Wildman of Woodhull…

The Wild Man Print by artist
Vincent Grondin

A correspondent to a Hornellsville paper tells the following veracious story:

“For the very strange story I am about to relate I scarcely expect, nor do I solicit, belief. Indeed, were it not that hundreds of reliable men and women in the county of Steuben are ready and willing to vouch for its truthfulness, I would never ask you to put it in print. The facts are as follows:


“During the four weeks last past a wild man has been prowling around the woods in the towns of Woodhull and Troupsburg, in the southern part of this county, coming frequently into the highways and cleared fields, to the intense terror of women and children, and even strong men. So great is the excitement in some parts of the towns mentioned, that schools have been broken up – parents not daring to send their little ones along the public highways to the schoolhouses.

At first the whole thing was considered by most people as a hoax, intended merely to frighten old women and children; but as many of the most prominent citizens vouched for the actual existence of the wild man, and the disturbance of the schools was making it a matter of public importance, the people of Woodhull and Troupsburg determined to do all in their power to ferret the matter out.

Accordingly, on the 12th inst., about two hundred men assembled at the residence of Mr. S. G. Brown, and proceeded to search the woods in that immediate locality. Under the leadership of Captain J. J. Buchanan and the writer of this article, crowds searched the woods for hours, but with no success further than the finding of a campfire and the track of a barefooted man imprinted in the soil of a marshy part of the forest; and the whole party, at about three o’clock P. M., returned to Mr. Brown’s house, and, getting ready their teams, started back for Woodhull village.

The party had proceeded scarcely fifty rods from Mr. Brown’s, when, on the outskirts of the woods, and within twenty rods of the band of searchers, appeared the veritable wild man of the woods! Myself, Capt. Buchanan, and the others, immediately started in full pursuit. We approached within six or eight rods of this strange being without attracting his notice, when suddenly, with a wild, unearthly shriek, he notified us that we were perceived. I drew my rifle, intending to halt him or send a bullet crashing through his skull. I ordered him to halt, when he sprang, with the agility of a deer, toward the woods.

I did not fire, because on second thought I doubted my right to take the life of any human being, however wild, until he had at least violated some law. So far I have related facts, which will be vouched for by at lease one hundred persons. I will now give you a perfect description of this wild man – or animal – or ‘What is It’ – as he, she, or it appeared to me.

He was barefooted, bareheaded, and wore no clothing except an old pair of soldiers’ pants; his hair, which was black, sprinkled with grey, was from two to three feet long, frizzly, and natted, hanging over his neck, face, shoulders and back, reaching half way to the ground; his beard reached to the waistband of his pants, and was jet black; this, together with a springing, jerking huch in his gait, gave him more the appearance of a wild animal than a human being. And, though I am not of a nervous temperament, may all the saints in heaven shield and defend me from ever meeting such a fiendish looking being face to face again! The long, matted hair; the thick, black and uncombed beard; the wild, glaring, bloodshot eyeballs, which seemed bursting from their sockets; the savage, haggard, unearthly countenance; the wild, beastly appearance of this thing, whether man or animal, has haunted me continually by day and night; and I do not wonder that when this strange being rapped on the school-house windows, children were frightened half out of their senses and refused to be pacified; for, although I have seen the faces of fifty different tribes of Rocky Mountain Indians, painted for the war-path, and have looked with wonder on the stuffed gorilla, Barnum’s ‘What is it,’ the man monkey &c., I have never beheld any thing in the human one half as hideous as the wild man of Woodhull woods.
“I will close by saying that 25 years ago, a man named William Little suddenly disappeared from Woodhull, and has never been heard of since; and as the farm on which the wild man spends most of his time was formerly owned by the absentee, it is supposed, by some that the wild man is none other than William Little himself, returned in this disguise to the home of his youth.

But I hardly think this theory the true one. I do believe, however, that a woman and baby are somewhat mixed up in the matter.” [Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH) July 8, 1869;

This article, in it’s entirety, I was able to find on genealogy trails.com

But, on three different bigfoot sites I found this same account edited and leaving out some pesky details that could cause some doubt as to whether or not this is actually a bigfoot sighting. It’s not their faults though, because this may be the only version they know, its an example of how these tales change and evolve over time. It happens even now despite all the information we have at our very finger tips. Here’s the edited version,

“During the summer of 1869, a wild man was spotted by at least one hundred residents in the vicinity of Woodhill and Troupsville in Steuben County. It made shrieking sounds as it raced through the countryside. An eyewitness said it moved “with a springing, jerking hitch in his gait [that] gave him more the appearance of a wild animal than a human being.” One man got a close-up view: “The long, matted hair; the thick, black, uncombed beard; the wild, glaring, bloodshot eyeballs, which seemed bursting from their sockets; the swage, haggard, unearthly countenance; the wild, beastly appearance of this thing, whether man or animal, has haunted me”

This version is missing a few things, a major one being that he’s wearing pants a soldier would wear. I’ve never heard of him wearing pants before, have you?

Now, I’m not saying that it isn’t a bigfoot, but, the edited version certainly sounds much more like a bigfoot then the original letter may have you believe.

What are your thoughts on the encounter? Do you believe it is still a bigfoot or maybe a soldier suffering some ptsd and unable to cope in society?

This is an example of why It’s very important that we do our own research as well, of course being in the field is the best part of it all, at least for me, but It is also really important we’re doing the research outside of the woods as well.

Especially with these historical wildman encounters, because throughout history wildman we’re what they called, well, everything that wasn’t their idea of civilized, people who escaped to the woods because of poverty, insanity etc.

Author: sasysquatchgirl

A Bigfoot and beyond blogger and Nature Photographer from New England. I spend a majority of my free time in the woods exploring for any signs the hairy man has been around and snapping some pics along the way. So if you’re following this blog, you’ll be the first to know if I see him...

3 thoughts on “Wildman of Woodhull…”

      1. My daddy used to talk about a wild man. He didn’t say he saw it, but in researching my book I came across a news clipping from a newspaper in the 1930s in upstate NY (where Daddy grew up) about sightings of a wild man in the area. Daddy would have been a young teen then and I wonder if he heard of the wild man from newspaper accounts.

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