were nevertheless small, like normal people in miniature." Tonnies' source told him that the "little people" - who appeared "Asian" - predated all North American societies and cultures and had their own, unique language. At times, Mac added, they "pass among us as children" and "lead an almost hobo-like existence." Not only that: in his articles, Tonnies said that the faces of at least a few of the little people were somewhat "ape-like." Intriguing.

There are, however, even more kinds of unknown ape-men in the United States that parallel the likes of Bigfoot. One of these is the tongue-tying Geow-lud—mo-sis-eg. It’s a diminutive, goblin-like creature that is covered in black hair and prefers to live in caves and which lurks and feeds in deep woods, surrounded by dense marshland. Rather like the fairies of Middle Ages-era Europe, the Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg enjoy playing pranks on people – pranks that sometimes turn malevolent if the creatures feel they have been slighted or disrespected. Also like the elementals of fairy lore, the Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg have an obsession with braiding the manes of horses. Rather notably, this tradition extends all the way to Russia, where the Almasty is said to do exactly likewise. Then there are the Memegwesi, primitive ape-like humans that are a major part of the lore of the Ojibwe, Cree, Innu, Metis, Algonquin, and Menominee Indians. They are hairy things, around four feet tall at adulthood, and, according to legend, have had a good relationship with the Indians for many centuries. Like a number of unknown ape-men they have a particularly liking of tobacco. They are significantly developed too, having a language and also the ability to construct sturdy canoes, in which they hunt for fish.

Of potential (although, admittedly, not proven) connection to the stories of the Memegwesi and the Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg is the strange 1635 story of an Arctic explorer, Captain Luke Foxe. In his journal for that year, Captain Foxe wrote of an extraordinary discovery of a huge number of small coffins in the region of Baffin Island, Canada. Foxe recorded, after speaking with the locals about the strange find: “The news from the land was that this island was a Sepulchre, for that the Savages had laid their dead (I cannot say interred), for it is all stone, as they cannot dig therein, but lay the corpses upon the stones, and well them about with the same, confining them also by laying the sides of old sleddes above, which have been artificially made. The boards are some 9 or 10 ft long, 4 inches thick. In what manner the tree they have bin [sic] made out of was cloven or sawen [sic], it was so smooth as we could not discerne [sic], the burials had been so old. And, as in other places of these countries, they bury all their utensils, as bowes [sic], arrows [sic], strings, darts, lances, and other implements carved in bone.  Demonstrating a potential connection to the Memegwesi and the Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg, Captain Foxe said: “The longest corpse was not above 4 foot long, with their heads laid to the West. Their corpses were wrapped in deer [sic] skins. They seem to be people of small stature.” And, guess what? We're still not over. Here's another case, one that focuses on even another mysterious ape in the United States. 

(Nick Redfern) Multiple different apes in the USA?

In March 1946, Hoosier Folklore magazine told its readers of a strange story coming out of southern Illinois: “Another type of story that is of much more concern to us here in Southern Illinois nowadays is the ‘strange beast’ legend. Every few years some community reports the presence of a mysterious beast over in the local creek bottom. Although it is difficult to determine just where a story of this sort has its beginning, this one seems to have originated in the Gum Creek bottom near Mt. Vernon. During the summer of 1941, a preacher was hunting squirrels in the woods along the creek when a large animal that looked something like a baboon jumped out of a tree near him. The preacher struck at the beast with his gun barrel when it walked toward him in an upright position. He finally frightened it away by firing a couple of shots into the air. Later the beast began to alarm rural people by uttering terrorizing screams mostly at night in the wooded bottom lands along the creeks. School children in the rural districts sometimes heard it, too, and hunters saw its tracks. By early spring of 1942, the animal had local people aroused to a fighting pitch. About that time, a farmer near Bonnie reported that the beast had killed his dog. A call went out for volunteers to join a mass hunt to round up the animal. The beast must have got news of the big hunt, for reports started coming in of its appearance in other mysterious beast over in the local creek bottom:

“A man driving near the Big Muddy River, in Jackson County, one night saw the beast bound across the road. Some hunters saw evidence of its presence away over in Okaw. Its rapid changing from place to place must have been aided considerably by its ability to jump, for, by this time, reports had it jumping along at from 20 to 40 feet per leap. It is impossible to say how many hunters and parties of hunters, armed with everything from shotguns to ropes and nets, went out to look for the strange beast in the various creek bottoms where it had been seen, or its tracks had been seen, or its piercing screams had been heard. Those taking nets and ropes were intent on bringing the creature back alive. Usually this strange beast can’t be found, and interest in it dies as mysteriously as it arose in the beginning. About 25 years ago, a ‘coon hunter from Hecker one night heard a strange beast screaming up ahead on Prairie du Long Creek. Hunters chased this phantom from time to time all one winter. Their dogs would get the trail, then lose it, and they would hear it screaming down the creek in the opposite direction. It was that kind of creature: you’d hear it up creek, but when you set out in that direction you'd hear it a mile down creek.” Whatever all of these apes are in the United States, the fact is that they don't seem to be Bigfoot or the Skunk Ape. 

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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